We’re taking another diversion from our usual Starter Kit format to focus on the work of another seminal artist. Let’s face it; if you’re a reader of this website then you’ve probably already at least heard of some of Devin Townsend’s music. He’s one of the most electrifying, prolific, and impressive musicians to ever come out of Canada and is unquestionably one of progressive metal’s leading figures in the modern age. With almost thirty records to his name spanning a number of different projects and names, Dev’s output has practically never ceased since he first came onto the scene as Steve Vai’s frontman for a number of years. Whether it’s the manic and terrifying industrial/death/thrash assault of Strapping Young Lad, his heavy take on pop music, or even his forays into ambient, new age and even country music, there practically isn’t anything that this guy can’t do at a frustratingly-virtuosic level. That being said, if you’re not familiar with this guy’s extensive back catalog, it can be quite a daunting thing to undertake. That’s why we here at Heavy Blog Is Heavy would love to guide on your quest to getting into what may be metal’s best current musician. There will never truly be a definitive way to get anyone into such a multi-faceted body of work, but these five shouldn’t be passed up.
Tag Archive Meshuggah
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.
Two releases in this week’s grids have been receiving a great deal of buzz among our staff, especially River of Nihil‘s latest offering Monarchy. Kit’s glowing review (here) and perfect score reflect our staff’s immense love of this album and its guaranteed spot among our year end lists. Another heavily spun album among our staff is Destrier, the latest offering from Agent Fresco. In a HLT post (here), Ahmed provides in-depth commentary on why this release caught our staff off guard and has been dominating their playlists for the past couple of weeks.
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. (Note: Our contributors have been having trouble with scrobbling through Last(.)fm, causing several of them to sit out of this week’s playlist update.)
Head past the jump to see which receiving regular rotation on our headphones, stereos and turntables:
It’s always worth paying attention to controversial artists, regardless of how much one subjectively enjoys what they bring to the table. A band willing to take risks and do previously unheard-of things with their instruments always have been, and always will be, the ones to steer their respective genres wherever they end up going. It’s been this way throughout history, from the bright, technicolor prog-rock explosion of the 70’s, spearheaded by the larger-than-life members of King Crimson, to the crushing rhythmic blasts that Meshuggah and their offspring create.
It’s not just that way in more progressive and heady genres, either. From the birth of deathcore progenitors Despised Icon onwards, bands like Job For A Cowboy, Veil of Maya, and The Contortionist have, at one point or another, donned the title of the most important artist to watch within the genre. Right now, however, one band looms tall above the rest, an elephant in the room that threatens to destroy everything under its titanic feet. Though their discography currently consists of less than 15 songs, since their inception and first release in 2013, they have completely terraformed the landscape of deathcore. This band is, of course, none other than the infamous Black Tongue.
We at Heavy Blog sure love our progressive metal — particularly the fringe parts of the subgenre, from brilliant vocal driven bands like Leprous to prog packaged into a thick slab of death metal à la Black Crown Initiate. It’s hard not to love something that’s essentially a breeding ground for innovation and experimentation within a familiar musical context, and oftentimes some true gems manage to make their way to the top by effectively balancing said familiarity with something positively mind-blowing.
Enter Agent Fresco, a young Icelandic band who likely suffer through more “there are Icelandic bands that aren’t Sigur Rós or Sólstafir?” jokes than they deserve. Some bands often name off influences from all walks of music in interviews and the like, but ultimately they tend to have a very singular sound — Fresco, by contrast, wear all their influences proudly on their sleeves, creating tapestries of wondrously eclectic music on sophomore record Destrier, which is available for streaming on their website. Put simply, they are an incredible breath of fresh air to listen to. (Also, can we talk about that gorgeous album art?)
Welcome to a new feature on Heavy Blog, “The Anatomy Of”. Taken from the Between The Buried And Me album of the same name — in which the band pays tribute to artists/bands that they feel have most inspired their songwriting — it’s a feature in which we hand off the metaphorical microphone to bands so they can talk about their influences. Read more entries from this series here.
If you’ve been reading Heavy Blog for a while, you may recognize multi-national British/Japanese tech metal act Cyclamen. Longtime friends of the site, we’ve watched them grow from frontman Hayato Imanishi’s homegrown bedroom project to internationally touring metal group. Since their inception, Cyclamen have combined chaotic hardcore, prog, J-Rock, and post-rock for a sound all their own.
This week, Hayato went above and beyond, identifying a dozen different records and charting his chronological discovery of rock music to the mathcore and tech metal movement that informed Cyclamen’s chaotic sound.
It’s very well known that every band you enjoy has songs that define them. These songs may not necessarily be their best, but they are the most essential when trying to understand where they came from, and how they got to where they are now. This is the idea of “8-Track.” In case you missed our first installment featuring Dream Theater, here’s the basic premise, in a nutshell: We choose a band that we know has a storied history, and identify the eight songs that define their strengths as a band, musically, lyrically, and conceptually. This is not merely a “Favorite Songs of (Insert Band Here)” list, though for some writers, there will be overlap with the two. This list is meant to show anyone discovering the band songs that really speak volumes of how they are as a band, and songs that are essential to their development and evolution as a band. With that being said, let’s get to talking about Meshuggah!
If you want to know what the best death metal in 2015 sounds like, look no further than Pennsylvania’s Rivers of Nihil, who are just about to drop Monarchy, one of the most impressive sophomore releases to ever come out of the death metal style. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a fan of blast-happy insanity, head-bobbing grooves or expansive and progressive song structures, this album has it all, and it’s smoking damn near every other modern band in the process. Now that the band is just about to head out on the road in support of this monolith of a record, Brody Uttley had a conversation with Heavy Blog Is Heavy while he was in his car up headed up to New York for band practice. I had a chance to speak with him about balancing brutality with progressive song ideas, handling the recording process on his own, the band’s touring plans, and much more!
Veil of Maya are a band that are adored by metalheads for their off-kilter breakdowns, technical riffs and overall brutality. So, what happens when you throw clean vocals into that mix? Well, it would seem that many fans turned away from the band because of the addition, but it also seems like it has caused more people to talk about Veil of Maya than ever before. On the Raleigh, NC date of their Matriarch Tour, I sat down with guitarist Marc Okubo and drummer Sam Applebaum to get their thoughts on fan reactions to their new music, bringing old songs back into their setlist and how it feels to be lumped in with the djent crowd.
The Jersey boys in Symphony X have been well at it for over twenty years now, releasing some of the most challenging and musically-proficient material in the progressive metal scene along the way. There’s no denying that records like The Divine Wings of Tragedy and V: The New Mythology Suite have laid the groundwork for shredders worldwide, and have probably even gone on to influence plenty of bands in the power metal scene as well. Now on the cusp of releasing their ninth LP, Underworld, the band are working on synthesizing their entire discography while still trying to push their sound to previously unexplored heights. That being said, it’s a definite success and shows the band at their most inspired and consistent in quite some time. I had a chance to speak with guitarist and founding member Michael Romeo a few days ago about taking their time between releases, their upcoming summer tour, balancing technicality and songwriting, and much more.
It’s been a while since we’ve posted about Dodecahedron on the site, but we promise it’s not our fault. The band released their massive self-titled debut back in 2012, and since then have been relatively scarce. They’ve done touring here and there, but their debut is their only release, which makes it hard to really delve into the band’s history. However, some of the greatest bands in history have had long stretches between their debut and their followup record (Tool, Meshuggah, Karnivool, to name a few), and went on to release massively successful albums. It seems Dodecahedron took note, because that’s exactly what they’re planning on doing now!