Heavy Blog’s Editors’ Picks: April 2016

We knew it was coming. April marks the beginning of spring release season, when the number of marquee albums starts going sky high and incredible albums are suddenly dropping left and right. And yet looking back at this past month it’s just utterly astounding how much amazing music came out even from the get-go. April 1 was a humongous day for releases, and it simply did not stop after that. Narrowing down this huge wealth of albums to a select few was nearly impossible, but thankfully we also have our “short”-list to include everything else we completely loved, all of which are included in our Spotify playlist for the month, which is embedded here and on our front page. And with that, let’s get to our editor picks for April!

What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To – 4/22/16

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.

Ihsahn – Arktis

If you randomly sampled this man’s career, especially if you took into account his long years with Emperor and his countless guest spots on other musicians’ music, you’d have no way of knowing what your sample would sound like. He has dealt with black metal, avant-garde, nordic prog, and many, many more genres. However, it is without a doubt that he is an artist rather than a random dabbler, possessing of an artistic direction that leaves a distinct mark on everything he records. His newest offering, Arktis, is no different.

Rapdfire Review: Krigsgrav – Waves of Degradation, Tombs – All Empires Fall

Have you ever heard an atmospheric black metal album? Whether it be from one of the many upstarts that released good-to-great albums last year, or from a genre stalwart like Wolves In The Throne Room or Burzum, it doesn’t matter. Have you heard one? If so, you’ve already heard Krigsgrav’s newest LP, Waves of…

Episode 22 – Hallowed Be Thy Cast

Not a lot of happenings this week, so we talk mostly about new music! Specifically, from Schammash, Fallujah, Amon Amarth and Ihsahn! There were a few happenings as well, like Evan Brewer of Entheos on why he left The Faceless, an interview with the Iranian metal band Confess, who were on trial for blashpemy, Riverside’s upcoming triple album, Kickstarter’s acquisition of subscription service Drip, and the important news item we embarrassingly forgot last week, the passing of Keith Emerson. Then we talk about festival culture, using music as a tool to focus, and our weekly balls deep segment on Iron Maiden!

Episode 21 – Hollow Years And Lyrical Pioneers

Episode 21! This week there’s a bunch of new music and bizarre happenings to talk about. New music from Leander, Cyclamen, Shokran (kind of), Otep and Eximperitus (Eximperituserqethhzebibšiptugakkathšulweliarzaxułum). Happenings include Rotting Christ’s temporary name change to be able to play in South Africa without offending religious sensibilities (Behemoth got off easy!), Iron Maiden’s ridiculous vehicular issues and some confusing “new” releases (Ghost Brigade and Vulture Industries) by Season of Mist. We also talk about an After the Burial interview, the upcoming Ihsahn album Arktis and the Skuggsja album that finally released. Then we go pretty deep on lyrical themes in metal!

Jørgen Munkeby of SHINING’s Guide To Playing Sax In Metal

jorgen sax guide

When I wrote my article on incorporating sax into metal a few weeks ago, I was not subtle in my praise for the man and the machine known as Jørgen Munkeby. As the individual behind Shining and the player responsible for so many of modern metal’s great sax solos, it would be near impossible to get far in discussing the instrument’s use in the format without landing squarely on him. So I was just a little bit more than flattered when Jørgen shared the post himself and praised it. I figured that would be the end of it, but I was wrong in the best possible way, because Jørgen took this whole thing one step further and contacted us out of the blue with a list of seven excellent tips he feels are crucial to any aspiring sax player who wants to doot some brutal-sounding shit.

The Saxophone: A Heavy Blog User’s Guide

saxamaphone

It seems that as more heavy and progressive bands seek to experiment and differentiate themselves from the herd, they’ve been turning more often to adding in outside influences and instruments, with jazz and sax being at the forefront, which, at face value, is great! Like any other tool though, you have to know how to wield and implement it properly or it simply doesn’t work, and that seems to be what we’re faced with currently: a glut of saxophone solos and parts in metal and prog that exist primarily for the novelty of hearing a saxophone in unexpected places rather than using them in ways that actively connect to and enhance the music around them. This isn’t so much a guide to music and bands that use sax particularly well or poorly (though I will use examples from time to time), but more so a crash course in what the instrument can actually do and some best practices for using it. School’s in session, and you can call me Professor Sax (please don’t actually do this; Mr. Sax will suffice).