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Dan Hutchison’s Sump Pump Records is a hub for metal acts, DIY artists and vinyl nerds

Along with its wild abundance of musical talent, Iowa is also a treasure trove of top-notch record labels. As someone with a passion for lifting up local artists, I’ve been obsessed in recent years with discovering just what confluence of events has put all of these talented and discerning folk in positions to do just […]

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Political and personal strife fuels Closet Witch’s ferocious, ‘therapeutic’ shows

Of all the hardcore bands and DIY power violence outfits to emerge from Eastern Iowa in recent years, few have been able to channel sheer anger and emotion as effectively as Closet Witch. Forming a little over five years ago, the band is characterized by their aggression, both onstage and on-record. Guitarist and primary songwriter […]

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HIDE’s Heather Gabel is taking a chainsaw to rape culture

Heather Gabel, one-half of the Chicago-based industrial EDM duo HIDE, has an affinity for the haunting, empowering and confrontational. You may have seen Gabel between flashes of strobe lights and clouds of dry ice in the Yacht Club basement during Mission Creek Festival 2019: glimpses of black-smudged lips yelling […]

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Iowa City black metal band Dryad on fighting fascism, channeling Tolkien and consuming music responsibly

Anger and outrage can be expressed through any musical genre, but metal has proven particularly contentious: From its inception, it found a place in working class culture — but, as the 2016 election exemplified, the revolutionary anger and discontent of the working class is often pushed toward the political right and into racist, nationalist and misogynist […]

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Album Review: Omens – Omens EP/No Dawn Casette

Metal never really did it for me. So much of it centered on contrived attitude and image. Growing up I was in the orchestra and AP English, and the metal fans were in Shop classes. While the gearhead kids were buying Sabbath and AC/DC, I was buying Coltrane and Kraftwerk. But a curious thing happened to my perception of metal, influenced by listening to industrial and noisier electronic music like noisecore and gabber: I started hearing what made all the metalheads so happy. […]

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Album Review: Nethervoid – Sirens of the Blistering Light

Nethervoid Sirens of the Blistering Light Beyond the Pyres Records myspace.com/absolutefuckingevil [audio:http://missionfreak.com/audio/Nethervoid_Wyrm_of_Worlds_End.mp3] There is a song on a Nethervoid demo tape called “Torch the Temple,” and if there is an image that better describes this Iowa City black metal band’s sound, I certainly can’t think of it.  And now, the group’s full-length debut, Sirens of […]

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The Horde – From Empire to Ashes CD Review

The Horde From Empire To Ashes Scenester Credentials [audio:The Horde – Battle Cry.mp3] The Horde – Battle Cry (mp3) Heavy Metal long ago descended irrevocably into self-parody. It’s a genre that for me has always been hard to love, and yet impossible not to love a little. Especially if the band is in on the […]

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