Oddland – Origin

Oddland are a bit of an oddball (heh) in the gamut of progressive metal. Rising from the fertile grounds (for metal, at least) of Finland, they garnered quite a bit of hype with scene insiders. Their The Treachery of Senses (2012) was an interesting take on the darker, Tool influences that have been running strong through the scene for more than a decade now. However, with only one album and then a prolonged silence, fans and critics were unable to fully flesh out a firm idea of what the band was about; the album certainly sounded great, but what was the approach behind it all? Luckily, Origin marks 2016 as the year where the gaps in the Oddland tale are finally filled in. The album builds firmly on the strata of dark progressive but also gives us further insight into what Oddland want to bring to table, what they want to modulate and very within the scene.

What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To – 6/3/16

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.

Sacred Geometry – Mapping Metal’s Connection With the New Age

A month or so ago, I wrote a post titled “The Occult in Modern Day Metal”. In it, underneath countless of apologies for the simplifications I was about to present the readers, I took a brief look at how the occult has lent words, images, ideas and themes to the metal genre. Charting three main movements, I attempted to offer an initial direction for asking questions, a jumping point for something much more extensive. Perhaps where I’d left the most gaps was with the last part; the post was getting long, the hours were getting late and the subject matter was growing more complex. This should come as no surprise to those versed in the source material itself (and my writing/sleeping habits, if we’re being honest). You see, that final part dealt with the New Age and its ties to progressive metal. The thing is, however, that New Age is one of the most loosely defined, scholarly debated and impossible to understand spiritual movements to have ever existed. It’s right up there with Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Swedenborg-ism (I swear that’s a real thing, you can Google it) and other obscure, esoteric belief systems.

Heavy Rewind – Falling Into Infinity

Once upon a time, there was a decade called the 90’s. During it, or so the legend goes, culture was preoccupied with the breaking down of things, with stark realization that the world which past generations had been promised would not come to be. In the east, the hazy dream of Sovietism, always tinged with the darkness of reality, had just collapsed. In the west, war and economic distress was the rule of the day. In music, all of this was expressed in song. Grunge, nu metal, death metal, harsh noise, dark rap and more were all birthed in the cultural fires which made the 90’s go.

Progressive metal, often deemed a “brighter” genre by forgetful generations comparing it to today’s heavier arrangements, was also informed by these trends. It dealt mostly with mental breakdown and disease, social disaffection or escapism, preferring the technicality and promise of musical alchemy to the realities of current music. Thus, we have Falling Into Infinity. What was to be Dream Theater’s break-away moment, their capitalization on the name they had made themselves with previous releases, ended up as a failure, commercially and critically. While the band’s opinion has always been unclear, with some voices lauding it while others claimed malicious influence and pressure from the label, it is certain that the fans reacted badly to some of the more approachable tracks.

Haken – Affinity

Calling the past back into the present is a tricky endeavor. In music, it can often lead to the opposite of what a band intended, leaving their music derivative rather than innovative. However, for those bands who manage to skillfully reach back to bring some part of what made past…