“We like it hard, we like it fast
We got the biggest amps, man they blast
True metal people wanna rock not pose
Wearin’ jeans and leather, not crackerjack clothes.”
Manowar – “Kings Of Metal“
Heavy metal is a force. Of that, we are certain.
But what makes heavy metal truly “metal?” Is it the loud distorted guitars, the pounding blasting rhythms, the inhuman vocals, or the violent dark epic lyrics? Maybe it’s about the feeling of power and aggression that flows through metal anthems, or the thousands of dedicated fans populating moshpits, banging their heads, throwing up the corna hand symbol, or sporting leather jackets covered with band patches.
As a metal fan myself, I maintain that all of the above, and plenty more, constitute reasons to call myself a metalhead. Evolver.fm editor Eliot Van Buskirk asked me to answer an even more challenging question: Can a music app be metal? Can something on a smartphone, computer, or (satan forbid) a tablet ever deliver “true” (as opposed to false) metal?
To which I say… Why not? As proof, here’s a taste of some “true metal” apps.
Rhythm games are fun and all, but none seem truly metal — that is unless your gameplay controls a monstrously-armored demon with a big-ass battle axe slaughtering zombies and ghouls while diabolical heavy metal anthems obliterate your ears and melt off your face.
Lapland Studios’ Lordi The Game brings a tremendous level of over-the-top, horror movie-inspired fun to the iPhone and iPad. Its graphics give other games a run for their money, and of course the music rules, consisting of selections from Lordi’s most recent album, Babez For Breakfast. Try to keep your rhythm on time, which enables Lordi to chop off zombie’s heads or boot them in the gut with explosive results. As Lordi sings, “This is heavy metal!”
This most-metal of all websites pulls together nearly 90,000 bands of all metallic styles into one supremely effective database. The Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives is arguably the biggest resource for all things metal. Metal fans and those looking to convert from false to true metal can look up bands’ discographies; learn about artists’ previous projects; discover new acts from all over the world; submit album reviews; add and edit band information a la Wikipedia; and submit bands and artists that aren’t already included. You can also list your metal collection on the site, either publicly or privately. Meanwhile, an Android app lets metalheads take this font of heavy metal knowledge with them, just in case they’re at a show and need to whip out their smartphone to look up death metal bands from Nepal or see what Paul Day did after leaving Iron Maiden.
There is perhaps nothing more metal then learning Megadeth riffs from the man himself. Dave Mustaine, mastermind of one of the world’s most influential metal bands, appears in this app for the iPhone or iPad that teaches guitarists how to play Megadeth songs. It combines the intensity and intimacy of a private lesson with the fun and entertainment of a Guitar Hero game. Based upon The Way Of H’s Rock Prodigy app, this Evolver.fm editor’s choice helps budding guitarists learn the guitar and challenges experienced players to step up their game. Plus, Dave is there every step of the way, lending his own personal touch.
To count one’s self among the most metal of metalheads, one must stay informed. A favorite metal news site for many headbangers, Metal Injection is chock full of exclusive interviews, sneak peaks at new music, coverage of metal fests around the world, podcasts about a variety of subgenres, and user-contributed content. Meek Is Murder’s Metal Injection iPhone app packs all of that stuff into an iOS app so it’s more easily accessible on the go, and adds the ability to upload video and images right from the phone. The last feature might be perfect for sharing Dee Snider’s surprise karaoke appearance at your local bar.
Pinball and metal go together like The Who and rock operas, so it’s only appropriate that iOS apps can bring metal-band-themed pinball into the digital age. Unlike boring promotional artist apps that bundle a few music videos with trivia you already know, Sony Music Entertainment presents Slayer and AC/DC fans with a frenzy of metal be-flipper-ed, 3D Bally table action. Players are treated to an epic soundtrack of unrelenting thrash (in the case of Slayer) or ballsy hard rock (in the case of AC/DC) with the original voice recordings, along with bright, exciting, and detailed artwork and other surprises.
Without the brutal growls, death metal as we know it would lack a proper voice. To help budding metal vocalists reproduce that most inhuman of utterances, WikiHow produced a small but helpful iPhone app that instructs the user on the art of harsh death metal vocalization. Straight and to the point, the app contains extensive step-by-step instructions that we’ve confirmed are legitimate, alongside tips and warnings on how to make the best growls possible. Future growlers will get a lot out of this little app. While it might not be the most metal app of all time, it will help make a legion of death metal frontmen — and that alone is totally metal.
Even local bands can wreak extra havoc with apps that help other metalheads spread the anti-gospel of their music. Demoralizer is a death metal/grindcore band that has been kicking around the Boston scene. With the help of the AppsBar app building platform, they made an excellent Android app for fans and the mildly curious to stay updated on their activities. It presents the band members’ biographies, photos, and videos in a simple but totally metal fashion, with regularly-refreshed upcoming show listings. Other local metal bands would do well to heed the brutal lessons of Demoralizer.