It’s been a while since we’ve written one of these columns, and that’s not because we dislike them. Past a certain point it starts to become more difficult to find important bands representing or making waves in a certain genre or sub-genre and finding a group of similar or tangentially-related bands to recommend. Up to this point though we haven’t really written one of these posts as essentially a response or plea to listeners. Sometimes bands who execute a certain style or sound garner a lot of critical and popular praise to the point of being credited with some sort of innovation or something radically different from anything else out there when the reality is far from that. It’s rarely the fault of the bands themselves though as they don’t give themselves that kind of credit, but once in a while it’s important for someone to politely correct consensus thinking and offer a little more context, and that is exactly what we’re going to do here and now with the debut album from metal/jazz fusion band Nova Collective.
One of the most enjoyable trends we as a community have seen over the past few years is the gradual increase in bands and artists that are unafraid to diversify their sound from the outset. There are certainly arguments to be made for sonic consistency, but a band implementing a variety of influences and sounds over a metal skeleton is generally seen as a noble endeavor; a band challenging themselves musically and consequently elevating their sound is, at least on paper, a clear win-win situation for them. But for that to translate into music that is just as entertaining and enjoyable from the average listener’s perspective? That requires a bit more; a narrow balance needs to be struck between monotonous consistency and wildly unfocused eclecticism.
Bands with a multifaceted sound and diverse playbooks tend to leave lasting impressions around these parts. Faith No More. The Dillinger Escape Plan. Devin Townsend. Deftones. Each song from these acts is different, which allows for a dynamic listening experience across the breadth of an album, and in turn, incentivizes multiple spins.
There’s nothing quite like a metal show. The palpitating thrum of bass, explosive blasts of percussion, the crackling sea of people united by music — it’s beautiful, life-affirming, and brutal. Although live recordings will inevitably fail to stack up to the real thing, they allow us to experience singular moments…
Progressive death metal is known for painting with an epic and broad brushstroke. This can create fantastic albums and bloated messes both; there needs to be a clear direction and purpose to the scale. Otherwise, the music runs together and nothing of much worth is achieved. Luckily, the Australian Kaerulean have an intricate concept behind their Metempsychosis, a concept which lends the album some much needed cohesion. Spanning influences like Opeth, Between the Buried and Me and more operatic sounds like Dark Tranquillity, the death metal on this album is intricate, synth heavy and concept heavy. If you like ever-shifting time signatures, intricately written guitar leads and complex orchestration head on down below!
In case you haven’t noticed, there are two Jimmys (Jimmies?) that are a part of the Heavy Blog family, and while I’m the dude who started this site back in 2009, I’m not the Jimmy who started the Heavy Buys column. However, this Christmas season was incredibly fruitful, with a myriad of prepaid visa gift cards and sales going on that created a perfect storm for collection expansion. I took the opportunity to upgrade my current setup to something only slightly less casual (but still incredibly entry level) and expand the collection to pick up five records that I had been meaning to purchase from the previous year.
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.
2016 has been chock full of great releases, some of which we (sadly) missed out on. We can’t post about everything or we’d be up to necks in content (first world problems, I know)! One such release is Oni’s Ironshore, a progressive album that’s extremely cohesive and endearing. Rooted firmly in complexity, Ironshore nonetheless manages to evoke melody, emotion and conviction. Listen to “Kanvas” for example: amidst breakneck keyboard work, intricate guitar lines, harsh and clean vocals, hides an honest emotional streak that runs throughout the album and ties it all together.
Seeing as the album is so intricate, we thought we’d get the band to shed some more light on the influences that make them tick as musicians. We hoped it would give us more insight into what seems like another, incredibly strong addition to the annals of modern progressive metal and boy, we got more than we bargained for! Head on below to read their in depth and enlightening list in one of our personal favorite Anatomy Of posts!
It is no small challenge for bands to find a way to sonically distinguish themselves from the legions of acts in their genre. There’s no shortage of ways (intentional or not) for groups to get this done, but in the past ten years or so, we’ve been hearing bands more frequently pull from unusual and atypical influences, bringing about a “What the hell is this?” line of thinking more and more often. Whether it’s a mixture of seemingly incongruent styles in the overlap of some wacky Venn diagram like this year’s fantastic Zeal and Ardor release Devil is Fine, or Between the Buried and Me’s spontaneous (and quite addictive) polka/circus/surf segues, it’s proven that there’s reward for ambitious risk-taking. As a result, it seems as though the metal community as a whole has adjusted their tastes. There’s more open-mindedness for things that stray from the path, and that’s exactly where Madison, Wisconsin grind duo The Central excel on their latest release, Discovery Of A Rat.
Coming out of the void of potential and inactivity, Painted in Exile released one of the more powerful and emotional progressive metal albums of 2016. Drawing heavily on many clear influences within progressive metal, The Ordeal nonetheless also contains much of the theatrical, the jazz-y and more. Thus, inviting the band to write an “Anatomy Of” article for us was somewhat obvious, an organic attempt at delving the musical depths which we recognized behind their release.