Polyrhythmics. Some would say the foundations of djent, a genre which lately turned away from this primal and complex material in favour of a sleeker, simpler, and ultimately cheaper one. The meticulously crafted works of King Crimson and Meshuggah eventually were dumbed down and made more easily digestible to the ever-growing number of mouths to feed due to the popularization of the genre. This general tendency led us to the latest Periphery and Veil of Maya albums, which are pretty disappointing for those looking for this element in the music they listen to. However, the now vast audience of djent makes it possible for bands to follow a very particular path and create unique sounds that push the boundaries of the genre and of music in general. Here, I’m thinking of Animals as Leaders, Ever Forthright, and TesseracT, each with its own goal in mind.
Now comes Quebec, Canada’s Bisbâyé, a band that has almost every defining features of djent – heavy distortion, emphasis on polyrhythmics, progressive songwriting, and technical complexity – yet sounds closer to King Crimson than any djent band. Other similarities between them are the extensive use of advanced polymetrics that don’t always resolve into each other, the presence of double drums on record that accentuate different rhythmic patterns, their focus on the instruments’ role, and their experimental music affinity. Technically djent, Bisbâyé rather comes off as some sort of instrumental experimental mathcore band of the same Zodiac sign as The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Welcome to our artist-written 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 the artists and 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.
Sound Struggle‘s recent sophomore full-length, Rise, has become a quick hit among our staff (check out Ahmed’s great review of it right here). It’s a fantastic combination of progressive metal and jazz, but it reaches its fingers far beyond the boundaries of either of those genres, reveling in breaks of funk, classical, and samba. The mix is intoxicating; every song feels powerful and energetic, and each track has a different vibe that helps Rise stay fresh across its hour-plus run time. The whole record is invigorating and groovy – danceable at times, even – and so we wanted to know just what particular artists inspired this great piece of music. So, as is our custom, we decided to ask Sound Struggle exactly what influences they each brought into their music, and now, we have the Anatomy Of Sound Struggle, here for you!
By this point in time, one cannot deny that there has been a gradual but very present push towards greater and greater levels of eclecticism in the more progressive spheres of metal, as artists try to incorporate more diverse influences in their sound — whether it’s to make their own music stick out from the community’s vast and ever-growing output, or to honour the full spectrum of their tastes in their own music (Hell, maybe even both!).
Most of this trend towards having a more multifaceted sound tends to stem from some kind of jazz influence, and Boston-based six-piece Sound Struggle‘s work is no exception, even if they very delightfully veer towards funk as well à la Fall of the Albatross‘s work. Indeed, debut album Rise takes musical diversity almost to a point of excess, as — jazz aside — influences from all aspects of the metal spectrum peppered with electronic segments and even video game music-like moments also permeate the album’s 70-minute runtime.
US-based prog outfit Lithium Dawn may draw parallels to Periphery to Karnivool with their more alt-rock approach to songwriting and melody, but they’re fast forging their own path as one of the new names to watch in the international modern prog scene. Although currently relatively unknown, Lithium Dawn are undertaking an ambitious task by preparing a double album, Tearing Back The Veil. The first half of the series, Ascension, is due out later this year, and in keeping with the group’s prog credentials, includes guest spots from Heavy Blog favorites Sithu Aye and Plini.
After the jump, you can get a glimpse past the veil with “Point of No Return” featuring the aforementioned Sithu Aye providing a killer guitar solo to compliment the spacey alt prog that unravels through the song’s seven minute runtime.
Every band has growing pains. Very rarely does a band strike it rich on their very first release, particularly if they have no prior ones. Of course, there are some examples of bands striking gold almost immediately, and the career that succeeds them is either one filled with just as much success or a large amount of heartbreak and nostalgia, with fans clamoring about what once was. Drowning Horse is a band that is in the middle of preparing for the release of their second studio album, and this one is very critical. Many bands fall into the “sophomore slump”, where they inevitably attempt to either recreate their debut or attempt a slightly different direction. This has varying degrees of success, and there are many modern examples, such as Periphery and Rivers Of Nihil, that are examples of the different end results. So where does Drowning Horse stand when it comes to the overall quality and content of their newest effort?
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:
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.