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:
There’s just no stopping The Contortionist lately. They released the critically contentious Language earlier this year, went on tour with Periphery, Intervals, and TOOTHGRINDER, continued that tour as a headlining act with Intervals and Polyphia, and are currently on tour with Protest the Hero and The Safety Fire over in Europe.
All this and they still managed to find time to record a music video for “Primordial Sound” from their 2014 album!
One record overshadows all others when it comes to this week’s new releases but it was hardly the only album we reviewed in the middle week of September. This Week in Reviews after the jump.
Progressive deathcore act The Contortionist have descended upon North Carolina and have begun recording their third album, their first with new frontman Michael Lessard (above, also of Last Chance To Reason). Given their genre and location, it’s a pretty safe bet that the group will be recording with Jamie King at his The Basement home studio.
Here we are at the end of our fifth year at Heavy Blog. I remember at one point in high school (circa 2005-2006), I listened to Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet for my Valentine and thought death metal was unmelodic noisey garbage that tried way too hard to be offensive. I even wrote a rant about the matter on my MySpace blog, which served as a precursor for Heavy Blog. Embarrassing, I know. So why talk about it now?
I feel like if you look back on every year-end list I’ve done for this site (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), you can see an evolution take place from metalcore kid just getting his feet wet in the online metal community to someone who I feel is more well-rounded and respective of all genres. You won’t just be catching prog and djent, I assure you. This list has more diversity, and likely includes the heaviest albums of any list I’ve done before. This blog has some depth in that regard, as you can chart the taste of our writers as they change over the years. I like to think that’s pretty neat, and it allows for this site to grow and change with the genre we all associate with so closely. Thankfully, music taste is fluid, and I’m glad that there’s more and more music available every year for us to enjoy.
2013 was an insane year. I graduated college, landed my first job from of my major, and started living on my own. With so much going on, you may have noticed a bit of a dip in content once summer rolled around. That wasn’t a coincidence. Even with a 8-4 job, I still try to keep Heavy Blog afloat, though I’ve considered stepping down or closing our doors on more than one occasion as the stress got a little hard to handle. Who knows what 2014 will hold, but I do know that 2013 was unforgettable. I can’t believe it’s almost over.
So without further ado, here’s an arbitrarily numbered list of awesome albums from 2013. Remember: it’s okay to not like thing.
Disclaimer: I never know what it means when people say one band or one album is “better” than another. There’s no giant scoreboard in the sky that gives Necrophagist 150,000 Awesomeness Points and Barry Manilow negative 2,000,000 points. So for me these are the new releases (albums and EP’s) that brought me the most pleasure in 2013. You can argue about what bands are best but you can’t argue with me about what brings me pleasure. Chances are by this time next year I will be in love with a record from 2013 that’s not on this list because I wasn’t cool enough to know about it at the time.
Also I have two lists. One is of more established bands, the ones that came out on larger labels or that have a national or international following. The second is my “Great New Metal” bands, emerging acts that it’s my mission to help more people discover.
I hope you enjoy living in “The Golden Age of Metal” which I maintain is right fucking now!
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!
There are bands that tour incessantly, release new music every two years, and still never really gain a following or make a mark. Then there are bands that hardly ever tour, hardly ever release new music, and yet capture the imaginations of musicians and music lovers around the world.
Son of Aurelius is definitely in that second group. Aside from 2010’s The Farthest Reaches (Good Fight) and a five-song EP released as an addendum to that release and aside from an epic full U.S. tour with Wretched and Last Chance to Reason featuring a legendary set at the 2011 New England Metal and Hardcore Fest, the tech death world has been begging for more SoA. Now it looks like we’re finally going to get it.
How fitting it is for what quite possibly be the final Last Chance To Reason national tour (at least for the time being) is a familiar trek, with direct support from Evan Brewer, who toured with the band on his first ever solo tour a few years ago. Regularly contributing photographer Maclyn Bean was able to attend the trek’s opening night in West Chester, PA, featuring special guests Ever Forthright. Check out the photos after the jump.
One of my personal favorite bands Last Chance To Reason have one of the best albums of the year so far under their belts with Level 3. The album isn’t supposed to be out until August 6th, but the band have made the album available through Bandcamp! Stream the album below: