What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To – 6/17/16

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. 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.

What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To – 6/3/16

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. 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.

Sacred Geometry – Mapping Metal’s Connection With the New Age

A month or so ago, I wrote a post titled “The Occult in Modern Day Metal”. In it, underneath countless of apologies for the simplifications I was about to present the readers, I took a brief look at how the occult has lent words, images, ideas and themes to the metal genre. Charting three main movements, I attempted to offer an initial direction for asking questions, a jumping point for something much more extensive. Perhaps where I’d left the most gaps was with the last part; the post was getting long, the hours were getting late and the subject matter was growing more complex. This should come as no surprise to those versed in the source material itself (and my writing/sleeping habits, if we’re being honest). You see, that final part dealt with the New Age and its ties to progressive metal. The thing is, however, that New Age is one of the most loosely defined, scholarly debated and impossible to understand spiritual movements to have ever existed. It’s right up there with Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Swedenborg-ism (I swear that’s a real thing, you can Google it) and other obscure, esoteric belief systems.

The Jazz Club Vol. 5 – Gateway Drugs: Jazz Albums for Metalheads

After we provided a general introduction for the genre in our last Jazz Club, Jimmy and I tossed around the idea of writing an adjacent piece catered specifically to metal fans. As with any genre, it’s easier to crack into the overall style with a handful of bands or albums that incorporate elements from genres that the listener is already familiar with. There are some pretty strong links between jazz and metal, which made it easy to select a well-rounded list of albums to recommend for metal fans who want their jazz to have an added edge. Some of these releases lean more towards one genre than the other, but they’re all excellent in their own right and provide a solid, metallic gateway into jazz.

Beyond the Veil: C’est La Voice, or How Melisma Works

Welcome back to Beyond the Veil! In today’s rather short instalment, we’re actually going to shift gears a tad and traverse grounds that have otherwise remained unexplored in this column. So far, we’ve mostly focused on guitar related concepts, particularly within the realm of prog metal and tech death, but this time around we’re going to talk about a concept that pertains more to vocals — namely, a technique called melisma.

Best Of: Metal Albums 2010-2015

Usually in our Best Of columns we try to tackle either something genre-specific or something conveying a very specific idea. Today we’re doing something a little different though. Given that we’re now officially more than halfway through the 2010s, it seems fitting to take a hard look at some of the albums that have defined the current generation of metal. Since this site was formed in 2009, this list encompasses the vast majority of the music we’ve had the pleasure to experience and review in real time. And as a site who strongly believes we’re currently in the throes of a new Golden Age of Metal, what better way to prove that than with this brief shortlist of phenomenal music we believe best encapsulates that notion.

*prognotes – Uneven Structure’s Februus

Have you seen/read The Fountain? If not, you really should. The movie (and the comic book) depict a greyscaled story of consciousness, birth, death and spirituality. It’s a sub-genre that’s existed on the fringes of science fiction ever since Philip K. Dick wrote Valis and perhaps even before, with the darkly eerie works of H.G. Wells. In any case, these tales draw on the concepts of self-realization, actualization and psychological distress while casting all of these onto a darkly astral landscape. The aesthetic is usually austere, with the colors being utilized to stress extreme moments of passion, realization and growth. From out of the blackness rise spires of color across fantastical palettes, symbolizing inner explosions and revelations.

This is exactly the type of aesthetic that informs, creates and makes possible Uneven Structure’s 2011 masterpiece, Februus. It’s an album which follows the birth and psychodrama of some sort of unspecified entity, from its first steps through adversity and, finally, to freedom and grace through power.

Fake It Until You Make It? Musical Authenticity and the Metal Musician

When in the studio, musicians always use some “tricks” to get a sound that isn’t necessarily as achievable in a live setting. This is a pretty commonly known fact. It’s not even a new thing. Since the 60s, bands have made music in the studio that doesn’t reflect the process of how they actually play in person. As technology develops, more methods become available to the artists to achieve a more “perfect” sound, if they choose to use them. In the 50s and before, bands recorded performances together, in a single run through. Then they started recording each instrument separately, then split up songs into parts, then replaced some instruments with digital substitutes, used corrective techniques (both for pitch and timing) and recently, started performing at a slower tempo then speeding it up. These are the realities of recording. Whether they’re acceptable or not is a hotly debated topic, and a recent even in the metal spheres brought the question to the forefront yet again. The 2016 Guitar Solo Contest, where guitarists were asked to perform over a track by John Browne of Monuments and submit a video of their recording, recently announced their winners. The prizes ranged from a Mayones guitar, Mesa amps, Bare Knuckle Pickups and more. Here’s where it gets complicated. One of the winners was a performance that was clearly heavily edited.