Everyone has their own views on what makes good Black Metal. Some say it was to be raw and evil, some say its about the tremolo picking and blast beats, some think you can make Black Metal any way you want it to be. Harakiri For The Sky proves that last theory correct with their signature blend of Post Black Metal. Back in February, their 4th album, Arson was released to critical acclaim. Back then (though updated now to make the interview make sense) I was able to ask the mastermind of Harakiri For The Sky, M.S. some questions about everything going on with the band. He recently got back to me and I can now call this my 500th interview to date. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! February 16th brought on the release of Arson. How does it feel to have this album out now? What was the songwriting process for Arson?
Actually the whole process was really smooth, we handled it as before, hence me recording the music and providing it to JJ to create the lyrics, then recording those. Only difference was that our friend Krimh (Septic Flesh, ex-Decapitated) played the studio drums for us and gave the whole album a fresher sound with the way he plays drums, that was a great experience for us. He was in Austria that time and after sending him the pre-production he had some time to practice the drumtracks and refined them a bit. Was great to record with him, he is an energetic drummer and it was very good for the whole album sound.
What led to Arson being chosen as the title of the album?
The album deals a lot with closure of past events in our lives, finding a point to leave it behind…metaphorically spoken setting it all on fire. Also it can be seen as a critic on how our society develops, how shallow it gets and that its unhealthy how selfish people have become and how this is harming the way we treat each other. There are many way to interpret the title but best is just to listen, read the lyrics and make your own opinion.
With the amount of positive reception for 2016’s III: Trauma, did you feel any kind of pressure (good or bad) when writing for Arson?
There is always pressure but the important part is not to give in. Otherwise you would get influenced to change your unfiltered ideas to stuff that might sell better or sounds more like the previous release or whatever. Most important is to make honest music that comes from the heart and not to do something just to be successful.
Having been a fan since the first album, I really love what you guys are able to accomplish as far as the songwriting and lyrical concepts. How have you feel the band has progressed since 2011?
I think there is always a natural progress. Or lets call it change better. We got older too, we have different things that influence us, different things that are on our minds and that we have to deal with. Probably the same with everyone.
Every Harakiri For The Sky album has it’s own very distinct sound to it. How would you describe Arson in an overall sense?
I'd describe it as very organic but also quite aggressive. its overall a bit faster and harder but still with its very melancholic and melodic side. it was always important for us to combine those two features…might say a lot about our characters.
With that, I really notice from a songwriting perspective that there is much more use of Melodies, Harmonies, and diversity on Arson. Was this an intentional thing, or did that just happen naturally?
That's all natural, i guess maybe i write more mature songs now with the melodies embedded a bit better, but its hard to evaluate that myself to be honest.
Tomb Omnia and You Are The Scars were chosen to represent the album before it’s release. What led to these 2 songs being chosen to showcase the album?
Both of us got to choose one song, simple as that…wasnt easy though i have to admit.
What do you like to do when you are not focused on Harakiri For The Sky?
I love to travel, that's incredibly freeing and relaxing for me to also see other places and getting to know other cultures. Also with touring a lot its important to not forget about social contacts at home…besides that there is always music, that's an everyday thing in our lives anyhow.
Has there been any 2018 albums that you have enjoyed so far?
I can say in 2018 i especially enjoy the new Sworn (black metal from Norway) album as well as the new A Perfect Circle album.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a fan since the beginning, it’s awesome to see how far the band has come in a relative short time and I can say that Arson may be my favorite album from the band to date. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to say that I haven’t mentioned yet?
Thanks a lot for the interview again, sorry for the severe delay with the interview…has been a bit of a rough patch lately personally. Cheers!
Harakiri For The Sky- Arson is available NOW through APO Records
Tommy Karevik has had a busy life as of late. Between fronting one of the biggest Power Metal bands in the world, Kamelot, fronting one of the best Progressive Metal bands, Seventh Wonder, and many cool guest spots; Karevik has really been able to show off everything he is capable of with his voice. A while back, I got to send Karevik a few questions about everything he has going on lately. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview!
TK: No, Thank you =)
First things first. The brand new Kamelot album, The Shadow Theory, came out April 6th through Napalm Records. How does it feel to have your 3rd album with Kamelot out?
TK: It feels great. We are all very happy with the album and the general direction the band is moving in right now. Needless to say the sound has evolved in comparison to the the old Kamelot records which is only natural because times evolve and people as well. But the cool thing is that we managed to keep that Kamelot trademark sound through it all, the instant recognition factor when putting on a song.. Yup this is Kamelot!
How did the songwriting process begin for The Shadow Theory?
TK: The same as always actually. Thomas and Oliver got together to work on ideas a couple of times to hammer out the basis of the musical framework. I was then working on song ideas with Oliver over skype mostly. I spent the majority of the time writing with Sascha in Wolfsburg though, writing music, melodies, arrangements and lyrics as well as recording the final product.
What is the story behind The Shadow Theory lyrically?
TK: It is a loose concept based around the theories of Carl Jung´s “The shadow aspect” where everyone has a shadow and the less we embody it the darker it gets. We use that as a platform to tell a story of a dystopic world where most of the worlds money is in the hands of only a handful of people. These people rule the world behind closed doors and make us believe that they want us to believe, making us think we are making decisions based on what we need or want. There are 3 main elements to the story.
The Shadow Empire being the top layers with all the power. The Shadow Key being the growing resistance of enlightened and free thinking people. Connecting the shadow key back to psychological aspect of the overall theme we also want to convey the message that only you possess the key to your own happiness and self growth. No one else can do that for you. It will require work but you can do it. The 3rd one is The Shadow Wall and that is the smoke screen they put in front of our eyes to distract us in favor of their hidden agenda… Social media, commercials, religion and war.
I noticed throughout the album, Kamelot has really spread their wings, musically, and a lot of diversity is going on throughout. Was this a conscious decision or did that happen naturally?
TK: I think it just happened naturally. I mean we always try to have diversity in every album. There has to be a certain flow and pacing for the fans that wants to enjoy the album from start to finish. We still write for people to be able to listen like that and we take pride in that.
As of the time of writing this, Ravenlight is the sole single for the album so far. How was Ravenlight chosen to represent the album as a single?
TK: Well knowing what the first 2 real video songs would be we felt that ”Ravenlight” would be a great instant gratification track in terms of having all these elements that a Kamelot song should contain. It is a pretty direct song with a great message that you can instantly hear is us=)
Now that you’re 3 albums deep into Kamelot, how did you approach your work on this album?
TK: Every new album is always a great challenge. The more music you write, the harder you have to work to not repeat yourself. It can be daunting at times but the feeling of finding solutions that is something new and fresh and that hasn´t been written before but that still sounds like you, is just fantastic. Of course writing is also more relaxed though after 3 albums in terms of feeling comfortable with the band and the fans. I know that I have their support and that feels great. This time around I just sat down and started writing and basically didnt stand up before it was done. It was very condensed and intense in the end.
The album not only features your amazing vocals, but also features Lauren Hart and Jennifer Haben doing guest vocals. How did they come aboard for The Shadow Theory?
TK: Thank you! Lauren Hart was recommended to us by my girlfriend Kobra Paige. She joined us for a show in California where we opened up for Iron Maiden and did a great job. She is a screamer and when there was a few parts on the album that called for that style she was asked and happily accepted. Jennifer is the singer of ”Beyond the Black” and has been working with Sascha a lot in the past. He knew she was a great person and easy to work with in the studio so she is singing a duet with me on the ballad ”In Twilight Hours”. I really like that song and her voice fits perfectly.
Earlier this year, Kamelot hit North America with Battle Beast and Delain. How did it feel to be back on the road to promote the new album?
TK: It was a great tour. Our biggest and best North American tour to date and that was awesome to see. NA is growing to be a real main market contender for Kamelot. It was a great package with bands that delivered a killer show night after night for month straight… Very consistent tour and great people.
With playing song from both your era and previous work; what are your favorite songs to sing live (from before your time, and what you’ve recorded)?
TK: From the older songs I would say ”The Human Stain” is a favorite. I think it is just a beautiful song with fantastic lyrics and a highly relatable topic. When it comes to my own songs it is more difficult ha ha… The energy with songs like ”Sacrimony”, ”Liar Liar” and ”Insomnia” never fails though and those are songs that people know word by word so it´s very rewarding to play live.
What is next for Kamelot?
TK: We got kind of a busy festival summer ahead of us followed by a European tour in the fall where we will also record a live DVD in Tilburg Holland. After that we have a Japan/Australia tour planned so some exciting times for sure!
Any updates in the world of Seventh Wonder?
TK: The new concept album ”Tiara” will finally hit the streets in October this year. It will feel very nice after such a long time to give something back to the fans. We are very proud of the album and we are looking forward to be able to play some shows on it come release date! There are some things brewing as we speak =)
Last year, you lent your voice to the amazing project, Ayreon for the album, The Source. What was it like to lend your voice once again to Arjen’s masterpiece songwriting?
TK: Yeah Arjen asked me again and I totally didn't expect that since I was on the previous album, so yeah I was surprised. I had a lot on my plate at the time but I made it happen anyway for Arjen because I love that guy and I really wanted to do it. Arjen typically sends me guide vocals of melodies he wrote and I adapt them to my style of singing and make adaptations. It´s fun and very different to all my other bands where I write my own melodies and lyrics from scratch.
Was their any albums in 2017 that you enjoyed?
TK: Actually 2017 was such a crazy year in terms of being totally buried in work so I don´t even remember most of it… Let alone did I have time to listen to a lot of music unfortunately. Whenever there was time to wind down I would typically turn to music completely different from metal or rock. I listen to a lot of Swedish singer song writer music and my favourite is Lars Winnerbäck. There is nothing like listening to beautiful lyrics in your own language I find.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a long time fan of ALL of your work, it was a complete honor to be able to ask you some questions about everything you have going on and promoting the brand new album from Kamelot; which I very much enjoy. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
TK: Thank you for those kind words and thanks a lot for your support! Also a big thank you to all of the readers out there! Hopefully I will see you all somewhere down the road!
Kamelot- The Shadow Theory is out NOW through Napalm Records.
Seventh Wonder- Tiara is out October 12th through Frontiers Music.
Some bands were just born to play fun music. That's what Kissin' Dynamite is all about. Over the span of their 5 previous album, the band has showcased all of what they are about in Hard Rock, Glam, and Heavy Metal, with the upcoming release of their 6th album and first album through Metal Blade Records, Ecstasy, I got the opportunity to ask Andi Schnitzer (drummer) of KIssin' Dynamite a few questions about everything you need to know about the band in 2018. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! Ecstasy is coming out July 6th through Metal Blade Records. How does it feel to have this album coming out in just a couple weeks?
It's always a very exciting time when a new studio album is gonna be released, but this time it's something even more special for us, because it's the first album with the passionate new team we built around us, consisting of Metal Blade for the world and Sony Columbia for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. So we're curious of what's going to happen.
How did the writing process begin for this 6th album from Kissin’ Dynamite?
It was in summer 2017 after the the Generation Goodbye Tour. Our first plan was to release the next album not until 2019, so we actually didn't have any pressure. And this is always the best state of mind you can have to write songs. So Hannes and me started writing, just for the sake of writing songs. We had a really good flow and after a few weeks we already had almost the base of entire album. So, after all we decided that we could release the album already in 2018. Like this we stick to our 2-year groove that we have since 2008. Anyhow, it seems to be a good rhythm for us.
I really love the diversity of the album. There is some heavy hitting moments not just musically, but emotionally as well well just stellar songwriting and musicality. Was that the focus of writing these songs on this album or did these songs come together naturally?
Thank you very much. I think it's always important that things grow naturally. We've always decided after how we felt at the time. This time, we just knew, that we wanted to go kind of back to the roots, after we had made some experiments musically as well as in therms of lyrics on the last two albums. So this time, it was all about more simplicity without being trivial, no compromises. And of course, we always care about being focused for writing catchy songs.
How was the recording process this time around? Any major changes, mishaps or funny moments of note?
It may sound boring, but: actually no changes. You know, over the years we developed a nice and smooth way to write and produce together that just works for us. And probably we keep on refining it as we get more and more experienced, but I guess we won't chance the base of it anymore. And in terms of funny stuff...believe me, I could go on forever with telling you tour stories, but when we're in the studio, we're focused and serious in order to have the best possible result. But when the touring starts again, it's always the best moment, because then the beast gets unleashed. Ask me again after the Ecstasy Tour ;)
With that, Ecstasy is your first album to come out through Metal Blade Records. How does it feel to have this album come out through such a legendary label?
As I said before, it's very exciting time for both the band and the people from the label. For us, it's really cool to be with Metal Blade, because they're rooted in Germany AND Los Angeles. And due to the fact that we've still never been to the States, I guess these are really good requirements therefore.
The title track and I’ve Got The Fire were chosen as singles for the album. How did it come about choosing those 2 songs to showcase the album?
I think, I've got the fire was predesignated to be the first big bang after the longer break we had before. It's a hymn-like, good vibe stadium rock track which is also the perfect opener for the album. And lyrically, it fit's perfectly fitting to the band name. So it just makes sense. Ecstasy, we chose as the second single firstly because of the outstanding featuring performance of Anna Brunner from Exit Eden on this track and secondly because it captures the basic vibe of the album very good, which is: having a good time and looking on the sunny side of life.
Coming up later this year, you’ll be opening for the legendary Powerwolf throughout Europe. How does it feel to be on such a great tour package like that?
It definitely will be the highlight of the year. We've met those guys several times before on some festivals and I can say, they're really lovely and funny guys. I'm sure, it's gonna be a blast. And of course, they're quite big, so we will get the opportunity to play in front of a hell of a lot of people in whole Europe, which is great.
For anyone going to check you out for the first time on this tour, what should people expect from a Kissin’ Dynamite show?
You know, I've never seen a KD show myself, because anyhow I always was very busy at the time :) But I guess, you can expect a very explosive and powerful show, also visually. We're not the kind of band who is standing around and is only playing their instruments. I promise, there's a lot happening on stage!
What do you like to do when you’re not focused on Kissin Dynamite?
Currently, I actually don't know because at the time it's all about Kissin' Dynamite every day. But when I've got the time, I really love to live my life in the name of permanent vacation, so I just lay in the sun, go out for a motorcycle ride or in winter I really love to go into the sauna or skiing. I need those relaxing things as a compensation to the roller-coaster ride of playing in a rock band.
What are you currently listening to?
I really like Ghost. After a long time, it's finally a new band with no hyper modernized sound, but still having that x factor that separates them from the rest. For the first time, I saw them as a support for Iron Maiden a few years ago and thought: Oh my, just another masked band. But after a while, I noticed that they're something special.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a long time fan of the band, it was awesome to see everything going on in the world of Kissin’ Dynamite and taking about what will be one of my favorite albums of 2018, Ecstasy. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Thank you for this Interview and the compliments. We're really thankful of whats going on at the time and can't wait to unleash the beast again. Hope to see you all on the road, rock n roll! ;)
Kissin' Dynamite- Ecstasy is out July 6th through Metal Blade Records
I've said it before, I'll say it a million times. Canada produces some of the best Metal bands on the planet. Any style you can think of is represented in a brilliant way all over. With that, a band from the Edmonton Alberta Canada area is finally releasing their first EP, The Existential Reversal, June 15th. I had the opportunity to ask this band some questions about their unique blend of Thrash and Metalcore. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! June 15th brings the release of your brand new EP, The Existential Reversal. How does it feel to finally get this out?
We’re really excited to finally release these tracks to our fans. We’ve spent a lot of time developing our sound over the past couple years and it is fully represented with this EP. It feels good to release some fresh content.
How did The Existential Reversal become the title of this EP?
It definitely took a bit of time to land on a solid name, but half way through the recording process, it just sort of hit us. The EP has a very dark tone to it and conveys themes of the unwilling inevitability of death and the idea of having your life ripped away before you are ready - The Existential Reversal.
What was the songwriting process for this EP?
For this EP Marshall, one of our guitarists, laid the majority of the ground work on guitar and then him and our other guitarist Rob hashed out the finer details, including harmonies and layers to give the tunes that crunchy yet smooth sound. Drum patterns and bass lines were developed during jam sessions. Once a song was put together, our vocalist Brett would write lyrics and vocal patterns and then we would all collaborate in jam to ensure we developed the best song possible. We felt these songs fit really well together as a three track EP.
I really dig the artwork for this EP. How did the artwork come together for this release?
We’re big fans of quality artwork. We love complex and intricate designs both for our merch and EPs. We work primarily with two artists for the majority of our artwork; this particular design being developed by Headsplit Design out of France. We feel that it’s the perfect representation of the thematic undertones of time and death, using subtle details throughout the design.
All three songs fit so perfectly together showing off what you guys are capable of in 2018. How do you feel about the progression of the band up to this date?
We’ve been pushing each other to really up our musical game. We started off as more of a straight ahead thrash metal band with hints of metalcore, but with our current line up we’re not overly concerned with traditional sub genres. We write songs using several different influences and go with what sounds best to us - whatever we think is going to make people say “Fuck Yeah Tyrant!” is what we want to put out. We are excited about the unique sound we’ve created and look forward to defining it further.
Where do you see Tyrant going from here musically?
We want to continue writing music that satisfies us as a band while building off the sound we’ve created on The Existential Reversal. As previously mentioned, we don’t want to limit ourselves to any sub genres as we write new music. We are looking to actively experiment with new ideas and influences to further develop the Tyrant sound.
What is next for Tyrant?
We want to keep our foot on the gas. Now that we’ve released some new material, our goal for the rest of the year is to continue playing shows around Western Canada and put together a national tour. We’ve been keeping our eye on some overseas opportunities, which is something we really want to push for next year. We’re also in the process of writing a full length record as well as re-recording our old demo Limitations with it’s current live sound. We want to ensure that we can provide our fans with a solid stream of quality content to keep up the momentum.
What should people expect from a Tyrant live set?
People should get ready for some serious energy. We’ve been gaining a reputation in Western Canada for having a chaotic and energetic live performance while upholding our music standards to the fullest. We constantly work on our live performance and feel that it is a big part of our identity as a band. Whether it’s shredding on stage, selling merch, or having a beer in the parking lot, we love playing shows and meeting new fans.
What is the Metal seen like in the Edmonton area compared to the rest of Canada?
For a long time Edmonton’s Metal scene was a top contender in Canada, representing a variety of metal and hardcore bands. Sadly the music scene has taken quite a hit in the past few years with a large number of venue closures - even the venue where we shot the live part of our music video for Spoils Of Decimation burned down about two weeks after the shoot. The city can’t seem to catch a break lately, but Edmonton is resilient and has great people working in the scene. We are hopeful and excited to see it prosper once again.
What do you like to do when you’re not focused on Tyrant?
As a band, we like to hang out together and crush Pina Coladas, put on records, and play board games.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I absolutely love The Existential Reversal and I can’t wait to see what you guys embark upon next. Before we are done is there anything else you would like to mention that I hadn’t brought up yet?
Well first off, thank you for the interview and we’re glad you dig the EP! And secondly, as a general PSA: support your local music scene because no one wants that shit to wither away!
Tyrant- The Existential Reversal is out June 15th!
Brooklyn NY has had some fantastic bands over the years of all styles of music. It's awesome to see now that more of the Atmospheric, Indie, & Post Rock styles are getting represented in this amazing new band called Glass Lungs. On the verge of their debut album, Impermanence, coming out June 29th, I had the please of asking Glass Lungs' Andy Amato (Drums) a few questions about everything you need to know about this band. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! For those that may not be familiar, describe Glass Lungs.
Glass Lungs is a band with passion bursting from the seams. Each note is written and played with purpose, each cymbal and drum hit with deliberate dynamic and rhythm, and each word sung with conviction, sincerity and meaning. There is no lack of beauty and ambience with each song yet there is grit and aggression that will move you and leave you wanting more. Taking influences from our surrounding areas in Brooklyn and NYC, there is a toughness yet elegance that blends the two in a way the listener wouldn’t predict nor think it could make sense but does. It’s an experience that will grab you. Come along for the ride.
June 29th brings forth the debut album from Glass Lungs, Impermanence. How does it feel having your debut album finally coming out?
It has been a long road with still so much to accomplish but having the release date right around the corner is a relief. It will be 10 months since we got into VuDu Studios with Frank Mitaritonna to record this album and I couldn’t be more proud of how it came out.
With that, how was Impermanence chosen as the album title?
It’s tragic how so many school shootings, mass killings and senseless terror happens in our world now but still nothing shakes you to the core like the loss of a loved one. Death around you is jarring and can really affect you but when you can no longer lean on your best friend, hear “I love you” from a parent, hug your sibling or spend time with anyone that means something special to you, it leaves you sincerely with a piece inside missing forever. If you allow that moment to sink in, you can see just how precious each breath you take is, each moment we can enjoy time with someone meaningful to you is and puts a real, beautiful perspective on our lives. Our existence is so short in the grand scheme of things. Life is fragile and unpredictable. This album touches on these subjects of loss and a longing for more. Chad, our vocalist, had someone very near and dear to him pass away and he was able to use this album as a platform to work out his feelings on the matter. It means a lot to me as I have lost someone that meant so much to me recently and I believe it’s something we can all relate to. It is how we deal with it that makes the difference.
Spin after spin, I am constantly picking up new layers in your sound. A great sense of atmosphere mixed in with brilliant songwriting and musicianship. Was this the original intent for the band’s sound, or did it come about this way naturally?
We all, with the exception of Chad, come from the hardcore/metal scene so this band was something very new and exciting for us to dive into. There are still heavy elements to this album, (i.e. I snuck in a blast beat in “Firewalker (Chapter 2)”, but we got lost in experimenting with different sounds that felt almost celestial at times and made you really feel something to the core of you. I think this line-up is very special in that we all are striving for something deeper and more unique. We are on the same page and aren’t afraid to try new things. Sometimes it’s just in letting things ring out and letting the pieces fall where they may that produce the most memorable and soaring parts in our songs. Overall it’s been a very natural process and we are exciting to continue to progress and mature as a band.
When did you realize the band was going in the right direction musically?
The band was going in the right direction the moment the demo of the song “Acquiesce” was born, which is one of the first songs written prior to me joining the band and is what made me want to be a part of Glass Lungs in the first place.
From The Wayside is a great example of what you guys can do as a band. Capturing what the album is about, but leaving you wanting more. Is that why it was chosen as a single?
“From The Wayside” was the choice for the first single because we felt it had the right elements of catchiness lyrically and moved well musically. A lot of the songs are a bit more progressive on the album and this one felt more straight-forward and the right song for listeners to get a first taste of the album.
What is next for Glass Lungs?
What is next for Glass Lungs is touring. We have been tackling Brooklyn and NYC for some time and will continue to do so but now we are looking to branch out and hit more than the New York metropolitan market. It’s something we are anxious for and look forward to bringing this new album to as many places as we can!
What should people expect from a Glass Lungs live show?
People should expect to feel something at our live show. Expect to feel energy and the moments that leave you deep in thought. Our live set is very intense. It’s dark, driving and leaves space at the right time so things don’t get monotonous and boring. Come ready to sing along and enjoy a real experience with us.
What are you currently listening to?
I am a die-hard Misery Signals fan so I’m always rocking that band but I cannot get enough of movie scores. Sometimes vocals/lyrics block the moments I can do my own thinking instead of someone telling me how they feel or what to feel. Having moments of introspection while listening to Alexandre Desplat or letting John Williams take my mind to the lands of Hook, Jurassic Park and Star Wars, Danny Elfman to Gotham (Tim Burton’s Batman) and Edward Scissorhands to name a few, are some of my favorite moments of my day.
What do you like to do when you’re not focused on Glass Lungs?
When I’m not focused on practicing the drums and trying to progress the band I write poetry, I’m writing a screen play and I am currently developing another podcast endeavor after being a host of a successful show a couple years ago.
Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a new fan of the band it was great being able to ask you a few questions and learn more about what Glass Lungs is all about. Before we wrap things up, is there anything else you would like to mention that I hadn’t brought up yet?
I think it’s important to note that the best part of being in a band is friendship. The memories you make on tour, writing, recording and all things band related, brings you close together and makes you family. Some of the closet people in my life are old band mates and current ones. Fans come and go but it’s the band, the family that matters most.
Lastly, we aren’t a religious band by any means, on the contrary actually at times but we feel there is more to life than your phone, Instagram or the newest Netflix show out. Ok Netflix gets a pass but people matter. Art matters. Go out and touch somebody. I don’t care if you feel you are the toughest dude in the room, you have the desire in you to be loved, and to feel important and special to someone. Express yourself and let go of the notion of being “Too cool”. Write some shit on paper and see how it goes. Find yourself, and your voice. Music, and art in general saves lives. It has saved mine.
Glass Lungs- Impermanence is out June 29th!
TNT is back in full recording force after 8 years with their latest album, XIII which is out NOW through Frontiers Music. I recently got to ask founding member of TNT Ronni Le Tekro, about everything going on with TNT in 2018. CHeck out the quick interview down below. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! June 8th brings in the release of TNT’s 13th album, appropriately entitled XIII. How does it feel to finally have this album out?
It feels good to have the album out.It was quite a journey making it. It think it carries a message of Hope
With 8 years between albums, how did you approach the songwriting for XIII?
The songwriting on this album was a bit different from the other albums. 2 of the songs were written by Tony Harnell and Me,4 of them were cowritten with Ledfoot(Tim Scott O`Connell) and Tony. The rest was shaped around my ideas and Tim`s great lyrics.We wanted a diverse album like Queen
Of course in those 8 years, there has been lineup changes in the band. How did it feel getting this incarnation of the TNT lineup for this album?
It feels good.We rehearse and are constantly looking for creative moments.As well as keeping the legacy while building momentum.
Did you change anything in the studio this time Around? As far your guitar setup or any additional changes?
There are no changes in the studio except new 32 ch UA Apollo soundcards. The rest of the guitar setup is identical with 1982.Marshalls :-)
How hard was it deciding what songs would be released as singles before the release of XIII?
The label decided the first single,luckily....cause the band,being in it,is blind and def:-)
XIII is being released on your new label home, Frontiers Music. How does it feel working with Frontiers?
Frontiers are doing a very good job for the band and seems geniously interested in good rock
What is next for TNT?
Next for TNT is release of new video `NOT FEELING ANYTHING` as well as live shows beginning June 22nd
What should people expect from a TNT show in 2018?
You can expect all the classics from 82 and on as well as 4 songs from the new album XIII
Also in 2018 brings the 36th anniversary of TNT. How does it feel to have the band push forward for nearly 4 decades now?
You know,we feel like aristocracy although we don`t have economic features. We are proud of the fact that we could release albums for 36 years,more importantly that past and present members have good health is more important than success.
What do you currently listen to?
I currently listen to CITY BOY, JOE WASH and DAVID SYLVIAN
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. With a great new album, a rejuvination in the band, and a great future to look forwartd to, I wish you and the rest of TNT nothing but the best. Before we wrap things up, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Thank you for showing true interest in our music. TNT is a band people can`t write off yet. In constant change and development. We hope our fans join us for the last years of this journey without preconceived opinions. All the Best
TNT- XIII is out NOW through Frontiers Music
It's not very often that a band can come back from the dead and become stronger than ever before. Velvet Viper proves that it can be done. After commencing the band in 1993, 24 years later, in 2017, Jutta Weinhold came back around to the idea of making Velvet Viper a force that needs to be heard in Metal once again. With that comes the latest album, Respice Finem which is out through GMR Music. I recently got to ask Jutta a few questions about everything going on in the world of Velvet Viper. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! For those that may be new to the band. How did this band come to be and what brought the band back in 2017?
I founded Velvet Viper after my old band ZED YAGO broke apart in 1990. We released two albums but the music industry underwent big changes in the grunge era of the early nineties. The split of ZED YAGO was a heavy blow for me and I for many years I stayed away from dramatic metal. Around 2010 I began playing the old songs again with the JUTTA WEINHOLD BAND and after some time I felt the need to write a new album. 2018 brings the return album of Velvet Viper, Respice Finem.
How does it feel to have a new Velvet Viper out this year after all this time?
It is such a great and fresh feeling to go on stage with completely new songs, but it was a long way until we could finally release the album. Bubi the Schmied, the original drummer of ZED YAGO, who had also played on the second VELVET VIPER album “4th Quest for Fantasy”, passed away this January and now we have a brand new line up with extremely talented musicians to support me. With so much time between incarnations of the band, there’s a lot of influences that can take place.
When bringing back the band, what did you want Velvet Viper to accomplish musically?
I wrote the songs with our guitarist Holger Marx, who is in the band since 2015 and we had the intention to continue the musical journey of ZED YAGO and the old VELVET VIPER albums. The foundation for all the songs is my lyrical concept with elements of fantasy, myths and folklore. This evokes a certain atmosphere for my vocal lines and I think this leads to a certain style of music which is recognizable.
When did you start to feel like Velvet Viper was finally getting into the right direction in it’s new formation? Was there a particular song, or riff or moment that grabbed your attention?
I had ideas for new songs going around in my head for quite some time and when we finally decided to do it, it felt instantly right. Our producer Kai Hansen kicked straightened some elements in the songs that were a little too far away from classic heavy metal, but in general the final versions are still pretty close to the original ideas. I think I knew it would be really good when I heard Michael Ehrés drum tracks.
What went into the writing process of Respice Finem?
I had a lot of lyrics on a big pile with ideas for melodies and song structures at home and I sat together with Holger, our guitarist, who had a lot of riffs and ideas for solos and so on, and then we started making demos (still with Bubi on the drums). Kai joined us in the rehearsing room to arrange the songs and then we had the final concepts for recording. Explanation: „Respice Finem“ Quidquid Agis Prudenter Agas et Respice Finem Whatever You Do, Do It Wisely and Consider the End Was immer du tust, tue es klug und bedenke das Ende.
How did you approach your work on the songs and lyrical content on Respice Finem?
It always starts with lyrics about a certain topic like Lohengrin or some experiences of Zed Yago, the flying durchman’s daughter I invented. This sets the tone of the song and leads to all the other things that make up a song.
On Respice Finem, you got the legendary Kai Hansen to produce the album, what was it like to work with him?
Oh, he is such a great guy and he knows so much about heavy metal songwriting and choirs and all of that and also found Corvin Bahn for us, an exceptional keyboard player whose contribution to the final album cannot be overstated. Kai also was involved in the mix, which was done by Eike Freese. Kai is a real Master of Confusion (that is a song title from his last Gamma Ray album) when it comes to being somewhere right on time, but he is a genius when he sits down and starts to work. How does it feel to be able to get back on stage as Velvet Viper and play new and classic songs for a new audience? I just love it, the new songs combine so well with the old ones and it is such a great feeling to play some of the songs from the 80s at the end of the show with my new guys. I hope we can do more shows in the future.
What is next for Velvet Viper?
We are working hard to become established again as a real entertaining live band. We will play some festivals and more club shows this year and if all goes well, we would like to do another album with the line up that is playing together live so well.
How do you feel the Metal scene has changed since the original incarnation of Velvet Viper wrapped up in 1993? For the Better? The Worse?
It is definitively different today. There are so many bands and you can look at free videos on Youtube and everywhere. Even the larger bands don’t sell that many albums any more and have to play lots of shows to make a living of it. Somehow music has lost its value because you can get it for free everywhere. But on the other hand people still come to live shows and listen intensely to music and the metal fans are really loyal even when you take a 25-year break.
With that, is there any more modern bands that you enjoy?
I am afraid I really live in the past in this respect; a lot of newer bands I hear have a great sound but no real songs and ideas. So far I have not discovered a new Ronnie James Dio or Bruce Dickinson.
What do you like to do when you are not focused on music?
That is really not very often the case. We have three cats at home and I like to do a brisk walk every morning. But mostly it is music in one form or another that occupies my mind.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I thoroughly enjoy what you have created with Respice Finem and I really hope this interview will inspire any and all people interested to check it out as well. Before we done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Thank you for doing this interview. Dear metal heads out there, go and watch your favorite band live on stage. That is the real deal! Rock 'n roll is bigger than all of us CAUSE THIS SONG IS NEVER ENDING All the best from Jutta of VELVET VIPER
Velvet Viper: Respice Finem is available through GMR Music
Let's just get this out of the way now. While in normal circumstances, the first half is January 1st- June 30th. While that is correct, that's not how it normally works when it comes to music releases. While some do release albums the last few weeks of the year, the typical tracking is January 1st through the 2nd week of December. If you want to be on a Best of The Year list, you are being a real jerk waiting till the last 3 weeks of the year to release an album. So there!
Anyways, let's get into the swing of things. The rules are stated in the title. This is the top 50 albums of 2018 in the first half of the year. This is in alphabetical order, not ranked order (that comes at the end of the year, as always). This is all of music I have had the chance to check out this year. Anything that came out June 1st or before that is not on this list either isn't technically an album, I didn't get to check out yet, or quite possibly, I just didn't enjoy.
That said, let's go!
The Absence- A Gift for the Obsessed
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
A band that's been away way too long is back in ever-loving full force. Everything about this band has improved and they have made some of their best material to date. Catchy, heavy, technical, brutal. Everything you could possibly want in a MDM album, but updated to fit the band's mold. Go support these guys. Absolutely brilliant.
Against The Grain- Cheated Death
FFO- Rock N Roll, Speed Metal, Punk
An absolutely fun Midwestern band that knows when to kick things into overdrive as much as they know when to take things easy. IF you love that classic 70s-80s Hard Rock vibe mixed in with intensity and fun; Against The Grain is the band for you. Cheated Death is their finest example to date of what they are capable of on record and live. You need fun in 2018, check this out.
Ails- The Unraveling
FFO- Black Metal, Experimental, Ludicra
From the ashes of the California Black Metal band, LUdicra comes the band Ails, which has fully formed their debut album. Bringing some of the best elements of their previous band into a more raw and experimental approach. If you want your Black Metal intense, immense and listenable, Ails is right up your alley.
Alkaloid- Liquid Anatomy
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Progressive Metal
How do you make the best of a bad lineup breakup? You make a new band and pummel everything in it's path! With Alkaloid's latest album, they completely scrub the animosity of Obscura away, forging further with their blend of Tech Death, Prog, Frank Zappa style quirks, and insightful scientific stories that with snap your neck on the turn of dime, yet make you think. It's a great feeling when a band can make you do that!
Amorphis- Queen of Time
FFO- Finnish Melodic Death Metal, Progressive Metal
There's not many bands that can be around as long as Amorphis and have the amazing discography to back up those years. Queen of Time is the next logical step for the band, incorporating more symphonic moments, amazing guest spots, and the brilliant songwriting that keeps Amorphis one of the best bands in the game. The era of their prog side continues to soar higher and higher.
FFO- Progressive Metal, Power Metal
Best Angra album since Holy Land. I don't think there's really more I can add to it than that.
At The Gates- To Drink From The Night Itself
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
The kings of Melodeath are back with their new album. The new album is a bit more experimental and proggy in comparison with the previous album, At War With Reality, but it fits so perfect. Everything you love about the band is here, but just more to it. ATG can do no wrong!
The Atlas Moth- Coma Noir
FFO- Post Metal, Sludge Metal, Groove
Without a doubt my favorite album from TAM to date. The dynamics on this album are stellar. The production is what the band always needed. The songwriting is top notch. This album has everything I want in this style but exaggerated to levels that really make every note stand out and have purpose. I couldn't recommend this more.
Bad Wolves- Disobey
FFO- Modern Metal, Hard Rock
This band features members of bands who all have been burned in one way or another (I know how that feels). After the burning stopped, they got together to make their own blend of Modern Metal and Hard Rock to make it stand out to the crowd and ESPECIALLY with the popularity of their cover of The Cranberries' Zombie, have put all their previous bands to shame (in popularity, music quality is subjective). The original songs on this album have the right amount of heavy and catchy moments that will catch your ears and draw you in. Sometimes when you listen to music so heavy, or so proggy or so underground, you just want a solid catchy album, that's what this album and band is in waves. I wish them nothing but the best, they deserve all the love they are getting.
Between The Buried And Me- Automata I
Funny enough, as I write this up, I just got sent Part II. In the interest of fairness, when it comes time for the end of the year, I may put these two together as one album...we'll see. But anyways. BTBAM came back in full force with Automata. Coma Ecliptic was a watershed album for the band and while they didn't abandon that sound, they did bring back the heavy moments that most fans crave. Simply put, if you dig the band, you'll love this album, even if you felt slighted in the past. Now after I'm done writing all this up, I'll be jamming Part II.
Bleeding Through- Love Will Kill All
FFO- Metalcore, Black Metal
I never expected to hear a new Bleeding Through album, but in 2018, here we are. Combining all the best elements that made the band stand out from the crowd, Bleeding Through comes back to make their style even stronger. You can't compare the band to any other of their era, it just doesn't work. But if you haven't heard them before, if you wanted your Metalcore to not sound Metalcore and your Black Metal to have more catchy appeal...BAM! Bleeding Through is for you, And why not start with their best album to date?
Corrosion of Conformity- No Cross, No Crown
FFO- Southern Sludge, Hard Rock
How many bands can get back together with their best known lineup over a decade later and put out their best album? Not many, but COC did! Combining the best qualities of the Pepper Keenan era of COC with the right amount of new flavoring makes this album a sheer joy to listen to. Start to finish, everything makes sense. If you ever heard of the band or loved the band for years upon years, please pick this up and support the revival of one of the best American bands around.
The Crown- Cobra Speed Venom
FFO- Melodic Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Wow, has this been an amazing year for Melodeath or what? As if the best bands of the genre didn't put out albums this year already, The Crown comes back and arguably puts out the best of them all. Combining everything that makes the band great with even more speed and intensity, The Crown shows every band that came after them how Melodeath is done with just enough Thrash to destroy all your senses. Phenomenal stuff.
Entransient- The Weight of Things
FFO- Progressive Rock, Dark Metal
Completely switching gears here, Entransient returns with their latest album that is a completely heart wrenching album in all of the best ways. If you never heard of the band, imagine an American style Porcupine Tree mixed with Katatonia. It can bring you down emotionally, but you feel so good listening to it. That is how it's done, folks! Give this a spin and thank me later.
Exmortus- The Sound of Steel
FFO- Speed Metal, Thrash Metal, Classical
A new era of Exmortus is here. While on the surface things may not have changed much, the foundation of the band changed, new styles are incorporated and the band is arguably stronger than ever. If you want your metal fast, heavy and forward thinking, Exmortus does it all and gives you the throwback of Classical influences that really makes the band soar above the rest. Check this one out!
Follow The Cipher- Follow The Cipher
FFO- Modern Metal
I'll put it bluntly...do you miss the sound of Amaranthe from their first two albums? Do you want more of that, but done even better and more bold? Follow The Cipher does that and then some. More daring and courageous, yet keeping that catchy, mainstream, modern metal sound in tact. This should appeal to you if you enjoy your Metal catchy. Follow The Cipher deserves to blow up like Amaranthe did. I can't wait to see what they do next.
Galactic Empire- Episode II
FFO- Metal Star Wars
Just like the FFO suggests, this album is filled to the brim with Star Wars covers done in a Metal vibe. No vocals, just instrumentally. To fit the name, the songs do feel very dark and brooding just like the end of Empire or Rogue One. It's just a really fun album and a great take on some classic songs (make sure to check out last year's album as well!).
FFO- Classic Metal, Evil
Boy oh boy, are Ghost the band the point of contention in the Metal community, eh? As least in my experience People either are enthralled with them or despise them. I am in the former. After completely breaking out with their last album, Ghost had to up the ante with this album. How did they do so? Well they keep their Mercyful Fate meets Blue Oyster Cult sound in tact, but they added a new flavor to their style...Queen. There are so many Freddie Mercury and Brian May nods on this album and it's a great thing to see. This album is not their heaviest, but it is the most musical. But I know how this works, if you love the band, you'll love this. If you hate the band, your mind is already made up and nothing can change it and for some reason my musical integrity is discredited for liking the band...fine. But just like your mind won't be changed, neither will mine. This is a brilliant band who put out another triumph of an album.
FFO- Blues Rock, Heavy Metal
Sometimes you need to step away to find...peace. Pun aside Graveyard has returned after their hiatus to put out some outstanding rockin' tunes. They are as fuzzy, bluesy, and heavy as ever, but with that new invigorated feel that you can't describe, but only can feel. Peace is what the band needed to keep going and I hope it lasts. Such a fantastic album.
Gruesome- Twisted Prayers
FFO- The band Death
Another point of contention band in list. Gruesome are unapologeticly a tribute to the great Death Metal band of all time...Death. Their latest release is their tribute to the legendary album, Spiritual Healing. It's not a covers album, its an original album that stays true to what this album is about musically, thematically and with overall presentation. Much like I talked about with Ghost earlier, you either get what Gruesome is doing or you don't. I get it, I appreciate it and that's why I love it. If you have your own (Individual) thought (patterns), check out Gruesome. They are doing a tribute album for every single Death album. You won't be disappointed if you get it.
Gygax- 2nd Edition
FFO- Hard Rock, Classic Metal, Nerd Culture
What a fun band this is. I mean the name alone should tell you everything you need to know about the band. It's fun, nerdy, doesn't take itself too seriously, and just wants to put out great music. That's exactly why it is such a great album. If you dig music like Thin Lizzy, The Sword and Wolfmother, this should be right up your alley.
Harakiri For The Sky- Arson
This band continues to improve with every single album. Every album gets catchier, stronger, and more thought provoking. Arson takes their blend of Black Metal, Shoegaze and Post Rock and make it stand out from the crowd with adding much more catchy moments and their best production to date. Go in with an open mind and this may end up being one of your favorite albums of the year. It definitely is for me.
Howling Sycamore- Howling Sycamore
FFO- Technical Death Metal with Clean Vocals
You didn't think it could be done? Have you not heard Cynic before? Anyways, this debut release has completely blown me away. While if you are a purist, the vocals will take a while for you to get (let's face it, some of you will not be able to), but if do get it, everything fits so perfectly here and really shows off that good music is good music, no matter what tuning it's in, no matter what vocal range is being used, and no matter what styles are blended. Such a brilliant album and I can't wait to see what's next for these guys.
FFO- Modern Metal, Progressive Metal
Much like Melodeath, 2018 has been a stellar year for debut releases. This is a prime example. Hyvmine comines what is being used in Modern Metal, Prog, Djent, etc but makes it beyond catchy and with so much soul. As if Dug Pinnick wanted to make a modern Prog Metal album. These guys are going to simply explode if they catch on and they deserve it. Outstanding work.
Ihsahn is literally incapable of making the same album twice. 'Amr sees Ihsahn embrace more of his 80s musical mentality and incorporate it with his innovative style of Progressive music he has been making since his solo venture debuted. It's nowhere near Black Metal except when it is. It's not Proggy except when it is, it's not catchy or mainstream except when it is. It's all of that but more! You gotta have an open mind to full grasp Ihsahn's solo work, but 'Amr is the closest thing he's done yet to being mainstream and it's such a valiant album for that. Just give it a spin and gather your own thoughts. You kinda need to anyways.
In Vain- Currents
FFO- Extreme Progressive Metal
Easily one of the most underrated bands around. Much like Ihsahn above, this is the most mainstream effort from the band, but that said, it's also a complex, invigorating showcase of Extreme Metal, Prog, and catchy elements and blend into a fantastic listen. Even Trivium's Matt Heafy gives his stamp of approval by signing on the album. Check these guys out and see what you've been missing out on all this time.
FFO- Finnish Melodic Death Metal
Quite possibly the most underrated of all Finnish bands, Kalmah returns with sheer passion and aggression on Palo. It's symphonic, catchy as all get go, brutal, and showcases such brilliant songwriting qualities. Finland quite possibly has the best track record per capita as far as quality metal bands go, check out Kalmah for another reason why that fact I made up is true.
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
Comeback album of the year? It's a strong contender if nothing else. The band hasn't felt this inspired since Serenity In Fire. After some much needed changes in the band, both musically and outside of the music itself, the band is firing on all cylinders and captures everything you love about the band. The brutal riffs rip your face off, the melodic moments are so pleasing to hear, and the more atmospheric moments capture something in the band that's always been there, but now finally shines through. Simply astounding work.
Letters From The Colony- Vignette
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
Remember earlier what I said about debut albums? This is another reason why 2018 has been amazing for debuts. Mixing Meshuggah, Gojira, Zappa, and leaving out all the moments of Djent you probably hate; Letters from the Colony shines through any monotony that has plagues through music in recent times and shows what can really be done in this style. Jaw Droppingly great stuff!
Light The Torch- Revival
FFO- Modern Metal, Hard Rock
Much like Bad Wolves earlier, Everyone in Light The Torch has gone through some hard times both in the band and other personal matters, It's great to see how after 75% of this band came from Devil You Know and returned with a mainstream Metal and dare I say....Rock album. I honestly find it to be such a refreshing change of pace. It doesn't venture into the Metalcore or Death Metal or Tech Death styles that members have been known for, but just writs simpler, yet punishing songs. Revival proves the point when you write the music you want to write, you will end up so much happier and when you have people who enjoy it as well, it's the icing on the cake.
FFO- Old School Death Metal
Do you miss the early day Death Metal of the early days of 90s Sweden? Fret no more as Lik returns with their 2nd album and its going to destroy your senses. This is a dirty, gritty, angry, and for that reason, sexy, Death Metal album that hearkens back to those glorious Death Metal days of Entombed, yet updated just enough to make it something you know can thrive in 2018. Superb work!
Lione - Conti- Lione - Conti
FFO- Power Metal, Progressive Metal
Bet you didn't realize that there was no animosity between both singers of Rhapsody did you? In fact, they wanted to actually make an album together showing off what they could do working together. The music is ferocious when it needs to be and so melodic when it calls for it. Plus, both voices sound so angelic combined together. This is what every Power Metal band should strive to be. One listen in and you'll understand why.
Long Distance Calling- Boundless
FFO- Instrumental Progressive Post Metal
Another band that is incapable of making the same album twice, LDC actually did a full 180 on their sound. Their previous album features vocals on nearly every song and got them the most popularity I've seen in their career. So they went ahead and made a completely instrumental album to counteract that. Don't mistake the wording, they only make what they want to make and a 100% instrumental album fits so perfectly at this stage in their career. Showcasing all of the best musical sides of the band, LDC feels even stronger than before and proves that the band will forever be, Boundless.
Lords Of Black- Icons of The New Days
FFO- Power Metal, Hard Rock
Lords of Black is quite possibly my favorite Power Metal band and this brand new album continues to show off why. While this album is far more commercial sounding than their first two albums, the band has not let go of what makes them stand out amongst the rest. The phenomenal vocal delivery, the undeniably astounding songwriting but now just a bit more palatable for those that more of a Hard Rock tinge. Seriously, if you're not familiar with the band, go check them out immediately. You'll understand why.
Lunatic Soul- Under a Fragmented Sky
FFO- Progressive Rock, Experimental
Quite possibly the most mainstream Lunatic Soul album to date? I'm as shocked as you are! The songs on this album are much more album focused and blend together so well in the format. I am not sure if this means Riverside will be getting heavier to counteract this change in Lunatic Soul, but I love what is going on here. If you like the early to mid era of Porcupine Tree (basically anything up to In Absentia), this will be completely up your alley.
Memoriam- The Silent Vigil
FFO- Death Metal
You miss Bolt Thrower, I know you do. While we will never get them again, Memoriam continues it's memory by forging it's own path in slow to mid paced Death Metal. With this sophomore album from the band, they have gained some notoriety, especially with the video for the song Bleed The Same. If you watch it, you'll understand their political side hangs to the left, which in a climate like 2018 where stating your political opinions could destroy, the band just wants to do what they feel is correct and if I can say so...they really have knocked it out of the park on all levels. You need some thought provoking Death Metal, even if you think opposite of what they do. Gain that open mind and enjoy some killer music in the process.
Mile Marker Zero- The Fifth Row
FFO- Progressive Metal, Alternative Rock
The very first concept album from this long standing band is exactly what we needed in 2018. A great concept, fun catchy songs no matter the dynamics and a sheer joy and passion that seems to be missing in so many bands as of late. If you haven't heard the band before, imagine Dream Theater meets A Perfect Circle meets Hurt. An excellent combination that makes for fantastic music you need to hear.
Oceans of Slumber- The Banished Heart
FFO- Doom Metal, Progressive Metal, Death Metal
After showing off what the band is capable of with their debut album, the band expanded their sound tenfold with The Banished Heart. The lyrics are absolutely devastating, the music is more melancholic and emotional, and the overall power of the band surpasses what even I thought was possible. While there are more slower numbers on this album, when it fully kicks in, it makes your jaw drop in the best way possible. You're not going to hear another band like this that does what they do better. Go grab this NOW! Probably grab some Kleenex while you're at it.
Orphaned Land- Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs
FFO- Progressive Metal
I've had this album since 2017 and I totally forget that it's actually a 2018 album. This concept album continues to show off the power and glory that is Orphaned Land. Be it acceptance of all people in the lyrics or just sheer amazement of the songwriting and arrangements that happen throughout. Even Hansi from Blind Guardian helps add to the power of this album. It's a sheer delight to listen to and while it goes through many phases, their message of acceptance is one that everyone needs to take to heart. The world would be such a better place if they did.
Panopticon- The Scars of Men On The Once Nameless Wilderness
FFO- American Folk Metal
If you're not familiar with the FFO above, simply it's folk metal but using the Americana and Folk, Bluegrass elements in the right ways. That's the best way to describe Panopticon, or at least what the band has become. This double album showcases both sides of the band perfectly. Disc I is the Panopticon that truly signifies American Folk Metal, while disc II is actually a bit of a departure of the band, completely taking out the Metal elements and writing a straight up Folk/Americana/Bluegrass album. This band isn't for everyone, but this band is 100% for me and it's awesome to say they are a Minnesota band. Give them a shot, especially if you want something new. They are a truly mindblowing band.
Primordial- Exile Amongst The Ruins
FFO- Black Metal, Folk Metal
Possibly Ireland's greatest band? At least in my eyes they are. Primordial returns with another epic journey of the senses, history and musical fulfillment. While not really straying from their sound, it's completely and utterly solid and that's all it will ever need to be. You need feel triumphant, well, this is the soundtrack to help make it happen.
Rivers of Nihil- Where Owls Know My Name
FFO- Extreme Progressive Metal
I'll go ahead and say it, this is my favorite album in the first half of 2018 and it's going to take a juggernaut of an album to knock it off the top spot at the end of the year. While I always loved the band, this album REALLY showcases what the band is capable of. Still containing their signature style of metal done on their previous two albums, they added atmosphere and prog that didn't realize the band needed in their sound. Moments of saxophone haunt you in the right moments while adding a hefty helping of Cynic to fill out their sound. Whether you have been a long time fan or just hearing about the band now for the first time in this post, you owe it to yourself to check this band out and see why the band has exploded in 2018. If any band deserved that happening, it's these guys.
Spock's Beard- Noise Floor
FFO- Progressive Rock, Rock
The most mainstream sounding SB album to date. It is just a completely solid Rock album from start to finish with the right amount of Spock's quirkiness and prog to let you know the band hasn't changed and are here to stay. Such a great, uplifting album for you all to enjoy.
Subsignal- La Muerta
FFO- Rush Meets Porcupine Tree
That is the best description of the band I can give. It's dark like Porcupine Tree but with the technicality of Rush, but somehow still makes their sound their own. If you even care the slightest bit about Prog, Subsignal will become a new musical obsession. La Muerta is the shining example of why. Plus you'll have 4 other albums to check out when you're done hearing this. So go...do it!
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
I'll be the first to admit it, I was really hoping to see a change in the band musically. It feels like since Altered State that they may have found the style that fits them and there was no need for change. Boy, was I wrong. Sonder brings back Dan Tompkins into the fold and with it, album showcases dynamics and style changes that I thought were lost forever. This is the TesseracT album we needed in 2018 and I'm so happy we got it. I can't wait to see where they go from here.
Tribulation- Down Below
FFO- Black Metal, Classic Metal
If you are not on the Tribulation bandwagon by now, I can only hope its because you never heard of them until now. Tribulation does every single thing right in Metal. They bring back the classic, evil sounds that are all but gone today, but mixes it with own blend of musicality. Down Below is the next logical step in the band's sound and it's easily their finest work. Hauntingly beautiful and catchy as all get go. The hypetrain is about to take off again, jump on now!
Unreqvited- Stars Wept To The Sea
FFO- Blackgaze, Depressive/Suicidal Black Metal
Simply put, is Deafheaven too hipster for you? Does Liturgy make so you mad that you wanna scream? Are you superficial enough to hate Ghost Bath simply because of their name? Check out Unreqvited. They continue on the trek of making Black Metal with atmosphere, but still showcase the breakdown of life that originally went along with it. The lyrics will break you in one way or the other and music is superb. And unlike most DSBM bands, the production is actually listenable and enjoyable! This is such a stellar album, go check out why!
Visigoth- Conquerer's Oath
FFO- Classic Metal
Do you want to find a band that you enjoy that can take moments of Power Metal and Classic Rock like Manowar, but not feel ashamed to admit to others you like them? Visigoth is here to save the day and slay everything in their path. Absolutely solid musicianship, fantasy lyrics that you can visualize in your head and production that fits right at home no matter how you check out music. Such an underrated band that needs your love. Give Visigoth some love today.
We Sell The Dead- Heaven Doesn't Want You And Hell Is Full
FFO- Hard Rock, Gothic Rock, Doom Metal
Combining members of In Flames, H.I.M. and Spiritual Beggars, writing music in the style of Candlemass meets H.I.M. and being inspired by Jack The Ripper. IF that doesn't sell you on this band, nothing will. It's a Melodic Doom Rock Triumph. And one of the most underrated albums of the year. Discover them now and give them the love they deserve.
Wolvhammer- The Monuments of Ash & Bone
FFO- Sludge Metal, Doom Metal, Black Metal
One of the most innovated bands around have returned with their latest album that will rip your heart out. Combining all of what makes the band stand out from the rest of the pack, the band continues to shine with their dark light making evil music that fits right at home on our playlist. As an added bonus, the album is FREE on their bandcamp page. The only reason for you not to download this is because you are lazy. Don't be lazy, be proactive!
And there you go folks, the Top 50 Albums of 2018 so far. I really hope you can find at least one album here you can appreciate and love as much as I do. The best part of this is that there's still another 6 months of 2018 music coming, I can't wait to see what comes next. And with that tune in next time in December for all of my Top Lists of 2018, including the Top 100 Albums of the year!
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.