Though it may seem like we talked ad naseum about how fucking spectacular 2016 was in terms of new music, the fact remains that we saw more fantastic albums drop than we could seemingly keep up with. But just when we thought our palates were satiated, here comes 2017 with an excellent early roster of release announcements, some we’ve expected for a while and others that came out of nowhere. The following is a surely incomplete list of all the albums worth craving as we ring in the new year. Some of these albums have been fully announced with pre-order links and all that jazz, while others are merely probable assumptions based on various updates on social media. Regardless, these are all phenomenal projects worth looking for in the coming year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to comment with some albums you’re anticipating so we can share in your excitement.
Just testing some stuff briefly
Welcome back to Heavy Vanguard, where Scott Murphy and I explore the strangest, most dense compositions that music has to offer. This week we explore Loren Connor’s album Red Mars: an album that, while experimental, comes with a certain subtlety about its experimentation. It’s actually one of the most listenable albums that…
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. 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.
Side projects are either an iteration on the main project’s sound or a complete departure thereof, aiming at identity and self-definition. It takes a special breed of musician to walk that thin line and somehow meet the main project while still maintaining uniqueness. It has to be a subtle and a thematic welding point; too obvious, and the styles just stick together, too obscure and there’s no real ground for comparison. Let me introduce you to Convulsing, a steaming, abrasive trainwreck of corrosive blackened death metal from the mind of one Brendan Sloan, also a premier part of a band called Dumbsaint. Yeah, those guys; the guys with the movies and the post metal. So how in the hell does one find common ground between the monolithic hatred of Convulsing and the cold misanthropy of Dumbsaint? Simple; it’s all in the tone.
We don’t cover pop a lot on the blog. To be honest, that more reflects a blind-spot among our staff members than any grand design; we don’t really cater to the whole “pop is shit, metal rules supreme” narrative, at least not willingly. Regardless, every once in a while something breaks through our genre deafness and speaks to use with a language we can understand, even from within the pop/singer-songwriter genre. Case in point: Montaigne, being the stage name for one Jessica Cerro, a singer/songwriter from Australia (of course). Following a period of mainstream attention and success, Montaigne disappeared for a while before returning triumphantly with her 2016 Glorious Heights.
All music has themes but metal is a genre which wears its heart on its sleeve. Thematics color everything in metal, from audience reception and marketing to the actual composition and execution of the music itself. It can affect production, tone, scales, and much more in an effort to align everything with a perceived image or to jar that image by deviating from the norm in just the right way. Take goth metal; a sub-section of doom, it relies on the theme of autumn, death, depression and nature for its impact. We haven’t even mentioned bands yet and album art, track names and that certain goth sound has already sprung into your mind. Sometimes, these themes become even more powerful and, by some twist of fate or by a pecuilar predestination, reflect in the musicians themselves: they might reflect the ideals of the music in their actions or in the facts of their lives.
And sometimes, that reflection has a bitter edge.
We’re back! And thanks to everyone who listened to our first episode: it really means a lot to us. And a big special thanks to one Greg Greenberg for making some bitchin’ intro music for us! (I forgot to add that last week—my bad.) This week, however, we’ve got something…
We’ve been closely following Belarusian rising death metal stars Irreversible Mechanism since their signing to the notorious Blood Music early last year. Their debut album Infinite Fields was celebrated by critics and fans alike for picking up where The Faceless’ Planetary Duality left off and elaborated upon the style with symphonic elements to create a grandiose technical and progressive death metal powerhouse of a record. To bolster the debut’s power, it featured production from Sami Raatikainen (Necrophagist) and session drums from former The Faceless drummer Lyle Cooper.
Up until now, seeing the Twelve Step Suite live was a distant dream; even when Portnoy was still in Dream Theater, chances of this being played from start to finish were slim for a variety of reasons. However, it seems that, like in all good myths, in death lies rebirth; Portnoy has thus far confirmed a series of performances of the Suite, in festivals around the world. One of those festivals is Be Prog! My Friend in Barcelona, which we will be attending as you might remember. The drummer will be joined by a as yet unannounced, progressive supergroup. We should get our first glimpse of these performers in February, when they first take to the stage as The Shattered Fortress.