Metal and science fiction clash along various cultural axes. Their marriage begins with tone; both have a penchant for the wildly grandiose and imaginative personas, for personality writ large across a vast canvas. The juxtaposition continues along more “meta” lines, with both being adopted (or perhaps relegated to) the “geek”…
One of the things I love about having the opportunity to review albums is checking out bands that are just gaining a foothold beyond their local scene. Greensboro, NC metalheads, Undrask, are one of those bands I probably wouldn’t have learned about if not for having a copy of this album slid over to me by the Heavy Blog editors—but I’m glad it did.
Editor’s note: welcome back to our Heavy Blog Guest List feature where we give some of the bands we covered (or just adored) in 2016 a chance to publish their own Top 10 Albums of 2016. Today, we have A Sense of Gravity, a band whose praises we’ve sung relentlessly over the last two years or so. Fresh off their release of the brilliant “Atrament”, we’ve invited these Seattle locals to share with us what albums moved them in 2016. Below is their unedited list!
Ok. News time. New stuff from Pain of Salvation, Metallica, Cyclamen, Benighted, August Burns Red, Protest the Hero. Shining are doing a Patreon, Dream Theater an Images and Words tour. Blood Music are going legit. The piracy/community site What.cd is dead. Keep of Kalessin are involved in a pyramid scheme somehow? The Faceless’s debut Akeldama is 10 years old. And there’s this AMAZING avant-garde black metal thing, Hypnosophy by Aenaon. Real cool. Enjoy! Also read our editorial on edginess.
We make much ado about cohesion over here at Heavy Blog; it’s a quality that often separates good albums from great one, as well-made music transcends tracks and becomes an album. However, whether it wasn’t possible due to lack of ability or to the circumstances surrounding an album’s release, it’s possible to have great albums without it. Take Painted in Exile’s long awaited album, The Ordeal. It is a progressive metalcore release in a style that has fallen out of fashion in the years we have been waiting for it, calling back to the heyday of Between the Buried and Me’s Colors and The Great Misdirect. Unlike those albums, however, The Ordeal is more far-ranging, almost scattered in its approach to variation and growth throughout the release. The result is a challenging and borderline confusing album which, somehow, still manages to be endearing and moving.
Even a cursory glance of our biweekly “What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To” posts (last week’s update here) will reveal that there is a great deal of variety among our staff’s musical tastes. Due to this, we brainstormed the idea of “Playlist Swap,” another biweekly segment that takes place…
As in everything, the trajectory of global culture has affected the ways in which we perceive and consume metal. While we won’t have the time to go in depth on concepts like “the West”, “globalism” and “cultural appropriation”, it’s safe to say that metal is too often viewed with a Western-tinged lens. Thus, Europe (western/northern Europe, that is) and the US are often viewed as the focal points of the community and, sometimes, as the only grounds in which events worth consider occur. However, the reality is far from that and is much more positive: metal, like any cultural community which has, is or will one day thrive, is a global phenomenon.
Sometimes you discover that one band that seemingly comes out of nowhere and blows your mind. Montreal-based prog metal outfit Fractal Cypher have done just that for me. As such, I feel obliged to share the love. Do you want to like Dream Theater but wish they had a more modern sound? Do you love modern prog but feel like it’s missing that old school heart? Well, these guys have got you covered. Their recent release The Human Paradox combines shredding and extreme metal elements with that cheesy sound from the 90s for an experience that just works.
Up until now, seeing the Twelve Step Suite live was a distant dream; even when Portnoy was still in Dream Theater, chances of this being played from start to finish were slim for a variety of reasons. However, it seems that, like in all good myths, in death lies rebirth; Portnoy has thus far confirmed a series of performances of the Suite, in festivals around the world. One of those festivals is Be Prog! My Friend in Barcelona, which we will be attending as you might remember. The drummer will be joined by a as yet unannounced, progressive supergroup. We should get our first glimpse of these performers in February, when they first take to the stage as The Shattered Fortress.
Eden’s back! This means we get to talk about stuff like Tidal, other streaming services, this article about Opeth (which gets us pretty salty), the breakup of Bolt Thrower, Portnoy playing the 12 step suite he wrote for Dream Theater, inconsistencies in promos labels send to us, then new music or news from bands like Dark Tranquillity, Downfall of Gaia, Oathbreaker, Alcest, Metallica, A Sense of Gravity, the DOOM OST by Mick Gordon, Plini, Watchtower, Riverside, Pain of Salvation, Mithridatic and Venom Prison. Finally we talk about Elvenking’s underrated The Pagan Manifesto. Enjoy!