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!
I really enjoy some good symphonic elements and occult references in a band’s music. The former, especially, is a favorite of mine. Ever since I heard Metallica and Dream Theater and Dimmu Borgir use live orchestras in their music, I’ve been a fan of incorporating the element into a band’s studio music. That’s…
So, what exactly do we look for in 2016 when we try and ascertain whether a progressive metal is worthy? We can gather up a list by seeing how “Skylines” avoids the most common pitfalls. First and foremost then is that bloated tendency I mentioned above. Too many tracks within progressive metal are simply further iterations on what we already know of a band’s sound. Unisons are arranged a bit differently but are still heavily relied on, ad infinitum, for example. However, perhaps the most egregious examples of this lie with vocalists; in progressive metal albums, the vocal variety which characterized earlier phases of the genre has all but disappeared. This is perhaps the fault of the great (yes, the great) James LaBrie and his somewhat monotone (yet still brilliant) work with Dream Theater. His cohesive style, which favors a certain emotional range over diversity, is everywhere.
A few years back, I wrote a piece on the negativity towards extended range guitars in metal. You can find that piece here. The extended range guitar, which is loosely defined as anything that has more strings/frets/range than your average 6-string-24-fret-standard-scale guitar. We all know the deal. Four years ago, with the peak of djent and generally a new strain of progressive metal, extended range guitars were emerging in the mainstream of metal. Of course, just like any other change in the metal scene, a large amount of people reacted rather negatively to this. There was a portion of the scene that embraced this, and that lead to a variety of creative and innovative bands like Native Construct (8 strings), Dissipate (9 strings), Coma Cluster Void (10 strings) and so many more. After these years, are people more accepting of the movement now? What changed? Let’s take a look at it.