Supergroups in the metal world have one thing in common and that is hype. If there is one thing a new supergroup can generate in spades weeks and even months before the music sees the light. its hype. The online machinery of publicity can plant the seed of expectation and keep on watering it until the fruit is ready. The gamble here though is that no one knows if the fruit will be fresh or rotten. High expectations can be a double edged sword and if an album doesn’t match up to the build-up, the collapse will most likely be inevitable and irreversible. Finland’s Barren Earth is one of the most exciting supergroups on the metal scene right now and they have successfully lived up to the billing by delivering consistently solid efforts; their third album On Lonely Towers being their latest installment.
We’ve been excited for months about Relapse Records’ plans for 2015. Late last year, the label announced plans that throughout their 25th year of operation, they will be tapping into their extensive back catalog of records and re-pressing a selection of favorites that have long-since been out of print or are just now seeing vinyl release for the first time ever. The first round of represses have been announced and include influential albums from Human Remains, Pan.Thy.Monium, Amorphis, Incantation.
After the jump, be sure to check out cuts from each album. You may end up making an incredible musical discovery.
There’s something about Finnish melodic death/doom metal that sets it apart from other regional scenes. Amorphis, Insomnium, and their contemporaries continue to set the standard for the subgenre. Ghost Brigade are a slightly newer and less well known group compared to the aforementioned, but they’re no less genre defining, especially on this, their fourth full length album. One With The Storm may be overlooked in favor of more high profile releases in the genre this year, but that would be a mistake.
CALLED IT. Vinyl nerds shall rejoice further, as Relapse Records have announced plans to expand their recent trend of re-releasing high-profile out-of-print albums from their back catalog of releases. No more scavenging eBay for a reasonably priced copy of Miss Machine!
Amorphis‘ eleventh studio effort, Circle, now has a face, some tracks, and a pretty high mark to hit. Their 2009 release Skyforger got me interested in the band, and I’ve delved pretty deep into their back catalogue. 2011 rolled around and I picked up the Beginning of Times, which could have been ten bucks I spent on a pretty kick ass sandwich or the life’s blood known only as coffee. It was a lengthy album that jumped from idea to idea without sticking on one long enough for me to get into it. Go ahead and take a look at what Circle has to offer thus far-
This year in metal has started out with a bang. With new releases from Alcest, Every Time I Die, Meshuggah, and many more on the way. It looks like it is going to be a hell of a good year. Or so it would seem. Though, I’ll be honest, I’ve been less than happy with the majority of releases from the first quarter of 2012. Maybe I was just so spoiled by 2011 and 2010, but it just feels like this years releases have been either really tame and bland, or just plain bad. This sort of revelation has caused me to stray away from the majority of metal with a dismissive wave of my hand. I’ve been finding myself seeking musical pleasure in other avenues, or for some periods of time eschewing the art-form entirely. I don’t like this trend in myself, and in actuality it disgusts me. I want to love the music that’s coming out, and I want to be able to enjoy the albums that I was initially excited to hear when they were being announced. However, that does not seem to be the case so far.
Now, this isn’t the first time this has happened, there were periods from the past two or three years that I experienced a similar sensation. In order to fix these moments of lull I turn to older albums and songs; music that created that original spark for the metal aesthetic so long ago. It seems I visit these songs less and less when I’m actually enjoying new releases, but when new music just doesn’t do the trick I dust these songs off and let the memories and emotions flood back into myself, and rediscover my “roots”. Here are the five songs that I always turn to when my metal tastes are in need of some defibrillator. Beware, these may shock you (is that a pun?). Or not. Whatever.
5. Amorphis – ‘Skyforger’
Skyforger is a fairly modern album, being less than three years old and all, but the songs on it hold a very significant sway for me. This was the first album by Amorphis that I was introduced to, and it took me about 50 seconds to realized that I loved the band. The entire album is top-notch progressive-power metal, but the title track is the keystone to it all. It just stands above the crowd with the best melodies and power from any song on that album, and indeed the band’s entire career. You may disagree with me, but this is Amorphis’ opus as a band.
Consensus around here is that it is prog metal March. I checked the calendar and it is indeed March, so I’ve decided to weigh in by compiling a list of the biggest cliches in prog album art design. Intensive research went into polling the 900 songs in my iTunes library with a genre label containing the word ‘progressive’. While these visual elements can be considered cliche because of how often they are used, I think that the quality of (most of) the artwork is still high. If anything, it’s a testament to how the same elements can be used multiple times and still look relatively fresh. The list is a in descending order of how often I think each cliche element is used.
5. Mathy things, equations, visual representation of mathematical concepts
Covers appearing from left to right are (1) Scale The Summit – The Collective, (2) Mouth of the Architect – Time & Withering (3) The Human Abstract – Nocturne
I don’t have a lot of examples of this, but I’m absolutely positive that more math inspired covers exist. The new Scale the Summit artwork is probably the most glaring example, it depicts a pattern most commonly associated with sunflower seeds and other flowers, as well as types of broccoli, cauliflower and other natural things. The pattern is a visual representation of the Fibonacci sequence and the golden mean. It is composed of two opposite spirals superimposed on top of each other. I was reading an interesting article about the occurrence of this in nature, but I can’t find it again, so if you would like further reading try here or here. The Mouth of the Architect cover is essentially the same pattern.
The cover for Nocturne has some Da Vinci-esque sketches on it and from what I understand, that dude was pretty mathematically inclined. I know, weak example, but it’s the best I could do on short notice.
I know there has to be more math-inspired covers out there but I’m drawing a blank as to what and where they are. It’s kind of a bummer, because I love art inspired by math and data visualization work in general. If anyone has any suggestions of album art or design work inspired by mathematical concepts I would love to check it out.
01. BARONESS – “Isak”
02. GENGHIS TRON – “I Wont Come Back Alive”
03. TOMBS – “Gossamer”
04. COALESCE – “Wild Ox Moan”
05. THE END – “The Never Ever Aftermath”
06. BURIED INSIDE – “V”
07. ZOMBI – “Orion”
08. BURNT BY THE SUN – “Inner Station”
09. THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN – “Dead As History”
10. DON CABALLERO – “Lord Krepelka”
11. MASTODON – “Mother Puncher”
12. KINGDOM OF SORROW – “Free The Fallen”
13. PIG DESTROYER – “Loathsome”
14. GRAVES OF VALOR – “Bridles Of Incitatus”
15. NECROPHAGIST – “Seven”
16. OBSCURA – “Incarnated”
17. TOXIC HOLOCAUST – “Wild Dogs”
18. HIGH ON FIRE – “Turk”
19. ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY – “Void Of Harmony”
20. PENTAGRAM – “Forever My Queen”
21. AMORPHIS – “Better Unborn”
22. BRUTAL TRUTH – “Evolution Through Revolution”
23. ORIGIN – “The Aftermath”
So much win on one album, it’s unbelievable. Relapse released the newest “Contamination“ label sampler exclusively as an iTunes digital album. “Contamination 2009“ includes all 23 tracks above for just $5.99, including an exclusive advance download of the new Coalesce track “Wild Ox Moan“ from their upcoming album “Ox”.
Baroness, Dillinger, Genghis Tron, Pig Destroyer, Necrophagist, High on Fire, Mastodon… *head spins*
Relapse has one of the best rosters of any metal label out there. Check this out.