The saxophone has become an increasingly en vogue addition to the extreme music formula. Ever since John Zorn bleated and honked over grindcore and avant-garde metal with Naked City and Painkiller, a growing crop of younger bands have demonstrated how to masterfully incorporate a jazz staple into heavier compositions. The sparsity of such bands should come…
“Math” has to be one of the most malleable genre prefixes. What other tag could somehow link the glimmering summertime anthems of Totorro, boisterous noise jams of Hella and coldly calculated technicality of Botch? And that’s not even considering how quickly the classification has evolved since the days of Drive Like Jehu, Polvo, Shellac and Slint. Yet, there…
I guess this was inevitable. When I originally conceived of this column, there was a lot of details I wanted to get into. Vocalists who started as screamers and turned into great clean singers. Vocalists who pioneered new styles. Vocalists who simply have unique voices. But before we get into all of that, I feel as though we have to establish some of the basics of metal singing. Back in the 70s, metal singers were simply rock singers with a louder band behind them. There weren’t distinctive styles. However, as metal became more and more separate from hard rock, the playing styles of each instrument involved in making metal developed their own identity and distinct style. In opera and classical singing, teachers and singers refer to voice types as “fachs”. The fach system was developed by the Germans to make casting operas easier. As we talk about the emerging styles of metal singing, I will be using this term. Arguably, the first metal fach was the Dio-fach. So, to establish these metal basics, I will be doing an overview of Ronnie James Dio’s voice, his career, and how he established this fach.
Prepped and pumped from day one, armed with the knowledge of where the best food and spots were, we entered Poble Espanyol. The setlist promised to be stacked with some of my favorite acts and my expectations were high. I was worried about being disappointed but it was just a nagging voice in the back of my head; my spirit was frivolous and I allowed myself to imagine crazy scenarios of far fetched and perfect set-lists, incredible and soul lifting shows and what have you. Those rampant expectations were all met and exceed, as the second day proved to be one of the best musical experiences of my life. Venue, company, performance, crowds, bands, all combined in that perfect, harmonious way which is usually resolved for dreams and erupted on to the scene. But let us start in the beginning and chart this journey towards the end, an unbelievable catharsis at night.
Do you like exclusively clean vocals? Do you like progressive rock with a bit of a groovy, even djent-y edge to it? Will you listen to anything that comes out of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene? Well then, have I got the band for you! They’re called Sea in the Sky and though they liken themselves to Periphery, CHON and Polyphia, I hear flashes of swancore bands like Dance Gavin Dance, Stolas and Hail the Sun. They’re releasing a new album on September 29th called Everything All at Once, but luckily we can listen to two singles from it right this very moment!
The purpose of this post is not to give you a play by play description of the festival; this isn’t a show review first and foremost. The idea instead is to give you a feeling for what attending the festival is like, whether by describing the location, some of the shows, the overall air or even the food on offer. The purpose of this post is to see as many of you as possible at the next year’s festival. This institution is well needed in the metal scene and it’s a pleasure to be able to support it in my own way. There’s only one condition: you have to say hello next year if you do come. I’ll buy you a beer, promise. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Likely one of the most enjoyable albums of the year, The Mute Gods’ Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth is brimming with melody from front to back, with outstanding keyboard arrangements and gorgeous bass licks. This album pays more direct tribute to 80s prog, an era that is maligned but provided some of the giants of the genre (Yes, Rush and Genesis) with some of their biggest hits and served to introduce the MTV generation to some of the most talented musicians on the planet. Tonally, Tardigrades is most like Yes’s 90125 and even has a sort of synthesized new age feel that marked the band’s collaboration with later soundtrack wunderkind Trevor Rabin.
Welcome again to Heavy Vanguard—your ticket to the farthest and weirdest reaches of music. While avant-garde and experimental music is, again, strange upon first listen, it’s also massively important to music as a whole. After all, innovation doesn’t happen through repetition; it takes people willing to take chances on new things and mark uncharted territory for us to truly move forward. And no other album we’ve covered so far (with the possible exception of Trout Mask Replica) has been as far-reaching and influential as the one we cover this week: Soft Machine’s iconic album Third.
Like the grand majority of modern metal fans, our tastes here at Heavy Blog are incredibly vast, with our 3X3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a different style in each square. While we have occasionally covered non-metal topics in past blog posts, we decided that a dedicated column was warranted in order to more completely recommend all of the music that we have been listening to. Unmetal Monday is a recurring column which covers noteworthy news, tracks and albums from outside the metal universe, and we encourage you all to share your favorite non-metal picks from the week in the comments. Head past the jump to dial down the distortion:
Ever since I discovered Anathema and their astounding Weather Systems, I have been introduced to a world of prog rock and power pop that I ever knew existed. It’s got all the things I love about being super intense and emotional while still maintaining a grounding effect, making it way easier to…