PHOTOS: Dark Tranquillity, Swallow The Sun, Enforcer—November 17th, 2016 @ Bada Brew, Joliet, IL

Crest Hill’s Bada Brew isn’t a huge venue, but its intimate nature allows audiences to connect with bands. Dark Tranquillity, now on their eleventh full-length album, have been leading the way alongside other Gothenburg bands in the melodic death metal scene. Atoma comes with a different mindset, but is the same Dark Tranquillity you know and love—different riffs, but embodies the same spirit you’ve come to know intimately over the years. This same tour package came with Finnish melodic death/doom band Swallow the Sun, Sweden’s own ’80s style thrash band Enforcer, and the equally powerful Starkill. Enjoy the photos below!…

Bludgeon Me With Bandcamp (Again)

Aside from being a cool title, this feature is really dependent on a band actually having a Bandcamp account. Nowadays, if a band doesn’t have releases streaming on this platform, I might ignore them completely. That’s just how it works. You get used to the layout and ease of something, then anything else seems just meh. But I digress. Back once again with some of the best and most bludgeon(ish) bands releases streaming through Bandcamp right now, I bring you not one, but two British acts laying the smacketh down. Each in their own charming manner.

Hey! Listen to House of Lightning!

House of Lightning are back. Where were they? Who knows? Who cares? What’s really important is that they’re back with a new full-length since their 2014 debut, Lightworker. Consisting of members from Torche, Wrong, and Floor, these dudes don’t mess with Frankenstein-esque genre experiments or tomfoolery. Instead, they invest their talents into the piss-and-vinegar energy of an in-your-face blend of metal, rock, and punk.

Blazon Stone – War of the Roses

Blazon Stone is not a difficult band to figure out. If you like the blazing intro, “Born to be Wild”, (shoot, if you like the first fifteen seconds) you’ll like the rest of the album. This is the formula the band will follow for the rest of the album. The pace will remain at the exact same zesty gallop. The song structures almost never change. The lyrics will not get better. This album has no surprises. They’re such a Running Wild clone that they’ve taken their name from one of their albums. It’s nothing a power metal fan hasn’t heard hundreds of times before. And none of that matters one bit, because the riffs are that good.

Hey! Listen To VIRTA!

Though I dislike making sweeping musical generalizations here, I’m going to start off this post with a couple of them. If it can be said that many of the breakout acts in American jazz in recent years can be described as being heavily-indebted to hip-hop, r&b, and adjacent genres (think BADBADNOTGOOD, Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, and more), then a lot of the more impactful jazz exports from Europe, particularly northern Europe, have seemingly been more indebted to influences from the electronic/IDM sphere, post-rock, and more. You have the likes of GoGo Penguin in England, who have certainly been pushing the definition of what jazz really is with their blend of acoustic jazz instrumentation and influences with more classical-style playing and heavy electronic influences. Norway’s Jaga Jazzist is, of course, the current reigning champion of blending jazz with electronic music (from IDM to synthwave and more), post-rock, krautrock, and far more. And to that list of great European bands finding new and interesting ways to explore the world of jazz fusion you can now add Finland’s VIRTA, whose sophomore album Hurmos is one of the more unexpected and brilliant albums I’ve heard this year.

Soulburn – Earthless Pagan Spirit

Soulburn seem to have finally found their comfort zone – and it makes for quite the uncomfortable listening experience in the best of ways. After returning in 2014 in their current form with the impressive The Suffocating Angels, the Demonic Dutch quartet seem hell bent on bringing forth a new dark age, and may our souls be damned. Their latest effort, Earthless Pagan Spirit, is one majestic, evil beast of an album that makes the prospect of a demonic dark age sound quite appealing.

Innocence and Experience: Subversion in the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”

The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” has emerged from the musical frenzy of the 1960’s as one of the era’s most enduring singles. Although it enjoyed worldwide success upon its initial release, there was nothing about its chart position to suggest it was anything more than one of the flash-in-the-pan hits being churned out by the Motown musical machine. Yet it’s this song that launched Michael Jackson’s nascent superstardom; this song that was revived as the cornerstone of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack that topped the Billboard 200 for 11 weeks straight; this song that has been called…