Due to the way we’ve decided to divide up the time zones, correspondence with an international audience from the humble southern continent of Australia often feels akin to looking into the past. Yet, despite this perceived futurism, Australian culture often trails its American and European counterparts by some distance. So it is that, while the northern thrash revival has come and (more-or-less) gone, the Australian metal scene is currently experiencing the biggest genre boom it has undergone since thrash metal originally emerged in the mid ‘80s. Back then, we brought our own quality acts to the fold, most notably in the form(s) of Mortal Sin and Hobbs Angel of Death, and the Allegiance in the ’90s. Yet, while the style had effectively remained dormant since then, the last five-to-ten years have seen an explosion in the amount of world-class thrash metal bands to have emerged from these southern shores.
Prepped and pumped from day one, armed with the knowledge of where the best food and spots were, we entered Poble Espanyol. The setlist promised to be stacked with some of my favorite acts and my expectations were high. I was worried about being disappointed but it was just a nagging voice in the back of my head; my spirit was frivolous and I allowed myself to imagine crazy scenarios of far fetched and perfect set-lists, incredible and soul lifting shows and what have you. Those rampant expectations were all met and exceed, as the second day proved to be one of the best musical experiences of my life. Venue, company, performance, crowds, bands, all combined in that perfect, harmonious way which is usually resolved for dreams and erupted on to the scene. But let us start in the beginning and chart this journey towards the end, an unbelievable catharsis at night.
It’s hard to believe that there was a time before the steady stream of blasé lyric videos, but at the turn of the millennium, music video purveyor MTV had to “bring back” the music video. The artform was essentially replaced by trashy reality television and cartoons by the late 90s, but eventually came MTV2 – a quality sequel (well, for a few years) nobody really deserved. So I guess it only made sense that they also resurrected their metalhead favorite from the 80s and 90s soon thereafter – Headbangers Ball. After all, this era had a ton to offer. The NWOAHM movement was all the rage, metalcore was hitting its stride, and melodeath was pretty much the coolest shit ever. Given that the combo of Kazaa and my dial-up setup wasn’t doing me any good – true story: I waited days (plural) to download Meshuggah’s Chaosphere only to find out that some jerk just relabeled of Neurotica tracks (some truly evil bastards out there), this couldn’t have been better timing for a dude who had recently gotten his license and began to fall in love with hanging out at the record store – the internet, for me, sucked for digging up new tunes.
Black metal is one of metal’s most mysterious and plentiful subgenres. It finds new ways to reinvent itself every few years and seems to be sprouting out of every country nowadays. Though the genre seems ubiquitous today, it didn’t start out that way. A handful of bands in the early 80’s started all the tropes that metalheads are so fond of today. While the genre’s Satanic imagery, punk and thrash influence, or ethereal nature can’t be solely credited to a single artist, one aspect can: the vocals. Black metal’s classic screeches were the invention of one Satanic Satanic teenager in 1984.
Edguy’s Monuments does a pretty great job as far as compilations go. Not only does Edguy include an EP’s worth of new material, they also include a DVD of live performances, and a never before released track from their classic days when they weren’t the German hard rock superstars that they are today. Hardcore fans like myself will find many reasons to pick this thing up and new listeners will find this release a great starting place for Edguy. Monuments showcases the power metal/hard rock masters perfectly in currently forms and presents a unique chance to look back at the band’s impressive career.
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.
Those of you who like controversial topics, we’ve got them this week! Jay-Z gaming the RIAA with Sprint to make his latest album go platinum, Spotify creating “fake music” to game their own algorithms for profit (read this article!), Soundcloud laying off 40% of their staff, and the all-female music festival in Sweden. These take up a good bit of our time. We also discuss metal though! The new Archspire song (we manage to make this controversial too), new music from Stargazer, Contaminated, and Blind Guardian’s new live album. Speaking of live, Eden went to Be Prog! My Friend and somehow thinks we care about his adventures there, so let’s listen to him talk about Leprous, Mike Portnoy playing Dream Theater songs with Haken, Anathema, Jethro Tull (lol), Devin Townsend, Animals as Leaders, etc. We then reflect on how well Vildhjarta’s Masstaden has aged. Finally we discuss something actually fun, a.k.a. Spider-Man: Homecoming! Also Ratchet & Clank, I guess. Enjoy!
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.
Eden is away colonializing, so we have fellow writer and regular substitute-Eden Ahmed back on this week! We have some really interesting discussions. We discuss how Jay-Z’s new album has a poor business model with its Tidal exclusivity. Funny thing is, in the day between the recording and release of this podcast, he managed to put his foot in his mouth and decided to release the album for free for non-Tidal subscribers! The salt during the episode is still interesting. We then discuss a questionable Hatebreed shirt, and the Nevermore stand-in Dead Season and their awesome new album Prophecies. Then we continue the deep segment on Devin Townsend, discussing Ziltoid, Deconstruction, Z2 and Transcendence. Spoilers: Ahmed is a MASSIVE Devin fan. Finally, we go into an extended freeform discussion about tunings in tech death which goes off the rails in many ways. Along the road we talk about the upcoming Wintersun album, the recently released Igorrr album, Andy McKee and more. Enjoy!
I’m back, and so is Eden, so we have a normal episode for once! And it’s a glorious trainwreck. We talk about new music, including Myrkur, The Arusha Accord, Akercocke, Leprous, Igorrr, Fractal Universe, ZETA, The Contortionist, The Faceless, and Queens of the Stone Age. Also, Gene Simmons of KISS trying to trademark the metal horns. We have an extended discussion on bands appropriating spiritualism and eastern philosophy and then do the first part of a deep segment on Devin Townsend. Specifically Strapping Young Lad and Devin Townsend Band. This one’s a wild ride, so enjoy!