Top ten metal to dance crossover tracksWritten by Daniel Beale
Hip hop was arguably the first underground digital-based sub culture to sample what on paper you’d perhaps consider to be the absolute opposite underground sub culture known commonly as heavy metal. In the last 20 years, however, dance music has become more aligned with the guitar-based style than ever. Metal itself has many, many sub genres, as does dance, but it was hardcore rave and techno that first started to utilise the abstract poly-rhythms and raw energy contained in some of the best metal tracks out there.
This top ten, whilst not definitive, shows the way metal and dance music have become more and more fused together (in the best date order I could muster) to the point now, of course, that world famous metal events like Download are playing host to bona fide drum and bass acts like Pendulum and more mainstream but hardcore rooted acts like The Prodigy. You don’t see many death metal bands playing at dnb all nighters though… Now that would be fun!
This four-piece from Manchester sampled the Guns ‘n’ Roses classic ‘Sweet Child ‘o’ Mine’ on this 1990 rave anthem. Everything about this track is illegal rave, from the cheesy rave rap to the synth stabs that went on to define the entire sound (and still do to some extent), this is the first good quality metal sample as far as I know.
Eskimos and Egypt – Welcome to The Future
Two years later and my, how things changed. The UK techno scene, especially in the north of England, had become an entity all of its own and this track is a prime example. I read somewhere that one of the guys from E&E played the intro riff on this himself and re-sampled it or something similar. Anyways, in 1992 this was really hard hitting techno and the inclusion of that wicked riff makes for pretty mental shape throwing.
The Prodigy – Their Law
1994 saw The Prodigy come back from commercial brink, totally re-inventing themselves as a credible underground techno act with the ‘Jilted’ LP. This number saw the highly unusual pairing with northern semi-industrial guitar band Pop Will Eat Itself. Down-tempo and as moody as a grounded 14 year old, this is ultra hard-hitting at full volume, as anyone who’s seen The Prodigy play it live will testify.
Ray Keith – Terrorist (Sing Time)
Pink Floyd were never a metal band, but their influence not only on guitar-based music but also on the dance scene is huge, as this 1995 track by jungle legend Ray Keith testifies. The haunting guitar refrain blends to devastating effect on this beast of a roller. Not a lot more needs to be said than that.
Therapy? – Loose (Photek Remix)
Another 1995 masterpiece and possibly one of Photek’s most underrated re-works. Irish 3 piece Therapy? have made some excellent rock and roll during their time. This remix however shows them in a completely different light and shows just how effective samples of live instruments reacting in their own unique way can be used in dance music compositions with truly dramatic effects. Check the original version of Loose while you’re at it.
Apolo 440 – Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Dub
Liverpool-based Apollo 440 were never afraid to try and quash musical boundaries as a look back through their quite extensive output shows. This came out as drum and bass was going global across the majors in 1996. Well crafted and totally unafraid of itself, it blends the best commercially edged jungle flavours with a gorgeous feedback tinged metal riff to create something truly unique. Love this.
Goldie – Temper Temper
1998 saw Goldie pushing boundaries once more, this time with one of the UK’s best-known and highly respected guitarists, Noel Gallagher. While there isn’t a guitar riff as you’d expect to see one, there is some awesome feedback tinged twanging that really picks this track up and throws it across the room. Great to listen to when you’re pissed off, hence the title.
Concord Dawn – Raining Blood
New Zealanders Concord Dawn broke into and expanded metal sampling capabilities in 2003 when they borrowed the riff from the opening track of Slayer’s brutal album ‘Reign in Blood’. The track ‘Angel of Death’ has one of the most easily recognizable refrains in the history of rock and the album has been regarded all over the world as the most influential metal LP ever (I saw these play the album recently, and while it was dark, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that enjoyed drum and bass dancing to their set!). Anyway, if justice could ever be done to Slayer by way of remix, this one comes pretty close.
Pendulum – Master of Puppets
2010 saw the Aussie outfit re-work this classic track from what is arguably Metallica’s best album of the same title. Love them or hate them, Metallica have gone on to become the most commercially viable of thrash’s Big 4. Love them or hate them, Pendulum have gone on to become one of the biggest rock and bass acts on the planet. The jury is out on this one. You decide.
Nightbreed – Pack of Wolves
2004. The year thrash metal came to the dance floor proper. I could go on about this for ever, but I won’t. Just listen instead! This is easily the best example of thrash and bass yet. By far!!
Mixhell – The Kids Are Alright
When Brazilian thrash metal band Sepultura released their seminal album ‘Beneath the Remains’ in 1989, the whole metal scene stood up and took noticed. They went on to become the countries’ biggest metal band with a whole bunch of acclaimed albums under their belt. 20 years later in 2009, drummer Igor Cavalera re-surfaced with wife Laima Layton as Mixhell. Some part techno and some part electro-fused live drum weirdness, Mixhell are testament that true musicians are open to change and will happily cross-pollinate to create amazing music.
Hallucinator – Black Mass
2012 sees new levels in compatibility. The staple 170 drum and bass break now used widely by producers in the neuro-funk scene resembles the basic thrash metal beat very closely. That coupled with deep harmonics and closely grouped note arrangements means that the whole death/doom metal sound lends itself perfectly to
Idiot sound, we call that Lo-Fi..........