The year is 1984 and Iron Maiden are in an interesting position. Hot off the tails of two great releases and their first major tour, the band are starting to feel the pressures and joys of success at the same time. This is a crucible in which many bands have faltered, unable to reproduce the original sound which garnered them their first modicums of recognition. Line-ups shake, creative differences being to tear at the structure of the sound, as each member brings forth their own vision as to what the future should contain. In this situation, there were many divergent paths down which Iron Maiden’s story could have gone; they had already faced several major line-up changes and their future was anything but secure. They could have easily broken up or lost track of what made their first albums work.
But, instead, they made Powerslave.
It’s hard to believe Death Is This Communion is a decade old this year. High on Fire have quite a few great albums in their discography, and while I got into them some time after Blessed Black Wings came out, it was Death Is This Communion that really cemented my…
Content Warning: Gun Violence On July 20th, 2012, a lone gunman walked into a showing of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, CO. Upon entering, he detonated tear gas grenades and opened fire with an assortment of firearms into the stunned audience, killing…
A beetle makes its way across the otherwise spotless carpet. Not a particularly large specimen, it waddles in a characteristically militant and somewhat jagged rhythm. It reminds me of Bryan Devendorf’s opening drum barrage in “Squalor Victoria”. It’s from The National’s Boxer, if you’re unfamiliar.
It’s hard to believe that there was a time before the steady stream of blasé lyric videos, but at the turn of the millennium, music video purveyor MTV had to “bring back” the music video. The artform was essentially replaced by trashy reality television and cartoons by the late 90s, but eventually came MTV2 – a quality sequel (well, for a few years) nobody really deserved. So I guess it only made sense that they also resurrected their metalhead favorite from the 80s and 90s soon thereafter – Headbangers Ball. After all, this era had a ton to offer. The NWOAHM movement was all the rage, metalcore was hitting its stride, and melodeath was pretty much the coolest shit ever. Given that the combo of Kazaa and my dial-up setup wasn’t doing me any good – true story: I waited days (plural) to download Meshuggah’s Chaosphere only to find out that some jerk just relabeled of Neurotica tracks (some truly evil bastards out there), this couldn’t have been better timing for a dude who had recently gotten his license and began to fall in love with hanging out at the record store – the internet, for me, sucked for digging up new tunes.
I deliberated a lot on how to start this piece. How can one even do justice to an album so timeless and revered; and more importantly, an album that has been written about to hell and back for over a decade now? An album that not only single-handedly jump-started the band’s illustrious career, but also manages to retain its impeccable excellence next to releases today?
As a 39 year-old guy, I have a bit of a confession to make: I’m a huge mark for the band A Day to Remember. Whether it’s fair or not, I believe there’s a tendency to lump these guys in as a band for the younger set, namely the Warped Tour and Hot Topic crowd. However, I’m not going to spend a lot of time here talking about the kind of comments and judgments that get lobbed so often at this band. Rather, I’m going to tell you, and them, why I love this band.
Russian Circles is a band that needs no introduction: they are a monolithic, shaping force of post-metal. Even at their worst – Station and Guidance come to mind immediately as my two least favorite records from the Chicago trio – they are still one of the best bands in the genre, transforming vaguely unsettling minor…
For all the ubiquity it enjoys today, our current, ‘mainstream’ iteration of progressive metal was hardly all that visible before the turn of the last decade outside of a few relatively tight internet circles. The community around it remained constrained to a few forums, as current ringleaders such as Misha Mansoor and Acle Kahney quietly uploaded bedroom recordings to relatively small audiences.
On October 16, 2010, the world lost one of its best-kept secrets. Michael “Eyedea’’ Larsen was only 28-years-old when he passed away, and there’s been an unfillable void left in music ever since. As an emcee he was one of the greats, wearing his heart on his sleeve with every bar and often giving the listener something to ponder and even some life-affirming comfort. He was loved by both his fans and peers and those who knew him bestowed him with high plaudits as both an artist and human being. Eyedea was one of the good ones. His music is introspective, philosophical, socially conscious and profoundly human. And like all great music, it’ll never be irrelevant.