Monobody – Raytracing

One of the most consistently difficult and frustrating things about covering music that falls into the buckets of math rock, fusion, prog, and more is that a central and foundational tenet of that music – complexity – also ends up being the very thing that is the music’s undoing. Fans can (and do) constantly obsess over how many unusual time signatures a song packs in as a proportional measure of how great that music is, but so often in the pursuit of the most head-spinning riffs, polyrhythmic grooves, and impenetrable song forms, what most frequently is lost is the music itself and whether it’s actually worth listening to. There’s nothing wrong with complexity and complicated music, but if there isn’t an adequate payoff for the time and patience required to “understand” it then what exactly are we doing here?

Usurpress – Interregnum

Did you ever hope that Tom Waits got together with Hubert Selby Jr. and write a death metal album? Because your wish has finally come true. Usurpress has a new album out, and it’s easily the greatest labor they have yet to produce. Prior to Interregnum, Usurpress was a death…

For Fans Of – Nova Collective

It’s been a while since we’ve written one of these columns, and that’s not because we dislike them. Past a certain point it starts to become more difficult to find important bands representing or making waves in a certain genre or sub-genre and finding a group of similar or tangentially-related bands to recommend. Up to this point though we haven’t really written one of these posts as essentially a response or plea to listeners. Sometimes bands who execute a certain style or sound garner a lot of critical and popular praise to the point of being credited with some sort of innovation or something radically different from anything else out there when the reality is far from that. It’s rarely the fault of the bands themselves though as they don’t give themselves that kind of credit, but once in a while it’s important for someone to politely correct consensus thinking and offer a little more context, and that is exactly what we’re going to do here and now with the debut album from metal/jazz fusion band Nova Collective.

The Jazz Club Vol. 7 – Defusing Jazz Fusion

Welcome to Jazz Club, where we might actually be on track this week! Actually, it’s true; we have a real topic and real albums to bring to your earballs, all about one of the most revolutionary (and highly criticized at the time) forms of jazz of all time, Jazz Fusion! A little note before we start, though: all three albums featured today have sizable contributions from guitarists. Although fusion includes more instrumentation beyond the guitar (for example, Mahavishnu Orchestra once included violinist Jon Luc Ponty), guitar was essentially the big focal point of the genre, as fusion is a blend (no duh) of a few genres with jazz, the biggest being rock music. (Of course, there are other jazz guitarists that aren’t fusion, such as Django Reinhardt, but this is a new sound we’re talking about.) So without further ado, let’s defuse a contentious – but rewarding – subgenre of jazz.

Heavy Blog’s Editors’ Picks: March 2016

With so much great music out there and so much music that our staff reviews (and plenty that we don’t), it can be difficult to keep up with it all and determine which releases are the most worth your time. Harnessing the wide-ranging and diverse tastes of our editorial staff, our monthly Editors’ Picks column is our gift to you to guide you towards the music that’s impacting us the most. You can read our picks from previous months right here.

Ah, March! The end of winter is nigh, spring is nearly upon us, and the heavy hitters are preparing to unleash more music than we possibly know what to do with. Even though all of us here at Heavy Blog are practically salivating at everything that April has in store for us, this past month wasn’t exactly shabby. We’ve got a lineup of some incredible albums for you to check out if you haven’t already, and for the first time, we’re also including a shortlist of other albums from the past month (metal or otherwise) that get our collective seal of approval. Also for the first time, you’ll notice that we’ve installed a nifty little Spotify widget in our site sidebar featuring a playlist of said top picks from this past month. As always, feel free to share your own top picks in the comments, and without further ado, let’s dig in into this month’s offerings!

Stimpy Lockjaw – Stimpy Lockjaw

Jazz and fusion are no strangers to the world of metal. From Dream Theater to Cynic to Animals as Leaders and well beyond, jazz music’s emphasis on technicality, compositional depth, and an ongoing exploration of sound and form have meshed easily with many parts of the metal spectrum. What is…