Stargazer – Tui La

Think of Caligula’s Horse or Vildhjarta, two extreme ends of the same phenomenon. They each stretch the limits of what the genre does in opposite directions: one towards the melodic side and one towards the heavier side. Now to these annals we can add Stargazer; while their album Tui La, which sees release on August 18th via Famined Records, is not their first piece of music released, it is their first full length album. It is chock full with the kind of formula we described above, a djent-y approach to progressive metal which blends chugs, technical riffs, off kilter vocal work and an overall progressive structure. However, unlike the bands mentioned above (and perhaps most similarly like Uneven Structure), Stargazer refuse to sacrifice either side of the formula, instead preferring to wield both approaches at the same time.

Thank You For Not Smoking: Variations on a Stoner Doom Theme

As a genre, stoner doom has some fairly definitive characteristics: slowed-down tempos, rumbling low-end bass and rhythm, a focus on mountainous, hypnotic riffs, and a certain intangible haze cast over it all, creating a psychedelic-glazed listening experience. But perhaps most importantly, stoner metal worships at the altar of marijuana. Proudly wearing its influence on its sleeve (and name), stoner metal varyingly employs marijuana as a muse, a political rallying cause, an artistic aesthetic, and generally as the raison d’etre for the (sub)genre as a whole. From the smoke-filled cough intro in Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” to Sleep’s epic journey to Jerusalem to Dopelord carrying the genre’s torch in one hand and a bong in the other, stoner doom is fundamentally and un-apologetically intertwined with marijuana. And yet, as firm of a grip as the green leaf has on the genre, there are contingents within the stoner doom scene that don’t embrace weed with the same fervor as their counterparts. Indeed, as counter-intuitive as it seems, examples abound of bands in the stoner doom realm that either explicitly or implicitly eschew the very association with marijuana that the scene largely views as a prerequisite.

Post Rock Post: A Thousand Arms Are Back With “Open Language Vol.II”

A while ago on the blog, we were acquainted with a label/printer/collective called A Thousand Arms. We heard of them via a compilation they released, containing post rock tracks from all over the world. That was then; this is now. Since that time, they’ve released another compilation, much heavier and more oriented towards post and black metal, collaborated with us to create our first run of blog t-shirts (more on that, hopefully, very soon) and geared up work with this year’s Dunk! Festival. Now, never seeming to rest for too long, A Thousand Arms have released Open Language Vol.II. The first part focuses on post-rock bands exclusively from the US, while the second brings you tracks and bands from all over the world. We thought we’d give you a little primer for this insane amount of free music. Oh yeah, didn’t we mention? It’s all completely free!

Grind My Tears: Converge, UNN, and Our Wits That Make Us Men

It’s been five long years; five long years since Converge, the forefathers of emo leaning metalcore, have released music. That all changed last week, however, as the band put out a 7″ with not one, but two brand new tracks. They still remain slightly controversial, with some in the Heavy Blog camp dismissing them. Here at Grind My Tears, however, those tracks are nothing but pure gold and the exact music the band should release after a five year absence. It is for exactly that reason that those tracks will be explored in depth below, putting them under an intense microscope and examining their every detail.

Bro Country is NOT the new Hair Metal

Some might say hair metal died in the 90s when Nirvana disrupted the rock industry. Yet, all of hair metal’s celebration of excess and sexism, musical dilution, and market oversaturation is present in today’s mainstream country scene. The factory seems to have just moved from the Sunset Strip to Nashville. It’s massive appeal to young listeners has created a divide in the country music scene not unlike the divide in the metal scene in the 80s. On one side industry titans argue that Bro Country is just the music of the times and that old people are just whining about being left behind. On the other side, more “authentic” artists are rising under the banner of “real country.” This is all quickly acessible on Wikipedia and Saving Country Music in more depth. But is Bro Country really just the second coming of Hair Metal? Or does Hair Metal deserve a little more credit?

Stream (And Slam) The New Pathology Album

Just in time for the weekend, we have a full stream of the brand new self titled record from San Diego’s brutal death reps Pathology. With a somewhat familiar lineup back in the midst, Pathology have had their longest break from releasing a full length since inception, but slammin’ riff junkies don’t have to wait any longer. We got the goods. Definitely one of the nastier premieres we’ve had in awhile, over the jump you’ll find the West Coasts most active death outfit, burning through a half hour of typically punishing brutal death material. Put the kids to bed, hide all sharp objects, grab a hammer.

Reading Between the Merch Lines: Literature and Metal

There’s an inherent alchemy required to successfully combine two seemingly disparate forces into something new. Famous, enduring pairings can be volatile and even counter-intuitive at first glance, but when done properly the result can be something far greater than the sum of each part. Peanut butter and jelly are each perfectly enjoyable on their own, but when paired together they create one of the most well-known and universally enjoyed sandwiches in modern history. Likewise, Calvin is a perfectly funny — albeit bratty – cartoon character and, similarly, Hobbes is a charming and occasionally profound tiger. But it’s their pairing that creates something greater: a friendship that serves as a vehicle for an entire comic strip, a philosophical and temperamental foil for each character to bounce off, and the sheer intangible joy the strip provides readers by allowing us to live inside their friendship. By fusing two independently enjoyable ingredients, an effective pairing can not only allow for a greater appreciation of the pair’s individual components, it can simultaneously create something richer and more meaningful in the magic as well.

Integrity – Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume

Metalcore wasn’t always the poppy, hair-flipping, Jonas Brothers-ass affair that it turned into during the early to mid 2000s. Metal and punk have always had an interesting dynamic and when the two cross over it has almost always resulted in compelling music. Black Flag showed their love for Black Sabbath on My War and the first thrash records of the early 80s are seriously indebted to hardcore punk and crust punk. In the 1990s, metalcore was one of the many punk-metal amalgams thriving. It combined the sludgy, downtuned, groovy metal of the day with the politics, angst, and breakdowns of hardcore punk. One of the originators of this fusion, Integrity, gained their popularity off their highly influential debut album, Those Who Fear Tomorrow, a thundering record that still holds up today. Unlike many of the bands in that early metalcore scene, Integrity hasn’t gone away since their legendary early release. On the contrary, the band is still firmly plugged into the current metal-punk world and makes some of the most interesting metalcore available. Their newest album, Howling, for the Nightmare Shall Consume, continues their long streak of successes.