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Headbanging on the Dancefloor

Headbanging on the Dancefloor: Literally

When metal riffs and synthesizers collide.

Each week, CMN’s Kevin Ashley delves into the vast expanse of metal and electronic music, bringing recommendations, reviews, and news. Do not expect to find safe, chart-topping music here. Welcome to Headbanging on the Dance Floor.

You may be asking, “what’s with the title?” Well, instead of figuratively headbanging on the dance floor, the title is literal this time. This week, we will be covering the niche genre of electronic metal. Yes, electronic metal.

Electronic metal is an umbrella genre where metal bands of various subgenres (death metal, power metal, symphonic metal, et cetera) are blended with electronic music elements like synthesizers, drum machines, and samples. A few major examples of this I will talk about are Die Krupps, Blood Stain Child, and Neurotech. I will also be mentioning some other examples.

First, Die Krupps. They started off as a pure electronic body music (EBM) and noise band in the 80s with the albums Stahlwerksinfonie, Volle Kraft voraus!, and Entering the Arena. I have not heard much of these, but a few re-recorded versions of the songs from Volle Kraft voraus! and Entering the Arena are featured on their compilation album Too Much History.

Die Krupps fully transitioned into gritty industrial metal on the albums I, II – The Final Option, III – Odyssey of the Mind, and Paradise Now. After the latter’s release, they went on hiatus until 2013’s The Machinists of Joy and 2015’s V – Metal Machine Music. These two albums, and the compilation Too Much History, are somewhat musically different from their predecessors, featuring a clean production and much more electronic presence. For instance, compare these two versions of “Bloodsuckers”. One from The Final Option, the other from Too Much History. The first is more metallic, while the second is very EBM-like with the synths.

If Die Krupps is a dark German club, then Blood Stain Child is a Dance Dance Revolution game where everyone dresses in black. A Japanese band mixing melodic death metal and trance, they started off with the Children of Bodom influenced Silence of Northern Hell, and fully embraced their electronic sound over the next four albums and several EP releases. Their track “Trance Dead Kingdom” from the 2017 EP Tri Odyssey features trance and dubstep elements next to double bass and blast-beats. They have even released a new 2019 single, titled “Del-Sol”. As a fun off-note, Mobile Suit Gundam fans will notice the Earth Federation Space Force t-shirt one of the band members is wearing.

Blood Stain Child has also undoubtedly influenced other bands, like Sweden’s Timecry – also melodic death metal – and Japan’s metalcore act Crossfaith. Other bands, like Norway’s Dimension F3H, South Africa’s Demacretia, and Slovenia’s Neurotech go for a more generalized “electronic” sound rather than pulling from specific subgenres.

Over Neurotech’s prolific career, they have produced six full-length albums and multiple EPs, including a fully electronic one titled Evasive. Symphonic and electronic at the same time, Neurotech’s sound is unique in the metal world, and was the project of a single man, Andrej Vovk. Sadly, Neurotech has been retired, with Vovk moving on to NeuroWulf, a new – now fully trance – project.

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