Hey! Listen to Mystery Weekend!

Considering the prog metal trajectory they’ve been on for just shy of a decade now, it’s easy to forget that Canadian stalwarts Protest the Hero started out their career as a punk band. Of course, the punk roots are still intermittently noticeable throughout their post-Kezia discography — take the verses in “Spoils”, for instance — but for the most part, it’s plainly apparent that the band have comfortably adapted to a more technical, progressive sound over the years. In light of this, it’s actually somewhat surprising in retrospect that it took until 2017 for a more punk-oriented side project to arise from the band, but we’re now presented with Mystery Weekend, a three-piece featuring vocalist Rody Walker and drummer Mike Ieradi from Protest alongside guitarist/bassist Dan Hay.

Stepping Stone: Emmure // Felony

This post probably seems way out of place among the many pieces I’ve written for Heavy Blog. But for anyone that knows me, bands like Emmure comprised the bulk of my high school listening, and I threw down hard during their set at Warped Tour 2010. That same year marked the peak of my adoration for “-core” music, though, as I started gravitating more towards the old school metal bands that my friend Mark would show me during lunch. My iPod started filling up with songs like “Dead but Dreaming” by Deicide rather than “Dead but Dreaming” by Carnifex, and before I knew it, I was another metal elitist scoffing at the very thought that Emmure used to be one of my favorite bands. Thankfully, I’ve matured quite a bit since then; not to the point where I’d write an “In Defense Of” post for Emmure, but enough to ignore any news updates about the band rather than leaving an unproductive shitpost in the comments section (“lol, binary code metal, amirite???”). And as I saw updates on their latest album Look at Yourself, it made me reminisce about my old listening habits and prompted me to revisit what used to be my favorite record of theirs: Felony. The result was the following nostalgia-ridden Stepping Stone for a band I view as both one of the worst and most important bands that defined the trajectory of my growth as a metal fan. It was my full intention going into this to be as objective and honest as possible, and I hope this will read as a fair critique of one of metal’s most polarizing bands.

Iron Reagan – Crossover Ministry

Iron Reagan is made up of the singer and bassist from Municipal Waste, Darkest Hour’s old drummer, and DRI’s Crossover DNA. Then again, if you’re at all familiar with the thrash revival scene then you probably already know that about this band. And you can probably take a healthy guess about what their latest album on Relapse, Crossover Ministry, sounds like. All hints of predictability aside this is a rollicking throwback to the heyday of thrash when bands like Testament, Exodus, Forbidden, and so many others were as likely to be found shredding guitars and skateboards as digging themselves out of the pit.

Die Choking – Taking Grindcore in an Artistic New Direction

grindcore faces yet another renaissance as it moves further into this new territory, driven by bands such as Ed Gein, Full of Hell, and Column of Heaven, where it is almost the most coveted form of artistic expression in extreme music. For these acts’ aesthetic, poetry and more weave into their frightening sonic assaults, marking a strikingly human approach to a genre that once sat so far out of boundaries it was almost untamable. And, finding their place in this new wave of artsy-fartsy (said with all the love in the world) grind band’s is Philadelphia’s own Die Choking, a band who prides themselves on their relentless blend of death metal, grindcore, and crust leanings.

Sunlight’s Bane – The Blackest Volume: Like All The Earth Was Buried

Blackened hardcore is the pumpkin spiced coffee of extreme music. It’s seasonal and has become evocative of a movement, much like the over priced, sickly sweet beverage. Unfortunately, much like coffee fanatics, extreme music nuts don’t all band round blackened hardcore with the gusto they might display for say, post black metal. “It’s too obvious”, “it’s too derivative”, they may cry. Well, fuck ’em. If one cannot appreciate a twisted, cutting dose of blasts and low register riffs then one can go fornicate with their own damn self. And so there is Sunlight’s Bane: the antidote for seasonal commercialism and everything else probably wrong with the world.

Hey! Listen to Vardagshat!

Sweden’s Vardagshat don’t fuck around. Sharing many members from the fantastic Totem Skin, Vardagshat take a sleeker and simpler approach – play loud and fast crust. They don’t spoil their sound by chucking it into the blender with five other totally unrelated genres, but instead follow the lead of fellow…

Every Time I Die – Low Teens

After so much time (let’s be honest, 20 years is a long time for a rock band), our expectations for a band change. On one end of the spectrum you have bands like Metallica, suffering from intense overreaction (both good and bad) with every release since ReLoad. On the other, bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan consistently release quality material, but fans and critics lull into indifference because it’s business as usual. In this writer’s opinion, Every Time I Die have been cruising on this end of the spectrum for the entirety of this decade, and that’s just fine; but admittedly, there’s a point where this par for the course becomes a bore. Buffalo’s finest already have one of the most consistent discographies of any modern hardcore band, and they appear to have done it all, and most importantly, done it on their own terms. From humble punk rock beginnings, to mild enough success to warrant touring with Ozzfest, to Guitar Hero pseudo-stardom, to a sort of reinventing of their own sound, to refining that sound with “wild experiments” and “throwback” sounds, what’s left for a band to do?

Teethgrinder – Nihilism

For all of it’s misgivings and basic fuckery, 2016 has been kind to fans of extreme music. Whatever the fetish, lovers of heavy/nasty/fast/loud shit have been utterly spoiled with grind, doom, sludge and death. Everything in between too. Nihilism, the second full length from Dutch party violence posse Teethgrinder, doesn’t necessarily sit well in any of these genres because it flirts and fucks with them all. No avant-garde, no gimmicky frills and no masters. Falling just short of the best of the year because of individual hair splitting sessions doesn’t mean this isn’t a fantastic outburst of angry, rasping noise.