Mining Metal is a monthly column from Heavy Consequence writers Joseph Schafer and Langdon Hickman. The focus is on noteworthy new music emerging from the non-mainstream metal scene, highlighting releases from small and independent labels — or even releases from unsigned acts.
Here’s some fast numbers for all of you. Metal Archives, an imperfect but still useful resource, has 471 new albums listed as being released during the month of November 2021. Including EPs, splits and collaborative records, that number jumps up to 782. When you add in the number of records and labels not catalogued on that site, that number jumps up, often quite drastically. We have eight slots to work with total. There is a scalar difference between these numbers, which require a lot of tools and frankly a large amount of personal taste to carve down to a more reasonable number. Parts of this process are more perfect than others; we don’t support or platform bigots here, which carves out a certain number every month, and while we have fairly wide ears in certain respects, the fact of being human unfortunately precludes certain things by simply not appealing directly to us as listeners, writers, and editors.
This is all to say that even in the thinner months of the year, it is a wonderful and exciting challenge for us not to reach quota but to select what exactly makes it. Sometimes we’ll pass over a more obvious release or record label or band in favor of highlighting some strange and very small gem we found, trying to give a platform to the most underground of underground material we can find. Other times, we get swept up in the buzz around a record just like anyone else, feel zeal and wide-eyed wonder just like anyone else. Music writing, after all, shouldn’t ever be totally stripped of the human capacity for wonder. Why would you ever care about a machine-curated list of scare-quotes perfect bands when you the human on the other side of this screen are looking for art, be it extreme or otherwise, that reveals or confronts some aspect of the vastness of the world you live in?