When is something good just as another example of its genre, without effort at innovation or experimentation? In other words, how do you distinguish between something that’s just lazy and an earnest work of art created out of love of the genre that might go a bit too far with leaving most of that genre’s tenets intact? Sail’s Slumbersong raises these questions and then some, as it mercilessly worships stoner metal in all its fuzzy glory, never bothering itself with saying anything new or audacious about the genre. But you know what? It works. Slumbersong is a pleasing album, clearly crafte with love and a not irrelevant amount of talent for riffs, raspy vocals and groove.
These posts are written by: Eden Kupermintz
It’s been a while since I could just write about some excellent, expressive post-rock. No genre slashes, no wild experimentation, just good old expansive, dream-y, beautiful post-rock. Luckily for me, Heron released You Are Here Now and gave me just such an opportunity. The album is an expressive and evocative take on classic post-rock, hitting the same sorrow tinged pressure points as The Khost or mid-era Explosions in the Sky. It manages to shrug off the aura of mediocrity that too often smothers the genre and soars well beyond its confines. On the way, it gathers influences from a range of rock styles and channels them all through a contemplative lens. Let’s meet after your first taste of it.
Persefone are no newcomers to metal, but they do stand in the shadow of their previous release, The Spiritual Migration. This album, lauded by many (including us) as a masterpiece of modern progressive metal, completely destroys any but two or three other releases in its own genre. It was, and remains, fresh, surprising, intimately familiar and yet, somehow, irreverent at the same time. Therefore, when the band announced a crowdfunding campaign for its follow up last year, titled Aathma, breaths were held across the community. Can Persefone achieve one of the two options above? That is, can they either recreate something close to The Spiritual Migration or, failing that, depart from that monumental creation into something just as good?
Last week, I spent some time (re)introducing you to Canada’s Slyde, a young and returning band which produces fun, energetic and well made progressive metal. Some names, like Coheed and Cambria and Mandroid Echostar were tossed around, setting the bar pretty high for Slyde’s Back Again. Luckily, I now get to premiere the album, enabling me to put my money where my mouth is; scroll down below to get your own taste of Slyde’s upbeat, intricate and high-octave prog!
Nidingr are definitely more in the camp of esoteric, tortured, blistering and blasphemous embrace of the most vile and offensive of humankind and their new record The High Heat Licks Against Heaven is one of 2017‘s peak heights of extremism and expressionism. Utilizing a combination of relentless momentum, riffs that speak of the channeling of magick itself, an avant garde sense of overpowering cohesive dissonance and chunky death metal heft assisted by the bands unusually low tuned guitars, Nidingr offer something relentless, chaotic, venomous and 100% human in the form of a 40+ minute fuck you to god, society and existence itself. Combine this with Estrella Grasa’s bloody scraping vocal tone and you have an album that is about as thoroughly as metal as it gets.
It’s a good time to be a progressive metal fan. We’ve already mentioned the momentum that seems to be possessing the sub-community, leading to many a masterful release in the past few years. However, the true mark of a scene in bloom is new artists; veterans reiterating on their craft, even if they reinvent themselves while doing so, isn’t quite enough. After all, Haken or Caligula’s Horse aren’t exactly new comers anymore; is there a next generation that might good on the promise of the past few years? How about Slyde? While Back Again isn’t their debut release, it’s an impressive step forward/return to form for these Canadian bright-eyed musicians and stands to solidify their name is one of the more promising ventures in the increasingly prolific progressive metal scene.
One of our biggest points of pride at Heavy Blog is that we’ve become associated with specific sounds and trends in metal today. I won’t bore you with the details but if you follow this blog, you know the kind of music I’m talking about: it’s usually angry, heavy, progressive and dark. It leads us to post about great bands that get sent to us and this time is no different; Hyena’s are a young band, gearing up for their debut release, and boy does it sound promising. If you miss The Chariot but want a little filth added into that style of sound, then “Homeostasis” (and the upcoming release Deadweight, releasing via Pelagic Records on March 10th) is what you need right now.
With their clever blends of genres, sounds and tones, these three EPs contain all that’s needed for an emotional crisis (and its catharsis). Voyager entices you with the promise and size of space, leaving you in a peculiar mood associated with exploration and your role within it. Gnosis brings you face to face with the overpowering aspects of knowledge and mysticism, wearing you down with black metal spliced with intense, oriental folk acoustics and drawn out abrasiveness. Fossils swoops in and dunks you in coldest winter, freezing you to the bone. Taken together, these EPs represent a truly powerful experience and an accomplished musical journey.
Thera Roya’s debut full length, Stone and Skin, sadly contains too much confusion. It is an album which, as the title might hint at, has its influences in too opposite styles. On the one hand, thick, heavy sludge and on the other, more atmospheric and ethereal post rock. The latter opens the album with the morose “Saffron” and immediately something feels flat. It’s not that the track is bad but something in the balance between instruments and vocals, the latter feeling somewhat pale, just doesn’t seem to click. The track following it, opening with a much heavier and sludgier intro, only makes aggravates the situation. “Egypt’s Light” attempts to channel the kind of balance between pent up strength and outwards aggression as is mastered by A Swarm of the Sun for instance. While the vocals work much better here, something still feels lacking.
Just this week, as part of our Editors’ Picks column, I spoke a bit about the ever-changing soundscape of post-hardcore, its upcoming solidification as the genre proliferates and interesting combinations with existing sub-genres which might keep it fresh and moving. Holy Roar Records is a good place to continue this discussion; they’ve almost made it their specialty to sign artists from this milieu, drawing vast synonyms between the label and the sounds associated with post-hardcore. Naturally, you find some dross but most of what Holy Roar signs has interesting things to say about post-hardcore. Take Earth Moves for example. Their sadly overlooked release from 2016, The Truth in Our Bodies, is a fragile, honest and powerful album, blending post-hardcore vocals, doom instruments and post rock compositions. This amalgam creates both a sound unique to Earth Moves and a chilling sojourn in a stark place for the listener, populated with the band’s own psychodrama.