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December 2014
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Metal and Hardcore in 2014: Council of Steel, Blood & Bone

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Propagandhi guitarist Chris Hannah. Photo by Brandon Mizar. punkworldviews.com

Propagandhi’s Chris Hannah
Formed as a more straight-ahead punk outfit in Manitoba, Canada, in 1986, Propagandhi is very much what its name implies: Outspoken on sociological issues of equality and fairness. After opening for NOFX in ’92, singer/guitarist Chris Hannah and his bandmates were signed to Fat Wreck Chords label. In ’97, they formed their own imprint, G7 Welcoming Committee Records, and their sound took a turn toward heavier, more complex rhythms and guitar work in the new millennium. Their breakneck rhythms, deliciously raw chugging, and blistering leads (dig the pull-off fusillades on “Status Update” and the tapped whammy-bar freakout on “Cognitive Suicide” from 2012’s Failed States) burst any notions that hardcore equates to “not being able to solo.”

Thoughts on the State of Metal/Hardcore in 2014: It’s the same as it’s always been—the lamest, most compromised, most boring music rises to the mainstream top while the most interesting, most challenging exists in the margins and under the radar. Guitarists need to go back to the greats in their prime and imagine what it was like to make a record like Black Sabbath’s Sabotage, AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock, Celtic Frost’s To Mega Therion, Bad Brains’ Rock for Light, or MDC’s Millions of Dead Cops—back before anyone else had made anything remotely resembling those. Tune into the spirit. This will help you avoid being laughed at 10 years from now when a video of your “crabcore” band surfaces on YouTube.

“ … the lamest, most compromised, most boring music rises to the mainstream top while the most interesting, most challenging exists in the margins and under the radar.” —Propagandhi’s Chris Hannah

Best Album of the Last Year: Voivod’s Target Earth had the hardest expectations to live up to and did an admirable job. [Ed. note: Target Earth is the first Voivod album that doesn’t feature original guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour, who died of colon cancer in 2005]. How do you fill Piggy’s shoes? Daniel Mongrain somehow did. As far as hardcore goes, the most interesting band on my radar right now is War on Women from Baltimore. Their upcoming record is going to turn heads.

Best Metal or Hardcore Album of All Time: That’s impossible to answer. Raven’s All for One? That perfected the power-metal that bands like Accept had only hinted at previously. Metallica’s Ride the Lightning set a new standard for the emerging thrash metal movement. Without Venom’s Welcome to Hell, nothing—NOTHING—would have been the same in metal. Not Slayer, not Metallica, not Bathory—nothing. They broke the whole thing open with reckless abandon. And Cro-Mags’ The Age of Quarrel took pure metal progressions to the streets of NYC and made something really special.

Chris Hannah's Gear

Guitars
Gibson SG Standard

Amps
Fractal Audio Axe-FX II
Mesa/Boogie Fifty/Fifty power amp
Mesa/Boogie 2x12 cab

Effects
None

Strings and Picks
Jim Dunlop .88 mm Tortex picks
.011–.052 strings (no specific brand)

Most Underrated Metal or Hardcore Guitarist: Either Dave Carlo from Razor, or Joe Rico and Rob Urbinati from Sacrifice. Listen to (Sacrifice’s) The Ones I Condemn and tell me those riffs don’t make you want someone to break into your house in the middle of the night just so you can kill them with a hammer! [Laughs.]

Metal or Hardcore Cliché That Must Die: I guess I could do without the misogynistic pabulum that still passes for lyrics in this day and age.

Metal or Hardcore Tradition That Must Not Die: I’d like to see the tradition of art in opposition to illegitimate authority expand within metal and hardcore. The worst, most pathetic music has always been that which defers or bows to the prevailing political and social order. Leave the patriotic robot bullshit to the country and pop dingbats. Pussy Riot, for example, are about a thousand times more badass than the majority of bands on the metal and hardcore scene these days.

People Who Don’t “Get” Metal and Hardcore These Days Should …: Go on their merry way, doing their best to advance and encourage the art and music that speaks to them and celebrates the Great Mystery of the cosmos—just as the best metal and hardcore music does.

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