Ghostemane: ANTI-ICON – Trap Metal at its Finest

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What happens if you take the best parts of Nine Inch Nails, Death Grips, & Underneath-era Code Orange, and throw them into a blender?

I didn’t initially pay much attention to trap-metal. I’d looked it up, in passing, but nothing really grabbed me. While I appreciated the way trap was evolving into a much more extreme form of music—with the inclusion of screamed and harsh vocals, distorted guitars and bass—I never found anything that made me sit up and take notice.

That is, until I came across Ghostemane. In particular, his 2020 album ANTI-ICON. The YouTube algorithm gods must have blessed me, because a few years ago the newly released ANTI-ICON was sitting inconspicuously in my recommendations, and for some reason, I clicked on it. Though I was vaguely aware of Ghostemane, I couldn’t recall at that point if I’d ever listened to him or not, and without knowing what I was getting into, decided to give it a fair listen.

From the first song, I was hooked. The rap I expected—but the industrial metal was a complete surprise. And not just industrial metal shoehorned into a rap album to try and make it feel heavy, but a coherent, seamless blend of extreme music created by an artist who clearly understands every genre he melds. The inclusion of what was, in my world, ‘conventional’ metal allowed me to appreciate the trap elements from a new perspective.

The more I listened, the more I enjoyed. Ghostemane’s misanthropic vocals span an incredibly broad range, easily traversing the diverse styles of music present on ANTI-ICON as it moves from trap to industrial to metal, often all within the same song. At times it’s jarring—but intentionally so. The album keeps the listener on their toes throughout, yet always maintains a sense of cohesion. It’s an “extreme” album, bound to alienate some listeners, but the blend of the disparate styles creates a genre-defying product greater than the sum of its parts.

Since my first listen, ANTI-ICON has been on regular rotation for me, and has opened up a world of modern, aggressive music I otherwise would have likely missed out on. It’s exciting to see the evolution of heavy and extreme music and the way it’s modernizing as the culture shifts. With artists like Ghostemane paving the way, extreme music appears to be alive and well.

Check out ANTI-ICON in full.

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