Once incapable of fault as a household name in the world of metal, Mastodon have seen a lot of scrutiny following their 2009 prog opus Crack The Skye. It was an immediate critical hit and the general consensus was that it was an instant classic. Indeed, Crack the Skye still holds up and hasn’t aged much at all, but it did prove to be a turning point in the band’s career. The sludge metal pioneers slowed down, reigned in the technical showmanship, and started writing more straightforward rock songs in their own style and aesthetic. Crack The Skye’s followups The Hunter and Once More Round The Sun were by no means terrible, critically panned slogs, but the fanbase became divided over the clear stylistic evolution happening.
Sweden has quite the reputation for crusty, gruff death metal. Familiar legends like Entombed and Dismember are eternally inscribed in the brains of metalheads but they might not be as well acquainted with Vomitory, a band with a string of brutal, gory minor classics in the 1990s. Before breaking up 2011, Vomitory was signed to Metal Blade Records, so they aren’t exactly unsung heroes. Nonetheless, they are certainly still overshadowed by their more famous fellow countrymen. Two long time members of Vomitory, drummer Tobias Gustafsson and bassist/vocalist Erik Rundqvist, returned in 2015 with a new project, Cut Up, who are now releasing their sophomore album.
Like it or not, a whole bunch of the staff at Heavy Blog “grew up” on deathcore in the mid to late 2000’s. Some love to admit it and some loathe to—some didn’t listen to it at all because they were clearly more well-adjusted to life and stuff. With a decade of deathcore now (well and truly) behind us, it’s probably an appropriate time to look at some of the genre’s most notable releases in that time. As it’s 2017, let’s start with 2007 (well done, mathletes) and the first full length from California lyric shirt pioneers Suicide Silence. If your favourite deathcore release came out in 2006 then sorry, look elsewhere.
There’s a very specific cross-section of post-rock, stoner rock and progressive rock in which exist bands like The Samsara Blues Experiment or Tumbleweed…
Third albums; can’t live with them, can’t live without them (if you want to keep being, that is). The even more dangerous beast is the third album following on the heels of a wildly loved second, especially if that love comes from music journalists. While Foundations of Burden’s merits vis a vis Sorrow and Extinction are up for debate, Pallbearer certainly owe their current place in the spotlight to the former. Perhaps indicative of latecomer syndrome, Foundations received a hefty amount of praise in the journalism community. While the love certainly isn’t out of place, we ourselves loved it, it leaves the band in a precarious position for their next release.
Regardless of one’s musical background, free jazz is one of those genres that can be extremely confusing and often border on nonsensical and sonically belligerent. There are even fans of jazz who still can’t get into the likes of the late works of John Coltrane or anything made by Pharaoh Sanders, preferring instead to listen to other, less insane iterations of the genre. While we believe that music’s value is something strictly decided by the listener, we’ve also found that, despite the difficulty of the genre, free jazz is incredibly rewarding. There’s something undeniably special about musicians that can improvise; if music is the expression of the soul, then free jazz is the direct output of an unrestrained musical voice. While it can sound like noise, it’s in fact a huge show of musicianship, as the artist in question must compress everything they know about music theory into one single point and, in a sense, abandon the strictures it causes for what they feel. In this way, we think free jazz can be one of the most magical and spiritually uplifting genres of music out there, and for those interested in exploring the genre further, the following albums are great introductions to the most liberated plane of jazz.
Witherfall may be the savior power metal has been looking for. The quartet (although currently a trio, due to the tragic death of drummer, Adam Sagan) plays technical and thrilling progressive power metal that is matched in quality only by a handful of veterans in the business. These guys do not sound like a new band and there’s good reason for that. All the members, except the bassist, have long resumes with power metal heavyweights like Iced Earth, White Wizard, Circle II Circle and Into Eternity. Even considering their extensive experience, their debut album, Nocturnes and Requiems, still passes expectations.
Jeremy Bolm and his band Touché Amoré have kept me good company lately as I’ve grappled with these questions under the red glow of cancer. Their album, Stage Four, detailing Bolm’s grieving process after his mother died of the same terrible illness afflicting my father-in-law, lives on a loop in my mind and heart now. The lyrics are honest, passionate and absolutely heartbreaking. Bolm’s incredibly vulnerable declarations of hurt, loneliness, regret and suffering are absolutely necessary and equally wonderful. I find myself comforted, listening in gentle communion, to a work of art that shares my grief brilliantly and empathetically.
This week we recorded a bit early due to real life stuff. As such, we have a lot of asides in our discussions. We still talk about some news. Like the new Ulver song, Mastodon’s Brent Hinds claiming Judas Priest aren’t metal, new Carach Angren, and Iapetus. The underrated release Eden highlights is Atsuko Chiba’s Jinn. We then have an extended discussion on “the cult of the new”, and finally an extended discussion on Logan, the send-off to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.
Bonus points if you figure out why I keep saying “we got the money shot”.
As Immolation proved earlier this year, one can age with power and magnitude, only increasing one’s stature as the past becomes a launch pad to an even more nuanced and aggressive future. Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer also tested this theorem in 2016, to mixed results. Age does not always sit well with metal bands, but many try to use their longevity to their advantage, releasing albums 25+ years into their career. This month, Obituary, equally loved and reviled death metal legends, join the ranks of veteran bands trying their hand at perfection through age.
By now you should have worked out I’m a bit of a one trick pony. If it’s not fast, filthy, coated in overdrive and violent then I’m probably not interested. The shit cookie just crumbles that way in 2017 pour moi. Should this not be an issue for you then boy, do I got some of the good good today. The violence comes from New Jersey this week, the meat and bass free pounding courtesy of fluoride (I dig on no capitals band names, more please).