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…
There are many things this review doesn’t need to include; much of what Caligula’s Horse are known is present on In Contact. The double context of their geographical location and their position within the progressive metal scene, at the forefront of the modern progressive movement, have already been elaborated upon on the blog many times. Thus, this review will attempt to focus on the things that should be included, namely the variations that Caligula’s Horse have injected into their sound with this, their fourth release. If you’re looking instead for a broad overview, let us save you some time and say that In Contact is yet another great release from the C-Horse camp, exceeding their previous album Bloom by melding much of what made it work with the often cited second release, The Tide, The Thief and the River’s End. The result is an energetic and inspiring album, filled with intricate progressive ideas but also the solid and thorough punch which the band is known for.
It’s been a long road, but the sax is back, baby. For years the instrument, once employed lavishly upon all sorts of classic and progressive rock tracks through the 60s and 70s, became a revolting cliche and symbol of rock excess, softness, and melodrama. And, frankly, given how the instrument became abused and synonymous with the type of smooth jazz playing that would coat pop and rock ballads through the 80s into 90s with a sonic perfume strong enough to make you gag, it’s not surprising that it fell out of style. In many ways it went hand-in-hand with the back-to-basics mentality that ran through the punk, DIY, grunge, indie, and (to a different extent) metal movements of the 80s through the 90s and well into the turn of the century. Since then, though, the pendulum has slowly but steadily moved back into the other direction, and more bands and listeners view the sax and other woodwinds as viable and enticing flourishes or even centerpieces to give their music either a certain distinction or whiff of nostalgia. And though metal has perhaps resisted incorporating the instrument for longer than most other genres, there is now an utter wealth of examples of artists and bands using the instrument to (mostly) good effect, particularly in the more progressive black, death, and doom spheres, where bands like Wrvth, Aenaon, Dreadnought, and, of course, SHINING – Jorgen Munkeby probably more than anyone has made the idea of sax-heavy metal sound forward-thinking and “cool” – are releasing high-quality work that makes use of the instrument in a whole wide range of ways.
From Ingrats’ opening jazzy piano and drum duo on “Gimme a break,” it’s apparent that one-man experimental black metal project netra is taking on the genre from a more sophisticated headspace than the torch-bearing, forest-wandering forefathers of the genre. It’s easy to connect the dots to more progressive-leaning artists like Ulver or Altar of Plagues, and to a lesser degree, Norway’s Shining, but those comparisons fall short of capturing netra’s homogenous blend of nostalgic blackened melodies with ambitious electronic leanings.
In 2015 we told you that Chaos Divine had the goods, and today we’re lucky enough to speak with them. Starting off as something of a melodic death metal band, Chaos Divine have gradually evolved into the progressive/alternative rock sound which Australia has become famed for. We speak with them about their fantastic 2015 release Colliding Skies, their experiences with crowd funding, the Australian scene, what it’s like being a band from the isolated west coast of the country and, of course, eggs.
Today we’re joined by none other than the mercurial Gods of Eden from Sydney, Australia. These progressive metallers earned a rave review with 2015’s exceptional debut LP From The End of Heaven, a release which found itself right up there on our 2015 end of year list and helped inspire our Beyond the Veil column. Grandiose compositions, enchantingly technical guitar playing, cinematic soundscapes and diverse vocals are the name of the game here, and we’re predicting big things to come from these guys. Without further ado, let’s get into it and see what they have to say about the concept behind their debut, what their new album will sound like, the Australian scene and more!
As you may have noticed, over the past month or so we’ve been interviewing a series of Australian artists, and we’ll continue to bring those to you this month. Today we’re lucky enough to be joined by Andy Marsh, guitarist in Australian deathcore outfit Thy Art is Murder. The band have been making waves on the international scene for some time now and are one of Australia’s more successful exports. Vocalist CJ McMahon has recently reunited with the band and a new record is on the way, so we spoke to Andy about that, their split EP with Fit For An Autopsy and The Acacia Strain (available here), Australia and more. Enjoy!
Today we’re joined by none other than Michael Gagen, guitarist extraordinaire at bands you may have heard of, like hazards of swimming naked and (ex-) Arcane, and bands you’ve probably never heard of, like Echotide, agrammeofsoma and more. We don’t know which of those bands you’ve heard of, but we…
Depressive Suicidal Black Metal is not a subtle genre of music. Arising as a symptom of the second wave of black metal misery sweeping Europe in the early 1990’s, DSBM has since carved itself a particularly notorious and shocking niche within a genre already notorious for being shocking. Rumors shroud…
Ok. News time. New stuff from Pain of Salvation, Metallica, Cyclamen, Benighted, August Burns Red, Protest the Hero. Shining are doing a Patreon, Dream Theater an Images and Words tour. Blood Music are going legit. The piracy/community site What.cd is dead. Keep of Kalessin are involved in a pyramid scheme somehow? The Faceless’s debut Akeldama is 10 years old. And there’s this AMAZING avant-garde black metal thing, Hypnosophy by Aenaon. Real cool. Enjoy! Also read our editorial on edginess.