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3/13/14 - Groove Is In The Heart

Mar 19, 2014

In which our Wild Thing host makes everything... Groovy...

Well, we did something special for this week's show, didn't we? For half of it, anyway. This last week's show was the day after my birthday, so excuse me if the whole thing came across as a little bit selfish. I did sort of sacrifice new and exciting music for just playing my favorites (aren't those new and exciting enough?). Hopefully it was as good for you as it was for me. But the second hour was something I've been thinking about doing since starting the show, which is a singular focus on a particular metal subgenre. I've had people ask me to do this in the past, and I've always said I wanted to establish the variety aspect of the show first before playing with the format. I think it'll be a little while before I do this again, but it will happen again.

Rather than doing some long rant about something then doing our track of the week, I'm going to combine the two into a focus on this week's genre of choice - Groove Metal. Most people don't really know a lot about it. They hear the name, and the vaguely associate it with Pantera, and that's about it. And frankly, I don't blame people. This isn't a "big name" metal subgenre, and its popularity was fairly short-lived. However, while never the most popular genre, it's hugely important in pretty much all of metal progress since then.

So what is groove metal? As a basic rule, it's thrash metal played at mid-tempo, instead of high-tempo. The same low, rhythmic, staccato riffs as thrash, but played over slower drum beats that emphasis the weight and syncopation of the riffs, rather than just the speed of them. Vocals tend to come from the thrash tradition, but can also get into death-metal styles. In fact, the whole genre often has death metal and hardcore connections that run pretty deep.

And yes, Pantera is a vitally important band for the genre. They're basically the poster child for groove metal, and I'd say the only "first wave" groove metal band that reached name-recognition status outside of metal communities. But other than Pantera, we also have bands like Exhorder, Sepultura, and Machine Head that exemplified the groove sound in the early 90's.

In the late 90's. groove wasn't a big deal, but metalcore and nu-metal both started gaining popularity, and both were inspired by groove metal sounds. Metalcore took the hardcore-style breakdowns and thrashy riffs from groove metal and incorporated melodeath-style leads, while nu-metal took the mid-tempo syncopation and death metal accoutrements to a more logical extreme. 

In the early 2000's, however, groove came back as something of a genre in its own right, but often lumped into the nebulous "New Wave of American Heavy Metal" movement. Which, if you heard me explain on the show, means basically nothing. It specifies no particular genre, merely that heavy metal was regaining popularity in America. But still, we saw a resurgence of bands who took the thrash, death, and metalcore traditions and continued the path of playing heavy, mid-tempo, riff-based metal. If Pantera was the poster child of the first wave of Groove Metal, then Lamb of God is flying the flag of the new wave. Aside from them, bands like Chimaira, Devildriver, Gojira, as well as the refound success of older groove bands like Machine Head and Prong, have kept groove strong, using it as an underlying emphasis for their particular brands of creative, new, and vital heavy metal.

Playlist for 3/13/14:

Slayer “War Ensemble” from Seasons In the Abyss on American Recordings Catalog P&D

Anthrax “MadHouse” from Spreading the Disease on Island Records

The Devin Townsend Project “Addicted!” from AddicTeD on Marquee Inc.

The Acacia Strain “Kraken” from Continent on Prosthetic

After the Burial “Aspiration” from Rareform on Sumerian Records

Deafheaven “The Pecan Tree” from Sunbather on Deathwish Inc.

Black Sabbath “Into The Void” from Master of Reality on Universal Music Group International

Earthrise “Polar Low” from Eras Lost on Earthrise

Between the Buried and Me “Obfuscation” from The Great Misdirect on Victory


Exhorder “I Am the Cross” from The Law on Roadrunner Records

Pantera “DOMINATION” from Cowboys from Hell on Rhino

Sepultura “Slave New World” from Chaos A.D. on Roadrunner Records

Machine Head “Davidian” from Burn My Eyes on Roadrunner Records

Prong “Pure Ether” from Power of the Damager

White Zombie “Cosmic Monsters Inc.” from La Sexorcisto - Devil Music, Vol. 1 on Geffen Records

Chimaira “Secrets Of The Dead” from The Infection on Ferret Music

DevilDriver “Hardened” from BEAST on Roadrunner Records

Lamb of God “Fake Messiah” from Wrath

Gojira “Explosia” from L'enfant Sauvage on Roadrunner Records

GRAVEYARD BBQ “Meat Yer Enemy” from Greatest Hits Volume II on Dirtcore Records