This is a heavy music blog for those just interested in reading about music around the spectrum of heavy music. Tentatively, I have decided to post MWF every week as long as I can get some readers. I’ll try to keep things managable so it’s not too long. Monday I’ll have Unsigned Monday. I’ll try to find some sort of unsigned band to pimp out. Wednesday will be New Release Wednesday, as long as there is something out that week where I can listen to something and review it. Friday will be Retro Friday. That day I’ll take a look at some album from the metal or hard rock genre that is at least 20 years old. Let’s see if I can get some followers
Angel Vivaldi is a solo artist to the likes of Steve Vai and other virtuosos that have come before him. With an amazing set of skills, Angel constructs incredible instrumentals with fantastic tone. I’ve always had a liking for instrumentals and the dynamic elements it takes to create one that is both well structured and entertaining. Instrumentals are incredibly hard to write as the focal point to any song is really the vocals and content of the story being told. When done write, musicians like Angel can write a story without ever speaking a word. The albums and content I have heard from Angel are all of superior quality and all worth a listen. I have included one of his releases that I first heard and enjoyed. Give it a listen and check out his other stuff. He most certainly is a diamond in the rough.
It’s hard to believe that 20 years at this point marks 1997. Shadows Fall debut came out 20 years ago this year. Shadows Fall is a five piece outfit from the American northwest. Their later work, I feel, helped define the metalcore genre and paved the way for future musicians to carry the torch. Mainly an underground band until some of their later material made its way to the surface. Prior to Brian Fair taking the helm on the microphone with his iconic dreads and image, Phil Labonte was at the forefront of the band. Yes, All That Remains frontman was once the singer of Shadows Fall. This early release shows the band in it’s rawest form and the direction they were heading. It was the pavement that would eventually lead the band to its dynamic later material. If you are into metalcore or any of the newer sound, this is a requirement for you to have.
Demon Hunter – Outlive
Personal note: I’ve never been one to shun away bands that happen to fall under the category of Christian. Personally, I find myself falling somewhere between Agnosticism and Atheism. I find most religions to be ludicrous with their mythology and stories of divine deities. With that said, good music is good music regardless of what is held within the heart of the writer
This Demon Hunter album is one that I would have never expected to rise out of the American metalcore scene. The elements of this record is something I would expect to hear from Soilwork and bands alike. It’s an entertaining album with overall good material. It’s refreshing to hear this surface from the US (3/5)
Invidia – As the Sun Sleeps
I’m honestly surprised that the Nu-Metal scene is still as active as it is. Don’t get me wrong, I still love me some Nu-Metal but having listened to it for so many years and heard just about everything there is to be offered from the genre, it does get old. It does have ok lyrical content and the music is pretty much what you’d expect. It’s a safe choice for you hard rock and Nu-Metal enthusiasts (3/5).
There has been quite a movement within the scene to bring back the sound of the late great 70’s rock bands with overdrive guitar riffs and Black Sabbath style vocals. Bands like Ghost shined a light on this and there has been a boom of bands gaining popularity. Saturn is another stock entry into the library. I do love Ghost and some other bands within the spectrum but this is just bland. It has some Iron Maiden type vocals to it at times when hitting the at times unreachable notes on the scale. Musically, there is nothing overwhelming or surprising. All very reminiscent of Blue Oyster Cult or the like. New flash: Blue Oyster Cult already did it and they did it better (2/5)
Metalcore continues to spawn countless albums every year. Here’s another entry into that category. Another band to emerge from over the pond. This is the type of metalcore that I have fallen in love with over the years; aggressive with melodies built into guitar riffs. Much like August Burns Red or Breakdown of Sanity. I was impressed with the sound and content. I still wish they brought something more to the table with the recreated sound. Still, I recommend to anyone looking to add another entry into the metalcore library (4/5).
This band has been recently signed by Prosthetic Records but I feel it appropriate to give them some love. I’ve had the privilege of playing a show with them and seeing them on more than one occasion. This is a group of killer musicians and the friendliest guys. Their big record debut is a heavy hitter. This album does not shy away from the brutality at all. Imagine Cannibal Corpse with 8 string guitars and even faster. Their live show is intense and they have made countless efforts to return to areas that were welcoming to them. I can’t say enough good things about this record. Just listen and hear what the Midwest has to offer!
It’s interesting to me how far the social acceptance has come for the heavy music scene over the years. Although you still have those that swear by their deities that all us metal fans are going to burn in hell for our blasphemic music. Regardless of what metaphysical belief you hold, there is one sub-genre that still reigns as the most diabolical…Black Metal. For most, the black metal genre is more than annoying with the lo-fi sound and screeching demonic vocals. Not to mention the overly satanic lyrics. Bands like Satyricon and Immortal have made long careers not only with that content but also about frigid Norwegian winters. The music, for most bands, has evolved into more complex and hi-fi sounds. Bands like the aforementioned and others; Dark Fortress, Emperor, Belphegor, Gorgoroth, Watain, etc, have begun to expand their musical content. Lyrically though, not much has changed which is something that has always intrigued me about the genre. It keeps the pure and raw core alive and well. Hardcore fans will say that the simple movement from lo-fi to hi-fi is a betrayal to the scene. Do I have the balls to say that Dark Throne has betrayed the scene by moving into a punk sound or that Burzum has by moving to the avant-garde sound he has now? Probably not, but that’s the beauty of this genre…the constant evolution and different approaches. So why all of this discussion? This week I wanted to look into some of the roots of the black metal, Venom. The irony of the band is that there has been much discussion about where they fall…thrash, black, speed, etc but this is definitely a band that I would credit for much of the black metal movement. Believe it or not we wouldn’t have black metal, or any metal for that matter, as we know it without Venom. In 1981, the band released its first record Welcome to Hell and overall this album is a must have classic for any metal fan. This album is great for so many reasons, the most important being that Venom essentially created something of their own. It contains the satanic imagery associated with black metal today but also a thrash heavy arrangement that will speak to any number of fans out there. With the title track and others like “Sons of Satan” this album is one that will feed the evil within for a period of time. The track “In League with Satan” has a hypnotic trance and tribal rhythm to it that deviates from the thrash elements slightly to give it that ominous feel. Many of the classic bands that paved the way have attributed Venom as an influence so their obscurity is extremely disappointing. Do yourself a favor and those around you and blast this album (and the rest of their discography) this weekend. You will not regret it.
- Sons of Satan
- Welcome to Hell
- Mayhem with Mercy
- Live Like an Angel
- Witching Hour
- One Thousand Days of Sodom
- Angel Dust
- In League with Satan
- Red Light Fever
Northlane – Mesmer (3/24/17)
The band Northlane hails from Sydney, Austrailia and has picked up quite a bit of speed since coming on the scene in 2011 with their first LP Discoveries. I wouldn’t say the band has pioneered a sound but what they have going on is one that works for them. The band utilizes the progressive technicality you would come to expect from this particular genre of music and the album all the way through is a ride of complicated riffs, beautiful melodies, and aggression. Mind you, this album is nothing new to the genre or sound rather a progression towards another level of it. Personally, I felt the blending of prog rock with the classic djent style made for an enjoyable play through and added a level of complexity to the album. Lyrically, the content of the album is mature and speaks volumes of how far the band has come. This album will definitely be attractive to those who are fans of the progressive rock/metal style. (3.75/5)
Memoriam – For the Fallen (3/24/17)
I am completely unfamiliar with this band and their material. The album immediately kicks off with a heavy, low tuned, sludgy riff that draws you in. At first it is unclear whether this is coming in as a doom or death metal release. After getting passed the first track “Memoriam” it becomes clear this is by far an old-school death metal release. It is unrelenting and yet simple in it’s ingredients and execution. The band members have been around for quite some time; members of Bolt Thrower, Life Denied, Benediction, and Sacrilege; the death metal roots are most definitely heard throughout this release. This is reminiscent of Obituary, Immolation, or Sinister. The grudging vocals and the raw sound they have is some early death metal in 2017. It’s always a breath of fresh air when a sound like this continues to make its way throughout decades with an ever changing landscape of the metal scene. Any old-school death metaller will love this album. (3.5/5)
Pallbearer – Heartless (3/24/17)
Another band I am unfamiliar with. I was sucked into this album from the first riff of the record. The riffage and arrangement reminds me so much of a Black Sabbathesque type sound that it could have almost been released during the 70’s and 80’s during the boom of Black Sabbath. Along the movement with bands such as Witchcraft who’s album Legend really struck me as a powerful and catchy album, this album falls into that spectrum. Pallbearer rightfully has earned their right to be atop the metal spectrum with this release. It’s low-tuned, groovy, and gorgeous sound will inevitably draw in any metal entrepreneur and damn near force them to love it. The overdriven riffs are catchy and during the second track “Thorns” there is an interlude that is nearly perfect with an immensely beautiful clean channel riff. The interchange of overdriven and clean channel riffs are strongly reminding of Agalloch and a dark yet beautiful style that any metal fan should love. Any fan of Black Sabbath and the new-age likes will definitely dig this album. (4.5/5)
Metal Blade Records strikes again with another bullet to the head album. This Swedish death metal quartet brings the pain of ultimate thrash death to your ears. I was blown away by this record. It immediately starts out like a murderer busting through the door looking to slice your throat. The aggression and pure emotion that flows through the instrumentals mimics grind and death acts that laid before them. This album is fast and completely unrelenting. I love this album for what it is and what they are trying to say and do. There is something about a completely raw and unrelenting band that is not willing to sacrifice an element to make their music mainstream that will always speak to me. If you are a fan of grind or death metal, please buy this album because you will not be disappointed (4/5)
Liquorworks is a progressive metal act from Finland. They formed back in 2007 according to their facebook. It appears that the band is currently unsigned. I checked out their 2016 release Psycho Soundwaves. This release is a bit of a surprise to me. It definitely has a prog metal feel to it but at times the synth and keyboard kick in and it sounds like something out of the Pumpkinhead movie franchise. It also touches on some melodic metal stuff you would catch out of the Swedish scene. Numerous time, speed, and rhythm changes throughout the album. At times it would just flip like a switch to a whole other world. That comes off a bit schizophrenic for those that are not typically accustomed to those types of changes in music. Oh, did I mention this album is entirely instrumental. Very well written intrumentals. I imagine this is what a baby between Animals as Leaders and Between the Buried and Me would sound like. Overall the album has a dark feel to it and it really felt that the album was damn near storyboarded before it was recorded. It felt like this album was definitely NOT thrown together. Check out this album for something different.
- Then To Hell With You
- Hostile Inspector
- Lubrificante Intimi
- Pain Owns You
- Erotic Chaos
- Sounds Like a Plan
- Where’s my Railotron? (Funky Business)
- Stories From the Toxic Journey