Ayreon – The Source

A small, personal preface before we begin: if you’re wondering about the slew of Ayreon related content on the blog lately, this album is the reason. Ayreon has always been of my favorite artists but I’ve had a rough time connecting with his latest releases. Spoiler: The Source changes all that and has allowed me to reconnect with one of my all time favorite musicians. There aren’t a lot of things as great as that out there, the rush of familiarity, nostalgia and enjoyment that breaks down the barriers of suspicion and anxiety that come before a beloved artist releases new work. Fortunately, in this case, my worries were completely misplaced.

Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon – The Heavy Blog Interview

Sometimes, I get to do really cool things as a music journalist. Sometimes, I get to do amazing things and this is one of them. Arjen Lucassen, AKA Ayreon, has been a musical hero of mine every since the first notes of The Human Equation played in my ears, right after I had purchased the album in Paris (I was there seeing Iron Maiden and Dream Theater. Good trip). It was a split earphone cable arrangement and I was listening to it with one of my best friends, who had insisted I get it. Sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed; vocal lines by some of the my favorite singers (James LaBrie, Devin Townsend, Mikael Akerfeldt, Devon Graves, to mention just a few) echoed in my ears, set to amazing, progressive instrumentation. An obsession was born; over the next few years, I bought every single Ayreon album I could get hold of and start following him fervently.

Lunar Shadow – Far From Light

Metal has, for all intents and purposes, pretty much reached the peak of how far it can really go with the extremity and weirdness while still remaining in its musical sphere and not moving into genres like noise or purely avant-garde. Subgenre movements like brutal slamming deathcore, atonal death metal, and noisegrind have been pushing the limits of slowness, weirdness, and overall listenability into strange, bizarre, wonderful new territories, and although the experimentation is certainly welcome, after a certain line is crossed, the returns start to diminish quickly, and what we’re left with as a musical community is a handful of bands that are great in the context of a clambering race to the tipping point, but really don’t serve much purpose for a listener who wants something, you know, metal. Don’t get me wrong – I love Gigan, Jute Gyte, and probably any other ridiculous and ‘unlistenable’ band you could throw my way, but shit, what’s a guy to do at this point if he’s looking for something more reminiscent of the classic sound?

Undrask – Battle Through Time

One of the things I love about having the opportunity to review albums is checking out bands that are just gaining a foothold beyond their local scene. Greensboro, NC metalheads, Undrask, are one of those bands I probably wouldn’t have learned about if not for having a copy of this album slid over to me by the Heavy Blog editors—but I’m glad it did.

Thy Catafalque – Meta

It’s tough for one-man projects to remain consistently exciting: often, their singular nature tends to bog down a sense of advancement or diversity across their sonic explorations. The problem with letting one mind have total creative control is that only one person is in charge, and that there’s only one…

Hey! Listen to Desteufels!

Sure, there are metal bands from Germany, and from a variety of genres at that, including (but certainly not limited to) Rammstein, Blind Guardian, Kreator, Accept, and The Ocean. And yes, they’re all pretty awesome—there’s no denying that. But I ask you, where’s the punk in all of this? I…

Half Life – Equilibrium

Throughout their career, Equilibrium have managed to create some of the most effortlessly epic and delightfully energetic metal this side of Blind Guardian. Now, with their new album Armageddon coming out August 12th, let’s dissect Equilibrium’s discography so we can see where they’ve been, and where they might be going.…