Superior Firepower: A Profile of Digitised Extremity Around the World

The landscape of heavy music in 2021 is a vast and multi-faceted one, incorporating everything from the resolutely old-school to the relentlessly experimental and everything in between. The metal umbrella continues to swell, hosting an ever-growing array of sounds, styles and subgenres, with a global fan base no doubt including all manner of perspectives and opinions on the varying sounds. To some, heavy metal adheres to the same rules as it always has, with new practitioners needing to attain certain degrees of intensity and volume to fit the bill, but to others it is a vague descriptor with a constantly evolving definition. Whilst some believe the genre needs to cling to that which they perceive as the source of its authenticity – namely an emphasis on musicianship, analogue recordings and trad metal songwriting sensibilities – others are intent on letting metal be multiple things at once, allowing the genre to branch out and evolve.

One aspect of this that has had decidedly mixed results is the merging of extreme metal with various forms of electronic music. This combination and the different ways in which it manifests has been the source of much debate, but when executed right it opens up new avenues for artists, allowing them to make their music harsher, sleeker or more dynamic. It’s no surprise then that people around the world have been experimenting with unique forms of digitised extremity. Where once genres were heavily associated with certain locations, be it Norwegian black metal or the Seattle grunge scene, it’s testament to the modernity of this movement that it is a global trend, showcasing the worldwide appeal of a genre that has stood the test of time for more than half a century, but which can surely only be maintained through further progression.

In this list, we aim to catalogue a handful of artists blending electronic music techniques with contemporary metal to produce something even darker, more extreme or more interesting than what has come before.

Tyrant Of Death

Canada’s Tyrant Of Death (Alex Rise) is another fine name in the modern run of industrial metal bands. Unlike many of his contemporaries, though, Tyrant Of Death doesn’t just use a drum machine then riff over it: multiple vocal samples and squealing synths all mash together with the heavily downtuned, rhythmic guitarwork. Much of his early work draws a lot from modern death metal, with rapidly tremolo-picked guitars grinding next to frantic blastbeat-programmed drums. More recent works have a clear focus on rhythm and stellar production.

The Algorithm

French project The Algorithm began after creator Rémi Gallego struggled to find members for his potential mathcore band. Taking matters into his own hands, he slapped on his guitar, booted up his computer and began writing. What followed was a unique blend of staccato, downtuned guitars and an eclectic mix of electronic musical styles, including chiptune, glitch and D&B, to name just a few. The Algorithm’s more recent releases see Remi utilising complex chugged guitar patterns alongside an exploration of deeper electronic music genres.


Fuelled by coffee and armed with experience in both metal and electronic music, Sepultura legend Iggor Cavalera and renowned producer Wayne Adams (also of Big Lad, Ladyscraper, Death Pedals and others) produced one of the fiercest records of the decade with their 2019 debut I. They’ve since recorded a collaborative record with Cavalera’s countrymen in Deafkids and an EP featuring a guest appearance from LG Petrov of Entombed fame. The duo’s psych-punk onslaught of industrialised noise is unlike anything else in existence, and needs to be heard to be understood.


Kenya’s Duma are the complete antithesis of East Africa’s more traditionally colourful and rhythmic music. Instead they collapse percussion and noise in on itself, creating layers of misanthropic cacophony that sounds like the earth and reality eating and then regurgitating itself. Sam Karugu provides production and instrumentation that is reminiscent of the Swiss Wintherr’s projects Paysage d’Hiver or Darkspace but migrated to the chaotic urban sprawl and heat of East Africa’s most populous city of Nairobi via electronic blastbeats and discordant synths. All of these sounds smother the tracks like pollution as Martin Khanja (aka Lord Spike Heart) chokes under the smog. The music they create ends up becoming trancelike as the listener gets lost in its suffocating relentlessness. The production is not quite clean enough to be industrial, instead it sounds like a layer of scum over Khanja’s bewildered gasps for air and Karugu’s masterful drum programming.


Slikback is another artist from Nairobi, yet takes electronic music in a different direction than Duma. Instead he focuses on the club and dancefloors, delivering precision beats and drum productions that work the listeners’ bodies into ever more extreme variations of themselves. Often he only commandeers a disembodied and spectral vocal sample, mechanical polyrhythms and sparse industrial synths and in turn commandeers our bodies. Voices mangle themselves as our legs intertwine and trip over themselves. The extremity lies not in the music itself, but what the music is able to make the listener do, the shapes and contortions they undergo trying to keep time while induced with euphoria. This is not the same kind of extremity expected from metal, that expects an endurance of emotion. Slikback’s music is meant to be played in intoxicating dancehalls until the early hours of the morning, until the body starts to twitch and sweat burns the skin. Until the ecstasy turns to pain and the listener transcends the limitations of their corporeal being.

Atari Teenage Riot

Atari Teenage Riot’s background in the Berlin dance scene helped set the stage for a combination that, when it first arose, was like no other. Combining guitar riffs from classic metal and punk tracks with dance rhythms, often pushing 200 BPM or more, the pioneers of digital hardcore hit upon a formula as extreme and punishing as it is enjoyable. Radical politics play a big part, too – an early track was called ‘Hetzjagd Auf Nazis!’ (Hunter of Nazis). Time has done little to mellow them, and despite line-up changes, ATR remain a vital force.

Master Boot Record

Combining extreme metal guitars with melodies taken straight from synthwave and chiptune, Master Boot Record seem to be perennial Bandcamp best-sellers. It’s easy to hear why. Taking the most accessible elements of both genres, the Italian group have hit upon a formula that has wide appeal, to the point that they’ve been commissioned to write music for video games. Which, really, is a fine summation of their sound – it’s music for gaming, big and bold and brash, aiming for that retro-futuristic vibe and succeeding.

Clown Core

Remember that weird time when people were dressing up in clown masks and freaking strangers out in public? Well, when their time was thankfully up, the clowns went inside and created the hilariously absurd Clown Core, a band who sell containers of shit and something called a “peanut massage” on their site. And that’s not even the most surprising part – the most amazing thing is that their strange mix of smooth jazz, grindcore and electroclash is actually really fucking fun.


Monaco-based duo HAH may be named after a fart (HAH standing for Hardcore Anal Hydrogen), but their latest album Chimaera Monstrosa and its 2018 predecessor, HyperCut, are less snigger-worthy than the band’s name. That’s not to say their music isn’t brimming with smatterings of their eccentric humour – from sampled duck quacks to random burps – but it’s also full of bizarre, mathy experimentation with zero regards for the established rules of the genres they claim to emulate (death metal, jazz, hip-hop, rock, electronic, black metal et al). In truth, their sound is more reminiscent of cybergrind (or even breakcore), and walks the line between being an utter shambles and genuinely ingenious.


Inspired by Brazilian artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s who worked the country’s traditional music into experimental percussion-based compositions, Deafkids craft a sonic monument of defiance, borrowing from the boisterous angst of punk, the frantic intensity of noise and the perplexing otherworldliness of psychedelia. It’s overwhelming and yet utterly engrossing, with an undeniable human element despite a life-affirming energy that feels not of this world. No wonder Steve Von Till signed them up to Neurot the minute he discovered them online.


This Scottish ensemble’s chaotic concoction of mathcore rhythms, djent riffs and madcap electronics conjure up a veritable shitstorm of impossibly in-your-face heaviness. For all the intensity, though, there’s an underlying progressiveness to the raucous displays of unbridled fury that comprise latest LP Unloved. It is, of course, a densely-packed onslaught from start to finish, but the skilful way in which the band wield the various components of their sound is truly impressive, and an increase in glitchy electronics and jagged rhythms make it entirely less predictable than its predecessor.

Puce Mary

In the often cartoonishly masculine world of powerelectronics and industrial music, Puce Mary (AKA Frederikke Hoffmeier) offers a rare, nuanced take on extreme electronica. Over the course of the last decade the Danish producer has refined her art, using feedback, noise and piercing screeches to create sonic tapestries that are both beautiful and frightening. Thematically she is grounded in the human condition, inspired by writers such as Jean Genet and Baudrillard, as well as by her own experiences navigating life in the early 21st century. This is industrial music that’s focused on brains more than brawn.

The Body

Though the new album from Lee Buford and Chip King is less electronically-inclined and more focused on the duo’s core live sound, the band have nevertheless made a name for themselves by dragging their guttural sludge even deeper into the depraved depths through the application of noise, processed samples and electronic experimentation. Previous album I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer. is undoubtedly their most ambitious effort to date, constructed primarily out of processed and rearranged samples of their own past recordings. At its heaviest moments, the industrial drums and ambient horror sounds are more harrowing than even the filthiest extreme metal.

Enter Shikari

Growing up in the noughties at that formative age when most young rock fan’s music tastes were based on whatever Kerrang! was peddling, there was perhaps no band more contentious than Enter Shikari. To this day, many see them as an affront to heavy music whilst others will defend them to the death. Regardless of your stance, the band found an inventive way to break the mould in the post-hardcore genre, for better or worse giving rise to a wave of so-called “electronicore”.


Japan’s Melt-Banana have been going since 1992 and have explored their fair share of sounds in that time, but they’re most known for their eccentric mix of noise rock, grindcore, pop and experimental electronica. 2013 album Fetch acts as a decent summary of everything the band have done thus far, largely comprising an exciting and creative blend of noise and pop.


It’s a bit of a cheat to put Boris on a list like this – there’s so much wacky experimentation in their discography that they could find a home on any number of themed lists. Nevertheless, the band earn their place here through their dallies with electronic pop and industrial noise, not to mention collaborations with artists like Merzbow, which add another layer of distorted chaos to their already unique sound.

Words: George Parr, Sean Elias, Dan Cadwallader, Joe-Julian Naitsri, Stuart Wain

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