I am at Rough Trade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the Boston-based art-rock band Bent Knee, both to interview them and to see them play live for my first time. I would love to say that I had been following the band for years and have already seen them a handful of times, but somehow their head-spinning mixture of heavy-hitting Faith No More energy, proggy theatrics, and off-kilter pop/rock experimentations somewhere between Björk and St. Vincent had escaped me until only just this year when a fellow Heavy Blogger introduced me to them through their 2014 sophomore LP Shiny Eyed Babies. Upon hearing tracks like “Way Too Long” and “Being Human” I was instantly hooked. The blend of jazz influences with the bite of heavy rock and metal, extensive incorporation of violin, and the powerful siren sounds of vocalist Courtney Swain were more than enough to grab my attention, and I quickly did all I could to catch myself up on their (at the time) 3 albums.
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.
Since we publish our individual Top 10 lists right after our main one, you can clearly tell that there are always albums missing for each writer from the general list. We embrace that fault as one of the inevitable limitations of general lists for the collective power such aggregations hold; we wouldn’t give up doing a main list, ever. However, it’s always been a habit of ours to allow each writer to highlight one album from their Top 10 selections that didn’t make the final cut. This allows us more flexibility and the chance to, one last time, shun a light on some of our favorite music from the year. In a fantastic year such as 2016, it’s almost a necessity, as our list, more than ever, misses out on so much of the greatness contained therein.
With our general list for 2016 out of the way, we can now shift the focus from our aggregate opinion to individual ones. Both outlooks have their own merit; the former provides us with an overview of our year in music. However, the latter shines a light on something we’re extremely proud of and that’s the varied and eclectic nature of our staff these days. We used to have a very certain type of music associated with Heavy Blog and while we still have a long way to go, we feel like we’ve done a good job at expanding our palettes and the representation of different kinds of music and metal in our staff. The lists below reflect that; you’ll find black metal, avant-garde, technical thrash metal, hip hop, rap, noise, ambiance, post metal and rock, melodic death metal and much more throughout these lists.
It’s not uncommon that we at Heavy Blog cover the same tour more than once, but I had the ability to attend five shows of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s most recent tour, with the opportunity to photograph four of them! You may be thinking, “You’re out of your damn mind…
For the majority of the first four albums in the series, The Dear Hunter’s Acts – Casey Crescenzo’s sprawling prog rock opera in six parts – have been largely a story concerned with beginnings. Characters are in a seemingly perpetual state of movement, always attempting to escape or sidestep their problems in favor of the hopes of a new, better life. From the images of Ms. Terri fleeing for her life (and the life of her unborn son) away from the abuse she faced as a prostitute in Act I, to the titular protagonist – The Dear Hunter – running from home upon his mother’s murder in Act II, to his then running away from his broken relationship with Ms. Leading off to Europe to fight in World War I in Act III (where he spent a period of time AWOL after fleeing the battlefield), and finally to his return to The City and assumption of a stolen identity in Act IV, the major action of these albums has centered around running away from conflict in favor of new beginnings rather than resolving old ones. The end of Act IV marked a critical turning point in the story, however, as The Dear Hunter, in a position of power as an elected official, was blackmailed by his nemesis and the story’s main villain, The Pimp/Priest. That album ended on that reveal and cliffhanger, leaving listeners wondering where the story could possibly go from here.
Welcome back to Beyond the Veil! In today’s rather short instalment, we’re actually going to shift gears a tad and traverse grounds that have otherwise remained unexplored in this column. So far, we’ve mostly focused on guitar related concepts, particularly within the realm of prog metal and tech death, but this time around we’re going to talk about a concept that pertains more to vocals — namely, a technique called melisma.