Earlier this year, Iron Maiden released The Book of Souls, the sixteenth studio album of their storied 40-year career. As this is the band’s first double album, it is refreshing to see that a band so deep into their career is still willing to enter unchartered territory and push the boundaries of what they have done before. Yet, before looking more closely at the album itself, one thing should be made abundantly clear: this is an Iron Maiden record, which means it sounds like Iron Maiden. If you’ve never been a fan of the band, this is not an album which is going to change your mind. Similarly, fans of the band are in for an absolute treat, whilst casual listeners should find plenty to admire in what is undoubtedly one of their finest releases.
Celebrating ten years of Kezia, progressive outfit Protest the Hero took an extended trip up north in their homeland of Canada to play a handful of shows in honor of a decade of concept albums. Featuring absolutely nutty riffing for its time, it was and still is an awesome mix of punk and progressive metal. The real special part was this tour featured the bands original lineup with bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi and drummer Moe Carlson.
A shout out to Vancouver local Punk rock band Youth Decay. Energetic and groovy riffs all around for the short set that they had makes them definitely worth a mention. They put on a solid show and should be on your watch list! Check out their newest album The Party’s Over.
Putting on an extremely well-played performance, Protest played the Kezia album in its entirety, but layered on a bit of special sauce. Speeding up some riffs and slowing down others to really show the intensity and emotion in the music. An encore of “Mist,” “Hair Trigger,” and “Bloodmeat” ended the show perfectly. Vocalist Rody was a comedian at every break and fans who have seen Protest on their earlier tours will remember Arif doing his unique waddling-dancing and smiling like a madman throughout the whole set. Some things never change.
For every Canadian metalhead, hopefully you didn’t miss out. Protest The Hero is as Canadian as maple syrup.
Where do solos fit into metal today? With the genre being as astonishingly diverse as it is — with regards to its rich history and evolution as well as the current state of things on its own terms — finding a simple answer to that question is no easy feat.
As far as progressive metal goes, there has certainly been a push towards more a lead oriented sound. Instrumental progressive metal in particular has some of its foundations in the works of 80s and 90s virtuosic shred metal heroes, who eventually found themselves out of fashion with the advent of nu metal and more aggressive forms of metal in general. That’s not to say solos disappeared entirely: on the heavier end of the spectrum, bands such as Slayer, and perhaps to a lesser extent Morbid Angel, both continued to eschew squeaky clean soloing in favour of furious, angry shredding, On the whole, however lead-oriented metal slowly found itself shoved by the wayside at first, only to have a dramatic resurgence with the advent of a more progressive sound.
That being said, modern soloing certainly doesn’t stop at progressive metal. The continued diversification of metal’s various subgenres has led to solos that serve all sorts of purposes within the context of a given song, from simply reiterating the core melody in a fairly climactic manner to essentially being the entire focus of the song from start to finish. From the chaotic and spastic to the most graceful — at least among those that particularly guitar-oriented metal has seen — here is a selection that highlights some of the various contexts in which modern metal guitar players have used the timeless guitar solo.
Just last week, Devin Townsend took part in a challenge presented by Toontrack, in which he’d have to record a demo of an entire song in only two hours while it was streamed online. While he may have already come into the challenge with plenty of ideas, templates, and backing tracks beforehand, it was absolutely insane to see this man lay down a solid four minutes of fairly dense layering in such a short and hectic period of time. It also gave us a peek into his creative process and how he fleshes out his ideas into a complete whole. Head on over the jump for some more thoughts as well as a full stream!
“Can This Even Be Called Music?” is our new series of music recommendation articles, brought to you by Dave Tremblay of the titular site, Can This Even Be Called Music! Dave covers a variety of unique, progressive and experimental music on his site, and we wanted to feature his writing on Heavy Blog to bring you some of the weirder, more curious music that we often tend to miss. This will be Dave’s column where he spreads the love for all the creative bands that he built his site on, so if you enjoy this, be sure to check his site as well!
Progressive is probably the most misused and hypocritical term in music nowadays. Aping the tremendous progresses made in the 70’s and the late 60’s by prog rock’s legends Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis, and King Crimson – among others -, and later the foundations laid down by prog metal artists like Dream Theater, Queensÿche, and Fates Warning, most so-called “progressive” metal bands today have seemingly forgotten the meaning of the word – probably mistaking it with “regressive”. I often call these bands “retro prog”, either referring to the first era of prog or the later ones, but, if anything, this only creates an oxymoron and emphasizes the contradiction. Oh well… music categorization is already a mess, with some labelling “true” progressive music artist progressist rock or metal, to highlight their action towards progress rather than their passive behaviour on it, while more rigorous outlets might label the same artists as experimental, or avant-garde.
Fortunately, for every hundred bands that mimic the idols of the past, there is one who truly stands out, and dares to make progress on its own. And we’re talking about such a one-man project here: The Gabriel Construct is the compositions of Gabriel Lucas Riccio, joined by a full line-up who all brought their own arrangements to what was already written. Once you get past the opening track of this gigantic conceptual album – beginning by a beautiful piano advanced technique, which consists of plucking the strings inside the piano case -, you’ll be thrown in a lush and intimidating world filled to the brim with layers of different instruments. Violins, saxophones, distorted pianos, and a ridiculous amount of vocal tracks are stacked onto each other, on top of the regular metal trio (guitar, bass, drums)… and I didn’t mention everything that can be found on the album. But I’ll let you explore it yourself, and keep some secrets to their bandcamp album description and credits section.
Anyone who has ever looked at a map of the world at least once is aware that Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of area. Stretching across Europe and Asia with a total area almost twice the size of Brazil, Russia is home to lots and lots of peoples and cultures who have lots of differences amongst themselves. Amidst this kaleidoscopic cornucopia of cultures that is the Russian population lives an estimated 2.3 million Finno-Ugric people. They consist of different groups spread out from northern Sweden, Finland and the Baltics to Hungary to western and central Russia all with cultural and linguistic differences.
Last week, we spoke about the state of post metal and the troubles facing the genre. One of the points of light that we mentioned was Telepathy, an instrumental, post metal band that has released one of our favorite albums in the genre in 2014. 12 Areas was a phenomenal album and we’ve been waiting ever since for some word of a follow up. If you still haven’t heard it, we urge you to do so: it’s an intoxicating blend between deep, post metal riffs and amazing instrumentation, crossing varied genres and ideas. In any case, we finally decided to be proactive about it and reached out to the band for a few words on touring, a potential new release, post metal, genres and pretty much everything else! Read on below for the result!
There aren’t many things in life that are permanent. However, we insist on telling ourselves stories about how some things are or simply fail to notice the changes that undergo even the most basic and subconscious parts of our being. Case in point: the way we listen to the music and the type of music we listen to. At least for me, every broad musical period that I’m in seems larger than life and stretches both into the past and into the future. Whether it’s a stint obsessing over a specific band, genre or sound, my current affection (which is much more than an afternoon or even a week) seems to loom large in the narrative of myself. Funnily enough, these interchanging periods carry their share of perspective but it’s the things that stay the same that really strike deep. The tracks, albums and bands might be the same but they’re in fact wholly different. What has changed then, since the material obviously hasn’t? Only one part of the equation remains to be shifted: me.
And so comes the realization that even such intimate, deeply embedded parts of us such as how we experience music, shift and move with us. The more that this thought took root in me, the more I became ambiguous about it. Was this a keystone in a well of sadness or the first block in a soaring bridge of joy? Was I to wax reminiscent, taking pride in passing over my changing tastes, like so many old jewels that catch the light once again? I found that I don’t know. Which is why I’m writing this, to try and delve into the bottom of this elusive, haunting, uplifting realization. The net is too wide to cast however; the emotion in play is too subtle. To serve as my guide, a barometer or perhaps a focal point, I decided to choose a specific track. It would help if this track dealt with the subject matter itself, namely our perceptions of who we are and how these perceptions change.
I have a deep love for really gritty black metal, particularly bands that take aspects of post-metal and work it into the music. It’s one of the most ferocious combinations of genres that I can think up (next to black metal and grindcore), and has produced some great bands. One you might not know about, however, goes by the name of Hath, and are a three piece from New Jersey. Recently, I got turned onto their music and discovered their new album on Bandcamp, and instantly fell in love with it. Check it out below!