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…
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.
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.
Sydney, Australia’s Ouroboros are a technical death metal band who first arrived on the scene in 2011 with their debut album Glorification of a Myth. As with most tech death artists, that record placed a great deal of focus on guitar as they concentrated on melodic leads wrapped around intricate…
“Visualize” is an absolute monster of a track, blending the best things that modern, progressive metal has to offer. The names that ought to be conjured in your mind while we speak about this track are Persefone, Gods of Eden and their ilk. Right off the bat, you know what to expect: you have your intricate guitar riffs. You have your jazzy, weird-ass breaks. You have your excellent, complex drumming. But you also have amazing synths scattered above the guitars and serving a fantastic supporting role. More than an afterthought, they add a depth and a flair to the track, creating this neon-blue, sharp sensation which coalesces beautifully with the guitars. Head on over to one minute and thirty seven seconds for a beautiful bridge/solo from the guitars that works amazingly with the synths to get what I’m talking about.
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.
Making melodic progressive metal is hard. Progressive metal is already steeped deeply in melodic influences, which should be an easy starting point. However, dipping too much into these roots can lead your creation to move away from metal, losing its rough edge and sounding forced. So too with the other end: if you increase the heaviness and aggression, you often lose the progressive sense which was supposed to make your album interesting. Textures are the masters of this fine balancing act and one of the first bands to achieve it. No one has quite reached the same level of melodic dedication spliced with a progressive wildness that can erupt at any time. Well, no one except Binary Code.
The brainchild of Jesse Zuretti caught the community’s ear in 2009, with their debut Suspension of Disbelief, a refreshing take on what it means to record progressive metal today. That album was chock full of interesting ideas and compositions. However, in the seven years of (relative) silence, the scene has done quite a lot with itself: multiple Textures releases came and went in the interim and bands like A Sense of Gravity and Gods of Eden changed what we think and feel about the music and what it means. So, with Moonsblood coming out tomorrow, does Binary Code still have things to say or has the community outpaced their melodic, rich sound?
Every year there’s this one progressive metal band that suddenly delivers this completely fresh sound and changes the perception of what the genre can do. Last year it was Native Construct, before that A Sense Of Gravity, then Persefone, 2012 had Gods of Eden, and 2011 had The Odious. These bands all have a common narrative in that they both paid great respect to the core sound that is commonly associated with the label, but they also pushed it with creative influences and blended genres into their mix seamlessly. Cyborg Octopus are poised to do the same for 2016, and their debut Learning to Breathe is a brilliant exploration of styles and songwriting that delivers on several levels.
Welcome to “Beyond the Veil“! In this feature, its name (partially) taken from the Gods of Eden track, we’re going to delve into some theoretical aspect of the music we love in an effort to elucidate the behind-the-scenes workings at play, but in a largely jargon-free manner intended to be accessible to those who…
My fingers itch to start this article with yet another semi-apologetic defense of the use of sub-genres but I’ll resist that urge. By now, I’m sure most of you are aware of the way I approach such things and why I find them useful. If you’re not, head on over to my Taxonomy of Progressive Metal piece to get a good idea. Funnily enough (or not) we start here as well from Progressive Metal; in this case, we’re going to take a look at a vanishing category, a branch in the extensive history of the genre that, somehow, disappeared. That category is progressive death, a style which first flourished in the mid 90’s but was then swept away in favor of both revisionism and the laziness that permeates most human interactions. Instead of retaining its clearly distinct and unique attributes and standing out as another pillar within metal, it was somehow sublimated, swallowed into a category with which it had a few conjoining points, consumed like in a weird osmosis.