It’s been a long road, but the sax is back, baby. For years the instrument, once employed lavishly upon all sorts of classic and progressive rock tracks through the 60s and 70s, became a revolting cliche and symbol of rock excess, softness, and melodrama. And, frankly, given how the instrument became abused and synonymous with the type of smooth jazz playing that would coat pop and rock ballads through the 80s into 90s with a sonic perfume strong enough to make you gag, it’s not surprising that it fell out of style. In many ways it went hand-in-hand with the back-to-basics mentality that ran through the punk, DIY, grunge, indie, and (to a different extent) metal movements of the 80s through the 90s and well into the turn of the century. Since then, though, the pendulum has slowly but steadily moved back into the other direction, and more bands and listeners view the sax and other woodwinds as viable and enticing flourishes or even centerpieces to give their music either a certain distinction or whiff of nostalgia. And though metal has perhaps resisted incorporating the instrument for longer than most other genres, there is now an utter wealth of examples of artists and bands using the instrument to (mostly) good effect, particularly in the more progressive black, death, and doom spheres, where bands like Wrvth, Aenaon, Dreadnought, and, of course, SHINING – Jorgen Munkeby probably more than anyone has made the idea of sax-heavy metal sound forward-thinking and “cool” – are releasing high-quality work that makes use of the instrument in a whole wide range of ways.
A man who overcame a failing kidney. A performer who was just about to take his leap at the ring. A rapper who came back and said “fuck it, this is me”. All of these statements are true about Stef Alexander aka P.O.S. and the back-story of his struggles have been told over and over again (our abridged version is below) so in this edition of HLT we’re going to look at the curious case of Stef and how he got his mojo back by producing one of the best LPs of 2017.
One of the things that stands out immediately on Jared Grabb’s new album, Masters, is that it feels like someone playing in their living room (or yours). There’s an intimacy that a lot of singer-songwriters of this type don’t manage to pull off but here is Grabb repping Peoria, IL and the whole of the Midwestern heart and soul on his latest effort.
How to navigate the sheer number of festivals now available for the metal fan? With the aim of helping you sort through this vast variety, we’ve compiled the following primer. It’s by no means extensive; it’s simply impossible to write about all of the festivals we would have liked to mention. We focused on those we’ll be attending and on those who have the most attractive setlists in our eyes. That being said, do feel free to share more great festivals with us in the comments and please enjoy this, our selection of festivals for 2017.
Welcome back to our ongoing series of best-of lists for this year, where we give some of the bands we covered (or just adored) in 2016 a chance to publish their own lists regarding their favorite albums of this past year. Today, we’ve got a list by Wrvth, whose self-titled album ranked…
With our general list for 2016 out of the way, we can now shift the focus from our aggregate opinion to individual ones. Both outlooks have their own merit; the former provides us with an overview of our year in music. However, the latter shines a light on something we’re extremely proud of and that’s the varied and eclectic nature of our staff these days. We used to have a very certain type of music associated with Heavy Blog and while we still have a long way to go, we feel like we’ve done a good job at expanding our palettes and the representation of different kinds of music and metal in our staff. The lists below reflect that; you’ll find black metal, avant-garde, technical thrash metal, hip hop, rap, noise, ambiance, post metal and rock, melodic death metal and much more throughout these lists.
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.
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.
We’re back with the fourth installment of our latest feature, The Soul Curator, and this time we’re taking a trip through the wilderness. Back in 2011 I hiked the entire Camino De Santiago in Spain over the course of five weeks, and it almost goes without saying that I was…