Metal has increasingly become about how extreme a band can be – how fast they play, how intense their songs are, how unsettling their mythos is – or so they’d lead the listener to believe. But metal’s also taken a leap into more unconventional musical extremes, whether it take the form of man-made robotic drone machines (Author & Punisher), black metal cut with harsh noise (Wold), to metal played with a hammer dulcimer (Botanist). But there’s one frontier few metal bands dare tread: the saxophone.
Admittedly, one could argue that saxophone has ruined countless songs in the ’70s and ’80s. From Icehouse to the Alf theme, the saxophone has a rap sheet that’s sometimes unforgivable. But it also worked surprisingly well with punk (X-Ray Spex, James Chance and the Contortions), so why not in the context of metal as well? Though sax in metal is relatively rare, this list of essentials was whittled down from several dozen, many of which feature some of the same familiar names (Bruce Lamont, Jørgen Munkeby). But whether played smooth or pushed to its most honkingly atonal, er, extreme, saxophone has proven that it does, indeed, belong in metal. Toot toot!