There’s a popular conception of metalheads being maniacs–out-of-control lunatics, rabid dogs in Satan’s service.
While it’s true that some of these artists may have some sort of contract with unsavory spirits, the stereotype of wildness is actually false.
These practictioners of the dark musical arts are often musicians in the truest sense, devoted craftsmen who hold often themselves to an unrealistically high standard, prioritizing organization and discipline.
Seed, who have claimed to be Korea’s first death metal band, are a perfect example of this supremacy of structure in heavy music.
On their 2010 cut “Their Bodies Covered in Flames,” their insistence on making tight and taut music illustrates that metal is, in fact, a music of restraint.
Seed first emerged in 1997 on a four-way split release with the brain-splitting title of “Legal Defense,” released on the stalwart Korean metal label Seoul Records.
Since then, they’ve released two thrashing full-lengths, with a third album to emerge later this year.
“Their Bodies Covered in Flames” comes from Seed’s second album, 2010’s puzzlingly named “Origin of Seed,” (wouldn’t their first album be considered the “Origin of Seed?” I digress).
The first thing that grabs a listener’s ear on “Their Bodies Covered in Flames” is the cyborg-like precision.
Not a beat or riff is out of place.
This is exemplified in the drumming.
The machine gun snare and double-kick drum bludgeoning heard here is a stylistic trope of death metal, and mixed incorrectly, it can amount to little more than paper-thin pitter-patter.
In Seed’s case, the rhythms are unpredictable and thoughtful and the mix allows the guitars to compliment the kick drum in such a way that it communicates heaviness rather than thinness.
The mix could be described as both vicious and viscous.
The vocals alternate between latter-day metal’s two classic foils, the guttural demon and the screeching ghoul.
Rhythmically, Seed switches between two gears, a full-throttle blast beat and half-time head-nod.
Contrasts such as these betray a compositional mettle that all great metal bands possess.
But whatever their personal proclivities may be, they are taking their craft seriously and not allowing for a single idle moment in this song.
There are no guitar solos.
Instead, the focus is on the group’s cumulative sound, meant to crush rather than impress.
The tempo shifts that come between sections is another indicator of Seed’s exceedingly deliberate songwriting.
Without being carefully rehearsed, change-ups such as these can fall flat.
Seed pull them off with, I’ll say it, grace.
It’s plausible that casual listeners could lob some deserved derision towards the metal community, what with its tendencies towards unintentional camp and poor taste.
But, as illustrated by Seed, though you don’t have to respect their aesthetic, you have to acknowledge the workmanship.
Check out Seed’s 2010 song “Their Bodies Covered in Flames” RIGHT HERE Jeff Tobias is a composer, musician and writer currently living in Brooklyn, New York.
As of late he has been studying the music of Morton Feldman and attempting to brush up on his Spanish.