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Space Metal for Martians

by Chuck Eddy

Space Metal for Martians

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Heavy metal arguably inherited its love of technological effects and its distaste for pop-chart time constraints from late '60s psychedelic rock. So it should come as no surprise that much of the genre has always opted to blast off into distant dimensions and go space-truckin' across galaxies light years away rather than dig its way toward the fiery pits of Lucifer's underworld. The godfathers of all this rocket-rocking would have to be the venerable Brits in Hawkwind, whom somebody (Robert Christgau maybe?) once decided were the "world's only three-chord prog band," though even their out-of-this-world landmarks like "Master of the Universe" were preceded by a few years by the MC5's 1968 cover of Sun Ra's "Starship."

Astronauts in such outfits as Chrome and Voivod kept the space-metal concept alive and booming (sonically if not commercially) through the next couple decades, but in recent times a number of offshoots of metal's stoner-rock clique have made the sub-style more commonplace again: Novadriver, Mothership, Solar Anus, Aqua Nebula Oscillator, First Band from Outer Space -- their names are all clues. So what better time than now for a couple hours' worth of space-metal songs about satellites, Saturn, the Van Allen radiation belt, and other astronomical curiosities, right? A warning though: Especially toward the end of this mix, the tracks tend to get really, really long. But why not? As Hawkwind taught us decades ago, space is deep.

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