Local modern-rock station 98X recently added a new specialty show to their Sunday night lineup — and it's not for the timid or squeamish. "Harder, Faster," hosted by Summerville resident Ron House, showcases the most extreme metal and nü-rock among the new releases every Sunday on 98.1 FM from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
"The show is essentially to showcase extreme music," says House. "Bands you'd never get to hear on the air elsewhere ... everything from Polish industrial to New Jersey hardcore to Brazilian death metal. I try to pick a wide variety, but I admit it's more metal than anything so far. I hate to break down metal into sub-sub-genres, but I play every kind of metal: speed, death, power, black, thrash, hardcore, industrial, etc."
"Harder, Faster" mixes the best-known with the underground from a pile of sub-genres — from the classic thrash-metal Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Celtic Frost, Exodus, Mercyful Fate, and Pantera to the bleakly theatrical and downright scary Goth-styled metal of Christian Death, Otep, and Type O Negative to the hyper-distorted, pure-shred grindcore-metal of Napalm Death, Carcass, Painkiller, and Anal Cunt to metallic industrial bands like Ministry, Violent Work of Art, and Saints of Eden.
During the first show, House kicked off a regular segment called "The Vault," where he steps back "about 20 years for a track perhaps long forgotten or oft enjoyed." So far that's included the likes of influential metal acts Celtic Frost, Agent Steel, Venom, and other veterans.
Only four weeks into his weekly series, House seems surprised by the high volume of listeners calling in during the broadcast and e-mailing during the week. "The callers are highly supportive of it," he says. "I have listeners who are cops. I received a letter from the MacDougall Correctional Facility by six inmates who are fans of the show as well. Bringing the world together one blast-beat at a time, I suppose."
House, 29, also promotes Carolina death metal band Through The Eyes Of The Dead, based in Florence, S.C. The band is currently on tour with Children of Bodom, God Forbid, and Chimaira. "They're from South Carolina and I think they've got a big sound that cats will dig," he says. "Through The Eyes Of The Dead are making a good name for themselves as well with a Canadian/European tour happening presently.
"Locally, I was highly ignorant about the heavy scene," he adds. "After speaking with the local music guru Amy Hutto [of 98X's "Local X"], I found out that there were metal bands in Charleston and some are quite good. Syraphem and Monolith come to mind. Those being the only ones I've heard so far. There's another metal band, Belligerent. I'm looking forward to their April 15th show at A Dough Re Mi in Mt. Pleasant. I finally get to see them."
While the other local rock-oriented stations seem to overlap and collide a bit in their efforts to lure more mainstream listeners in the 18-44 demographic, 98X seems perfectly happy to stand out as the "extreme" misfit, playing the heavier, louder, more metallic modern rock currently being released. It's an attitude reflected in their daytime format, in their regular DJs' shows, in Sunday's "Local X" series ... and again with "Harder, Faster."
Now, if we can only get House to include a "British Metal Blast" segment featuring the grunt of Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister and the operatic howl of Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson ... or maybe that's just too wimpy to fit in...