Summer’s over, friends. Long days are disappearing, leaves are turning, and with it, the second big push for major releases this year is upon us. September into October tends to be a huge time release-wise, as it’s past the lead-up and meat of summer when people’s attentions are more scattered (or simply more interested in finding the best “summer jams”), and it’s still early enough that it gives listeners ample time to absorb and obsess over the music before everyone goes into end-of-year list mode. This September has certainly not been a disappointment in that regard. In particular, this past Friday, the 30th, was simply so jam-packed with incredible new releases across the musical spectrum that we specifically delayed compiling and publishing this post until after the weekend to allow our editors to wade through it all and revise our picks for the month. The albums highlighted here truly display the best of the best, both for the month and the year at large. Expect many of these albums to wind up either in our personal end-of-year lists or our aggregated staff list. 2016, you guys. What a time to be alive.
Eden’s back! This means we get to talk about stuff like Tidal, other streaming services, this article about Opeth (which gets us pretty salty), the breakup of Bolt Thrower, Portnoy playing the 12 step suite he wrote for Dream Theater, inconsistencies in promos labels send to us, then new music or news from bands like Dark Tranquillity, Downfall of Gaia, Oathbreaker, Alcest, Metallica, A Sense of Gravity, the DOOM OST by Mick Gordon, Plini, Watchtower, Riverside, Pain of Salvation, Mithridatic and Venom Prison. Finally we talk about Elvenking’s underrated The Pagan Manifesto. Enjoy!
This week we have a set of surprise guests that we announced last week! I guess that’s not really a surprise, huh? It’s Eric and Drew from TABPxDSME, in other words The Aurora Borealis Project and Drewsif Stalin’s Musical Endeavors! We have a good old time trying to talk about their amazing upcoming album The World Is A Colder Place Now. Well, we try anyway. Since Drew and I are both invested in derailing as much as possible, it goes to different places. I had a great time! Then, we talk about the news of the week. What news of the week? Stuff like Misha of Periphery doing a song for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Heri Joensen of Tyr killing whales and defending his actions, Stereogum’s monthly metal roundup, You Bred Raptors playing to an empty venue, then new music or teases towards such by Departe, Saor, Destrage, System of a Down, Anaal Nathrakh, Anciients, Alcest, Negura Bunget, Hannes Grossmann, and Allegaeon. Eden gets pretty mad about the last one!
For very unfortunate reasons, Myrkur remains a controversial artist. Being the brainchild of Amalie Bruun, the black metal project has faced intense scrutiny for deviating from the norms of the genre, despite other artists like Ulver (whom have collaborated with her several times) or Alcest getting praised for similar irreverences. While the backlash that targets her for her gender might have dissuaded other artists, she has instead trudged on and pushed back even further. Mausoleum is partly reinvention, but also partly defiance. Taking the songs from her debut full length M and rearranging them with a haunting choir, Myrkur is firmly walking the steps towards post-black-metal greatness.
Yeah, this week’s dank number fact is pretty obvious. Also, finally we introduce “Bullshit Philosophy Corner” as an official segment! Oh, we also talk about metal. Stuff like Morbid Angel, The HAARP Machine, From First To Last (and Skrillex), Oddland, Opeth, Jinjer, Defeated Sanity, Carnifex, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Equipoise, Alcest and Cortexiphan. Also some dumb top 50 list. Then we do two topics, namely bands that “you had to be there/then to get”, and how fans fixate on members of bands who have passed away. Enjoy!
You didn’t think that, once I discovered the secret of being lazy about these show notes, I’d go back to being not lazy, right? The structure of that sentence was abysmal. But I had a fun time trolling Eden this episode, and so did his new dog (RIP)! We talk about: Oddland, Disillusion, Alcest, ColdWorld, Native Construct, Babymetal, Devin Townsend, Departe, Brain Tentacles, Opeth, Orphaned Land, Infant Annihilator, Betraying the Martyrs, Inanimate Existence, Fountainhead, Anciients, Hannes Grossmann, Leander, Abnormality, Wintersun and Nader Sadek. Then, balls deep on Lamb of Dog! I mean, Lamb of God!
We have (along with the rest of our niche of the community) been singing the praises of Astronoid for quite some time now. If you’ve never run into the name, imagine what would happen if you take a dream and then crash-landed it into a thrash metal concert. The guitars go fast, the drums blast away but the vocals are clean and soar high above the music. In composition as well there is a marked style, a bright, lazy, honey-slow drip that just pulls you right in. It’s like a hot, summer day when you were a child and the hours drew out in the long, dark tea time of the soul (as one Douglas Adams puts it) into a pastiche of nostalgia, fear, hope and dreams.
What goes into such a broth? How does a band like this come to be, seemingly emerging from nowhere to revolutionize what we thought was possible within the somewhat stale confines of thrash? Instead of speculating, hear it from the band themselves! We reached out just after our interview and asked the band our fateful, Anatomy Of question: what made you the musicians that you are today? More specifically, which musicians contributed to how you write, think and perform music? Below you can find styles ranging from progressive pop to Norse metal and much in between. Blast Air in the background and get ready to dive into what makes Astronoid tick.
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.
When Alcest released their 2014 Shelter, there were many dissenting voices among their fans. Originally, it was possible to easily disregard these as the usual detractors of any band which tries to change their sound; we might like to paint metal as a progressive and open genre but we have our fair share of conservatives. However, as further listenings to the album opened up understanding, it was felt by many more that indeed, something was off. It’s not that Shelter was a bad album but there was something, some power that Alcest had in their earlier works. By “earlier works” we do not mean their classical, black metal, heavy albums. We’re not joining those who denounce blackgaze or even the dream pop that Alcest had started making. On the contrary, we love those sounds and were therefore disappointed with Shelter, which felt more like lip service to the power those genres can hold.
Luckily, it appears that a second chance is at hand, in the form of a separate, and yet musically linked, artist called Sylvaine.
At its core, the main appeal of black metal is how absolutely visceral it is. Although there are plenty of bands for whom this doesn’t necessarily apply – groups like Alcest and Wolves In The Throne Room – the vast majority of black metal, from the 2nd wave in the…