Category Archive Lists!

Best Of: Concept Albums

hbih-conceptalbums

Heavy Blog Is Heavy’s Best Of series takes musical genres and categories and highlights our staff’s personal favorites. You can read more entries from this series here.

Concept albums! The definition of what constitutes a concept album exactly varies depending on the person you’re talking to, but in most cases there’s a general agreement that a concept album must contain at least one single, pre-meditated unifying theme or story, with each track contributing to that theme or story in some way. Most concept albums exist as solitary, standalone units, while some bands (see The Dear Hunter or Coheed and Cambria) spend huge parts of their careers built around a long-form concept that they explore over multiple albums. Though the “modern” concept album as we think of it has its roots in the experimental classic rock era of the late 60s and 70s, really the idea of conveying a single story through song is as old as the medium itself. Music’s primary use for centuries was as a storytelling tool for bards and aspiring musicians of all stripes. Thus the albums listed below aren’t so much splendid or revolutionary for the way in which they present their music, but they are nonetheless exceptional and oftentimes have become highly influential for how their use of story and music bring out the best of each band’s respective talents as songwriters and storytellers.

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Maximum Cavaleration: Ranking 31 Years Of Max Cavalera Albums

maximum-cavaleration

Banner photo courtesy of photographer Luca Passerotti. Full gallery here.

Max Cavalera has definitely had a storied career. His early years with Sepultura saw him releasing extremely influential thrash albums, but then he left and made his own band Soulfly, where he released a constant stream of solid groove metal albums that slowly turned into thrash over time. He also had a stint with Nailbomb, got his hand in many projects, formed the great Killer Be Killed with members of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon, and The Mars Volta, and reunited with his brother who he used to be together with in Sepultura to form Cavalera Conspiracy.

He’s had 21 studio albums where he’s had a significant amount of creative control, and his distinctive sound is apparent in each. Six with Sepultura, ten under Soulfly, one as Nailbomb, three Cavalera Conspiracy albums, and one as the Killer Be Killed supergroup. That’s a ridiculous amount of music from just one man! With Archangel, the tenth Soulfly album, releasing today, why not rank his entire body of work?  His lyrics might often be cheesy, and sometimes he writes simple bouncy riffs, but they’re some of the best riffs to groove to. He’s pretty much the king of it.

Without further ado, here is the list of Max Cavalera’s 21 albums over 31 years of music making, ranked from worst to best. Keep in mind that it’s just one opinion and these can be viewed differently by others!

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8-Track: Meshuggah

8track-meshuggah

It’s very well known that every band you enjoy has songs that define them. These songs may not necessarily be their best, but they are the most essential when trying to understand where they came from, and how they got to where they are now. This is the idea of “8-Track.” In case you missed our first installment featuring Dream Theater, here’s the basic premise, in a nutshell: We choose a band that we know has a storied history, and identify the eight songs that define their strengths as a band, musically, lyrically, and conceptually. This is not merely a “Favorite Songs of (Insert Band Here)” list, though for some writers, there will be overlap with the two. This list is meant to show anyone discovering the band songs that really speak volumes of how they are as a band, and songs that are essential to their development and evolution as a band. With that being said, let’s get to talking about Meshuggah!

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FOR FANS OF: Pig Destroyer

FOR FANS OF PIG DESTROYER

For Fans Of is a column that takes one very well-known and popular band that our writers and readers are fans of, and then our staff write about a small group of lesser-known bands that do similar things and who we think you all might like as well and give a listen to. Check out past entries here.

Short of the obvious progenitors such as Napalm Death, you’d be hard pressed to find a grindcore band with such an immense cult following as Virginia’s Pig Destroyer. Formed in 1997, Pig Destroyer have crawled from the gutter of not-so-subtle gonzo grind (guitarist Scott Hull was previously a member of the completely ridiculous Anal Cunt) and have made themselves icons of grind by means of bizarrely catchy riffing and J.R. Hays’ strikingly poetic lyricism. They’ve worked with the likes of ISIS and Orchid and have made transformative flings in doom and drone. Pig Destroyer are fast becoming one of the most celebrated artists in underground and extreme music, and they’ve earned their spot by not only developing their signature sound, but by influencing the landscape in their wake.

What follows is a collection of bands that carry on in the Pig Destroyer lineage. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and it’s quite possible many of you will be already familiar with at least a few of these bands. But we hope that this serves as an appropriate jumping-off point for many of you and that you can find at least one new band you were not already listening to.

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Best Of: Old-School Thrash

best of old school thrash

The 1980s were an exciting time for heavy music. The early ’80s were a breeding ground for the burgeoning punk scene in both the U.S. and in U.K., with bands like the Misfits and Discharge carrying the torch of rebellious behavior set forth by Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols several years earlier and churning out anthems of civil unrest that would inspire the generations to come.  On the metal front, bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest in the U.K. would spearhead the musical movement that would become known as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, an exciting evolution of classic heavy metal that placed a strong emphasis on speed and musicianship.

Around this same time, various regions of the world including the California Bay Area, Germany and even Brazil were catching wind of these two exciting new styles of music, and taking these influences, budding musicians in these parts of the world and more would unknowingly give birth to a style of metal that would become the bedrock for pretty much all of the metal to come after it: thrash metal. From Metallica to Slayer, to Sepultura to Kreator, old school thrash metal had a profound impact on metal and music as a whole, and it’s safe to say that without it, modern metal would look much different than it does now.

So without further adieu, we present to you Heavy Blog Is Heavy’s Best of Old-School Thrash Metal. Give it a read, and as always, sound off in comments to let us know how wrong we are.

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8-Track: Dream Theater

8track-dream-theater

It’s very well known that every band you enjoy has songs that define them. These songs may not necessarily be their best, but they are the most essential when trying to understand where they came from, and how they got to where they are now. This is the idea of our new feature series, “8-Track”. Here’s the basic premise, in a nutshell: We choose a band that we know has a storied history, and identify the eight songs that define their strengths as a band, musically, lyrically, and conceptually. This is not merely a “Favorite Songs of (Insert Band Here)” list, though for some writers, there will be overlap with the two. This list is meant to show anyone discovering the band songs that really speak volumes of how they are as a band, and songs that are essential to their development and evolution as a band. With that being said, our first band is Dream Theater!

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25 Albums of 2015 (So Far) That Are Worth Your Time

25-albums-2015

Last year we ran a 5-part series listing 25 of our favorite albums from the first half of 2014 with the premise that 2014 was simply such an amazing year musically that we just had to talk about some of our favorites at the year’s mid-point and whittle down all the great releases to an impossible list of 25.

What fools were we.

2015, across the board, is truly turning out to be a banner year for music as a whole, but in particular the kind of music we cover here at Heavy Blog. Between old favorites putting out expected blockbuster releases, smaller bands making huge leaps to stake a claim for our attention, and new or obscure bands putting out releases out of left field that have completely caught us off-guard in the best way, it’s been nearly impossible to keep up with the output of superb music that 2015 has offered us thus far. We are now at the end of the sixth month of the year, and thus have decided to give this another try, albeit in a slightly different format.

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What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To – 5/30/15

HBIH Listening To - 600x360

For those who missed our last installment, we post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to.

As is typical of these updates, there are a few inclusions of new releases that have recently received the HBIH stamp of approval via positive reviews. Jaga Jazzist‘s Starfire (review here), Maruta‘s Remain Dystopian (review here) and Secrets of the Sky‘s Pathway (review here) all received positive marks from our staff, particularly the former. It is also fitting that there are a couple of Mastodon inclusions, as they were the subject of our recent ‘For Fans Of” post which may be read here. Additionally, considering the multiple instances of Cattle Decapitation‘s excellent last album Monolith of Inhumanity, it is safe to assume that our staff is rather excited for their upcoming album The Anthropocene Extinction; lead single “Manufactured Extinct” may be streamed here. Finally, while not necessarily a “metal” release, Prurient‘s new noise masterpiece is included by a couple members of our staff, yours included. Stream the album here and be sure to check out the project’s upcoming dates with Godflesh here.

For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.

Head past the jump to see which records have been receiving regular rotation on our headphones, stereos and turntables:

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For Fans Of: Mastodon

ffo-mastodon

For Fans Of is a column that takes one very well-known and popular band that our writers and readers are fans of, and then our staff write about a small group of lesser-known bands that do similar things and who we think you all might like as well and give a listen to. Check out past entries here.

When thinking of bands to focus on for this column, not only do we have to come up with ones who happen to be “big” in the sense of popular or critical acclaim, but we need to select bands whose reach and influence can be felt across a wide field. Certainly if you’re looking at metal post-2000, few names can reasonably trump the qualifications of Mastodon. Having emerged from the vibrant Savannah, GA scene and helping turn it into a veritable boiling cauldron of fantastic talent, Mastodon became the face of progressive metal to much of the world, garnering plenty of crossover coverage and appeal. Over the course of 6 studio albums, they’ve touched upon a wide array of sonic territory from sludge to thrash to stoner to progressive and, more recently, alternative and pop-inspired heavy rock (which, to be fair, they managed to do quite well). And while fans can and will argue for days on end about which era of Mastodon is the best (for this editor, it’s all about dat “Blood and Thunder”), it would be difficult to argue that the band haven’t had a major impact on metal and heavy music as a whole and have inspired many individuals in the process.

Here’s just a small sampling of bands we feel fans of Mastodon will enjoy, though it should be qualified that most of these are very much focused on Remission-era Mastodon. With that in mind, here are our hand-picked recommendations for fans of Mastodon! If there are any bands you’d add to the list, sound off in the comments!

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What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To – 5/16/15

HBIH Listening To - 600x360

For those who missed our last installment, we post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to.

As is typical of these updates, there are a number of inclusions of new releases that have received the HBIH stamp of approval via positive reviews. And So I Watch You From Afar‘s HeirsEidola‘s DegeneraterraFaith No More‘s Sol InvictusArcturus‘ ArcturianLeprous‘ The Congregation and Veil of Maya‘s Matriarch are all albums considered to be some of the strongest releases from 2015 thus far. Additionally, editors Nick and Eden have been spinning the forthcoming Jaga Jazzist album Starfire, and have been in sonic euphoria because of over the course of this past week. Expect a review in the next few weeks from Nick explaining the genius of both JJ and Starfire. Finally, there are a couple inclusions of the classic Refused album The Shape of Punk to Come, which should serve as a reminder that the Swedish post-hardcore giants are preparing to release Freedom, their first album in almost two decades. Read about the album’s details and preview the lead single “Elektra” here.

For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you!

Head past the jump to see which records have been receiving regular rotation on our headphones, stereos and turntables:

Continue Reading…