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”.