"Through the Cervix of Hawwah": don't judge a song by its title

The oddly-named metal records you must listen to.

I've recently been bitten by a metal bug; it's pretty ferocious and yet seemingly not very popular and not all that contagious. Listening to hardcore, metal or drone records brings with it the fairly unique problem that the artists often have such silly names, outfits and ideas that it can distract one hugely from the noise that is actually being made. The song names tend to be so spectacular that it is almost impossible for the music to compete; Bonedust on Dead Genitals for example.

There is a lot of very good stuff around at the moment though and whether attracted, appalled or indifferent to the whole language that comes with the genre, it would be a pity if you were to miss out on it all. Prison Sweat by Total Abuse is a current fav, along with Dead in the Dirt's album Fear. Philly group Satanzied also have new material in the form of Technical Virginity. Despite having a rather pretty sleeve depicting a pyramid with a white picket fence, Satanzied seem to intersperse their music with a sound similar to vomiting (it works though.) Finally, Antediluvian's soon to be released Through the Cervix of Hawwah, which may have developed a metal form of Tuvan throat singing to accompany their breed of onslaught, and I really like Tuvan throat singing. There really is something here for everyone: get bitten.

"Hogg" from the Total Abuse album Prison Sweat:

 

Fresh sounds from the BBC 6 Music DJ
Harry Styles. Photo: Getty
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How podcasts are reviving the excitement of listening to the pop charts

Unbreak My Chart and Song Exploder are two music programmes that provide nostalgia and innovation in equal measure.

“The world as we know it is over. The apo­calypse is nigh, and he is risen.” Although these words came through my headphones over the Easter weekend, they had very little to do with Jesus Christ. Fraser McAlpine, who with Laura Snapes hosts the new pop music podcast Unbreak My Chart, was talking about a very different kind of messiah: Harry Styles, formerly of the boy band One Direction, who has arrived with his debut solo single just in time to save the British charts from becoming an eternal playlist of Ed Sheeran’s back-catalogue.

Unbreak My Chart is based on a somewhat nostalgic premise. It claims to be “the podcast that tapes the Top Ten and then talks about it at school the next day”. For those of us who used to do just that, this show takes us straight back to Sunday afternoons, squatting on the floor with a cassette player, finger hovering over the Record button as that tell-tale jingle teased the announcement of a new number one.

As pop critics, Snapes and McAlpine have plenty of background information and anecdotes to augment their rundown of the week’s chart. If only all playground debates about music had been so well informed. They also move the show beyond a mere list, debating the merits of including figures for music streamed online as well as physical and digital sales in the chart (this innovation is partly responsible for what they call “the Sheeran singularity” of recent weeks). The hosts also discuss charts from other countries such as Australia and Brazil.

Podcasts are injecting much-needed innovation into music broadcasting. Away from the scheduled airwaves of old-style radio, new formats are emerging. In the US, for instance, Song Exploder, which has just passed its hundredth episode, invites artists to “explode” a single piece of their own music, taking apart the layers of vocal soundtrack, instrumentation and beats to show the creative process behind it all. The calm tones of the show’s host, Hrishikesh Hirway, and its high production values help to make it a very intimate listening experience. For a few minutes, it is possible to believe that the guests – Solange, Norah Jones, U2, Iggy Pop, Carly Rae Jepsen et al – are talking and singing only for you. 

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

This article first appeared in the 20 April 2017 issue of the New Statesman, May's gamble

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