As I write this, it's late on July 15th, 2017; about one month and 4 days till my 29th birthday. Which in turn, means I'll be a year away from entering my 30s. It's a scary thought to me as it still feels like I never got out of my high school years let alone being 28 years old. Even scarier than that, I never thought I would live this long.
To anyone that doesn't know me personally, I am a sufferer of a few different medical ailments. Type II diabetes is one of them (though I do have that pretty regulated right now) currently dealing with Frozen Shoulder in both shoulders that could last up to 5 years. But the thing that has hindered my life in the worst way is...myself. I'm suffering clinically from Major Depression and High Anxiety. I didn't get this diagnosed until 2016, but I know I've been suffering from this since August 18th, 2000 when my life changed forever.
THE BEGINNING OF THE DEMISE
I'm not going to go into details about them here, but a severe family incident happened that tragically made my family fall apart at the seams. This was one day before my 12th birthday and it easily ended up being the worst birthdays of my life and I really haven't recovered from this incident (amongst others). The most I'll get into (legality reasoning) is that a family member mentally snapped and took over a decade to change into a better person. As a huge part of this person's life I tried to help the best I could as soon as I realized something was wrong, but the problem was, I was 12. This breakdown cause everyone in my family to dissolve. Some family members stopped talking to others while took their aggression out on others. As I didn't take sides on the issue, trying to be a peacemaker, I was shunned by both sides.
When your 12 years old, you need family and friends in your life to make sense of the world. Puberty is beginning, your mental psyche and physical self changes in the worst ways. Your preteen-teenage years are the most important years of your life as far as your human development. Mine, unfortunately were filled with isolation, fear, loneliness, and despair. With family not being on good terms, I didn't have anyone in my family I could trust and/or talk to about how I was feeling. I'll never forget one family member telling me "If you have problems in your life, keep them to yourself because nobody cares about you." (I cleaned up the phrase a bit to make this whole thing PG). Due to things like that, amongst many others, I became a very quiet guy. A speak when spoken to type mentality,k so when that happened I became a loner in school. My grades started slipping from the incident; going from straight As and "one of the most intelligent students in my grade" to A-Ds. Life started losing a lot of meaning to me at this time. Not just from being a loner, but from the small town environment of small town Wisconsin, not fitting in with anyone around me, the opposite sex being repulsed by me and many more things I'm sure I can add.
SOLACE IN MUSIC
Around this time is when i discovered listening to metal as an escape from reality. While being smart enough to realize that music is art, there is a lot of relateable messages in the music. Some bands who write very depressing things hit the nail on the head when it comes to the dark things in life. While many would think that's a terrible thing to listen to and should rather listen to optimistic and happy music at all times; no one is ever happy 24/7. Life has a lot of terrible moments and it's a great feeling to know that others around the world know similar struggles as you.
MAKING DRUMMING MY LIFE
From the age of 16 on, I was quite fortunate to be able to find various people who enjoyed similar music to me; be it original music or covers, and I was able to play music and actually get paid for 6 years. The sad reality with that came that my ideals with a lot of the musicians I worked with did not come to be the same as theirs and ended up having to go separate ways. While this is quite a normal thing, when a majority of that time is living in small town Wisconsin, there's not a lot of options for those that enjoy what you do, so you must take compromises to hopefully achieve what you want to be able to accomplish.
When I was 22, that was the last time I profited from making music. I had a few bands from that point on, but as with previous bands, it ended up having the same story. Starting with the best of intentions, becoming friends, writing what you think is great music, musical shifts, idealism shifts and fallout.
As of the time of writing this, it's been almost 20 months since I've been able to sit behind my kit and play and that has torn my soul apart. Thankfully last year, I was able to get an electronic kit, but it's just not the same as the real thing. I don't know if I'll ever be able to find a band to call my own again. On one hand, it's a great, great thing. On the other, there is hell that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
The saddest part of this is that I do not have any official recordings to call my own. 20 years of playing drums in total and I never got the opportunity to have an album that I can claim "to have played on." It breaks my heart knowing that as every single original band that I've been a part of fell through the cracks at the point of being "ready to record." Any band that can withstand each other long enough to be able to have a collection of original recorded music to call their own has miracles on their sides. It's a part of my life I dearly miss. Playing live was the greatest feeling in the world to me, but with the issues that came up in all these bands, plus ones I'll be mentioning later, my love for playing drums and music in general is all but fleeted.
BREATHING NEW LIFE
Thankfully, in my down times of musical hardship, I was able to gain a new passion in life, broadcasting. By complete fluke, in 2011, I was asked to do an hour long radio show on a now defunct internet radio station. With this, I was able to pick out some of my favorite songs by my favorite bands. With that in mind, I didn't want to play the music you could easily hear on the radio, I wanted to show off the stuff that doesn't get the coverage it deserves. Of course if you know anything about me, that forte is Rock and Metal in all genres. I started gaining a good set of people digging what I did, but the station was not was interested taking this route, especially during the end of my tenure with the station. With that, we went our separate ways. A few months went by and I was graciously offered a 2 hour radio show that I could do in syndication on a weekly basis, which I still have to this date. For more of what I've accomplished in that time, just check out everything I've done since 2012; the body of work speaks for itself; all by sticking to my guns.
DEMONS OF MY PAST
But back to the focal point of this whole write up. With something like a successful radio career, you'd think that depression and anxiety would be the furthest thing from my mind. DEAD WRONG! While I have been able, in recent times, come to the realization that I am good at what I do and people dig it as well; I still hate myself.
Between the ages of 16 and 27, I attempted suicide 5 times. 4 times I was stopped, the I was by myself, put a gun in my mouth, pulled the trigger and learned there was no bullets in the gun. This all stems back from the family trauma that started in 2000, going on a complete roller coaster of hell from 2000 through 2008, slightly getting better, falling apart again with the other biggest family dissolution in 2009, losing my childhood home in 2012, my first real instance of self confidence from 2012-2014, the life altering stomach issues that plagued me the day after my 25th birthday; and my last resort day in may 2016. From most of those years given, you can tell when I did try to kill myself. I admit I'm being elusive on many of those things and those that don't know me will be completely lost on this whole paragraph. I'll just say, wait for my autobiography for when I get into detail about all of this.
All of those struggles of isolation, despair, helplessness, lovelessness, and every other sad adjective you can add to describe me stemming from around the time of my start of becoming an adult really made me into a man with no self confidence, fearing every choice I make, and oddly enough, continuing to stick to my guns when it comes to what I hope to accomplish in life. Feels ironic, right? When it comes to that last part, I don't wanna lose what makes me happy in life; and as good or as that sounds, my last passion in life is showing off the music I care about. I don't have much to give life outside of that.
In 2016, I finally gave in after my last suicide attempt and went to my doctor about this. I have been taking medication since that time. I also started seeing a therapist for the first time in my life and made some tremendous strides in my life. I no longer hold on to the problems that I had growing up that plagued my first nearly 30 years of life.
While that does sound fantastic, I still have one major flaw that I don't know if I'll be able to recover from; which in turn, may lead to my demise. That is of course, self confidence. I of course am not talking about career wise, I mean every other aspect of my life. I absolutely question, doubt, and hate myself for every single choice I make. While there are people reading this or those that are somewhat familiar with what I do enjoy what I do, see my worth, and think I am a good person; I look at myself in the mirror every single day and hate the man I see looking back at me.
It was so well drilled into my head from family, kids I went to school with, and others that I "am a waste of life" "need to die" "will amount to nothing in life" and of course "am a burden to everyone that knows me." It was so well drilled into my psyche that I am the only one left in my circle of people that I keep in my life that feels this way. What you learn in your preteen-through your teenage years will make you the person you'll become in the rest of your life (bearing any life changing incidents in adulthood). It is so important to try to make the best of yourself during these times. If you are past this point in your life; if you know anyone going through this stage (family, friend's family, etc) do what you can to help push them in the right direction.
I was very fortunate in my early 20s, while after my 3rd suicide attempt; I moved to a new area for the first time in my life and was able to start over. Not everyone in life gets that opportunity. Some get 1, maybe 2 changes to realistically be able to have everything available to start over. I know I am currently on my 2nd opportunity to change my life after suffering health issues that nearly killed me (again, if you don't already know about this, wait for the autobiography). When I finally was able to take care of myself again, I vowed to not take anything in my life for granted again and completely focused on myself and what I thought was right. That's not to say that there wasn't a great deal of hardships that came with this; and I couldn't be farther from a perfect person; but I will say that even in this dark time in which I'm writing this up, I am in such a better place than I was 5, 10, or 15 years ago.
I'm now at the end of this messed up stream of consciousness I have written down. I am writing this mostly for me but I am also writing this for others who are either struggling with depression, anxiety, any mental disorders or if you simply need proof that I am human. I get that some of it will not make sense, for some of you, you'll completely understand where my state of mind is right now, and for others, you are very intrigued by this write up and wanna know more about my past. As mentioned above, a lot of the incidents that I don't mention, I am saving for a possible autobiography I wanna write for the first 30 years of my life, going into detail about the first great 11 years of my life and the hell that came afterwards. If you can't comprehend the stream of consciousness that this write up is (honestly, I don't blame you if you can't); just keep these final words in mind...
You are in control of your own destiny, yet so is the rest of the world. It's not nature vs nurture; it's nature AND nurture. Your childhood affects who you become, it's what you do as you become an adult that shows you what you've learned. While you can't blame all of your problems on your past, as long as you are mentally and physically capable of it; you change your present and future for the better. I'm still struggling myself and I'm writing this at a very dark time in this current wave of depression I'm facing. Yet, through all of this darkness, I can see that I'm still here and I am still able to attempt to better myself. If you can see that about me; the same can still be said for you.
Take Care & Brush Your Hair!
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Siamese has been a band I've personally loved ever since they debuted as Siamese Fighting Fish. Since that time the band has been on an ever-growing streak of success accumulating with the band's latest album, Shameless; which is available NOW through Artery Recordings. I recently was able to send out a few questions to the band to talk about all things Siamese. Let's see what they had to say!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I have been a fan of the band since the Siamese Fighting Fish days and it’s a complete honor to be able to help promote you guys. For those that are not familiar with the band, describe Siamese.
Siamese is a hybrid of pop, rock and metal. Big choruses and grooving guitar work with samples from commercial artists. We mix it up and are not afraid to go pop, rock or metal when the song needs it. That I think describes us pretty well.
Your brand new album, Shameless, is coming out June 23rd. How did the writing process happen this time around?
I really think we found the writing process that works for us with this album. Compared to our previous albums, the process has been more “session”-based and focused, with our writer mastermind Andreas behind the screen. In other words, the album was written on a computer and not in our rehearsal space. It has made the songs more on point, focusing on what’s best for the songs and putting our individual egos aside. Also, it’s been a quite different process, having to convince your band mates of your idea with words instead of just jamming away. It’s been healthy for us doing something completely different than we’re used to and I’m very happy with the result.
Following you guys since Breath: See: Move, you have always been known to write very dynamic songs; exploring as many styles as you want while staying cohesive and making the songs catchy. Do you still write songs with that in mind?
Very much indeed. It was very important for us not to repeat our selves. If you listen to our albums, none of them sound the same. Evolution is very important for a bands existence. We follow time, and what is now, in order to stay relevant. Not a very metal thing to say, but non the less it is our force.
Why was Shameless chosen as the title of the album?
Because of the nature of the songs. We’ve really set no boundaries to what we wanted to do, and that expanded into a somewhat shameless result.
What are some of your favorite songs off Shameless and why do they stick out to you?
With this album, I actually think it’s hard to pick out my favorite songs and that’s a good thing. I don’t have the feeling that some of the songs are just filling out the space or something like that. They all contribute with their thing, in my opinion. Ablaze for it's dark atmosphere, Brother for its uplifting mood, Make It Out for its kinda corny pop vocals mixed with punchy guitars, Tunnel Vision for its epic riffage. Really love Soul & Chemicals too. People sang along to that track live before it was even released, which is a pretty good sign. I warned you, it’s hard to pick out my favorites!
This is your first album with Artery Recordings, how does it feel to be a part of the Artery Recordings family?
Feels great man! We’ve been pretty DIY up until this point. Having someone taking some of the pressure of sure feels great. Its just something else with more people involved in the project. Hopefully we can take this even further in the future!
Now with more of a North American reach with Artery Recordings, have you had much response from the NA audience yet?
The response has been really great so far. People dug Tunnel Vision a lot and now we’re slowly building up attention before the release of Shameless June 23rd. Hopefully more people are going to jump aboard and if the planets align, we will be touring NA soon!
You have released a few singles off the album so far. What has been the response to the singles so far?
Ablaze has been nothing short of amazing and by far our biggest single with over 1 million streams. Never thought we’d have these numbers. Tunnelvision is just pumping and I love the fact that people cant seem to place us nowhere, which must mean that we bring something new to the table. We are happy, and we look forward to releasing Soul & Chemicals.
What is next for the band?
Next we have a video coming out for Soul & Chemicals and in September, an extensive EU tour with our label mates Dead April. That’s gonna be really epic. 12 shows in 9 countries, ending the tour in our home town Copenhagen. Besides that, we’re setting up a Japan tour, probably around November.
What do you like to do outside of the band?
Christian plays a lot of Computer, family and works as a system developer. Morten is setting up family life and works as a top notch graphics designer, Joakim is young and wild, partying and playing shows all over the country with different acts, Andreas writes hits with such artists as David Guetta and more, whilst Mirza runs a successful label and management in Denmark. So we keep busy!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Again, it’s been a tremendous honor to be able to talk to you about Shameless and everything else going on with the band. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
START YOUR OWN BAND.
Shameless by Siamese is available NOW through Artery Recordings
Check out Siamese on Facebook
Black Wizard is a Canadian Stoner/Doom band that has been slowly brooding up a storm. With the release of 2016's New Waste, the band has been able to finally get out of it's native Canada to be able to give the new album proper promotion having just wrapped up touring with Weedeater and Serial Hawk. While on the road for said tour, drummer Eugene Parkomenko answered some questions I had for the band. Let's see what he had to say.
That Drummer Guy- Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. For those that are not familiar, describe Black Wizard.
Eugene Parkomenko- Were a heavy metal band from Vancouver, BC. Few very long time pals that are trying to stay on tour for the rest of their lives…
TDG- The band is just about to start a new tour, opening for Weedeater, along with Serial Hawk. How does it feel to be a part of this tour?
EP- Pretty amazing, we have been huge fans of Weedeater for a very long time & have even played with them on a few occasions. We enjoy each others company to say the least. Who doesn't like to stay up til 7am everyday and drink handles on Evan Williams right…? Serial Hawk boys turned out to be really great people and friends for life now. Love them to death.
TDG- With your latest album, New Waste, being out for over a year now; how has the reception been for the album since its release?
EP- Reception has been altogether great. This is the first record that we have a done a proper tour cycle for and it really helped getting it out to a larger mass.
TDG- You are also playing a couple headlining shows before the tour with Weedeater officially starts. How does it feel to play headlining shows in comparison to support slots on tour?
EP- The few headlining gigs in Canada at the beginning were really great too, especially Vantopia in Alberta (A 2 day camping boogie van festival where they shot giant fireworks over our heads while we played. Very G’n’R!) We also played a few random ones in the mid-west US on our own with serial hawk opening. Those were pretty chill as we have never been to a few of those places before, but we still had a blast getting to know each other. Being direct support for a great act such as Weedeater is huge for us. It’s really great to play for a built in fan base, rather than sometime guess if there is going to be anyone there or not…
TDG- With 3 albums under your belt, how hard is it to pick what songs to play live?
EP- We have had a few arguments about the set list for sure. We usually do about 60% material of an album that we are currently touring and throw in 1 or 2 of each previous ones.
TDG- What’s next for shows after this tour?
EP- We have a few festivals here and there through the summer/fall and we are applied for some major tours for late fall. Hopefully we can announce those soon!
TDG- Any new material in the works yet?
EP- Actually, Our fourth album is due out early 2018 and we’re really excited to start playing and touring the new tunes live. It’s different. Again.
TDG- With the band starting about 9 years ago, how much would you say the band has progressed so far?
EP- So much. Wiz has gone through a few member rotations throughout the years with some really talented players and at this point, our sound and what we do is stronger for it. From our first album to what we make today, it’s just a really interesting thing to watch grow.
TDG- What do you like to do outside the band?
EP- Try to stay away from shitty day jobs for as long as possible! We wan to be on tour most of the year but when we’re home we like camping, skateboarding, motorcycles, vans, gigs , etc…
TDG- Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I really dig what you guys do and it’s awesome to see the great response you guys have been getting. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
EP- Just wanted to say that you so much for taking the time to do this. I am terribly sorry that I am so late on this. I do most or the TM & Driving on the road so my plate was a little full, but I do appreciate you taking this time! Awesome questions!
New Waste by Black Wizard is available NOW on Listenable Records
Check out Black Wizard on Facebook
Oh, hey! I almost didn't see you there. I'm glad you could find your way from Part I to check out Part II. Feel free to mingle with everyone else here and enjoy the party.
But for real, let's continue on shall we?
Night Demon- Welcome To The Night
FFO- Heavy Metal, Speed Metal
Keeping their classic sound while exploring new ground, Night Demon returns from the darkness with their sophomore album hellbent on catchy NWOBHM riffs, classic horror lyrics and and overall fun vibe that's impossible to ignore. Absolutely solid.
Novembers Doom- Harmartia
FFO- Doom Metal, Death Metal, Progressive Metal
The death metal sound of Novembers Doom has taken more of a back seat on this album in favor of doom, prog and clean vocal approaches of dark sounds. While there are still many great moments of brutality, the darkest moments are always when Paul Kuhr's chilling clean vocals consume you. A great mix of everything you love about ND, but at it's very best. Easily my favorite Novembers Doom album to date.
FFO- Old School Death Metal
There's not much that needs to be said about this album other than this is the best Obituary album to date. Everything you love about the band with all new material. Modern day death metallers could learn a thing or two about melody, harmony and groove from this album.
The Obsessed- Sacred
FFO- Classic Metal, Stoner Rock, Doom Metal
The first album from the band since 1994 and the band feels like they never went away! combining all of the best moments and sounds the band is known for and bringing them to life in the modern day. If you need that throwback metal album, this delivers!
Pain Of Salvation- On The Passing Light Of Day
FFO: Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock
Sadly an album I can relate to for so many reasons described throughout, this album is single-handedly the greatest achievement of Daniel Gildenlow's career so far. The right amounts of heaviness musically and lyrically mixed some of the truest emotion ever laid onto record. If you or anyone you know has come close to their own demise; you owe it to yourself to check this album out. I defy you not to not to shed a tear by the end.
FFO- Doom Metal
Pallbearer has been crushing the world for a good long time now. Their latest album, Heartless, does so even more now with the inclusion of expanding beyond their doom roots. Showing off more prog, sludge and rock moments helped to create the band's most ambitious and greatest album to date. A sheer masterpiece.
FFO- Progressive Death Metal
Persefone continues to be one of Europe's best kept secrets. An absolute masterclass in musicianship and songwriting. Aathma explores even more ground in prog and death metal than ever before. What it sounds like you mix Cynic, The Faceless, and Opeth in a blender for a smoothie. A sheer beauty of an album.
Power Trip- Nightmare Logic
FFO- Crossover Thrash, Heavy Metal
This band is exploding all over the world and for good reason. Power Trip unleashes their latest album, Nightmare Logic with a perfect mix of crossover thrash, heavy metal, and punk. If you want a band that focuses on simplicity in their brutality, all while staying original, Power Trip is the band for you.
Scale The Summit- In A World Of Fear
FFO- Instrumental Progressive Metal
Like any band that has lasted through the years, STS has had it's share of ups and downs both musically and personally. In 2017, it looks as though the past is in the past and band has become anew. In A World of Fear feels more like a film soundtrack than just a collection of songs. Great landscapes, astounding playing and some of the best work of the band to date.
Seven Kingdoms- Decennium
FFO- Power Metal
Without question the best album from Seven Kingdoms ever. This hearkens back to the golden age of power metal yet stays new. Beyond catchy hooks, excellent songwriting and top not musicianship. The band has found their prefect formula with Decennium.
SicociS- Requiem Of The World
FFO- Progressive Metal, Power Metal
Evergrey meets Dark Tranquillity meets Unearth. It's an unholy combination, but it works so very well. Breakdowns in all the right spots, the ppower of European melody and crushing prog, power, & melodeath. This band really has it all and the band has just begun it's decimation of the world.
SikTh- The Future In Whose Eyes?
FFO- Progressive Metal, Mathcore, Experimental
Before metalheads of the current age started playing syncopated riffs and exploring the heavy sides of prog thanks to Periphery, there was SikTh. The band has returned with their first full length album since their landmark album, Death Of A Dead Day. Even with the band being gone for a lot of that time, it feels as though they never left! Staying just as modern edged, heavy and experimental as ever, the new album makes you question if you are happy with the world today and what you can do to improve yourself and the world around you. A sheer masterclass of songwriting and through provoking lyrics.
Six Feet Under- Torment
FFO- Death Metal
I'm pretty sure this was the album Chris Barnes has been waiting to write for a long time. The band fires on all cylinders on this release. Brutal in all the right spots all while showcasing more groove and dynamics than ever before. It doesn't need to be a groundbreaking album to destroy, it just needs to be solid. That's exactly what SFU does here.
Tokyo Motor Fist- S/T
FFO- 80s Melodic Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Sometimes all you need is catchy melodic riffs and a positive message. That's exactly what this monstrous supergroup does. The perfect throwback to the 80s heyday while being just as relevant in 2017. Some may find this album dated; I find it exactly what the world needs now, besides love sweet love.
Tombs- The Grand Annihilation
FFO- Experimental Metal
Tombs is one of those rare band that will change their style every album, yet still sound like Tombs. This album explores more of the Avant Garde amongest it's sludge, doom, and black metal roots. Surprise changes on the turn of a dime and moments you would never expect; Tombs continues to be a complete innovator in metal and proves that you don't need to be pigeonholed in any genre.
Vallenfyre- Fear Those Who Fear Him
FFO- Death Metal, Doom Metal
What else is there to say? Another sinister album from the Paradise Lost founding guitarist that further pushes the boundaries of doom and death metal while staying completely cohesive. An unbelievably solid album.
FFO- Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock
Vangough continues pushing the boundaries of their sound with Warpaint. Arguably the heaviest album in their catalog, the band explores mind bending riffs that close the gap between Pain Of Salvation and Tool while forging their own patented sound. Such a fantastic album.
Vintersorg- Till Fjalls Dell II
FFO- Black Metal, Folk Metal, Progressive Metal
The sequel to the seminal debut album, this album showcases Vintersorg at his absolute best. Such beautiful songwriting mixed with the dark and evil tones that comes standard with Vintersorg. Jaw dropping doesn't even begin to describe this album with justice; you just have to listen for yourself.
Voyager- Ghost Mile
FFO- Progressive Metal
The first Voyager album not to feature the letter V at all, this album marks a bit of a new chapter of the band. While still maintaining all of the goodness that Voyager has brought to the table, the band pushes itself into new territory with musical direction and finesse. I can only imagine that these songs will sound massive live. Such a fun listen.
Warbringer- Woe To The Vanquished
FFO- Blackened Thrash Metal
It's not even an option. This is the BEST Warbringer album ever. Culminating in all of the best elements of the band, but expanding their blackened tendencies, the band has produced a landmark album for the ages. Excellent songwriting and production matched with superior musicianship make this album you simply can't miss.
Wednesday 13- Condolences
FFO- Heavy Metal, Horror Punk
Simple, catchy, thought provoking, creepy, and sexy. That describes the solo material of Wednesday 13 to a T. Condolences continues this trend while staying completely fresh and innovative. A sheer horror delight of an album.
Witherfall- Nocturnes And Requiems
FFO- Progressive Metal, Power Metal
This is the hardest album for em to write about as this features the last drum recordings my dear friend, Adam Sagan, who succumbed to Lymphoma late last year. He was one of the most positive and greatest guys I will ever know and it was an honor to get this album and hear him play one last time. Even if it wasn't for the personal reasons attached to the album, this album slays in it's songwriting, musicianship and sheer talent. This may fall under the radar to a lot of people, but don't let it! Buy it, play it, and tell everyone who may dig it to check it out.
Zeal And Ardor- Devil Is Fine
FFO- If African American Spirituals were inspired by Satan
The brainchild of the phenomenal musician Manuel Gagneux, Zeal And Ardor mixed African American Spirituals, Black Metal and experimental music for the perfect representation of what would happen if African American slaves turned to the devil instead of God. It feels like the perfect soundtrack to a horror movie that should be made of this concept. This band is only going to explode in popularity as time goes on. Do yourself the best favor you can give yourself and check this out.
And that does it for the Mid-Year Report of the best albums of 2017 so far. Go out there, explore some new music, see what you dig and spread the word of what you enjoy!
Till Mid-December, continue to check out my radio show, interviews, and all things That Drummer Guy!
Every year, I'm blessed more and more to be able to check out more and more albums than ever before. This year is no exception as I have several more labels backing me in my one man endeavor of showing off the best music in Rock and Metal. Rather than waiting till the end of the year for my Top 100 List (Don't worry, that's still happening) I wanted to showcase some of the best albums of the first half of the year to help get you through the summer.
These follow pretty much the same rules as my Top Lists at the end of the year, the main exception, this go around, is that this is not ranked in order by my favorites, but rather, Alphabetical. I'm not giving that stuff away that easily!
For anyone new to what I do, here is how this all goes down:
1.) All albums are ones that I love. I go through a ton of music every year, and have a very eclectic taste. Some have troubles making finding 5-10 albums they like in one year; I struggle with narrowing it down to 50-100!
2.) This is in blurb style. As it would be nearly impossible to maintain everything I do as That Drummer Guy and write full on extensive album reviews. So this will feature this format:
FFO- Genre Style
A couple sentences talking about each album
3.) This will be ALBUMS released between the dates of January 1st, 2017-June 30th, 2017. Nothing before, nothing after. All Albums on this will be albums A-Z; Part II will be N-Z.
4.) Unless you have my exact tastes, you're not going to like everything here. Some you may love, some you may despise, and some you may go "meh" to. I just hope you find at least one album you didn't know about, check it out, and enjoy some brand new music!
Alestorm- No Grave But The Sea
FFO- Pirate Metal (Folk Metal, Power Metal)
Easily the msot popular band of this style, Alestorm returns with their most diverse album to date. from 8-Bit to Pop Metal to Death Metal. This album has a little bit of everything for everyone who enjoyes Wenches And Mead!
Anathema- The Optimist
FFO- Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock
Anathema never ceases to amaze me. This time around, they recorded a sequel to the album, A Fine Day To Exit. This album is a slow burn. While it does not feature many of the "epic moments" featured on the last 3 Anathema albums, this album grows on you spin after spin and you feel the emotional force that has always driven the band. When it finally clicks with you, it will be a well deserve classic in your eyes and ears.
Apocalypse Orchestra- The End Is Nigh
FFO- Doom Metal, Folk Metal
A style that drastically needed to be done, Apocalypse Orchestra takes the best parts of folk and matches it with the power of doom and modern production to release, easily, one of the best debut albums of 2017.
Art Of Anarchy- The Madness
FFO- Hard Rock, Modern Metal
Bumblefoot and Co. can do no wrong! Pushing the absolute best record Scott Stapp ever put vocals to, the 2nd album from this supergroup pushes the band into a much heavier direction than their debut, while writing even catchier and emotional songs. For those that feel mainstream rock and metal are stale, this album proves that theory wrong.
Ayreon- The Source
FFO- Progressive Metal
The latest release from the musical mastermind, Arjen Lucassen may be his finest work to date! Featuring some of the greatest singers in metal today, this album serves as a meta-prequel to all previous Ayreon albums while driving a new sound of the project. IF you ever wanted the voices of Dream Theater, BTBAM, Blind Guardian, Seventh Wonder, Toehider and more on the same album, this is your dystopian dream come true!
Body Count- Bloodlust
FFO- Rap Metal, Heavy Metal
Without question, the heaviest (musically and lyrically) album Ice T has penned with the band. While tackling so many social issues immersed in the world today, it also features a few tracks of the dark and scary Body Count style of the past and a great medley of Slayer tunes. While not as humorous as the band's last album, Manslaughter, It does feature more cohesive songs and much heavier approach.
Broken Hope- Assimilated and Mutilated
FFO- Brutal Death Metal
A loving tribute concept album of the legendary 1982 Horror movie, The Thing; this album makes you feel like you just succumbed to the horrors of Antarctica. Crushing, horrific, brutal, and catchy as all get go; this is what you need to satisfy your brutal needs.
Byzantine- The Cicada Tree
FFO- Groove Metal, Thrash Metal, Progressive Metal
One of America's best kept secrets; byzantine comes back stronger than ever with this release. Featuring some of the catchiest songs to date, it also features some of the most diverse and though provoking songs to ever be penned by this West Virginia band. Think The Ocean meets Death Angel meets Down.
Carach Angren- Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten
FFO- Symphonic Black Metal; Theatrical Black Metal
Following in the footsteps of their previous album, This Is No Fairy Tale; Carach Angren has ventured even more into the theatrical and symphonic sides of Black Metal to write a heart-wrenching, morose, album that is sure to grab you and not let go. While some may think this is the wrong direction for the band to go in, I couldn't be happier about this direction. So much more dynamics and emotion that makes this an evil thrill ride that you need to experience.
Cut Up- Wherever They May Rot
FFO- Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Do you miss the simplicity andgroove in death metal? This is what you need. While this album is not simple by any means, it hearkens back to the time where death metal focused much more on the riffs and groove than technicality and scale wanking. Brutal, aggressive and demonically catchy.
FFO- Progressive Rock, Math Metal
Do you want your Math Metal to be more focused on grooves and clean vocals? Disperse is here to the rescue! While taking some elements from the Meshuggah and Djent sounds, it focuses way more on prog sensibility and beautiful soundscapes mixed with grooves upon grooves and technicality in all the right spots. Imagine Cynic's take on Modern Prog Metal.
Dragonforce- Reaching Into Infinity
FFO- Power Metal, Progressive Metal, Experimental
Is there a more watershed Power Metal band out there than Dragonforce? I never hear anyone say "Meh, they're ok."; it's always a die hard love or hatred for this band. I for one, am on the love side. This album features the band in their most experimental. The songs are shorter (for the most part) but features many steps into other genres that magically fit the chaos that's induced. Don't forget that sexy cover of Death's Evil Dead as a bonus track!
Dream Evil- Six
FFO- Power Metal, Heavy Metal
Dream Evil has graced us with their 6th masterpiece. The album reaches more into the influences into the band, while not losing any of the band's charm. What most people consider cheesy about the band, is put on the backburner for more musically orientated songs and riffs that explore the boundaries of Power Metal. Easily their finest work!
Dying Fetus- Wrong One To Fuck With
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Slam, Grindcore
The absolute greatest band of their style, Dying Fetus put out their most cohesive album to date. While still polarizing to anyone that is not a fan of this style; the band focuses so much more on the riffs and less about being as technical as possible. Some of the best production in the genre, audible growls, and phenomenal songwriting; Dying Fetus live up to their latest album title.
Ghost Bath- Starmourner
It seems as though blackgaze has kinda phased out in 2017 and people are onto the next "what's trendy, but not commercial" style. While I have always loved the style, it's nice to have just the strongest survive. Ghost Bath is one of those bands. While the black metal is still the driving force of the band; this album features much more in the areas of atmospheric, post rock, and alternative styles. This album has a bit of everything for those that enjoy blackgaze. While still a polarizing band in many regards, this write phenomenal music and get stronger withe very release.
Goatwhore- Vengeful Ascension
FFO- Blackened Thrash Metal, Death Metal
While the last few Goatwhore albums have focused much more on catchy and melodic grooves amongst the evil chaos; they have taken the much more raw and aggressive approach style this time around. While not focused on the clearest production possible, it's raw, gritty, and evil style translates live to an even greater way and leaves you wanting to hear more and more. For that classic early 90s Swedish Death Metal style; you can't go wrong with the latest album from Goatwhore.
Grave Digger- Healed By Metal
FFO- Heavy Metal, Power Metal
One of the longest running bands in their style, Grave Digger has returned with one of their strongest albums to date. Simple, catchy, emotional, and heavy as hell; there's nothing else needed to be said. Grave Digger SLAYS!
Iced Earth- Incorruptible
FFO- Power Metal, Thrash Metal, Heavy Metal
Easily the best IE album featuring Stu Block. FINALLY on this album, Stu is album Block is able to showcase all of his vocal tricks while keeping that core IE aggression. Musically it hits a lot of new territory while also saying true to IE. An absolutely solid album that deserves all the love it gets.
Iron Reagan- Crossover Ministry
FFO- Crossover Thrash
Short, fast, catchy, funny in all the right spots, and aggressive; Iron Reagan delivers once again. While it's most exploratory album so far, it stays true to the crossover world and is sure to make you put on your denim vest, crush on beer cans over your forhead and make you party till the neighbors tell you to cut the party short.
Jorn- Life On Death Road
FFO- Power Metal, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
Quite possibly the most inspired Jorn album to date. Jorn Lande has had a bit of a rough couple few years, but in that time, he has been joined by a new lineup to fill out his solo group and put out some amazingly catchy songs that rock you to the core. Jorn shines like no other on this album. You can tell he is in such a good place, and we need him to be there always.
Life Of Agony- A Place Where There's No More Pain
FFO- Alternative Metal, Groove Metal
The band's first album in 12 years is a hell of a comeback. Keeping the core sound of LOA while mixing 12 years of chaos in between, the band is tighter than every making catchy hooks, heavy riffs, and memorable choruses. A true standout album for Life Of Agony.
M.O.D.- Busted Broke And American
FFO- Crossover Thrash, Hardcore Punk
The return of Billy Milano. After a much needed break, Milano is back and filled with anger with the world that he shows off in a way that only he can do. Hitting all the talking points of the last few years, this album is a great representation of Milano in 2017. The songs are short and aggressive, the message is big and loud; Enjoy Life While You Still Can!
The Mantle- S/T
FFO- Instrumental Metal, Progressive Metal
Son of Kenny G. (Max Gorelick) and Jake Miller present their Self Titled Debut. This is filled to the brim with memorable guitar leads, heavy hooks, and beautiful landscapes. In a world where over the top technical instrumental music is king, these guys show off that it's the riffs that matter. Melody and Harmony is key! ONe of the best debut albums of the year!
Mastodon- Emperor Of Sand
FFO- Progressive Metal, Hard Rock, Sludge
If you already jumped off the Mastodon train, this album will not have you jump back on. If you are still on the train, you'll see how much the band has progressed over the years. Focusing on memorable riffs and trimming off unneeded fat, the band has put together one of their most cohesive albums to date, while maintaining elements of every Mastodon every you love.
Miss May I- Shadow Inside
One of the best bands of the mid 00s Metalcore scene, MMI have, for the first time, stepped outside their comfort level of writing for the fans and ventured into the world of writing for themselves. The result is easily one of the best Metalcore albums ever made. A lesson for anyone trying to make it in the music business, while fans will gain you popularity quicker, the much more personally satisfactory way to approaching music is to be yourself and play what you love. Outstanding stuff.
The Mute Gods- Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth
FFO- Progressive Rock
The most depressing album of 2017. Why? because it is so very real. The lyrics are so dramatically realistic and what is happening to the world right now. Whether you agree with the topics mentioned or not; this album will make you give life some perspective and will make you wonder what you can do to make the world a better place. Of course the music is melancholic and morose to high levels, while poppy, yet catchy. An album you drastically need to discover.
Mutiny Within- Origins
FFO- Progressive Metal
The comeback album of the year. With one of the most impressive debut albums out in 2010, the band suffered a lot of trials and tribulations. Thankfully, in 2016, the band was able to come back with their 3rd album and completely change the landscape of their style, all while being just as catchy and memorable as ever. While this album seems to have gone under the radar, let's change that. Buy it, give it a spin, and understand what makes Mutiny Within one of the best bands going!
And that's it for Part I. Check out Part II for Albums N-Z!