Winter’s Sun: The Waning Career of Jari Mäenpää

Set stage: 2004, Finland. Former Ensiferum frontman Jari Maenpaa releases his debut semi-solo album under the name Wintersun. Featuring a unique blend of power metal, prog, folk, symphony and black metal, this powerful album is met with wide acclaim. Two years later, the recording process for the follow-up begins, with a release date of 2007. The follow-up releases in 2012, and is split into two, with the second part being promised for later in the year. Five years later, the follow up is no longer coming, and Jari announces a new project with basically the same line-up. What the hell happened? Let’s take a look.

Heavy Blog Guest List – Jesse Zuretti of Binary Code’s Top 10 Metal and Non-Metal Albums of 2016

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. Binary Code have had an eventful 2016, to say the least. After releasing their first full-length in 7 years, the impressive Moonsblood, the band hit the road across North America for much of the rest of the year with fellow prog-heads Leprous and Earthside. In spite of all of that though, Binary Code founder and guitarist Jesse Zuretti found plenty of time to stay on top of the goings-on in metal and elsewhere this year and eagerly wrote up his top ten metal and non-metal albums for us, which you can find after the jump!

Heavy Blog Staff’s Top Ten Albums of 2016

With our general list for 2016 out of the way, we can now shift the focus from our aggregate opinion to individual ones. Both outlooks have their own merit; the former provides us with an overview of our year in music. However, the latter shines a light on something we’re extremely proud of and that’s the varied and eclectic nature of our staff these days. We used to have a very certain type of music associated with Heavy Blog and while we still have a long way to go, we feel like we’ve done a good job at expanding our palettes and the representation of different kinds of music and metal in our staff. The lists below reflect that; you’ll find black metal, avant-garde, technical thrash metal, hip hop, rap, noise, ambiance, post metal and rock, melodic death metal and much more throughout these lists.

Allegaeon – Proponent for Sentience

The proliferation of a metal band is a clear sign of its growing popularity, but it could also be a reason for apprehension regarding its music’s quality. On the other hand, one can consider the longevity of a given band as an indication of quality, but that would only cast a shadow of zealous snobbery and faux-refinement. Truth is, quality in music is more likely to be a function of countless random things including, but not limited to, personal taste. There are countless examples of bands exploding onto the international scene with superb debuts only to fizzle away later and become weaker shadows of themselves. On the other hand, there are bands who start off strong but are a work in progress in terms of finding their own sound and standing out from the hordes; Colorado’s Allegaeon is one fine example of the latter.

EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Hear A Brand New Song From Veilburner!

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…

*prognotes – Fleshgod Apocalypse’s King

Welcome to another edition of *prognotes! We hinted this was coming when we looked at a few Fleshgod Apocalypse album covers, and today we’re going to be diving deep into their stellar 2016 release King. Before delving into the individual tracks, we should take a look at the overall concept of the album. Each track is from the point of view of a different member of the royal court, and to see why that’s the case here are a couple of interview excerpts with pianist/orchestrator Francesco Ferrini and lead vocalist/guitarist Tommaso Riccardi respectively:

“[We] wanted a strong characterization for each character involved in the story, so we started from the idea of writing specific songs for each one… Each [character] represents, metaphorically, a different aspect of human nature… In a world that runs so fast, the King is an ideal carrier for strong values that humanity around him lost track of. Some of these values might appear old-fashioned, even outdated somehow, but nowadays, there’s too much left behind in the name of ‘progress.’ ” F.F. (newnoisemagazine)

“All the other characters in the court represent the fears that can lead us to make everything worse” T.R. (decibel)

A Gift to Artwork: Fleshgod Apocalypse

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally back with another edition of A Gift to Artwork, and today we’re looking at three records from none other than Fleshgod Apocalypse. We’ll be moving through chronologically, beginning with their sophomore effort Agony from 2011. The record is a concept album dealing with the evil inherent within mankind, and how the behaviours which stem from this can keep mankind within a perpetual state of agony. For an example at what kind of evils they’re discussing on the album, one need not look any further than the track listing to get a taste for it.

Vainaja – Verenvalaja

Somewhere, in darkest Finland, three men have been busy stirring the doom metal cauldron. Stirring it with reckless disregard for what their experiment will do to any who lend their ears to it. Total. Fucking. Evil. That’s what’s been brewed up in that thick, crusty metal container. Vainaja are conjurers of the wickedest type; their penchant for the diabolical and the devilish coming to boiling point on this release.