August 8, 2012 at 11:36 am

The Most Brutal Music App Ever: Black Metal Man

As’s resident metalhead, I once answered a question from my editor: Can a music app — something that runs on shiny, expensive technology equally prized by fans of Lady Gaga and hard rock fans — ever qualify as truly “metal?”

After scrounging the internets, I found eight brutal, gloriously powerful apps to prove that yes, in fact, a music app can be totally and brutally metal. Since then, two more have qualified: Robot Unicorn Attack: Heavy Metal Edition (showing that even a popular, sugary-sweet iPhone game about unicorns can become metal), and the Hellfest festival app (demonstrating that just because a festival focuses on metal and mayhem doesn’t mean its attendees don’t want to stay organized).

They were a mere preamble for this, the most brutal music app we have ever seen.

Enter Black Metal Man ($1, iOS), an iPhone game with more brutality and grim black metal coldness then all that came before. Developer SinSquids calls it “the most stressful, dark and intense game on the app store.” This is a valid claim.

You play as a black metal dude wearing the blackest of pants and the grimmest of  corpse paint who runs from the white light of goodness in a world that is gray and evil. Tapping the screen makes you jump from platform to platform, over chasms of death, as you negotiate other obstacles. Nothing impedes your progress so much as a glowing cross in your path. Along the way, power-ups let you ride lightning or rain blood, while nothing helps your performance so much as a shadowy inverted cross. In the higher levels, you can also catch a ride on a motorcycle straight out of a Judas Priest concert.

As simple as this sounds, it really is intense and stressful, as described. Like all good black metal, the app is fast, raw, and grim. We found it satisfyingly frustrating to watch our black metal dude fall into the abyss and explode into a bloody corpse, his severed head tumbling away. Supposedly, there’s a bonus level where you have to headbang as hard as you can, but I have yet to reach that level (and being denied the opportunity to headbang is among the worse punishments for us metalheads).

Of course, we review music apps, not videogames. What really takes this grim-tastically brutal app over the top is its soundtrack.

While all the above carnage is executed before your eyes, your ears are given a feast of black metal and thrash metal tunes sure to get your own blood pumping. Even outside of the context of the game, I would rate these as pretty fantastic songs, worthy of the frothiest mosh pit.

A warning to the uninitiated: There are metal references and jokes here that only the elite will get. I won’t ruin the fun of discovering all of them, but I must cop to laughing out loud at the “listen to only bands with dead members” option.

Black Metal Man is the very embodiment of metal and all that is brutal. It’s also the ultimate proof that a music app can undoubtedly be metal. I just wish it had been there when I tried to prove that point the first time around.

Not only that, but it was rated the top adventure game in iTunes Norway, which should be all the proof you need.