If a poster was created of famous devil-worshippers then Aleister Crowley’s face would no doubt be near the front and center. Despite not actually being a Satanist, Crowley’s “wicked’’ deeds placed him in league with the Dark Lord in the eye’s of the public back in his heyday. However, he was a practitioner of Thelema, a spiritual philosophy of self-empowerment that’s often lumped in with the glorification of evil much like Satanism has been throughout the years. And like old Beelzebub, Crowley and heavy metal fit together like a hand in glove, and his influence in heavy music can be traced all the way back to the genre’s earliest years.
The self-dubbed “Massachusetts Regressive Metal” foursome are back at it again after their release of the debut EP First Batch earlier in the year, which we had the pleasure of premiering as well. If you’ve been enjoying the EP so far (and if not, why not? It’s four bucks on…
With Heavy Blog having changed the kind of content we publish and how we publish it, we’ve decided to retire our recurring Unmetal Monday column in favor of more ongoing/mercurial coverage of unmetal genres like indie rock, alternative, EDM, and more. One of the side effects of this is that we no longer had a central place to write about new music and albums from these kinds of artists/bands in a more informal way – things we might want to talk about but not necessarily in long-form. In light of that and our tradition of combining certain metal releases into groups to form “Rapidfire Reviews,” we’ve established this semi-regular column to take three recent or upcoming releases from the world of “indie” in the pejorative sense and offer some quick takes on them. In our latest Indie Rapidfire Roundup, contributor Mike McMahan and editors Nick Cusworth and Scott Murphy offer their thoughts on three very different, yet all well-anticipated albums: La Sera’s Queens, Nicolas Jaar’s Sirens and Preoccupations self-titled debut.
Since these once trailblazers, a band who formed an entire genre underneath their influence, have turned to retrospection, the issues of meaningful repetition echo throughout their two previous releases. And now these issues thunder on in their newest effort, Sorceress, third of the “post-growl” Opeth (or fourth, if you’re someone who includes transitions within their phenomena). With a clearly stated backwards gaze, an intentional and meditated imitation of trendsetters at its basis, Sorceress simply cannot be understood as anything other than a further data point in the age old pursuit after the meaning and nature of inspiration.
The wait is over. The release date for Opeth’s latest, Sorceress, is almost upon us; and with it, the latest round in the controversy that has dogged them for three albums now. “What happened to the death growls?” “Why aren’t these guys heavy anymore?” “Opeth sucks now.” These are not opinions that I personally share, as I’m huge fan of Pale Communion. That said, Heritage is certainly not their best record, or even one of their top 5. In fact, it may even be their weakest. No shame there, given the ridiculous quality of their complete discography. Time will tell how successful and well-regarded Sorceress is, though early indications are that your opinion on Sorceress will likely mirror your opinion on Pale Communion. The two tracks released in advance, the title track and “Will O’ The Wisp” certainly strongly suggest this.
But they aren’t the first band to release a record that has the fans howling with rage.
Doom metal is currently undergoing a dynamic, explosive proliferation, where you’d like to call a revival or not. Now is the time to try and understand this vector before it races far away from understanding into the endless realms of modern music. Let’s dive in.
Something is a-buzzing within the progressive stoner community. We’re barely past the half way mark and the number of great albums released in the genre is steadily increasing. In light of such a process, the definitions of the genre are being challenged, as is only natural; in times of such rapid expansion is when sub-genres are born. From the slower, smoke-drenched Boss Keloid, through the more progressive oriented Illudium, right up to the all together hectic Tardive Dyskinesia, progressive stoner metal is beginning to splinter. However, just as important to this process is a clearly defined center, an essence from which the rest of these experimenters can draw. Where should one look for such a center? How do you even define it?
Luckily, the work of the righteous is often done by others and Lady Luck has mercifully rid us of our conundrum. Through the ways of the inbox, we have been presented with Family’s Future History and within it, we have found our center. The album contains everything that progressive stoner metal is doing today and does so in a lucid, well thought out and delivered manner. However, it never strays too far from the basic trappings of the definition. That’s what makes it so perfect for our needs. It represents a snapshot of a movement, a frozen moment that is immediately understandable to anyone versed in the ideas and sounds of the emerging mode.
I’m sure we’ve all had it, that moment when you’re listening to a song and you think “Geez, I’m sure I’ve heard this somewhere before!”. Well, I get that a lot and sometimes, it turns out I have heard that before, from another band! So I thought it would be…
I think that we at Heavy Blog briefly (read: mentioned) Rival Sons back when we did news, but those days are gone, and this is a band that deserves some serious attention.
It’s a well documented fact that rock music has roots in the blues; you can’t really step into rock without running into the staples of the genre. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and more all lapped up the sounds of B.B. King and Muddy Waters like milk in their early careers. Blues rock is still prevalent today, with bands like The Black Keys and The White Stripes taking massive influences from early blues acts. But where’s blues metal in all of this? We always think of blues rock, but not much more. Guns N’ Roses arguably footed the line between hard rock and metal, and some bands today – Elder comes to mind, as do many bands from the recent trend of throwback and “occult” metal (Graveyard, Witchcraft) – have some minor hints of blues. However, we never really think of/see metal bands adding a significant chunk of Muddy Waters to their music.
I believe that Electric Hoodoo, and their self-titled album, are an important stepping stone on the path to that blues metal sound. While they aren’t entirely metal, they are about as heavy as you’re going to get at the moment with a band so inspired by the blues.