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For all of heavy metal's traditions of burning and burying the sacred and advocating for the profane, the term and its subdivisions depend highly on rules and strictures. But that hasn't stopped wave after wave of pioneers from adding new elements and pushing the form forward, ire and scorn of the true believers be damned. Bull City Metal Fest, then, is a fitting microcosm, with bands that cling (proficiently, even) to the past stacked alongside those that demand something different.
It's telling, ironic and appropriate that The Body and Braveyoung are not only the two performers at the second annual gathering most prone to being lambasted as "not metal at all." They are also the two that have the most to say about the future of that loosely used, tightly guarded term. When it comes to aggression, it's more suitable to be remembered than loved anyway, right?
The Body, from Providence, R.I., is certainly heavy and loud enough to fit the metal category, but they're just restless enough to sometimes be expelled from it, too. Chip King and Lee Buford are, at base, a doom metal duo, laying low long tones and militant barks behind drums that pound into eternity. But they add electronics and work with choirs, shape songs around mangled samples and cover folk songs.
Greensboro's Braveyoung makes what indie rock kids might call post-rock and what metal dudes might generously call doom. Slow and steady, with peaks of light shooting from an oppressive dark, Braveyoung is actually a fitting intersection of both. They show that metal is welcome to bleed into other ideas of heaviness, and vice versa.
In Durham, Braveyoung will play Saturday night at 10 p.m., followed by The Body at 11 p.m. They'll then join for a set that, one expects, should pull from their collaborative 2011 album, Nothing Passes, a record of drones, builds and quakes that tugs gloriously at the meanings of beauty and abrasion. Don't expect your parents' metal, with its goblin talk and showboat riffs; do expect a sound that's heavy and foreign, new and forceful, which are, of course, characteristics your parents might have once used to describe their metal, too. —Grayson Currin
Correction (Feb. 2, 2012): The Body and Braveyoung play Saturday (not Friday, as originally stated in the text).