Heavy Blog Is Heavy’s Best Of series takes musical genres and categories and highlights our staff’s personal favorites. You can read more entries from this series here.
There are three possible reactions that fans have when their favorite, long dead bands reunite for a comeback album. On the far ends of the spectrum are the optimists and pessimists, the former completely certain that the comeback record with be a comeback classic and the latter convinced that the album will do nothing but diminish the band’s established legacy. Somewhere in the middle is realist, unsure of what effect age, side projects and the context of the band’s reunion may have had on the upcoming album. While we all felt one of these three ways about the following ten albums, we are now certain after listening to them that they not only represent our favorite musical comebacks, but some of the strongest albums of their release year and beyond. These ten bands took different approaches to crafting a winning formula that translated into an album mandatory to fans everywhere even when some thought that their heydays at come and gone. Head past the jump to see which bands we feel should dominate any discussion about reunion albums:
Arcturus are one of the first names that pop into one’s mind when avant-garde metal is mentioned. The brain-child of keyboardist Steinar “Sverd” Johnsen, the band has been home to many prominent artists in the Norwegian black metal scene, including Ulver, Mayhem, Borknagar, Emperor and Dimmu Borgir. All four of their previous releases are unique and regarded as hallmarks of the genre by many. Of course, when the band got back together to release a new album after 10 years of relative silence, expectations were high. Thankfully, Arcturian, Arcturus’s fifth studio album is just as ambitious and creative as their previous works. Many comeback albums after such a long period often fail to hit the mark and simply go to show that the band doesn’t have “it” anymore, but in this case, the band are boldly stating that they have “it” more than ever.
This is a great surprise! Norwegian avant-garde metal masters Arcturus are back from their decade-long slumber with new material! With the man with the heavenly voice, ICS Vortex (of Dimmu Borgir and Borknagar fame and with his own solo project) on vocals, Hellhammer (literally every black metal band) on drums and main songwriter Steinar Sverd Johnsen at the helm, the band is hitting full force with their new album Arcturian, which they claim will be their magnum opus. Well, they’ve released a new song titled “The Arcturian Sign”, so let’s see if that’s true.
Somewhere over the burning church, Dutch melodic/symphonic black metal outfit Carach Angren have set forth the first track from their upcoming fourth full-length record, both titled There’s No Place Like Home. Brutality mixes well with more melodic parts in this new single, so make sure you peep it before it disappears. Head on over the jump for the stream.
Some bands are as big as the genre they occupy. Their names are nearly synonymous with the style of their music and to name them is to invoke the strong points, and clichés, of said genre—Epica can certainly be counted in this category. Symphonic metal owes them a great debt as some of its biggest releases were created over the last ten years or so by this band. Epica are not only a name in themselves but also contain one of the most acclaimed artists of the genre: Simone Simons. In the face of this, do Epica turn to rely heavily on their strongest asset or is the focus spread around the members of the band, talented musicians in their own right?
Many contemporary metal bands, regardless of genre, are often found guilty of band worship in their material – too regularly one can hear the exact song that inspired a riff, too often a band tries too hard to be THAT BAND 2.0. Nexilva have broken the mould of paying direct homage to their musical heroes by — instead of copying or emulating — creating a record that drops in and out of genres and sounds, each page turning into a new wicked adventure. Eschatologies is full of evil, grooving death that fights tooth and nail for it’s place among it’s peers. And wins.
January started the year out with a lot of promise, with new releases from Indian, Alcest, and Periphery gaining quite a bit of attention around these parts. However, what floored us the most in the first four weeks of 2014 was the first-ever proper release from Chicago newcomers Warforged. Essence of the Land is an odyssey exploring death metal, black metal, and progressive metal influences that stunned a large number of the staff group. Opeth comes to mind with the band’s dynamic use of keyboards and acoustic guitars as cinematic gateways between stretches of technical riffing and powerfully melodic brutality, or perhaps Between the Buried and Me’s penchant for epic-length songwriting and weaving a larger picture over multiple tracks.
Essence Of The Land tells the twisted tale of a dread-inducing and brooding swamp and the unknown horrors that lie beneath its surface, making it one of those surprising death metal albums where the lyrics actually add a lot of atmosphere and weight to music. So much so, in fact, that the video accompaniment that provides visuals for ¾ of the EP contains the lyrics throughout, alongside footage of the band tearing through earth-shattering riffs.
At the heart of it, Warforged’s sound presents an assortment of progressive death metal influences that still manages to sound fresh and exciting, despite dredging the very bottom of the swampy sludge they strive to recreate. And honestly, what better way to start a new year than with a new band that are reinvigorating even one of the most well-trodden of sounds?
We spoke with the entirety of Warforged to not only get a look into the creation of one of 2014’s best releases, but to get a glimpse at what’s in store for the band’s future.
Victory Records have just done the unthinkable and signed the black metal band Erimha to their roster. This is especially odd coming from the label that have been shying away from “legitimate” metal acts and instead tends to sign more commercially viable scene/bro acts like Emmure, The Bunny The Bear, and Design the Skyline. What we’re talking here is a fanbase of kids with neon-colored mullets, ear gauges, and white dudes who have knuckle tattoos and think it’s okay to use the word “nigga” in reference to themselves. That label is now called home to a black metal band. That’s weird, right?
Starkill (formerly Massakren) are a symphonic black/melodic death metal band hailing from Chicago. Their sound can be described as a mixture of old Children of Bodom and Dimmu Borgir. They had an EP out under their previous name, but they got picked up by Century Media and now they’re about to release a full length titled Fires of Life under their new name. They’ve released a video of a song from said album titled “New Infernal Rebirth”. It’s quite fun, reminiscent of the old Bodom albums. You can check it out below. Fires of Life comes out on the 30th of April on Century Media. If you like oldschool Nordic metal, then it should be a treat. Also, you can check the band’s previous video for the title track of the album after the jump.
O hay, it’s The King Of Procrastination! I’ve been letting the world of music pass me by the past couple of months as I’m creating my website and writing my horror novel and almost let the top of the year list slip by me. Luckily, Riddick the Cat called me up yesterday and told me to get the hell to work with this because I’m a “better interest to him than the human he lives with.” So there’s that. But, why shall we be bound to doing a list in a multiple of five? “Nay,” says Deadite, “Let’s beat the system and do eleven top albums of the year!” So dark, edgy, and kvlt.