Even a cursory glance of our biweekly “What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To” posts (last week’s update here) will reveal that there is a great deal of variety among our staff’s musical tastes. Due to this, we brainstormed the idea of “Playlist Swap,” another biweekly segment that takes place between playlist updates. We randomly select two of the participants from each update, have them pick their favorite track from each of the nine albums in their grid and then send the list over to the other person to listen to and comment on. Within these commentaries occurs praise, criticism and discovery, and we hope that you experience a few instances of this last point as well. This week’s post brought staff members Scott Murphy and Kit Brown together to peruse each other’s tastes:
Tag Archive Periphery
Recently, editor and writer Noyan Tokgozoglu came forward to the Heavy Blog family with an interesting idea: “Post your top 10 AOTYs with 2-sentence reviews of them.” As any reader knows, meticulous lists are an integral part of the Heavy Blog ethos, and where to better exercise that than in such a creative activity?
So we started piling on entries of our top ten albums from 2015 so far, seeing what different people had in common and what were more unconventional choices. Some albums definitely ran far ahead in the pack, like Wrvth’s self-titled technical death metal/post-rock/skramzy opus, Elder’s sun-baked and subtly Odyssean progressive stoner rock release, aptly titled Lore, Eidola’s post-hardcore/prog rock concept album Degeneraterra, and the storied return of one of the world’s best progressive/avant-garde metal bands, Arcturus, by way of their semi-self-titled, Arcturian.
Perusing through these lists, it’s easy to see why any of these albums made it into any spot. 2015 has been an absolutely phenomenal year for music from all sides (and we’re not even done!), and every album in every spot shines out in a slightly different way. Take your time, read the entries, and enjoy our list.
With the unfortunate passing of our dear friend Brian Shields earlier this year, we were kind of heartbroken, kind of hesitant to go forward with columns that were truly his. However, abandoning them full stop would be a disservice to you, our readers. That said, we are reviving one of Mr. Shields’ great ideas in having artists tell us what they’re listening to.
Without further ado, we present to you a brand new addition in the column with vocalist/keyboardist/singer/songwriter Kyle Bishop from Seattle’s Numbers!
In the past decade, the rise of one-man metal “bands” has definitely seen an alarming rise, mostly due to the advancements in home studio technology and its increasing affordability. While there has clearly been an ample amount of oversaturation in many of the genre’s newer styles and bad production habits have become pretty prevalent, we also wouldn’t have amazing groups like Periphery, Chimp Spanner or Cloudkicker if it wasn’t for such gear. The problem with most bedroom projects is that they often seem too spontaneous and too desperate to push out new material without finding the ideal riff, ideal mix, or ideal hook. That’s where Andrew Reynolds and his project Drewsif Stalin’s Musical Endeavors come in. Sure, he may have gotten a lot of his recognition from consistently putting out the only djent covers of pop songs on YouTube that have mattered or ever will matter, but …Comes To An End is easily his most professional and impressive work to date.
We all wanted it to be an April Fool’s joke, but it is with a heavy heart that I must announce that we are gathered here today in order to mourn the musical loss of a band consisting entirely of top lads. We’re celebrating the life and recovering from the disbanding of none other than The Safety Fire.
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 posts, quite a few inclusions recently received the Heavy Blog seal of approval via positive reviews. KEN Mode‘s Success (here), Jaga Jazzist‘s Starfire (here), Thy Art Is Murder‘s Holy War (here), WRVTH‘s WRVTH (here), Rosetta‘s Quintessential Ephemera (here) and Symphony X‘s Underworld (here) are all excellent albums worthy of your time. Additionally, there are quite a few inclusions that were featured in our ongoing “Post Rock Post” segment, which aims to recommend quality upcoming acts that we have recently been fawning over. Town Portal (here) and In Each Hand a Cutlass (here) are both great bands doing post rock justice and more than worthy of your time. Finally, four of our contributors have Ornette Coleman albums in their grids, demonstrating preparation for the second installment of our Jazz Club segment, in which we discuss the legacy of the eminent saxophonist. This was an excellent discussion that touched upon a broad range of topics, and we encourage you to check it out 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 receiving regular rotation on our headphones, stereos and turntables:
Even a cursory glance of our biweekly “What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To” posts (last weeks update here) will reveal that there is a great deal of variety among our staff’s musical tastes. Due to this, we brainstormed the idea of “Playlist Swap,” another biweekly segment that takes place between playlist updates. We randomly select two of the participants from each update, have them pick their favorite track from each of the nine albums in their grid and then send the list over to the other person to listen to and comment on. Within these commentaries occurs praise, criticism and discovery, and we hope that you experience a few instances of this last point as well. Our inaugural post brought staff members Simon Handmaker and William France together to peruse each other’s tastes:
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.
Metal does not exist in a vacuum. Unlike what many people would like to believe, there is not much which is inherently radical about metal. Sure, it prefers an aesthetic, both in music and visual representations, which was once outside the norm but a lot has changed since the 80’s-90’s. While the shock value of those non-musical aesthetic choices was greater in those times, it’s not as if metal invented or revolutionized those artistic styles in anyway: gore and goth, dark industrial and body horror were genres long before metal adopted them for its self expression. And while it’s true that metal is and was a unique and distinct musical classification, a hegemony within it has been around for years. The image of a style which etches rebellion on its flag, constantly pushing the aural limits and redefining what is considered music, is relevant for a tiny, tiny fraction of the bands within it. Most bands, most music in general, conforms to accepted boundaries and takes little risks; metal is no different.
Let’s get something out there: that’s perfectly fine. This is not intended as a criticism but as a preface to our main question for this editorial: if metal is mostly conservative, in an amount that is more or less similar to other musical genres, where does the fascination with authenticity stem from? Non-metal music and styles have their share of discourse and interest in being authentic as well (just think of the 90’s rap feuds) but no where does this obsession reach the heights that it does in metal. The distinctions between “true” and “poser”, “kvlt” or “hardcore”, “true death metal” and the likes can be found everywhere. Being non-authentic is the insult one can levy against another member of the metal community. But why? If we say that there isn’t any inherent radicalism, that metal is no more revolutionary than any other genre, how then can we explain this phenomena? We will attempt to answer this question by looking at a recent case that is a bit more subtle than a YouTube comment calling Periphery “poseurs”[sic].
Last year we ran a 5-part series listing 25 of our favorite albums from the first half of 2014 with the premise that 2014 was simply such an amazing year musically that we just had to talk about some of our favorites at the year’s mid-point and whittle down all the great releases to an impossible list of 25.
What fools were we.
2015, across the board, is truly turning out to be a banner year for music as a whole, but in particular the kind of music we cover here at Heavy Blog. Between old favorites putting out expected blockbuster releases, smaller bands making huge leaps to stake a claim for our attention, and new or obscure bands putting out releases out of left field that have completely caught us off-guard in the best way, it’s been nearly impossible to keep up with the output of superb music that 2015 has offered us thus far. We are now at the end of the sixth month of the year, and thus have decided to give this another try, albeit in a slightly different format.