Deicide brought it's In The Minds Of Evil tour to Mill City Nights in Minneapolis October 14 and along with them was 4 very evil bands: Septicflesh, Inquisition, Abysmal Dawn and Carach Angren. The show start just a little after 8:30pm and the darkness was about to begin.
Next up was the LA Death Metal band, Abysmal Dawn. They brought a fury of awesome Death Metal, insane blast beats and an overall crushing sound that rocked the placed to it's core. The band also showcased a few new songs off their brand new album, Obsolescence. That should keep older fans of the band quite happy. This also kept the Death Metal crowd happy and engaged as the Black Metal assault of Inquisition was about to commence.
*No Abysmal Dawn set list available at this time*
Making their return to the states after a very successful run with Poland's Behemoth is Columbia's Inqusition. This two man Black Metal band brought the crowd to the depths of Hell and back with Dagon's unique Black Metal vocal approach and Incubus's insane hyper blasting on the drums. Their 5 song set felt very short, but like every time they play, it left everyone in the crowd wanting more. It's amazing that they have not done a US headlining run yet.
Force of the Floating Tomb
Nefarious Dismal Orations
Astral Path to Supreme Majesties
Infinite Interstellar Genocide
Where Darkness Is Lord and Death the Beginning
Main Support came all they way from Greece with the Industrial, Blackened, Death Metal band Septicflesh. Their 45 minute set, much like their headlining set back in June 2014, was a great sight to see. The whole band was firing on all cylinders, from their usual opening of Vampire From Nazareth (Which is the best song they could open with) to ending with the killer track, Anubis. Septicflesh know how to put the crowd into a frenzy and was a great choice for the pure evil that was about to headline, Deicide.
Vampire From Nazareth
Order of Dracul
A Great Mass of Death
Finally was the headliner of the night and one of the greatest Death Metal bands of the old school generation, Deicide. Right from the start, Glen Benton and Co. destroyed everything in it's path and did not let up until they left the stage for the night. While touring behind their latest album, In The Minds Of Evil, Deicide did make sure to play a great assortment of the bands entire catalog Everything from Once Upon The Cross to Scars Of The Crucifix to brand new songs like Godkill and Beyond Salvation. Deicide left the old school Death Metal fans cheering and new Death Metal fans wanting to know all they can about Deicide.
In The Minds Of Evil
When Satan Rules His World
Serpents Of The Light
They Are The Children Of The Underworld
Dead But Dreaming
Scars Of The Crucifix
Once Upon The Cross
End The Wrath Of God
Dead By Dawn
Homage For Satan
Simply put, the In The Minds Of Evil tour was one of the darkest and evilest tours to hit Minnesota in quite some time and was a rousing success. All 5 bands slayed and there is no doubt that these bands will be back and even better the next time they come to town.
- That Drummer Guy
*Pictures provided by Lynn Strege & Josh Rundquist*
Z² (aka Ziltoid 2 aka Zed Squared) has been in the works for quite a long time now. Devin Townsend knew that if he was to make a sequel to his 2007 solo album, Ziltoid The Omniscient, he would have to make it bigger, better, and even zanier than before. Since he formed The Devin Townsend Project back in 2009, he has a full band in his arsenal to make this possible. Drummer Ryan Van Poederooyen, bassist Brian "Bev" Waddell, and guitarist/keyboardist Dave Young help fill out the main parts of the band with a guest appearance on Sky Blue by Anneke Van Giersbergen and guest appearances by Chris Jericho (Captain Spectacular), Dominique Lenore Persi (War Princess) and even Anneke on some parts of Dark Matters. Where does Hevy Devy venture on this double album? There's only one way to find out for sure. Indeed....
The first of the two discs is Sky Blue. Sky Blue is the DTP album of the two discs and fans of the albums Addicted, Epicloud, Ki, and Infinity, will definitely not be disappointed. The album starts with Rejoice. It starts off with some light scattered instruments before the band fully kicks in. The song is deeply reminiscent of something off Addicted, but a bit more refined. Rather than more of the standard Rock beats that drives most of Addicted, RVP lays in some double bass throughout the verse. Anneke and Devin share vocal duties on this mid tempo song. It chugs along graciously. If Top 40 Rock radio knew better, this would be a solid Top 10 hit without question. Fallout is the next song and it starts with a very solid riff by Devin with Anneke's vocals slightly in the background before she fully takes over and sings the verse. For anyone that's a fan of what she has done in the past with DTP's work, this is another fantastic representation of what she can do. If you had to compare it to anything, imagine Hyperdrive mixed with The Way Home. A very happy, beautiful track.
Next up is Midnight Sun, which starts off with a nice acoustic guitar intro before kicking in a mellow to mid-paced ballad. Picture the beautiful moments of Terria and Infinity mixed with Where We Belong off Epicloud and that is a great description. Devin lays a very emotionally driven solo in this song that can bring the right person to tears. An amazing track. A New Reign is the next song that starts off very light with Devin and an acoustic guitar, with Anneke just starting to sing before it kicks in. This is another very emotionally driven ballad that can tug at your heart strings. It is a bit faster than Midnight Sun, but still a bit soft and hits home. In typical Devin fashion this song does take a couple twists and turns that you wouldn't expect, like some monster growls right before the song gets pretty heavy in the middle section and climaxes right back to where it started before finishing strong and powerful. Like a lot of Devin songs, this song has a bit of some ambiance at the end of A New Reign before completely taking a 180 and going into Universal Flame. To the typical music listener, Universal Flame is the most fun, poppy song on the album. Even if you are not paying attention to the vocals, the song just fills you with good spirits and makes you wanna take a cosmic journey. Imagine if True North from Epicloud as even more poppy and throw in a little Bend It Like Bender for good measure and you have the most fun, positive feeling song on the entire album. Again there is no real reason why this shouldn't be a Top 10 Rock song, there just isn't.
Next up is Warrior which starts with some "Ahh Ahh Ahh's" before kicking in. This is indeed one of the more technical songs, even if it doesn't exactly sound like it at first. Upon repeated you hear how insane this song is. While a more midtempo number, this is one of the highlights for RVP, with the intricate double bass in the verse to the double cymbal work in the chorus, this is an impression job of playing for the song and showing off your chops at the same time. Anneke does the majority of the vocals on this one and they are stellar. The title track, Sky Blue is a bit of a different direction than we have heard from the DTP to date, a bit more electronic overall and feels like a majestic pop song. Screw Rock radio, this is top of the Pop charts worthy. It's very danceable, features the vocal affects and synths of pop music, Devin and Anneke make this song come to life with the vocals. If there was ever a Metal musician you wanted on Pop radio, it's Devin, this proves it. Silent Militia is the next song up and it starts off with faded vocals before kicking in with snare and guitar before kicking back into heartbeat tempo, chuggy guitar driven goodness. This song feels like it could have been right off of Infinity, if Infinity was made right now. It's the right mix of dance music and heaviness to make it fit on that crazy album known as Infinity. The song ends crazy with double bass before drifting away into the atmosphere.
This leads into Rain City, which starts off as beautiful as Devin can get with a great piano and vocal intro leading into some programmed drums. It has a great Ki feel before getting just a tad heavy. Rain City feels like a song that should have been on Terria, in the best way possible. The song mainly ends right around the 4 minute mark and gradually drifts into the atmosphere with some bells, synths, acoustic guitar and a Ki/Ghost like feel. Forever is the next track up and it starts right off in the Ki world with Devin and piano. This beautiful song continues until near the end of the song where you hear some, well, almost Black Metal sounding faded screams. With a few seconds left of forever slowly but surely rising, it leads into Before We Die, which is the longest song on the album at 8:25. Once again this features some very beautiful and epic moments from everyone in the band. Imagine Save Our Now from Epicloud and Numbered from Addicted with the epic Universal Choir in the chorus. This is simply gorgeous in every way. Once again Devin features a short, but awesome, guitar solo before the mid section of the track. The main part of the song ends with synths, acoustic guitar and Anneke's beautiful vocals. The ending of the full track ends with some dissonant synth sounds while ending the album with The Ones We Love. This is a short outro track featuring some spooky sounds along with Devin and Anneke's vocals. The song slowly fades away leaving you wanting more, but as if Devin already had that planned, there is more...much more.....ATTACK!!!
*This review of Dark Matters will not contain spoilers to the album's story, that is meant to be heard on it's own in full. So don't read about the premise. Buy the album and listen to it and love every second.*
The album that made all the fans of Strapping Young Lad stop questioning whether Devin could still be heavy, Ziltoid The Omniscient, now has arguably one of the very few sequels worth checking out, Dark Matters. The Ziltoid album starts with the double album title track, Z². This starts off slow and brooding, but don't worry, it builds up like the intro music to a movie. The song just builds more and more and doesn't stop the attack once it kicks in. The end of the song in particular features the heaviness that fans of the original album will love. The next song is From Sleep Awake and it is more of a grandiose song, if not the most grandiose song on both albums. Oddly enough, Anneke is featured prominently on this song. The song is majestic and is a great intro Ziltoid and the story starts to begin from here. Ziltoidian Empire is the next track and this is where a lot of the fun begins. The song starts off like a great DTP song, just slightly darker and more double bass, then it just gets nutty. RVP's insane double bass power starts to shine in this song before just going off the deep end on a killer drum fill. After a short story interlude, the music reminiscent of the first Ziltoid album starts to take over, and it gets insane from everyone apart of the album. The nutty odd time signatures start to come into play and the song starts to feel like you are amidst an alien battlefield. The song only gets faster and faster as it ends and gets into SYL territory, yes...Strapping Young Lad (Detox) thrashy, style fun. War Princess is the next song up and like the title suggests, it gets into detail about the character played by Persi. The song starts off quite midempo goodness. The song showcases how amazing of a singer Persi is *If you are not familiar with Stolen Babies, go check them out ASAP!* While being midtempo, the song crushes with it's heaviness, just like Sumeria did on Deconstruction.
The next song is the first official song released from Z² , Deathray. The song has been labeled as a bit polarizing as many imagined that the first song released from Dark Matters would be an over the top crazy odd-tempo orgy, but Deathray is actually one of the most straightforward songs on the album. All you gotta do is think of the film, Mars Attacks, and that should describe the zaniness of this song. It's a solid number and does exactly what needs to happen, set the stage for the story while being a rocking song. While not entirely similar imagine Ziltoidia Attaxx! combined with Vampira from Synchestra and you've got Deathray. March Of The Poozers starts off with a very heavy, Gojira like, march riff. While containing a couple quirks, the song stays pretty much the same level the whole time, a fun heavy mosh song, like you would at a Gojira show. Next up is Wandering Eye. the song starts with kooky keyboards and Devin's vocals. The song eventually starts to pick up and starts to get zany again before showing off more of the story leading into the second longest song on the album, Earth. It starts off a bit triumphant once again but the chaos is about to commence. This song has all the craziness that you were hoping for. While everyone shines on this song, no one shines more on this song than Mr. Ryan Van Poederooyen. If you followed his posts on social media, you know how he was talking about how this album had some of his craziest, hardest and most jaw dropping moments, it's almost entirely on this song. Earth is essentially all the craziest moments on ZTO in a 7 minute song. *I consider RVP one of the best guys I know in metal, both personally and in drumming and I am proud to call him a friend and so very proud of his work here, it proves that he is now an unstoppable drumming machine.*
Ziltoid Comes Home doesn't stop in the relentlessness. This starts off with an absolute bang. It is super fast and thrashy. While it's not really fair to compare this to SYL, it has some SYL moments. The chorus of this song is one of the best moments in the Ziltoid story. So epic feeling and hits perfectly at the right time. The death growls come back in this song just a tad but are also well placed. Again I must say it the chorus, especially the ending chorus is one of the best moments in Ziltoid history, it is so perfect. Absolutely insane, epic feeling, and grandiose. Through The Wormhole is a story segment. That brings the story to a climax *but you'll have to listen to the album for what happens* Dimension Z features the Universal Choir again and sing in perfect harmony and love just like the Whos in Whoville in The Grinch That Stole Christmas and the story ends with a bit of an epilogue at the end that brings the story of Dark Matters to a close.
Z² is exactly what you'd hope for from Devin Townsend. Sky Blue showcases the lighter, poppier, emotionally driven side of Devin while Dark Matters brings all the zaniness, craziness, wackiness, and shear chaos that you'd expect from Ziltoid. In short, Z² is almost like a best of The Devin Townsend Project with all brand new material. Everyone involved is at their absolute prime on these two albums. Anneke again proves that she should be a permanent member of the DTP. Jericho serves his purpose perfectly as Captain Spectacular and Persi, in all honesty, could very well fill in for Anneke anytime at a show and fit in just like Anneke was there (plus, throw in the occasional killer scream). Townsend has been reported that he may be taking an extended break after the Ziltoid musical in 2015 (at least over a year) and honestly, if anyone has earned a break, it is Devin. Let him refuel is batteries, get some more of the world's finest coffee bean and present us with what he will have in store for all of us after this magnificent triumph known as Z².
*Once again, in case you did in fact skip the review, no spoilers for the story of this album. But the album, listen to it and full and enjoy!*
The Devin Townsend Project- Z² (Sky Blue/Dark Matters) available October 28th via HevyDevy Records/Inside Out
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Trees On Mars started in January 2013 and in that almost 2 year span have created their debut album, The Sapling, which will be coming out November 4th. Grant Tyler (Guitar), Hayden Graham (Guitar) and Scott Barber (Bass & Drums) come from Columbia, SC with their unique spin on Instrumental Prog. While many Instrumental albums are either way too short or start to feel too long, The Sapling comes in at just a tad over 35 minutes, which is nearly perfect. Along with a perfect album length, the songs are all well crafted and flow together seamlessly. Let's divulge into this spectacular album.
The album starts with It's Not But It Isn't, which has a very unique start by fusing together acoustic, almost Bluegrass sounding guitar work over Progressive Metal. Once the song fully kicks in it shifts into many forms. One thing to particularly notice on this song is Barber's fantastic use of drum fills right before the end of the song. After this comes Hey Man, That's Not Cool. But unlike the song title, it is indeed very cool (haha, play on words). The song is upbeat and very melodic with it's Prog roots and ends with a nice mellow note held out. In The Wake starts off sounding very melancholic and brooding, slowly getting heavier and heavier. The second half of the song, after some nice fill work again by Barber, gets into Doom Metal territory and slowly fades out. The tempo picks up again on Niacin. This song would not be out of place on a Scale The Summit album, and that is very much a good thing. The last quarter of the song gets very aggressive with some blast beats and some very thrashy guitar work, which adds some diversity into the sound. Birds & Squirrels is another awesome uptempo song. It is very catchy and a great song that leaves you wanting more. Blueberry Jam comes up next and brings things down to a nice mellow jam session. It has a great Post Rock feel throughout. The guitar work near the middle of the song, while simplistic, really shines through and is so pleasing to the ear. While being one of the more mellow and simplistic songs on the albums, it is easily one of the best and a great change of pace for the album. Ode To The Vulture (Featuring Plini) is the longest song on the album at just over 5 minutes. This song is arguably the best showcase of what Trees On Mars is all about. Phenomenal songwriting from everyone in the band and 22 year old Australian guitarist Plini, really shines as well with his guitar solo roughly half way through the song. Just a very fun and catchy song all the way through. First Place At The Turtle Race, much like the name sort of eludes to, starts off quite mellow and gradually picks up the pace in tempo and musicality. The song shifts quite a few times throughout everything from Jazz to Samba to Post Rock with tremolo guitar. The song is an incredible rush of a feeling. Explosions On Olympus Moons has a very spacey vibe. Throughout the song it feels like you are floating in outer space (While not sounding the same, think of the imagery in the video for Mastodon's Oblivion with a heavier Pink Floyd vibe musically). This a great song to hear at night and just relax. The album ends with Would You Believe Me If I Told You I've Been There Before. It starts off somewhat as the album begins with acoustic guitars in the background over Prog Metal. It's a fantastic song to end the album with, much like Drifting Figures was the perfect song to end Scale The Summit's The Collective. It keeps building and building then suddenly fades away.
Trees On Mars is well on their way to become one of the best bands that Instrumental Prog can offer. Throughout the album you can hear so many shades of the band's influences with it all flowing together and sounding authentic and organic. And with production and mixing from Eyal Levi (arguably one of the greatest up and coming producers in music, let alone Metal) it adds such clarity and quality to the overall experience. Once The Sapling springs to life November 4th, 2014, things will only get bigger and bigger for Trees On Mars.
Trees On Mars- The Sapling available November 4th, 2014 via Bandcamp
- Josh Rundquist
Black Crown Initiate started in 2012 and in those two years have started to make a huge name for themselves. Getting on gigantic Metal tours, releasing a buzz-worthy EP and now they have released their debut album, The Wreckage Of Stars. Still, many metal fans are not familiar with the band. Simply put, Black Crown Initiate is what happens when you take the best parts of Akercoke, Cynic, Meshuggah and Fleshgod Apocalypse and fuse them into an incredible 5 piece Progressive Death Metal band. The Wreckage Of Stars could arguably be one of the greatest debut Metal albums ever. Here's why.
The album starts off with Great Mistake. It starts with an acoustic guitar passage that continues on as the rest of the instrumental part of the band begins their Death Metal assault. The death growls are so ferocious. You'd think that's all you'd need in a band, but the clean vocals are just as incredible. Both balance each other out and create a fantastic atmosphere behind the chaos of the music being played. Half way through the song it starts to focus a bit more on a breakdown with clean vocals (a concept that needs to be utilized more). And ends with it's killer, catchy chorus that once it starts being played live, everyone will start singing along with. The Fractured One is next and it starts off with all guns blazing and super fast blast beats. The whole song has a very aggressive Death Metal feel to it. Fans of the modern sound of Death Metal will love this track. Malignant is the next track and once again it starts with acoustic guitars, and then leads into pure chaos. Picture Fleshgod Apocalypse without the orchestra and that perfectly describes this song. The Human Lie Manifest once again starts off with ferocious blast beats and a Death Metal attack. The whole song flies by as fast as it can go until it leads into a a nice heavy beatdown section followed by more hyper speed Death Metal madness. Withering Waves takes a bit more of a break from all the chaos, although this one is still insane in it's own right. This song is currently the lead single off the album, and for good reason. It showcases a bit of everything the band can do. The chorus, once again, is unbelievably catchy and powerful. The middle of the song slows everything down and somewhat leads into an Damnation era Opeth interlude. while progressively building bigger and bigger until It leads back into the final chorus. It's a rare thing to say about an album, but the single is one of the strongest tracks on the entire album. To The Eye That Leads You is a bit more into the Meshuggah realm of the band while it still has awesome blast beat segments. The title track, The Wreckage of Stars, starts off very melancholic and somber. It's not until around the 2 minute mark where things pick up a tad with some incredible drumwork over very simple guitar lines. This has more of a Post Rock/Post Metal feel. 3/4ths through the song it starts to get heavy with a gigantic breakdown, and the first appearance of vocals on the song. The song ends in a very Atmospheric Death Metal embrace before floating away. Shapes Collapse brings back the chaos. This is a more straight ahead Death Metal song than most of the rest of the album until a little past half way through where it gets into a quiet, bass driven interlude. This leads to a nice Meshuggah and insane drum, breakdown to close out the track. Purge is up next and this leads in with a beautiful guitar passage. This has some of the most variance in any track on the album. This heavily shows off the Akercoke mixed with Cynic feel and may be one of the best tracks on the entire album. Everyone in the band shines on this song in one way or the other. The album closes with the shortest song on the album at 2 minutes and 23 seconds, Linear (Side Note: I got to hear this one back in June in the Black Crown Initiate Van and was beyond spellbound). This song is spectacular and features one of the most under-utilized ideas in metal - Blast Beats and Clean Vocals. The only thing wrong with this song is that it is too short. it makes you want so much more. One of the finest ways to end an album.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Black Crown Initiate is one of the bands in the current generation to save Metal. They take Prog, Death Metal, a little Djent and Atmosphere and fuse it into the perfect formula for what current Metalheads should listen to. If all goes right in the world, Black Crown Initiate will make it huge and will make the Metal world a better place. Now get up and go get The Wreckage of Stars.....NOW!!!
Black Crown Initiate- The Wreckage Of Stars Available NOW via eOne Music
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Eluveitie is one of the more celebrated bands in all of Folk Metal, this definitely helps considering they actual use REAL folk instruments in the band. The band celebrates the release of their sixth album, Origins. While not straying too far off the path they helped create, the band has written an album that really speaks to the soul of their culture and shows it to a worldwide audience.
The album starts with an intro track called Origins. It definitely helps make the album feel like a concept album of sorts. The folk instruments come right in after the spoken word segments, slowly building up to a grand takeover. I have a pretty good feeling this will be the first track played on their upcoming touring cycle (either though the PA, live, or both). This goes right into The Nameless. A very strong and heavy track. Chrigel Glanzmann's signature vocal style of course fills the album, but it really sets the tone well for the album. The song itself is heavy, filled with blast beats, and of course a great folkish background that, like the rest of the album, helps the song feel very mystical. Next up is From Darkness. it starts off kinda similar to the previous track. Very fast tempo and mystical. It's a fun thrashy song as well. Celtos starts off a bit different with the first prominent vocal stylings of Anna Murphy. The song is much more midtempo and mellow. It's a nice break from the first couple assaulting tracks. Virunus starts off more mellow then after a short folk interlude, quickly picks up the pace. The song is a good contrast between fast thrashy riffs and folk driven midtempo stylings. Next is a short spoken word passage called Nothing and leads right into one of the strongest and catchiest songs on the album, The Call Of The Mountains. For a long time now, some of the strongest Eluveitie tracks are the ones that are predomently sung by Anna Murphy. This is definitely no exception. While the strong is no doubt more straight forward, it is a fine example of how the band can write Folk Metal that is catchy enough for anyone who enjoys almost any style of music can appreciate. Sucellos comes next and it starts off with some keyboard segments before the guitar riff, then the full fledged Death Metal assault. The song continues on the faster paced Eluveitie style that has become legendary. The next track, Inception, is no exception to this rule either. It's fast, heavy, folkish, and just plain killer. Vianna again is one of the catchiest songs on the album. It is partially, if not fully because of Murphy's angelic vocal styling. It is very midtempo and folky, but done so very, very right. Up next is The Silver Sister. This is a bit different than the other fast tracks on the album. It has more Melodic Death Metal feel to it. it also features one of the catchiest chorus sections on the album. The next song is King. It was the first song released on the album and in a sense, a song that is quite different than the rest of the album. It's a pace that's in between the fast tracks on the album, but nowhere near slow and mellow. A great solid track that is a nice break in the album. The Day Of Strife once again showcases Eluveitie's signature sound. Simply put a killer song. Ogmios is the next interlude song that features spoken word and soundscapes in the back leading into the final song, Carry The Torch. The song is quite an epic song to end on. It feels very triumphant and would definitely be a very crowd pleasing song live. It's midtempo, but a fantastic song to finish off the album. The album fully ends with the outro track, Eternity. It is the final spoken word interlude of the album. It finishes off with a Classical Folk arrangement that fully closes this chapter in the legacy of Eluveitie.
Origins may not be the most dynamic or creative work to date, but it is by far one of the most solid Eluveitie albums. Everything you love about the band is on this album, and done right. All that's left for you to do is to buy the album, spin it, and get ready for Eluveitie to come destroy you live in a city near you in this touring cycle. It will definitely be a memorable tour and a great album to tour behind.
Eluveitie- Origins available NOW via Nuclear Blast Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Alestorm has been the forefront of Pirate Metal since their inception in 2004, and to the worldwide public in 2008 with the release of their debut album, Captain Morgan's Revenge. Alestorm has return to shore with their 4th album, Sunset On The Golden Age. Alestorm has been written off as one trick ponies, but when you look past the lyrical content, they are so much more and Sunset on The Golden Age proves this fact.
The album starts with Walk The Plank. It starts off with triumphant, then goes straight into some thrashy goodness. The whole song sounds like it would be perfect as an opener for an Alestorm set. One very noticeable thing that is indeed a positive thing, and continues through the entire album, is that the keyboards are actually keyboards now. it's not just the accordion sounds that usually take over Alestorm songs. While the accordion sounds are still there at times, they not used nearly as much as past album. This really helps diversify their sound. Having Elliot Vernon on keys definitely helps diversify the sound. Up next is Drink, which is the lead single off the album. The lyrics are very quirky and sum up part of the Alestorm philosophy "WE ARE HERE TO DRINK YOUR BEER!". This song while a bit poppier than some fans would be used to, this should come as no shock. it's just a fun straight forward, drinking song to drink jig to. Magnetic North is the next song. it actually starts off very folky, which is kind of a shock for the band. The band is classified as a Folk Metal band, but don't usually have traditional folk instrumentation. The song is midtempo, but gets have danceable. One thing that does come as a shock is that the song actually features a breakdown section. it'll be interesting to see how that pans out live seeing Pirates throwing down for a little bit. *I obtain 20% of the sales if Alestorm makes a shirt that says "Walk The Plank, Bro!"* Overall again it's a fun song that will get the crowd jumping live. 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena) starts off 8 Bit style before kicking off into the song. the second longest song on the album does feel quite epic. This features Alestorm doing the best Pirate Metal they can do with all their signature notions all while giving you a history lesson about The Battle Of Cartagena. the song also features some growls in the middle as well, which is a rarity for the band up to this point. The song also features one of the best solos on the album performed by Dani Evans. After the mid paced attack that just happened, Mead From Hell takes over now and it is quite fast and very Power Metalish. If the title wasn't a dead give away, this song is about mead that leads you onto a mystical journey to Hell. This ranks up quite well in Alestorm's quirky drinking songs, fast fun and full of alcohol. Surf Squid Warfare is possibly the strangest song on the album. It is essentially Alestorm performing Surf Rock and Power Metal. it's quite surprising the band hasn't made a song like this before, but they finally did. it's hard to listen to it and not have a smile on your face. Next up is Quest for Ships. This is the most Power Metal song on the album. it feels like it harkens back to mid-era Sonata Arctica. The song is about...well what else...a quest for ships to sail the seas. It's another one of Alestorm's fast paced fun songs that will be fun to mosh to in the pit. Wooden Leg! comes up now and it is the shortest, and possibly fastest song on the album. By this point in the album if Mead from Hell, Surfing Squids and ship quests weren't whimsical enough for you, this song takes it up another notch. This song also features the only Blast Beats on the album (nicely played by Peter Alcorn). Once again, a great song to put a smile on your face. Hangover is up next and this is where Alestorm could have possibly jumped the shark (haha, references). As fun as the song is, it almost feels like an Electronic Dance Party song. It's as if Ke$ha wrote an Alestorm song. Only a band like Alestorm could pull off writing a song like this and still have their fans eat it up (or maybe they will hate it, only time will tell). Finally we reach the longest song ever written by Alestorm, the title track, Sunset On the Golden Age. The band isn't normally known for writing long songs (the longest being around the 7 minute mark. This takes epic to a whole new level at 11:26. This may be the finest song in Alestorm's history. It captures everything about the more serious side of the band. Heavy riffs, excellent songwriting, well thought out lyrics, and overall, a phenomenal song. This is the perfect ending song to a live set,right before the encores.
Alestorm stepped up their game with Sunset On the Golden Age. Lots of diversity, amazing songs, the most hilarious moments in the band's catalog, and overall 10 perfect Alestorm songs (Seriously though, Hangover will be the band's watershed moment. People will love it or hate it with a passion.) Alestorm, like fine alcohol, only improves with age, and this is the band at top form. Now go see them live when they start touring behind the album!
Alestorm- Sunset On The Golden Age Available August 1st via Napalm Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Wings Denied is a Progressive Metal band from Washington D.C. that formed in 2012 and have been slowly rising ever since. They have an amazing blend of Progressive Metal that has the riffs of Periphery, the atmosphere of Cloudkicker, the vocal melodies of Fair to Midland, and the sensibility of Porcupine Tree. this great formula has lead to the band's debut album, Mirrors For A Prince. Could this be the start of what is to come in the world of Progressive Metal?
The album kicks off with their single that was released in 2013, Generation Y. The opening riff is a great nod to Protest The Hero in guitar. The album has an occasional scream but it is predominantly filled with Luka Kerecin's soaring clean vocals. Like mentioned before the vocal melodies have a great approach much like what is used in the band Fair To Midland. The actual song itself is very atmospheric along with it's heaviness. The album does have the chugs used in the Djent side of Progressive Metal, but in no way is this a Djent band. This song is filled with so many different changes and dynamics that all make perfect sense. it is the best choice to start off this album. The Machinist is next and it is a bit more on the poppy side. It still crushes, but it more upbeat overall. Great use of dynamics once again and makes for a very fun song. In Search of Sunrise is a bit of change up. It starts off with clean guitar and very mellow, but that quickly changes into a very heavy, crushing riff willed with amazing clean vocals. In a odd sense it feels like a great midtempo, almost ballady song (which is strange to say because the main riff of the song is so heavy). Not nearly as time change filled or dynamic crazy as the songs before, but it is a killer song. Maiden is the next song up, and once again it is a great left turn in the album. Much like you could almost sense from the title, it has a Iron Maiden feel. Almost as if Iron Maiden wrote Djenty Progressive Metal songs. The song stays predominately midtempo (much like Maiden songs) and has that Classic Metal vibe throughout. 3/4s into the song features one of the rare appearances of full on growls in the album, and it fits perfectly. The next song is called Signs. This is another song that is quite upbeat and Poppy amongst the Progressive Metal going on. Towards the middle of the track is gets a bit more mellow and softer (though not too much). The song then picks back up for a fantastic finish. Néant is the next song And it starts off the slowest the album has come so far. Very dark and ethereal, leading to one of the heaviest, chuggiest riffs on the entire album. It is a good mix of a Stoner Metal song and a tribal warfare march. Lots of heavy, doomy atmosphere fill this track. Picture Sleep meets Meshuggah meets Fair To Midland. Next up is Clockwork. The song starts off like a very melodic and early day Periphery song. Through the course of the song it keeps that Periphery vibe going on. For Djent fans, this is a dictionary definition song of Djent, and that is definitely a good thing. The End Of History is the next track. The song has a great melodicness throughout. A bit more scaled back and atmospheric, all while still keeping everything going at a good pace. It's not until roughly half way into the song that the Djenty guitars come back into play, but it ends much like it started when the song picked up and finishes strong. Up next is Courtesan. The song starts off again much more laid back and mellow in comparison to the rest of the album. it still has a great heavy vibe, but not overbearingly heavy. It has a good TesseracT vibe throughout. A great mellower track for what is to finish off the album. The album does end in true Progressive Metal fashion, with an epic. Six years And A Day. The song starts off with one of the catchiest riffs on the album filled with tremendous tom work and great atmospherics. The song then turns into the Djent version of the riff. Again this song just crushes and showcases everyone in the band's talents in a fantastic way. About 3/4ths of the way into the song, it plays on as it began with that catchy guitar riff and tribal tom drumming, then explodes into one of the heaviest riffs on the album, matched with that sexy guitar riff. This all leads into a mellow section, before leading into one final epic riff that has one of the best showcases of Kerecin's vocal abilities, then a quick reprise of the first Heavy riff of the song into piano to close out the album.
For a Modern Day Prog Metal fan, Mirrors for A Prince seriously has it all. Super heavy riffs, incredible dynamics, fantastic musicianship, catchy melodies and harmonies, and above else, 10 amazingly written songs. The band recently concluded their first full US tour and I know it won't be there last. Check out Mirrors For A Prince and go see these guys when they come back to your area. Wings Denied could be the forefathers of what Progressive Metal will become in the future, and if they do, Progressive Metal is going to soar like never before.
Wings Denied- Mirrors For A Prince available NOW via Wings Denied's Bandcamp
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
It's hard to think that a band that has been around since 1987 has only put out 3 albums. Cynic is on their third album (and fifth release), Kindly Bent To Free Us. To those who have followed the band, Cynic has been progressively getting lighter and lighter over their years, especially since their return in 2006. Kindly Bent To Free us is much more of an experimental album than the two done previously. It divulges more into Progressive Rock and Jazz Fusion this time around. though this may sway some loyal fans to back away with it's lack of overall Metal, it is still a very profound album when given the chance.
The album starts with True Hallucination Speak. The song slowly fades in then kicks off with a grand opening. The main riff is very proggy and technical, while more Prog Rock, it still sounds very much like Cynic. The song rumbles through quite strong till around the middle where it breaks into just vocals and guitar. After this it rolls right along till the end where it fades away with some synth sounds ending the track leading right into the next song, The Lion's Roar. Arguably one of the catchiest songs on the album. The song would fit right at home with something on Top 40 Hard Rock Radio. Just like the rest of the album, Paul Masvidal's clean vocals make this song shine (there is no screams or growls and very minimal, vocoder on the entire album). Towards the end of the song it reaches one of the highlights of the album, when the double bass kicks in and the whole song feels like it soars above the heavens above. The song also fades in the end leading into the title track. Kindly Bent To Free Us starts off with just synth sounds and vocals before kicking into a riff that sounds like it was recorded straight from the days of Focus, while having that feel of Traced In Air. There's not much variance in this song, just a straight up great song from beginning to end, and another fade out song. Infinite Shapes is next and starts with just guitar and bass. When everything kicks in, it has a great heavy feel to it, before quietly going back down again. Very mellow and relaxed until the chorus hits when one of the best drummers in Metal, Sean Reinert, shows off his great display of tom work and complicated, yet perfectly placed, rhythms. (a great signature of his). A fantastic display from everyone in the band. Moon Heart Sun Head comes up next and starts off with a great guitar riff from Masvidal. The song is one of the more different songs on the album with a lot of dynamics. From excelled tom rhythms to very proggy and heavy guitar riffs, this song showcases all of what the band is capable of now a days. Gitanjali starts off a lot like some of the better tracks on Traced In Air, with a fade in of a killer riff. It's easily one of the heavier songs on the album. It does feel like a song from Traced In Air throughout, which is definitely a great thing. Holy Fallout may be the best song on the album. It is indeed the longest song on the album, yet it feels like it flies by. To put it simply, this song showcases everything Cynic is about in one song. The tribal drumming mixed with beautiful soundscape, yet not being afraid to keep things heavy in all the right spots. It feels like the perfect song to end a live set before going into encores. Endlessly Bountiful closes out the album. The song slowly soars in, but instead of getting heavy (or even having drums for that matter) it stays very ethereal and atmospheric. Just synths, guitar, vocals, and bass. Its the type of song that feels like a flight angels take from the earth into the sky above. The song ends with acoustic guitar drifting away to close the album.
Kindly Bent To Free Us is a bit of a polarizing album. It doesn't have the feel of the heaviness of Focus nor Traced In Air, and is more inclined to their EP, Carbon Based Anatomy, but more heavy in spots. Some people's major problem with the album (besides the lack of Metal) is the lyrics. If you are not a fan of abstract poetry, this album will whiz over your head. A better idea to fully appreciate this album is to focus on the vocal melodies instead. Those are still pure Cynic to a T. Masvidal, Reinert, and bassist Sean Malone (who is actually touring with the band for the first time since 1994) all 3 of the best musicians that the music world will ever know. While this time around the Metal isn't there, they still create some of the most beautiful and optimistic music that a metalhead can appreciate.
Cynic- Kindly Bent To Free Us available NOW via Seasons Of Mist
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Even with only 3 releases (2 Albums and 1 EP), Triptykon has proven to be one of the heaviest bands in all of Metal. Fronted by the legendary Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost, Hellhammer), Triptykon's newest release Melana Chasmata may have never been released if Warrior would have carried through with his suicidal thoughts. This album nearly killed him, but in a way saved him as well (with the help of his girlfriend who talked him out of it) This album is sheer depression from start to finish. That is not meant to be a negative thing (Haha, word play). It is full of somber tones, absolute destruction of the mind, and of course is the brilliant songwriting of Tom G. Warrior.
Melana Chasmata (which roughly translate into Black, Deep Depressions) starts off with a different kind of opening. Rather than going completely Doom Metal, or going all guns blazing, the opening track, Tree Of Suffocating Souls starts off midtempo (although it gets faster as the track progresses). The opening is layered in heavy riffs and lots of Double Bass. Right from the start when Warrior opens his mouth to sing, you can hear the heartache of life in his voice. The song never leaves the faster, midtempo pace once it starts until about 3/4s into the song where it gets very doomy for a bit before picking it back up to finish out the song. Boleskine House. Starts off slower and more somber than the proceeding track. This is a signature type of Triptykon track that is slow, doomy, and heavy all the way through. So many Doom Metal bands could learn a thing or two from this track in particular (let alone the ENTIRE album). Alter Of Deceit is next, and again it start of slow. It's roughly at the same tempo as Boleskine House, but even heavier (if that was possible). Breathing is a nice change of pace on the album. While it sort of similar to the last couple tracks, when the vocals kick in, it goes into Death Metal bliss. The verses and Chorus are much similar to the track, A Thousand Lies, off Triptykon's debut album, Eparistera Daimones. This is the fastest track on the album BPM wise and is pinpointed on a great spot on the album. It's Fast, Thrashy and filled with great Death Metal antics that would be amazing to hear live. Auroae follows up next and it is one of the most mellow songs on the album. It still has some great doomy guitar and ethereal moments but the song doesn't change tempo and keeps that same eerie feeling throughout. Next up is Demon Pact. The song doesn't really kick in until a couple minutes into the song, but is very dark and evil. Another song that doesn't vary in tempo, it just drags you into the abyss slowly but surely. In The Sleep Of Death comes now and is a little more upbeat (though not much). This crushing track chugs and chugs away while having some very ethereal guitars used in the background. OH GLORIOUS DOOM! Up next is the epic on the album, Black Snow. A bit more upbeat as compared to some of the other tracks on the album, but it is very epic sounding (just like the term implies). It's very grand and huge all while being unrelenting. You get to hear more of Warrior's tortured vocals in this one. All 12:25 minutes of Black Snow does feel like the soundtrack to your demise. The final track on the album is Waiting. Bassist and Backup vocalist Vanja Šlajh does the vocals does the majority of the vocals on this track repeating the line over and over "We Are The Same". The song is surprisingly positive as compared to the rest of the album which makes you feel the hell that Tom G. Warrior was facing at the time. The song itself is a bit more of a Post Rock song than anything else and features a clean guitar solo, again, something you'd never expect from Triptykon. The song and album ends on Vanja Šlajh's voice fading away along with the guitar drones drifing off into what could only be the heavens for an optimistic look, or hell for a return to tragedy.
Overall, Melana Chasmata is a dark, tortured album musically and lyrically. Knowing the back story of Tom G. Warrior during the process only makes this album even more haunting. While as dark and doom as the album is, it's oddly beautiful in a way only Doom Metal can do when done perfectly. Warrior knocked it out of the park on this one. We can only hope now that he is happier with life....and maybe another full scale US tour in Triptykon's lifetime.
Triptykon- Melana Chasmata available NOW via Century Media Records/Prowling Death Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Lantlôs, is a band who much like Alcest, was known for very dark Black Metal and slowly, but surely, moving away from the sound on every album. But unlike Alcest who is very much a Post Rock band now a days, Lantlôs is still keeping Metal in the sound, although in a much different way. With the band's latest release, Melting Sun, the album is technically one song separated into 6 tracks. All 6 are quite different in sound from the next, yet all fit together seamlessly.
The album begins with Azure Chimes. The track starts with just a haunting guitar and builds its way into the song. Unlike Lantlôs albums of the part, this album has zero screams, all clean singing, but still beautifully heavy. The sound is more reminiscent of Post Metal and Alternative Metal. If there was a way to compare the sound, a fair comparison is the bands, Anathema, Long Distance Calling, and TesseracT. The next track is Cherry Quartz, which again builds up slowly, but this time with synths and haunting guitar before kicking in. This is much more upbeat beginning and very heavy. It's a strange joy hearing Lantlôs using downtuned guitars now, but it so oddly works. The song slowly gets to a Sludge Metal feel followed by a very mellow interlude, then it all kicks back in. A very heavy, sludgy, Post Metal riff with clean vocals, it is very sexy. Aquamarine Towers is the next track, and what is a theme in the beginning of the album, it starts off quiet and slow, then builds up. The track is the most Post Rockish sounding track on the album. Lots of tremolo picking and atmospheric riffs fill the song. It feels much like listening to the likes of Isis and Pelican. Arguably the best track on the album comes up next, Jade Fields. This has a very Djenty feel throughout. Once again the track starts with synths and guitar before kicking in. TesseracT absolutely comes to mind in this track with the distorted Djent riffs in the middle of the track and like TesseracT, has that great atmospheric landscape as well. Definitely the standout track of the entire album. Up next is a short, almost 3 minute synth and soundclip interlude called Oneironaut, which leads way into the final track, Golden Mind. It starts off very laid back and waltzy. It almost feels like being in the middle of the ocean and slowly being hit by wave after wave in a calm blue ocean (strange image isn't it?) The song slowly and slowly builds up with the waves getting bigger and bigger until it fades away, ending the almost 41 minute song known as Melting Sun.
Melting Sun is a phenomenal piece of work. So many layers and soundscapes in just under 41 minutes and 6 tracks. it gets heavy, it gets Posty, it's all entirely beautiful and exactly what needed to be made. For the last few years Atmospheric Black Metal has been slowly picking up steam and bands like Deafheaven have brought it to the mainstream. Lantlôs has done what Alcest has done and moved away from the sound to create something beautiful, but still be Metal. For those that are bummed that Alcest has gotten rid of all of their Metal side, give Melting Sun a chance. It's the beauty of Alcest, the power of Post Rock, the atmosphere of TesseracT and the entity that has become Lantlôs.
Lantlôs- Melting Sun available NOW via Prophecy Productions
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Doomsday Mourning is a Deathcore band from Queens, NY that is starting to make a good name for itself. Having released 2 EPs prior, Negligent Acts Of Calculated Recklessness is the band's debut album and to those who are just now discovering the band, it's a Deathcore force to be reckoned with.
Musically, Doomsday Mourning has a Deathcore tinge to it while contribute to different styles as well. There are many aspects of Hardcore and Meshuggah riffing along with the Brutal breakdowns and some nice Prog Metal as well. The band really shines on tracks like An Exercise In Futility, Externalities, and Methodical, Exacting & Patie. These tracks really showcase that the band has some great chops. tracks like Bombs, Hostile Takeover, and Cold Hell brings out the brutal breakdowns big time. People who are fans of the likes of Emmure, Suicide Silence, and Born of Osiris should easily fine something to love about this band.
The album goes by quite fast at almost 32 minutes long. This is just enough to leave a pummeling stamp and leave you wanting more. It's quite easy to see why these guys are starting to get some real recognition.The album also features vocal contributions from the bands: Reflections, Ashes Within, World Of Pain, Sylar, Psycho Enhancer, and Michael Cro.
Negligent Acts Of Calculated Recklessness will definitely be up your alley if you haven't had your recommended amount of Breakdowns and brutality this year. This covers the ground of Deathcore while adding nice calculated riffing, smart lyrics, and overall destruction that makes this standout in the mosh pit.
Doomsday Mourning- Negligent Acts Of Calculated Recklessness out NOW via To The Point Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Panopticon plays a style of Metal that sounds so strange at the sound of the genre infusing, but makes total sense. They are a mix between Atmospheric Black Metal and American Bluegrass. Hopefully with something like that, it makes you jump up and go "WOAH, I GOTTA CHECK THAT OUT!" Their last album, Kentucky, was raised to major acclaim. Could Panopticon possibly be able to do this again with their new album, Roads To The North?
The album starts with the 9:36 song, The Echos Of A Disharmonic Evensong. it starts off quite strange before a longer drum fill leading into the whole band joining in. From this point onwards it shows the great mix of Atmospheric Black Metal with the folkish, Bluegrass tinge in the background. When the vocals aren't in motion the Bluegrass takes over with the Black Metal for a great atmospheric sound that fans of either genre could really appreciate. The middle of the song breaks down acoustically before gaining back the speed and Metal to help close out the song. Up next is the longest song on the album, Where Mountains Pierce The Sky. The song starts off with a great Folk/Bluegrass feel that really makes you feel like you are on the countryside just as it hits sundown. This does not last when the band finally kicks in at the 1:26 mark. Instead of kicking into full on Black Metal mode, it stays very midtempo and somewhat matches the Bluegrass in the beginning of the song. at the 3:36 mark it hits one of the most beautiful metal moments on the album where all the harmonies and melodies hit together and create a very surreal moment. Throughout the rest of the song it keeps up a faster tempo and adds a good atmospheric feel. At the very end of the song it leads into an acoustic guitar/fiddle riff that leads into the next song. That next song is called The Long Road, which is separated into three tracks, The Long Road I. One Last Fire is a campfire style song that focuses on the bluegrass instruments (Fiddle, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, etc). This instrumental makes up the entire track that leads into The Long Road II. Capricious Miles, which starts with a ferocious drum intro and leads into one of the best riffs in the album. The track goes through many different variances in tempo and instrumentation. In the middle of the track, it gets quite ethereal. It almost feels like a section right out of Opeth's album, Damnation. This also continues until almost right near the end where the blast beats come back and lead onto the final tack of the song, The Long Road III. The Sigh Of Summer. This starts off very Post Rockish and ethereal. At the 3:00 mark it picks back up somewhat with the Black Metal feel, but still continues on the ethereal Post Rock in the background. A little over the half way mark it gets a bit into a early day In Flames type riff before unleashing a fantastic guitar solo filled with killer double bass and leading back into an incredible Black Metal/Bluegrass riff. The song ends with a tribal background with some marching soundclips to close things out. Norwegian Nights is the next song and it is a 3 minute killer Bluegrass song that oddly enough has some clean vocals. Very acoustic paced and a nice break from Metal. From out of nowhere, In Silence comes and is easily the heaviest opening on the entire album. It almost feels likes like a Brutal death Metal riff with atmospheric guitars and fiddle outlays. After the brutality, it goes into somewhat of a Post Rock feel again with Black Metal screams. This leads back into a rollercoaster of dynamics between Post Rock and Black Metal throughout the rest of the song. Near the end of the song it goes a bit lo-fi on the drums while the Bluegrass section takes over again before one final blast of brutality to close things out. The final tack on this album is Chase The Grain, which arguably may be the finest song from Panopticon to date. While the Metal section is doing a killer Atmospheric Black Metal riff, the Bluegrass section is over top doing amazing leads and adding real emotion that tugs at you. The entire song has this great feeling of epic emotions that can make you close your eyes, slowly raise your fist and nod your head slowly. at the 3:07 mark it breaks down into an acoustic passage. It kicks back into Black Metal mode shortly after, but in a nice left turn, things get very symphonic with a dark and eerie sound that leads into a sinister Symphonic Black Metal segment. Right before the end of the album things get back into a nearly normal state where it plays somewhat of a reprise of the first riff of the song before closing off with an acoustic guitar that fades away to finish of Roads To The North.
Roads To The North, much like it's predecessor, Kentucky, is a spellbinding album. It's enchanting and hypnotizing. If you give it a real shot, the mixture of Black Metal and Folk and Bluegrass is something that hasn't really been captured before in a memorable way. This could be the breakthrough album for Panopticon that could lead them into possible Deafheaven territory, where taking Black Metal into a new light can get some real recognition. This is not an album to miss out on, be sure to pick this up and enjoy every second of it!
Panopticon- Roads To The North available August 1st via Bindrune Recordings and Nordvis
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Darkest Hour has been one the underground Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore bands that most recognition for 2005's Undoing Ruin and 2007's Deliver Us (both produced by Devin Townsend by the way). The band has been going strong since 1995, and they are continuing on with their 8th album, their self titled album, Darkest Hour. This is their first album for Sumerian Records and the first to feature bassist Aaron Deal and drummer Travis Orbin. it is safe to say with this album that they are hitting some new genre territories they have yet to explore.
The album starts with the song, Wasteland. It already starts off heavier than most of their past material for their use of downtuning and 7 strings which makes it's first appearance strongly in the band's history. The song has that heavy chug sound (some call it Djent) but the song carries itself in the way any Darkest Hour song would. Strong clean choruses, fast riffing and fantastic soloing. Next is the shortest song on the album, Rapture in Exhile, which just blows you away from the second it starts. Fast, thrashy, and HEAVY! The Misery We Make comes up next and oddly enough, it does sound very commercial. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely is a song that could fit well on Top 40 Hard Rock Radio (IF they are ok with clean vocals with an occasional scream for emphasis. If All That Remains, In Flames, and Demon Hunter can be, Darkest Hour sure can as well. Up next is Infinite Eyes. It starts off with a very grand sounding guitar riff before going into some nice Melodeath riffing. The solo on this one is one of the finest solos on the album. The whole song has a nice faster midpace feel to it, a nice driving sound that Darkest Hour always seems to achieve with ease. Futurist follows up and oddly enough it is another song that could easily fit in Top 40 Hard Rock Radio. Very minimal use of screams and focuses on a style of poppier clean vocals that isn't normally heard in the band. The Great Oppressor comes in charging and heavy. It features on of the best choruses in the album. It's quite reminiscent of the faster songs of In Flames. Anti-Axis is next and again it features a downtuned chug throughout. Djent fans would really appreciate this one. The chorus is quite catchy. Unlike most Darkest Hour songs, instead of a solo there is a Breakdown section that may catch people by surprise. It's not until the last few seconds of the song where you hear a guitar lead, so that can count as a solo. The album takes a mellow, but very tom heavy approach in the next song, By The Starlight. The song features DRÆMINGS on background and shared main vocals. Toward the middle of the song it picks up a bit with distortion and double bass, but ends with a very ethereal vibe. Lost For Life pummels it's way next and it is a killer thrashy song that is relentless. Short, thrashy, and sweet. The Goddess Figure comes up next and is a nice midtempo number to start off with then gets fast and thrashy. It also features one of the best choruses on the album. Beneath The Blackening Sky is classic Darkest Hour. Much like a song that would fit in Undoing Run or Deliver Us. Hypatia Rising starts off with a nice acoustic riff with the heaviness in the background in a cool Classic Metal vibe. When the song fully kicks in, again, it is classic Darkest Hour. A great blend of Melodeath and Metalcore. The final track is Departure. It starts off with and orchestral section then leads into clean vocals and riffs that match well with the more poppy songs on the album. This, once more, can fit quite well on Top 40 Hard Rock radio, but as a 2nd or 3rd single, after the band gets more established to that audience. The orchestral parts continue on through most of the rest of the song as does the clean vocals being the main choice for style. The song ends much as it began as the orchestra fades away.
As mentioned before, Darkest Hour hits some new territory on this album, and if marketed right, this very well could launch them on mainstream radio. This may discourage some fans, and may encourage even more. Overall, Darkest Hour put out another solid album and only time will tell as to where this could lead them in the future.
Darkest Hour- Darkest Hour Available August 5th via Sumerian Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Bend Sinister is great band out of British Columbia that combines Classic Hard Rock, Indie Rock, and whether the band wants to admit it or not, Progressive Rock. The underground band just started getting some real recognition from their last album, Small Fame back in 2012 when drummer Mike Portnoy picked up on the band and showed interest. They are back with their 5th album (and 9th release overall), Animals, and it really is a fantastic showcase of how a band can show their diversity all while having it making sense.
The album starts off with the longest song on the album, Best Of You, which is a fantastic eight and a half minute masterpiece which takes you on a journey of sound. The lyrics are very inspirational and positive, which is missing in a lot of Rock music now a days. The first of two two main lyrical lines that are repeated is "This world ain't seen the best of you yet." A good message of keeping on, keeping on. With that message, the first half of the song is very upbeat with lots of great guitar and keyboard interludes. The second half of the song gets very slow and dramatic. throughout the second half of the song the only phrase sung is "And the world It brings you down. Keep your head up high and your feet on the ground." The more the phrase gets repeated, the more the song grows to be more and more epic and grand until it reaches it's climax of sound and brings you back down to the world (Ah ha, get it?). While a song like this would be best set for the end of an album, the band ahs said they chose this to be the first song because they feel it is the best son on the album and they want everyone to hear it. And a great choice that was.
Now onto the rest of the album. Fancy Pants is the next song up, and it is very much a type of Indie Rock and Classic Rock song. Very upbeat with big choruses and even a trumpet in the song. During the middle of the song is slows down for a big "La La La" sing a long section and ends just as upbeat as it began. I Got Love is the equivalent of the scene in The Blues Brothers where Joliet Jake Blues becomes Born Again and dances in the Gospel Church. This song even features a Gospel Choir in sections. A very fun song to headbang to if your a rocker, and dance to if you can dance. Better Things To Do is another throw back to the Indie Rock/Pop Rock sound. The lyrics also have the same feel to it as well. It's a good mellow song after the speed of the last couple songs. Thunder And Lightning is the heaviest song on the album by far. The song is pure 70s Hard Rock in the vein of Deep Purple. It starts off with a Judas Priest style intro much like The Hellion segues into Electric Eye. From that point on it's pure Deep Purple and so cool. Fast, heavy, great 70s style vocals. The next song, Teacher, also goes into the 70's Hard Rock vibe. It starts off mellow with keyboard chords and builds up into a blazing Rock song. It resonates well as a mix between Deep Purple and Boston. It's safe to say that almost every song on the second half of the album has a deep love for 70s Hard Rock and Deep Purple. The song, Seventeen, also showcases this point very well. A slower track then the previous few, but very heavy Hard Rock with the Deep Purple keys. The album takes a break from the Hard Rock vibe and goes back into Indie Rock territory with the song You Remind Me. Even if you aren't into Indie music, the lyrics are very relatable when you hear them, especially if you are starting relationships. Through The Week is the slowest song on the album and a great ballad. Very piano driven and just a great lay back and chill song. It again harkens to the Classic Rock sound with their ballads. The album closes with the song It Will Never End, a great ending song to close the album. it starts upbeat and kinda Indie but a great heavy beat behind it so even rockers can really appreciate it. Just as you think the song is done it ends on the heaviest riff of the entire album. While short, it is almost as if they decided to be a Speed Metal band for a few seconds and then doing a proper grandiose ending to close out this killer album.
It is easy to see why Prog fans are drawn to Bend Sinister. they don't just stick to one genre. While the band does not consider itself Prog, you can at least say they are very diverse and bring a lot of different offerings to the table. Whether you have a love for Classic Hard Rock, like Indie Rock, or just like music that has a lot of style changes all while making it sound like it fits. Bend Sinister is the band for you. And support these guys if you dig them. They are awesome guys that deserve all the attention they can get.
Bend Sinister- Animals available NOW via FILE UNDER MUSIC
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Novembers Doom is a criminally underrated band that sadly doesn't get the amount of love that they should. For those unfamiliar with the band, Novembers Doom is a great blend of Doom (who'd guess by the by name, haha) Death, Progressive, and Folk Metal. On their latest album, Bled White the band expands even further in their sound and reaches what could possibly be their best work yet.
The album starts off with the title track, Bled White, And it is in traditional Novembers Doom style. Great dark riffing with the right amount of death growls and clean vocals (vocalist, Paul Kuhr is a master at both styles, which is hard to accomplish in this style). The next track is Heartfelt, and it showcases musically what Novembers Doom is best at, faster, but still midtempo, destruction of the soul. Just Breathe follows next and is a very dark song. Slow moving and a bit uneasy. The mid way point of the song is picks up the pace all while Kuhr keeps up is haunting clean vocals. The song changes variances a couple more times before closing out. Scorpius is a short acoustic guitar interlude that matches the theme of the album perfectly, then from out of nowhere comes Unrest. Unrest is a a nice, heavy, unrelenting song. Just overall awesome Novembers Doom goodness. The Memory Room is a bit of a different kind of track for the band. While the riff sounds similar to the song, Buried, off their last album Aphotic, it doesn't get entirely too heavy on this one. It is as if Novembers Doom was listening to the style of Alice In Chains. It's a nice change of pace as well. The Brave Pawn is one of the heaviest songs on the album and easily the fastest. Pure unadulterated chaos. Clear is another haunting somber song. It is another song that features Kuhr's cleans done properly. Mid tempo and done right. The Grand Circle is another slower song, much in the vein of Clear, but more vocally driven and does have growls in it as well. Animus starts off with a chilling clean guitar riff that just blasts into brutality shortly after. The whole song has the Death/Doom sound that Novembers Doom can master like no one else. The album ends with the longest song on the album, The Silent Dark. This 9:29 epic of a song starts off with haunting sounds with clean vocals. It's not until 2:42 where things up up and the song get heavy. The whole song has that feel that all good longer songs have where it's meant to be this long and doesn't get old. A great send off to a beautiful, heavy, and somber album. I wouldn't want a Novembers Doom album any other way.
Bled White may be the band's finest work to date and that really says a lot considering their back catalog. It is filled with some of the most tasteful guitar solos you will hear in the genre, masterful drumming, the perfect combination of clean and death vocals. If you haven't heard of the band yet, this is the perfect album to start with. If you have, this will be the best one you hear.
Novembers Doom- Bled White available NOW via The End Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Fallujah just might be saving Death Metal from it itself. With the band's second album, The Flesh Prevails coming out July 22nd, 2014, the band has explored an area that many Death Metal bands steer clear of, adding an atmospheric touch to their sound. It has been explored a lot in the realms of Black Metal and Post Metal, but not so much in Death Metal. While the band has somewhat done this on their two previous releases; the debut album The Harvest Wombs, and their EP, Nomadic, it has not been explored like it has on The Flesh Prevails. This is very much a revolutionary album.
The album starts with Starlit Path, which has a very atmospheric intro of clean guitars, synths, and bass, which gradually builds up when the drums get added. When the distortion gets added it turns into Atmospheric chaos. it's not until around the 2:10 mark where the Death Metal truly kicks in. While the rest of the band is playing in true Death meal fashion, there is guitar overlays of cleans and synths that add a fantastic layer of melodicness and atmosphere. This is featured through the entire album. Songs that have already been released (Carved In Stone, Levitation and Sapphire) are very beautiful pieces of Death Metal, again, not a phrase that you would normally hear in the genre. The title track, The Flesh Prevails is arguably one of the highlights of the album. While one of the shorter songs on the album, it showcases the perfect use of dynamics, slowly building up into an expulsion of fury. Alone With You is a short instrumental interlude that is pure atmosphere which leads right back into the chaos that the rest of the album brings. Allure is another instrumental track that contains all the power the rest of the album brings but without vocals, shows off what the music side of the band is capable of in terms of the beautiful chaos. The album ends with Chemical Cave, which is a fantastic final song for an album that showcases the musical side of the band once again in Prog Metal fashion. Almost as if Dream Theater wrote a Death Metal instrumental.
Fallujah's The Flesh Prevails that can save Death Metal from the overabundance of the "Same Ol, Same Ol" approach of just being brutal and the over the top Technical Death Metal approach that only those who can achieve the same sound on their own playing abilities can enjoy. It's a great blend of Atmospheric Death Metal, in a sense that you can have your Death Metal brutal, but have that kick back and relax feeling at the same time. The only thing that I can say that some people may not enjoy about the album is that the latter part of the album does not feature as much vocals as the first half, but again, that's a matter of taste. Musically, it all gels well, and I dare say will be a pioneer in the next Generation of Death Metal.
Fallujiah- The Flesh Prevails Available July 22nd via Unique Leader Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Anathema is a great example of a band who can change their sound for the best. Starting off as a very Gothic, Doom Metal band, and slowly turning into the emotional Progressive Rock powerhouse they have become. Anathema has recently released their 10th album, Distant Satellites back in June and it is a bit of a genre bending album to say the least.
In recent years, Anathema has been widely known for their last two albums, We're Here Because We're Here and Weather Systems. Both albums are a perfect blend of Progressive Rock and pure, unadulterated emotion that in the right mood, can bring a tear to your eye. Distant Satellites is no different.
The album starts off much like Weather Systems does with a 2 part song (In Distant Satellites' case 2/3rd of the song), called The Lost Song Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 is an emotional juggernaut that indeed has the feeling of Weather System's Untouchable Part 1. A real emotional roller coaster in just one third of a song that is of course brought to us vocally by Vincent Cavanagh. Part 2, again, much like Untouchable Part 2, is sung by female singer, Lee Douglas. It is a bit more somber than Part 1, which is part of the charm, but towards the end of Part 2 really showcases the band's orchestral sound once again. Instead of going into Part 3, The band does a couple songs in between to change the mood. Dusk (Dark Is Descending) is the next song and the first song on the album to feature everyone in the band. It is a great standard on the album and a great showcase of the band if you don't want to venture into their most epic sounding songs. Ariel is one of the saddest sounding songs on the album. It's a beautiful ballad that is filled with pure emotion. One of things that really captures people about Anathema is their lyrics. When you divulge into their lyrics and listen to how they are sung, they grab you and never let go. Ariel is a prime example of this, along with its great orchestration from the entire band. Next up is The Lost Song Part 3, which is actually quite different than Part 1 and 2. It is more upbeat and focuses more on the music being played along with the vocal approach (which like every Anathema song with lyrics, is quite strong). It's not the most epic sounding of song endings, but it indeed does the job quite well. Lastly on the things you know about Anathema well, is the band's self titled song, Anathema. The lyrics are very much about the struggles of the band to get where they are now and does have a deep orchestral background that is somewhat reminiscent of the band's mid-era career with albums like Judgement and A Fine Day to Exit.
This is where the band does a complete genre change. From the first couple notes of You're Not Alone, it starts off like any new day Anathema album with somber piano, then the vocals come in and repeats in a Electronic way, then the electronic drums come in. Roughly half way into this 3;27 song it it goes full on guitar driven Electronica. The lyrics repeat throughout the entire song giving an illusion of chaos towards the end of the song. Firelight is a short instrumental song that focuses on synth sounds and orchestration an it a great natural build up to the album's self titled song, Distant Satellites. Distant Satellites is a song that would not feel as natural if it had natural drums on it, which is a very odd thing to say. To match the emotion of the song of feeling far away, like in space, the electronic drums give the song a very nice touch of early day EDM. The rest of the song is filled with piano and Vincent's soothing vocals. While this may seem like a drastic change in sound for the band, it feels like a natural progression for the band. The last song on the album, Take Shelter is another song in the Electronic world. The song again features no real drums, all electronic as done by former acoustic drummer, now electronic drummer/keyboardist, John Douglas (Acoustic Drumming is now being performed by Daniel Cardoso). The song is a great way to close out the album because it does feature the most prominent features of the whole album near the end of the song. Strong orchestration from the beginning of the album, the soaring vocals which is all throughout, and the EDM programming at the end. Near the end it makes you feel like you went through a musical journey of many different musical genres, yet still feel like an Anathema album
What can be said most about Distant Satellites is that Anathema is not afraid to show their changes in a band.from their Gothic Doom Metal days, to their haunting Alternative Rock days, to their emotionally driven Progressive Rock, to what very well could be the new sound for the band, the early day EDM stylings. Anathema will write the music that their heart is behind and this album is a great showcasing of that. Starting off with the sound they are known for currently, and slowly but surely switching genres once again to match the music they wanna create, and honestly, that is where the best music comes from is the music that means the most to you at the time of creation.
Anathema- Distant Satellites, out NOW via Kscope
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Opeth makes a triumphant return with their 11th album, Pale Communion. Many people consider their 9th album Watershed to be...well...a watershed moment. It marked a transitioning point for the band where the Death Metal aesthetic of the band was slipping away for a more Progressive Rock feel and Mikael Akerfeldt's Death Metal growls had disappeared since their last album Heritage. Many people gave up on the band at that point feeling that the band had jumped the shark musically. So with that being a strong case for a lot of former Opeth fans, they are skeptical of what the band would be putting out next.
The band has made it their niche to make evil sounding music whether it is from their beginning of Orchid, to their mid career point (at least so far) Blackwater Park, to arguably their most crowd pleasing and highly regarded album, Ghost Reveries.
Pale Communion is no different. Lyrically, Opeth is just as dark and evil as ever. Vocally, the Death Metal growls are still gone. Maybe one day they will return, but much like albums like Damnation and Heritage, there is no need for them here. The album starts off (Eternal Rains Will Come, Cusp Of Eternity, Moon Above, Sun Below) much in a way that parts of Ghost Reveries, Watershed and Heritage go, where it is sinister in a heavier Progressive Rock feel without the need to go into Death Metal territory. It still has some Heritage vibe to it, but unlike Heritage, it more rocking and upbeat. Elysian Woes sounds like a track that was taken straight from the Damnation days, a great somber ballad placed in a great spot on the album. Goblin has been said by Akerfeldt, to be heavily inspired by the band Goblin, and indeed it is. The song is all instrumental, just like Goblin, and showcases the evil that 70s Progressive Rock can be. River starts off with an acoustic into and beautiful vocal harmonies. The song eventually picks up a bit, but not in a Hard Rock but very much like a mid-era Porcupine Tree (Signify-Lightbulb Sun) song would be. Although Porcupine Tree frontman, Steven Wilson mixed the album, he did not help write any of the songs, but Akerfeldt was indeed inspired by Wilson. The second half of River goes back into the evil 70s Progressive Rock and gets into one of the darkest and heaviest riffs of the album. Voice Of Treason starts off with very ominous keyboards followed by a very Ghost Reveries inspired song riff. the song is one of the most upbeat on the album and one of the few instances of double bass on the album (although only used in one riff about 3/4ths through the song). the song ends how it begins with ominous keyboards with segue ways into the final track, Faith In Others. This is another track that really focuses on the somber side of the band with it's slower-mid tempo stylings. It starts off much like their song, Burden, and mid way through goes into a keyboard (piano)/vocal break with leads into the classic Opeth signature tone for ballads. 3/4ths into the song it has a grandiose orchestral moment what is one of the best moments in any Opeth song, finally closing into a slow and somber end to the album with keyboards and strings and Akerfeldt's final words for the album.
Clocking in at 55;38, Opeth's 11th opus is nothing short of what many will consider to be a miraculous comeback album. If you are one of those who only like Opeth for the Balls and Chunk Heavy side of Opeth, again, you will be disappointed. If you dig Opeth's 70's Prog side that they experimented with on Watershed and on the most with Heritage, this will be to your fancy. But more so than anything, if you enjoy the dark, somber stylings of Damnation, the clean sections of Ghost Reveries, and of course Watershed and Heritage, this album is for you. To put it best, this is the album that should have came out after Watershed.
Opeth- Pale Communion (Roadrunner Records) Release Date: August 26th, 2014
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.