Whoever said drugs and music don’t mix? As a species, we’ve been gorging ourselves on all manner of intoxicants ever since we first discovered that grapes that had gone off got us fucking wrecked. Moreover, whilst there isn’t much hard evidence, it’s probable that humans have been utilising said intoxicants to enhance our enjoyment of music ever since Grug ate that funny looking apple and decided to bang three rocks (back in my day we banged two bloody rocks together, never did me any harm) together in a cave.
In a slightly more civilised (read: polite) age, this practice is still commonplace. Every weekend across the world, people cram themselves into tiny spaces and get fucking muntered. Be it those cheeky one-and-a-half bottles of vodka, or boshing three pingers out until you are certifiably chewing your own mouth off, music enjoyed in one of many stages and forms of intoxication is a glorious thing.
For many of us, death metal isn’t all indecipherable vocals and misogyny. The stereotypical meat, potatoes and blastbeat formula we know of today, arguably laid down by the far more soulless rackets espoused by Cannibal Corpse, is what we think of when we hear the term death metal, but that isn’t the full story.
Within the far more atmospheric confines of death metal’s genesis in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, a plethora of sounds of varying degrees of speed, complexity and tunefulness existed. Back when Morrisound was king, production techniques were far murkier, as they still hadn’t quite caught up with the sonic intensity of the genre. It was the oft-rough and ready production endemic of death metal’s earliest days from which emanated eldritch strains of noise, lending much of the earliest works of the genre an almost psychedelic atmosphere through it’s fuzzed out complexities.
It’s this atmosphere that really lends itself well to listening whilst intoxicated, especially under the influence of far more ponderous substances. Getting caught up within the doom-grind of dISEMBOWELMENt (the ’90s Australian band, all other disembowelment’s are posers and not trve), or having your brain gently melted by the chaotic emanations of Demillich’s formless jazz fusion rackets is incredibly enjoyable under the influence of any form of mind-bending intoxicant.
Acid is a drug that defies expectations –you won’t necessarily see pink elephants, but you will have your mind ripped out of its fucking shell. Ultimately the drug is about breaking down barriers, and what better way to break down barriers than to embrace the darkened violence of death metal? As a fan of murky, violent music, and tripping, you’ll often be told to “please turn that shit off” in favour of some shite dad rock.
Spinning your mates out aside, there’s something to be said for listening to dissonant, vicious music on acid, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. While a listen to Teitanblood’s Seven Chalices whilst peaking may – on paper – seem like a really good way to put you on a fucking nasty one, that may not necessarily be the case. For many, Acid is a drug of purification, and the trip a cleansing of one’s spirit, in order to move forward into perceptions unknown to your conventionally conscious self. What better way to move forward spiritually than to embrace what you might perceive to be evil, or discordant; what better way to open your mind than to look upon the other side of the coin?
Whilst some might complain about extreme metal being too depressing/angry/loud, the fact is it’s deeper than that. Death metal, especially in its early ‘90s heyday (anything post-1994 is for posers), was and still is an expression of human angst, a baring of the blackened recesses of the human spirit. From this it can be argued that the “evil” present in so much of the early ‘90s is merely another aspect of the human spirit, perhaps one that we’re scared to embrace.
Acid is all about embracing concepts and notions alien to yourself, but once you’ve embraced the light, should you not then look to its opposite? So next time you’re tripping your nut, tell your mates to stop playing ‘The Wall’ for the fourth time in a row (arguably a far more hellish punishment than exposure to death metal whilst under the fragile duress of a trip), whack out those obscure vinyl reissues, and embrace the darkness.
This piece was originally featured in our second issue, pick up a copy here.
Words: Richard Lowe
Illustration: Kate Woodward