No Distortion: The Role of Acoustic Guitars in the Evolution of Black Metal

With cold, treble-tipped tremolo riffs, agonized rasps and Satanic imagery, black metal might seem like the farthest thing from acoustic folk. But despite their distance, acoustic guitar has slowly crept into black metal since its unholy birth, even with the strict cultural norms that once governed the sound and image of black metal. Interestingly, the use and purpose of acoustic guitars in black metal is not random, but traces patterns across the evolution of black metal, from Bathory to Panopticon.

Serpentine Dominion – Serpentine Dominion

Supergroups are almost always a tricky endeavor. It’s inevitably impossible to not have incredible expectations attached to them, especially when they involve members of some of Metal Blade Records’ biggest acts like Killswitch Engage, Cannibal Corpse, and The Black Dahlia Murder. Add to that the fact that Serpentine Dominion has been in talks for almost five years now in some shape or form, and it’d seem almost impossible for this project to live up to the expectations fans have built up for it. Thankfully, this self-titled debut doesn’t falter and delivers a concise yet brutally-appropriate slab of melodic death metal that feels like each of these three musicians’ best work in quite some time.

Dance Gavin Dance – Mothership

There are are a handful of bands that somehow always manage to top their previous output with their latest output. These rare beasts push onward and upward with their new material without compromising a core-familiarity that’s been woven throughout their music since the start. With each album release it’s becoming apparent that Dance Gavin Dance are a part of this laudable group. After their last album Instant Gratification, Dance Gavin Dance could have gone anywhere and it more than likely would have been well received. luckily they chose to go above and beyond and release one of the best albums of their entire career, Mothership.

A Gift to Artwork: In Flames

After a month off whilst I traveled the world, we’re back with October’s edition of A Gift to Artwork, and we’re looking at In Flames. The Gothenburg Trio alum took the world by storm when they emerged at the forefront of the melodic death metal movement in the mid-to-late ’90s; however, their change in sound and direction at the turn of the century – and again post-2010 – have polarised fans the world over. Though their modern relevance continues to erode, the artistic legacy they’ve left behind still stands the test of time. Part of this legacy rests within their cover artwork as well as their music, and so today we’re going to be looking at three album covers, one from each of the three main eras of the band’s history.

EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Watch The New Lyric Video For A Sense Of Gravity’s “Shadowed Lines”

It is certainly no secret that we have a special admiration for Seattle progressive metal band A Sense of Gravity. Ever since their debut album, Travail, became one of our top albums of 2014, we and many others have been eagerly waiting to hear what comes next. Thankfully you all won’t need to wait too much longer, as the band announced a few weeks ago that their sophomore LP, Atrament, will be released on November 18. We’ve already received the promo for it, and you can get a taste of what at least two of us think about it in the Heavy Pod Is Heavy Cast from a couple of weeks ago (start at 1:11:52). Surprising few people though, we like it! We especially liked the first single released from the album, “Echo Chasers,” which took some of the more aggressive, riff-focused work from Travail and pushed it even further.

Given that Travail was great in part because of its blend of massive slabs of progressive death with other, unexpected elements, that makes their selection for the second single from Atrament, “Shadowed Lines,” even better, which we are very pleased to be premiering today.

Be Shattered! My Fortress – Barcelona Festival Adds Portnoy’s “Twelve Step Suite”

Up until now, seeing the Twelve Step Suite live was a distant dream; even when Portnoy was still in Dream Theater, chances of this being played from start to finish were slim for a variety of reasons. However, it seems that, like in all good myths, in death lies rebirth; Portnoy has thus far confirmed a series of performances of the Suite, in festivals around the world. One of those festivals is Be Prog! My Friend in Barcelona, which we will be attending as you might remember. The drummer will be joined by a as yet unannounced, progressive supergroup. We should get our first glimpse of these performers in February, when they first take to the stage as The Shattered Fortress.

Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake

Testament’s new album, Brotherhood Of The Snake, is likely to please the faithful and even more likely to be ignored by anyone else. While the band delivers typically strong riffs and decent vocal melodies, there is nothing particularly new or groundbreaking. It is, not surprisingly to those who have followed the band for decades, simply another Testament album.

Beyond the Veil: Behold the Xenharmonic, or, Understanding Microtonal Music

Microtonal music is a subject seldom tackled. First, it’s complex and pretty much endless, and then it’s also quite obscure, being only rarely used in day-to-day context. Therefore, it’s often never even encountered to begin with. With this article, I will try to demystify the theory behind microtonal music so you can understand it, and hopefully appreciate it. I will also hop between the terms microtonal and xenharmonic, as they are interchangeable.

EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: One Must Imagine Cryptodira Happy On This “Descent” Video

As the reference to existentialism in the title might suggest, we live in dire times. In a year when The Dillinger Escape Plan have announced their own demise, in a year when The Ocean are still silent, who will supply us with the groovy, hectic, frenetic progressive metal we so long for? What voice shall break the silence and blend blistering heaviness with introspection, ensnaring our minds and hearts with its highs and lows? Luckily, Cryptodira have taken up the mantle left so empty and are stepping with a re-imagined version of “Descent”. The first half of their masterful An Unmarked Grave, 2014 debut, “Descent” is a showcase in the gritty, progressive groovy metal we bemoaned in our opening lines. Now, it gets an aural and visual treatment, with a brand new recording and mix coupled with a fresh, depressing and moving video to go along with it. Head on below and check it out in all its carmine glory.