Heavy Rewind – Blind Guardian’s Nightfall in Middle Earth

What qualifies an album for this feature? Its name hints that it has something to do with chronology, with old albums to which we return. And that’s definitely a part of it but, for me at least, it’s more about the grandeur of an album and its importance for the genre in which it was released. In that regard at least, there are few albums more deserving of the feature than Nightfall In Middle Earth. While the Blind Guardian albums which preceded it had already established a lot of the modern power metal sound, Nightfall in Middle Earth still represents one of the peaks of the band’s style. It is one of their most complete albums, blending the heavier, thrash influenced sounds of their earlier career with the polish and dexterity of their latter career. It was also the first Blind Guardian album distributed in the US, leading to Blind Guardian’s subsequent international success and massive career. It’s also just a damn fine album, filled with memorable moments.

Gatekeeper – East of Sun

Metal in general, but trad metal especially, is a divisive style of music, which, if I had to guess, comes from how unabashedly itself it is. It is a genre completely lacking in subtlety or nuance; when it comes to the high-soaring, epic sounds that come under the umbrella of “traditional…

Best of 1998

Welcome back to our “Best of” column! This isn’t the first time we’ve celebrated twenty year milestones, but this installment is a bit more meaningful for all of us here at Heavy Blog. This list comes a week after we passed 20,000 likes on Facebook, a testament to how much…

Stepping Stone: Dio’s Dream Evil

If the purpose of Stepping Stone is to shine a spotlight on the bands and artists which started us on our way to metal, then Ronnie James Dio is one of the biggest stones in our path. Whether just by listening to his music at an early age or being influenced by his vocal style, the number of artists who have owe a debt to Dio is immeasurable. He is one of the largest names in a scene obsessed with the cult of personality, with plenty of drama and lore to back that figure (Ozzy vs. Dio, the “horns” and more). But I’d like to focus on a different story for this Stepping Stone, on mine rather than on the grandiose depiction of grand narratives within our scene and community. I’d like to take you back to the days when I was jut discovering metal and the power it had and what that power meant for the teenage version of Eden.

Novareign – Legends

There’s a special place in heaven reserved for albums who don’t waste their listeners time. Skipping over intro tracks and getting right to the point, these albums want you to know exactly what they’re about, no frills or special announcements necessary. This works especially well for anything extreme, as the sheer shock of an album just exploding into over the top life can be a magnificent feeling. This is very much the case with Novareign’s Legends. These power metal enthusiasts hailing from California waste no time with their debut album, immediately diving into a mass of riffs, powerful vocals and galloping bass. The rest of the album rides on the momentum of these initial notes to create one of the best releases in the traditional metal revival that’s been going on for the past few years (and on which we posted in length not two hours ago).

Trigger – Cryogenesis

Enter Trigger, a young band hailing from Australia, the land of too much sun and great metal. Cryogenesis, released way back when in July of 2017, is chock full of the blurring of the lines between thrash and power that we referenced in the opening paragraph. I pounced on this album once realizing it wasn’t just a power metal album with impressive hooks in tow but also a science fiction conceptual epic. Under eventual and multiple listens, it quickly became apparent that Cryogenesis was a good album and an impressive effort for a second release but also an album which exemplifies many of the pitfalls of its sub-genre. At its core, Cryogenesis is motivated by big choruses and fast riffing but suffers from a muddled middle section, leaving the listener yearning for more.

The Will to Power – Coming to Terms With the Allure and Problematic Themes of Heavy Metal

Metal is inherently problematic. That’s a fact that anybody listening to metal should accept and come to terms with. It doesn’t mean that metal shouldn’t listened to, written about or loved; most things on the scale of globe-spanning musical genres are problematic. Metal’s inherent complex nature stems from the very reasons why metal is appealing and that’s what makes it so intrinsic to the style. Since metal appeals to places within us which society would rather not deal with, like war, violence, personal power, the mystical aspects of nature, and darker themes, those who work within the genre are prone to excess. In the process of writing about these themes and of immersing oneself within them, many artists lose the distinction between that which is to be faced and understood and that which should be aspired to or desired.