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.
As is typical of these updates, there are a number of inclusions of new releases that have received the HBIH stamp of approval via positive reviews. And So I Watch You From Afar‘s Heirs, Eidola‘s Degeneraterra, Faith No More‘s Sol Invictus, Arcturus‘ Arcturian, Leprous‘ The Congregation and Veil of Maya‘s Matriarch are all albums considered to be some of the strongest releases from 2015 thus far. Additionally, editors Nick and Eden have been spinning the forthcoming Jaga Jazzist album Starfire, and have been in sonic euphoria because of over the course of this past week. Expect a review in the next few weeks from Nick explaining the genius of both JJ and Starfire. Finally, there are a couple inclusions of the classic Refused album The Shape of Punk to Come, which should serve as a reminder that the Swedish post-hardcore giants are preparing to release Freedom, their first album in almost two decades. Read about the album’s details and preview the lead single “Elektra” here.
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!
Head past the jump to see which records have been receiving regular rotation on our headphones, stereos and turntables:
More and more European progressive bands are making their way overseas to North America and we couldn’t be happier. Last year, Heavy Blog is Heavy had the privilege of sponsoring the first ever US tour for Norwegian progressive giants Leprous [photos, video]. This time, we were proud to welcome the UK’s Haken on their very own run in a good handful of cities. Alongside, the New York youths in Next to None were there to delight crowds with their carefree and boyish charms. Not only are they extremely talented for being 16 to 17 years old, former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy can proudly say his son, Max Portnoy, drums for the band.
Grab a recap of both shows below, as well as two sets of lovely photos from photographers Kyle Gaddo and Nick Budosh.
While concept albums are almost a staple of progressive metal, most bands only commit to that idea lyrically and not musically. It used to be more common in the older days of the genre with bands like Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation, but it’s admittedly difficult to write music that can be developed over the course of an entire album as a single piece. Enter Native Construct, a group of students from the Berklee College of music (just like Dream Theater). Spearheaded by guitarist Myles Yang, Quiet World is their debut, and it manages to not only have great individual tracks, but those tracks also come together and flow with each other with masterful ease. Spanning many genres, boasting a style of composition both classical and metal, Quiet World is an instant prog metal classic.
I’ve been waiting for this album for 3 years. When they posted their playthrough video of a demo version of “Chromatic Aberration” 3 years ago, I was immediately hooked on this band consisting of Berklee students called Native Construct. Now, lo and behold, the album is done and they’ve posted a playthrough video of a full track titled “The Spark of The Archon”, and my, it’s some delicious prog goodness.
I’ve had the displeasure of mentioning, several times as well, that I find metalcore in general to be pretty stale. Most of the interesting releases from the genre are by bands that no longer exist or are so far in the past (or what passes for a past in this online age) as to be distant memories. However, eulogizing an entire genre is obviously a bad idea and God Plays Dice are here to remind me why that is.
Blending a very straight forward metalcore approach to chugging along with interesting solos and an overall non-standard song structure, the bands excellent but albeit short EP Martingale is a really great example of what more can be done with the metalcore foundation. Head on over the jump for your first listen!
I love border crossings and I love finding out about new bands that come seemingly out of nowhere. So I was pretty excited when I first listened to VOLA‘s recent debut, Inmazes. What is this album like? This album is like if Meshuggah decided to cover Karnivool or if Opeth suddenly took a note from Caligula’s Horse. So yes, loads of vocals, djent influences on the guitars and an overall emotional capacity that is both fresh and intriguing. Head on over the jump right now for your first listen!
If you’ve been paying a minuscule iota of attention to the online progressive rock/metal scene within the past three years you’ve no doubt heard the name Plini. If not, it is not too late to start your journey into the most playful, articulate, and uplifting musical world this side of Steve Vai and CHON. The fittingly titled The End of Everything marks the final chapter in the musical mastermind’s EP trilogy, succeeded by Other Things and Sweet Nothings. Arguably the most defined and ambitious of the three, The End of Everything is rounded out by a cast of astonishingly talented musicians, including Marco Minneman on drums, Simon Grove (The Helix Nebula) on bass, Luke Martin on piano, and even Plini’s own father.
Band photo by Ofir Abe
It’s been almost a year since I’ve started writing for Heavy Blog and in that time, I’ve brought you a few tastes of my local scene here in Israel. It’s not the largest scene or one that’s enjoyed widespread recognition, but it has its strengths: sporting a host of young bands, there are many live shows and the word is starting to spread abroad as well. Riding on the success enjoyed by Orphaned Land, the most successful metal band to come out of Israel, many smaller groups have toured the Europe route.
One of the least well traveled bands however are also one of the best. They are Distorted Harmony and their brand of modern metal infused with progressive touches is addictive to say the least. We’ve covered their album but I felt like they could benefit from a closer resolution. And so, I present to you a joint feature: I got the chance to talk to Yoav Efron, the man behind the keys, and Guy Landau, the wizard at the guitar AND to see the band live. What follows is a review of that live show, where the band played both their albums back to back, interspersed with our interview. Head on over the jump!
Remember the myth of Sisyphus, the man condemned to spend eternity pushing a huge rock up the hill then watching it fall back down each night? Now there’s a Sisyphian brand of metal emerging from the Pacific Northwest. We’ll push the rock back up the hill after the jump.
Obscure as he is, Ron Jarzombek is often revered as a progressive metal legend. His body of work — which includes critically acclaimed acts Watchtower and Spastic Ink — has helped influence the wave of technically-minded musicianship in metal since the 80’s, being cited as a catalyst for bands such as Dream Theater and Death. Jarzombek continues making a case for furthering musical theory and technique with his latest project Blotted Science, which he shares with drummer Hannes Grossmann (ex-Obscura, ex-Necrophagist) and bassist Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse).
The outfit has been on the backburner for some time, last seeing movement during the album cycle for their 2011 effort The Animation of Entomoloy, which saw the band scoring sequences from bug-themed horror movies with their oddly unique style of progressive and instrumental death metal. Now the band have solidified plans to record a follow-up in December, for a 2015 release, closing a much too long four-year gap.