Outliers // 2017

Welp. You’ve seen it. You’ve debated it. You’ve cried over it. But what’s done is done: Our list of the best albums of the year is behind us, and there is much rejoicing. But what about the albums we loved that didn’t make the cut? For those of you who…

Ne Obliviscaris – Urn

Expectation can be a curious beast. From a band’s perspective it can drive the wheels of excitement accompanying the build-up to a new release, pushing them to new heights and allowing them to reach wider audiences. Yet, it can also hang over them like a pestilence, crippling them with fear…

Death’s Door – July 2017

Welcome to our latest edition of Death’s Door. Wipe your feet on the mat, etc. There’s a lot to discuss this month, though frankly, I had my doubts at certain points about whether or not there would be. You see, July tends to be a musical doldrums for yours truly, with lots of leftover releases that didn’t make it into the prime Spring and early Summer release calendar clogging streaming services with mundane/barely serviceable drivel. Obviously, this makes for some not-so-great listening experiences. Thankfully, July pulled through regardless, delivering unto us another fantastic batch of death metal releases that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of 2017. So much so, in fact, that we are foregoing our new tracks section to focus exclusively on the great records released this month. So prepare yourself for some good stuff and thank your lucky stars, because hell hath no fury like a month without good death metal.

EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Listen to Cryptodira’s “Integral” Cover of Cynic

Cynic are one of the greatest metal bands of our generation, regardless of their current status or one’s opinions of their latest releases. Perhaps one of the most decisive signs of that is how their tracks work both in their quiet, intimate version and the original epic ones. Thus, Re-traced in Air remains an immensely impressive album, perhaps one of the most impressive of its type (Opeth’s Damnation would be another one or Devin Townsend’s Unplugged). With their skill, Cynic birthed a plethora of progressive metal bands and can be credited as one of the progenitors of progressive metal in general. One such band, who have always worn their influences on their sleeves is Cryptodira. While we would LOVE to tell you that we have new material from these guys (“soon!”, the promise us), we do have a cover of Cynic’s “Integral” by the band. Check it out below.

The Celtic Connection – Scottish and Irish Tunes, Eh

It’s been awhile since I knocked out a Best of British feature for you, the dedicated Heavy Blog reader. This isn’t because there has been a lack of quality content coming outta the island, actually far from it. Being “British” doesn’t really mean anything anymore though. You’ve got yer English bands and then there’s everything else. Because I feel like our two nations have been poorly under represented elsewhere, I now give you The Celtic Connection. I’m gonna rant and rave about the best music coming out of Scotland and Ireland, leaving England and Wales (sorry Wales) to the side, because they get plenty of coverage as is. This isn’t me being a nationalist or picking a fight, I’m just keeping it in the family. And who else is closer to us Scots than the proud, fighting Irish. Pour yourself a beverage of whatever variety you fancy and strap in for some hearty dispatches of ginger, pale skinned sounds.

Exist – So True, So Bound

The progressive metal “scene” has become more and more insular over the past decade or so as it’s risen to prominence. While the higher profile has lead to more diversity among bands who can reach an audience, as with additional size comes additional bulk, the definition of “progressive” has become blurrier as more bands incorporate elements from the sound into their toolkit, forcing the genre to define itself by contrast. Complexity, self-seriousness, “enlightenment” and a gratuitous focus on music theory and pseudo-intellectualism have become pervasive. While the counter-movement of doubling down on “ignorant”, more streamlined music has also fostered, it’s become easy to be stuck between two extremes. As such, being able to find music that doesn’t stick to tropes has become increasingly difficult. Enter Exist, a progressive metal band that’s almost anti-prog. They take the intricacy of bands like Cynic and their predecessors in Death and combine it with sarcastic disrespect towards prog conventions. The end result is their sophomore release, So True, So Bound, and it’s a clever combination that is confusing in an intriguing way.

83 – Max Phelps Of Exist

In case the title wasn’t clue enough, this week we have Max Phelps of Exist, Defeated Sanity and Death to All (also ex-Cynic) as our guest! We discuss his creative process, touring with Gorguts, and of course, the upcoming Exist album So True, So Bound, which comes out this week! We also discuss new music from Origin, Bloodshot Dawn, Rings of Saturn, Vintersorg and more! We also discuss Fredrik Thordendal’s hiatus(?) from Meshuggah and Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry replacing him. Finally, we talk about how Spotify artist payments have been decreasing despite their financial growth. Enjoy!

Best of – Brutal Death Metal

Brutal death metal has the rare benefit of being exactly what it sounds like. The differences one would expect between “regular death metal” and “brutal death metal” are manifold and, by and large, pretty predictable: guitars are more downtuned; riffs are chunkier and more visceral; vocals are far deeper and even less intelligible; the whole nine yards. As far as subgenres go, it doesn’t exactly shake up its progenitor’s foundations by a relatively large amount, choosing instead to just take everything that makes death metal an already pretty brutal genre and crank that bad boy up to 11. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the ensuing auditory carnage is not for the faint of heart, but it is for anybody that feels like extreme metal just isn’t extreme enough yet. If you’ve ever felt that way—the grooves could be groovier, the riffs could be riffier, the blasts could be blastier, the gutturals could be gutturalier—then brutal death metal is the answer to all your prayers. So without further ado, let’s dive in to what our staff considers to the be the Best Of – Brutal Death Metal!

For Fans Of – Nova Collective

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.