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Category: Reviews

DragonForce – Maximum Overload


As a source of viewpoints and analysis of music, our product is often times opinion and, sadly, bias. Bands that have created a name for themselves soon find that name to be a double-edged sword, no matter how much it was coveted during their early careers. A perfect example of this is DragonForce. Who here among our readers doesn’t already have a pre-conceived notion of what to expect here? This band is known for one thing and one thing only: playing over the top, insanely technical and cheesy power metal. But expecting this album to consist of just that would be a dire mistake. Strangely enough, Maximum Overload is a surprisingly solid album which isn’t afraid to switch up the staple DragonForce sound and allow different types of songs to live side by side.

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Stimpy Lockjaw – Stimpy Lockjaw

stimpy lockjaw

Jazz and fusion are no strangers to the world of metal. From Dream Theater to Cynic to Animals as Leaders and well beyond, jazz music’s emphasis on technicality, compositional depth, and an ongoing exploration of sound and form have meshed easily with many parts of the metal spectrum. What is less common to see are bands that start from a place that is truly entrenched in the world of classic jazz fusion and filtered through the lens of heavier acts and influences. This is the place in which Stimpy Lockjaw exist. Forged from members of another jazzy prog metal entity, Ever Forthright (specifically guitarist Nicholas Llerandi and keyboardist Kevin Theodore), Stimpy Lockjaw seek to double down on the genre-bending, turn-on-a-dime-style technicality and composition and turn it into a massive, earth-destroying fusion juggernaut. And boy what a juggernaut it is.

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Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden


Some albums just strike one from the very first chord to the very last listen, all those years down the road. Pallbearer‘s Foundations of Burden still has the test of time to endure but for now it bears that unmistakable quality of excellence: from the first epic chords of ‘Worlds Apart‘ to the unbelievably touching lows of ‘Ashes’, each sound and reverberation firmly embeds itself into the listener’s ear. This album is something quite rare and yet always sought after and that is a musical creation that is at the same time complete and certain of itself but on the other hand, easily breaks down into disparate parts without losing any of its power.

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The Matador – Destroyer


Australia is no stranger to great music, especially not over the past decade or so. Bands like Dead Letter Circus, Karnivool, and The Butterfly Effect have all made their way over to the states in some way, shape, or form, and have captivated countless people with their beautiful music. However, rarely do we hear about a band that is known for being super heavy from down under. While there are a few bands, Australia is more known for their alternative and prog rock than their sludge or post-metal. Back in 2011, however, The Matador released their EP Descent Into The Maelstrom, and it blew a lot of the Heavy Blog staff away. Now, three years later, the band are ready to show us what they’ve been up to in the form of Destroyer, and album as true to its title if there ever was one.

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Machinae Supremacy has a long and storied history, forming at the turn of the century and growing their own little legion of fans worldwide by being one of the most proliferated acts online, relying heavily upon word-of-mouth, offering several albums-worth of free downloads on their website (which amass more than 100,000 downloads per month), and even benevolently advertising that their discography is available on The Pirate Bay.

That said, nearly fifteen years later and now six albums deep (Webography, game soundtracks, and a “Best Of” compilation excluded), the Swedish fivesome have seen several lineup changes and meticulous tweaking of a unique sound that fused the the bloops and bleeps of games long past, the beloved power metal soundscape, and the familiar grooves and bounces of worldwide pop music. Phantom Shadow acts as a culmination of many of the best aspects that Machinae Supremacy has cultivated over the years and sports some of the best songwriting the band has ever produced.

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Opeth – Pale Communion


When the announcement was made that Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt was not doing harsh vocals on 2011′s Heritage, fans were instantly torn. While some embraced the idea thanks to the phenomenal Damnation, which also featured no harsh vocals, most fans were skeptic. To the discontent of many, Heritage was far from Damnation 2.0, and those hoping Pale Communion may be that album may feel let down once again. Pale Communion is not a heavy album, despite early press saying otherwise, nor is it an iteration of Heritage . Pale Communion is a logical step back to writing songs that sound like the Opeth many fans missed while clinging to the sound and feel of Heritage. Pale Communion is another entry in a relatively contained movement of regressive rock, of which artists such as Steven Wilson and Ghost B.C. have also been contributing to. A kind of throwback to 70′s prog rock that is more than just a nod to or driving influence in the music, but rather a full on attempt at recapturing a time long past.

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Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas are quite a divisive band. Their signature sound that combines rave electronica with progressive metalcore, autotuned vocals and high pitched screaming is a hard pill to swallow for many, but once one gets over the absurdity of concept there’s no denying that the execution is always top notch. 2012′s All That We Have Now was an amazing sophomore release that cemented them as a cross between J-rock and iwrestledabearonce with more consistency and catchiness. Its successor, Phase 2, is finally upon us, and as it is to be expected from FALILV, it’s batshit crazy, creative and insanely memorable.

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He Is Legend – Heavy Fruit


Some feared it would never happen, but it has: He Is Legend has returned. Back in September of 2009, the band went on what they called an “indefinite hiatus”, a strange move considering just two months earlier, the band released the totally different, but absolutely, positively brilliant It Hates You, an album which has since become treasured by both internet metal nerds and famous metal musicians alike, including Robb Flynn of Machine Head. It Hates You was an album that was nearly impossible to categorize; it was something of a cross between Deftones and Alice In Chains with southern-tinged Meshuggah elements and psychedelic stoner-sludge metal sensibilities thrown in here and there, and even these descriptions don’t even come close to doing it justice. It Hates You was a beast of an album all it’s own; it was a total departure from it’s southern metal predecessor, Suck Out The Poison, and complete one-eighty from He Is Legend’s first full-length album I Am Hollywood, which showed their humble beginnings as something closer to a metalcore or post-hardcore band.

Now, five years later, equipped with a new drummer and a refreshed vigor, He Is Legend have stampeded back onto the scene with Heavy Fruit, an album that’s every bit as different, and every bit as fantastic, as everything they’ve ever released.

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The Misanthrope – Supersession


With the proliferation of music via the Internet, it’s redoubtable that the classification of genres as firm barriers between styles of music has no more place. It would behoove all of us to accept a more elastic view of what was ultimately always meant to be nothing more than a tool. Many bands are working towards the dissolution of these supposedly well-defined abstractions, some with more success than others. The Misanthrope appears to almost be an experiment in how directly one can attack these bulkheads in music and still maintain an elegance often reserved for more stable works. Make no mistake however; this is not experimentation for the sake of experimentation. Lord knows we have enough of that and it rarely sounds good. Instead, Supersession is the unique and convoluted vision of one man and his attempt to translate it into record form.

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Columns – Please Explode


While it is often tempting to dig deep into a record to pick apart where the inspiration came from and what makes it unique in its own right, sometimes it is necessary to simply press play and enjoy the ride. Please Explode, the debut album from Columns, is best enjoyed by doing just that. 16 tracks later and a wry smile is spread across the face of anyone willing to give this lethal dose of grind the time of day. Members of Wretched, Vehemence and Hemdale have thrown their hat into the ring with an album full of grind party classics.

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