Somewhere in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, a movement was brewing. An idea, a sound, a sensation had started to stretch its fingers into metal and to stir, creating new sounds and sensibilities. We are, of course, talking about the rise of metalcore. Whether you deem it a disaster or a miracle (or some other, saner, thing in between), it’s without a doubt that metalcore shaped the metal community during those years. Starting in 2003-4, the sub-genre erupted into fame with bands like Killswitch Engage, Atreyu, Shadows Fall and All That Remains enjoying commercial and musical success. The fans, and the money, were talking and they were asking for more.
Into this cauldron, many bands would later be introduced: some would disappear without anything to their name, while others would build on the foundations of metalcore to create something new. Many of them would take the influences present in melodic death metal and inject them into this scene, creating melodic metalcore. One of these bands, which has sadly been forgotten, is our topic for today’s post. Their name is (and in some ways, was) Mercenary. In the period time between 2004-2008, the band straddled the lines between death metal and metalcore, in many sense pre-shadowing a lot of the current trends in metalcore and helping to form the budding sub-genre of melodic metalcore. Let’s rewind and take a look back at the height of their career and the unique sound that they can still offer us.
On our first edition of the Heavy Pod Is Heavy Cast, editors and all round fine gents Noyan and Eden discussed how the metalcore genre had fallen out of the limelight, mentioning that the genre itself was maybe even dead. Now, this is not the first or last time that I will disagree with them and as a huge fan of the genre and all of its spin offs and subgenres, I felt like I needed to throw in my handful of change. 2015 is definitely not 2005, where Killswitch Engage, Unearth, All That Remains and As I Lay Dying reigned supreme; melodic metalcore I know, but we’ll get to that. You just have to look at the Sound Of The Underground tour packages “back in the day” to twig just how different the popular metal scene is today. No matter how hard mainstream metal is trying to piss me off by slapping the metalcore tag onto anything harsher than a Lady Gaga fragrance, I will continue to defend metalcore.
Have a quick look at this Alternative Press “Future of Metalcore” article and you’ll see why I felt so inclined to defend the genre. Beartooth, Motionless In White, Memphis May Fire. When did metalcore ever look and sound this manicured and maintained? No, I refuse to let this lot be the poster children for metalcore. Throw back to Converge, Botch and Poison The Well, twisting and shaping metallic hardcore into what it would eventually become, paving the way for the likes of Killswitch, God Forbid and the rest of the NWOAHM (essentially a who’s who of popular metalcore of the day). Most of these bands I grew up seeing on Headbanger’s Ball (the Jasta version) are now gone, hibernating or now a global brand spitting out solid, if forgettable albums (KsE, I am looking right at you). What’s left of this once vibrant genre then? Well, where should I start?
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:
I’ve heard the new album from metalcore masters Unearth, and I can say with the utmost confidence that it is their best album since The Oncoming Storm. The band has released a few tracks from the album, and now they’re streaming another at their MerchNow page. The song is called “Guards of Contagion”, and like the songs released before it, it absolutely crushes. Listen after the jump.
Listen to the first twenty seconds of ‘The Swarm’ and you would be forgiven for thinking that The Black Dahlia Murder had just dropped a surprise new track. Thankfully, the first new music from Unearth since 2011’s Darkness In The Light does not take long to remind everyone that, contrary to popular belief, the NWOAHM still lives on. Its hairline may have receded somewhat and the beer gut may be a bit larger but metalcore is still here and it’ll be damned if it doesn’t still have one last round in the chamber. Get some hair swirling, air guitar magic after the jump!
Code Orange Kids are now grown up and have declared themselves king under the name Code Orange, so the natural next step in their career would be to announce a huge tour, right? Right. Today the band took to Facebook to announce the month long trek across America they will be making with Twitching Tongues, and a slew of other bands as well, including a couple of our favorites, Nails! They were also kind enough to throw a new track our way, courtesy of Alternative Press. You can stream ‘My World’ over at AltPress’ website. Check out the tour dates below, and make sure to follow the key to find out who you will and will not see at your date.
Ronnie James Dio. Roll that name off your tongue, for it holds the stuff of legends. Dio is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the development of metal and heavy rock. From his time in Rainbow through his Black Sabbath years, Dio was one of the most prolific rock artists to have ever taken the stage. Countless artists grew up on his voice and peculiar antics. This writer managed to see him perform live with Tony Iommi, as part of their Heaven&Hell tour, and no eyes remained dry that night. When Dio passed away in 2010, the world of metal truly took a massive blow, losing a man that did not stop recording and performing even when he was battling cancer. Now, Rhino Records have gathered a tremendous number of artists to celebrate music from across this great man’s career. Names like Metallica, Russell Allen, Rob Halford, Corey Taylor and Tenacious D have all brought their considerable talents to the table in order to do justice with this giant among men. The end result? An electric ode to a great voice, a tour de force of a career spanning 40 years of heavy metal.
I’ve learned forever ago that you should never ever take anything written by Metalsucks/Stuff You Will Hate contributor Sargent D at face value, but his recent posting “Who are TEH BIG FOUR OF METALCORE??” has evidently stirred some serious discussion regarding which bands will take the informal crowning as The Big Four of Metalcore.
Yearly Philadelphia hardcore festival This Is Hardcore has just presented its final lineup for 2014, taking place from July 24th through the 27th.
Full disclosure: I really hate doing these lists. Actually, what I should say is I hate ordering these lists. Throughout the course of the year, these are the albums which have impacted me most, whether it be on an emotional level, intellectual level, or on a just plain enjoyment level. I really can’t say that I think any one of these albums is better than the other, because they’ve each played an equally important role on my impression of music in 2013.
I’ve been doing my best to prepare for this time of year by keeping a running list of albums I’ve enjoyed throughout the year, but unfortunately I can’t put 112 albums on my list. I’ll also admit that the publishing of year end lists on other metal media outlets has forced me to revisit a number of albums over the past few weeks, just to be sure there wasn’t an album I missed or didn’t quite “get”, and has also put an unspoken pressure on me to include albums that other prominent writers have deemed the best of the year. That being said, diversity (or is it variety?) is the spice of life, and one thing I need to realize is that we all as metal journalists have different tastes, and while there may be some overlap with the dreaded year-end lists, it’s not at all required. We are all individuals, our own entities, and one of the many beautiful things about music is the variety of interpretations and impacts it can have on each of us as individuals.
Inevitably, there will be a handful of readers who express their discontent with my list and every other Heavy Blog writers’ list in a threatening manner, and to those people I say: grow up. Make your own damn list, and enjoy it for yourself. I can guarantee you that I won’t agree with everything on your list, but I’m not going to think any less of you because we don’t share the same musical taste. Music is supposed to breed community, not hostility, and we should all just learn to appreciate each others’ individual tastes and have civil conversations about it, and perhaps in the process, experience some of the excitement of discovering a new band that tickles your musical fancy just right.
And thus ends my soapbox on the subject. Now, onto the list!