Allegaeon – Proponent for Sentience

The proliferation of a metal band is a clear sign of its growing popularity, but it could also be a reason for apprehension regarding its music’s quality. On the other hand, one can consider the longevity of a given band as an indication of quality, but that would only cast a shadow of zealous snobbery and faux-refinement. Truth is, quality in music is more likely to be a function of countless random things including, but not limited to, personal taste. There are countless examples of bands exploding onto the international scene with superb debuts only to fizzle away later and become weaker shadows of themselves. On the other hand, there are bands who start off strong but are a work in progress in terms of finding their own sound and standing out from the hordes; Colorado’s Allegaeon is one fine example of the latter.

An Evening With Andrew Bird At The Jay Pritzker Pavilion [September 7th, 2016]

After getting over the initial shock of my words “No, I haven’t heard of him before,” my fellow photographer quickly assured me that this should would not leave me disappointed. For a moment, he paused and set aside his own duty of being at the show to review it and photograph it like I was. He began to tell me the history, from start to finish, of Andrew Bird. So many details of Mr. Bird’s talent in whistling, use of instruments and stage personality. He promised me that I would walk away thoroughly impressed as a new fan. I readied my camera and caressed anxious excitement to my waiting.

An Autumn For Crippled Children – Eternal

Shamefully, it’s still all too easy to allow a new record from Netherland-based black metal enigmas An Autumn For Crippled Children slip by unnoticed. Last year’s stellar The Long Goodbye garnered praise on this website, and the radio silence from other outlets sparked a brief think-piece bemoaning how, in a post-Sunbather world, An Autumn For Crippled Children still garner little fanfare despite doing things within the post-black metal genre that are incredibly fascinating, if not groundbreaking in the band’s oeuvre of going to such extremes in fusing black metal with bright New Wave and shoegaze melodies. A year later, and we’re back at square one: a brand new record, Eternal, unceremoniously dropped into Bandcamp with almost no one talking about it. Never underestimate the power of PR, kids.

Auras – Heliospectrum

One of the biggest trends of 2016’s seemingly-ubiquitous djent scene has to be the fact that most bands have tried to stray as far away from their metal roots as possible, all while still trying to maintain a semblance of grit. What fans have been left with is a mostly watered-down clone of any number of bands’ earlier material. Too many musicians out there have decided that their heavier past simply isn’t cool and have instead opted to make what can only be described as progressive metal’s take on elevator music. Thankfully for Canada’s Auras, they’re out for blood on Heliospectrum. This record may be just as uber-clean and electronica-influenced as they come, but it’s one of the only times in recent memory that something out of this subgenre has sounded this pissed.

Black Hate – Through the Darkness

How many black metal bands in the past have proven to be truly progressive, innovative or even avant garde? You might find several bands that fit that niche. Even some big acts in black metal could be included under the Progressive black metal umbrella, such as Enslaved and Ihsahn. Let’s turn our attention to Black Hate now. Hailing from Mexico, the promising group have released an album that pushes the “black metal” label in directions seldom seen. With Through the Darkness we have an album that breathes new life into tired black metal tropes and dares to stand on it’s own. So what do they do differently that sets them apart from their peers? What can we correlate Through the Darkness with to find out what makes it unique?

Brain Tentacles – Brain Tentacles

Brain Tentacles is a three-year-old project with members from Virginia, Illinois, and Ohio. They recently signed to Relapse Records and worked on their self-titled debut album, to be released on September 30. The formation is similar in shape to Trioscapes: a trio comprising a saxophonist, a bassist, and a drummer. However, the comparisons stop there, as Brain Tentacles’ doomy, sludgy, saxophone-filled metal is far from the progressive fusion rock of Trioscapes.

Clipping. – Splendor & Misery

Experimental rap group clipping. always seem to be pushing the envelope when they release an album. With their debut midcity they used abrasive white noise to back gritty raps, pulling bangers from the static. With their sophomore album CLPPNG they added a diverse palette of sounds and samples (At one point they use an alarm clock beeping for a beat) while still staying gritty/heavy hitting and took what made them great to new levels with catchy tracks, technically impressive rapping and engrossing stories. Now on their third full-length Splendor & Misery, they’re taking aim at a sci-fi concept record which depicts the struggles of a slave who is the lone survivor of an uprising on a slave transport ship in the cold, unforgiving reaches of space. If anyone is capable of properly executing something like this, it’s clipping..

Virvum – Illuminance

A few months ago, Simon wrote an excellent piece about the fast-growing phenomenon of post-tech death, succinctly describing how early progenitors such as Cynic and The Faceless all the way to recent up-and-comers Wrvth and Fallujah have combined progressively-minded atmospheric and melodic sensibilities with the relentless and intricate attack of traditional tech…