In low-ceilinged, claustrophobic bunker-esque basements that are no bigger than my own front room, the collective minds and eardrums of small but resolute audiences, huddled just arms’ lengths away from the stage, are being blown by a new strain of metal.
The old unjust view of metal – a genre relegated to the minor leagues because of a guilt-by-association link with mass murder and gothic cults – is a thing of the past. I saw no firearms, not one. I discovered no demonic hieroglyphs, nor did I take part in any off-key chanting.
What I stumbled across was an answer to the question posed by this piece’s title: it turns out that metal is alive and very well. It’s evolving but still capable of kicking the shit out of listeners in the belly of Vinyl in Deptford, South London, a venue that is both respectful to its residential neighbours and deferential to ribcage rattling, mighty metallic grooves.
It’s taken awhile since metal migrated from the US to this fine and fair land to discard the genre’s staged accoutrements. Listeners had come to expect them but then dismissed these contrived, overly dramatic, noise-by-number performances, as if produced by ‘hair bands’ that didn’t deserve to be taken seriously. What’s developed from this is embryonic progress, art and the necessary elevation of the form to a (still impressively heavy) musical equivalent of literary stream-of-consciousness.
Golden Legacy are part of this new wave. They told me why they do what they do (because it’s in their DNA) and how they do it (spontaneously, taking inspiration from every musical form). They have no political rhetoric to spout, no wrongs to right: they are about creating music, art, collaboration and the minimalist approach of drums, vocals, guitars; a boy and a girl.
Yanni and Lorena say their musical philosophy is to be organic and unforced, to get out of the way of the music. This is an apt description, as demonstrated by the colossal ‘Mirror’, with its truly ferocious drumming and a guitar akin to an 18-wheeler bearing down on you. The opening is like being attacked by a swarm of insects (but in a good way).
The blend of the guitar’s violent but controlled frenzy under-laid with feline vocals is singularly on point. In comparison, their ‘Saint Dark’ offering on the same debut EP is musical schizophrenia. Influenced by the entire musical spectrum, Golden Legacy offer up empirical support to the maxim that less is more. This is no cliché but an absolute, one that makes metal feel relevant once more.
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Cover photo by Steven T. Hanley