Starter Kit: Progressive Bluegrass

Bluegrass generates most of its interest from technical ability, even in its most traditional veins. Generally, the genre operates a lot like jazz: different configurations of instruments improvise solos on standard tunes. There’s mostly likely an upright bass and some light percussion like tambourine or washboard in the rhythm section, treble instruments like fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and guitar taking solos, and multi-part harmonies in the vocals. Bluegrass generally borrows from the same sources as country and folk: Scottish, Irish, and English folk music, African American spirituals, and blues. Progressive bluegrass started, like progressive rock, in the late 60s. While, the compositions never really reached the complexity of prog rock, the idea was the same in the beginning: the chord progressions got more complex, it started borrowing from other genres most notably jazz, modern rock, pop, and classical music, and the lyrics became deeper.

Heavy Vanguard: Scott Walker // Tilt

While we’re always up for trying a new experimental release out, we figured it was high time we covered this artist in some degree, since Scott and I both share a love for his music. Scott Walker (no relation to the politician of the same name) was once a singer/songwriter on the road to becoming an act on the scale of The Beatles or The Who as part of The Walker Brothers, but who, in a Beatles-esque fashion, eschewed fame and pop-oriented songwriting after a while and decided to go in an avant-garde direction. After some ups and downs, and a solo career that had a fair amount of misses as well as successes, Walker has planted himself as one of the foremost experimental musicians of the modern era, with his later trilogy (consisting of Tilt, The Drift, and Bish Bosch) being of particular acclaim, along with collaborations with bands like Sunn O))).

To Prequel or Not? Cynic Provides the Missing Link and has their Revenge of the Sith Moment

Cynic is a legendary and influential band. Since news that drummer and founding member Sean Reinert has left the band, many fans have wondered what is on the horizon, if anything. While there’s still no word on new music from co-founder and guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal (who vowed to continue the band), late last year, an announcement from the realm of music archaeologists got nerd minds spinning. Uroboric Forms: The Complete Demo Collection would be released and fans would maybe get some answers about how the hell Cynic went from being in Death (which was basically a Chuck Schuldiner backing gig) to dropping an absolutely groundbreaking gem in Focus. Southern Florida in the late 80s and early 90s is hallowed ground in extreme metal. Would Uroboric Forms rewrite the narrative?

The Devil’s Roots: Thelema in Metal

If a poster was created of famous devil-worshippers then Aleister Crowley’s face would no doubt be near the front and center. Despite not actually being a Satanist, Crowley’s “wicked’’ deeds placed him in league with the Dark Lord in the eye’s of the public back in his heyday. However, he was a practitioner of Thelema, a spiritual philosophy of self-empowerment that’s often lumped in with the glorification of evil much like Satanism has been throughout the years. And like old Beelzebub, Crowley and heavy metal fit together like a hand in glove, and his influence in heavy music can be traced all the way back to the genre’s earliest years.

The Difficulties of Album of the Year

Here we are, at the end of another year. Critics and bloggers internet-wide (including yours truly) are struggling to put together top 20, top 50, top 100, top 10,000 lists of best albums. And it’s kind of a lot of work. It doesn’t seem like it would be; after all, we’re simply talking about listening to a ton of records and choosing your favorite. To reduce the process to its most basic level, there are really only two responses for a listener, blogger or no, to have to an album.

Half-Life: Billy Joel

How does one adequately define another as a legend? I’ve often asked myself this question as I was writing this. There are, of course, myriad answers to that question, but I like to personally think that a legend is one who, through scrutiny and rough times, through lows and personal…

A Hard Day’s Night Writing Symphonies of Sickness – How the Fab Four Tell the Tale of Extreme Metal

When four young lads first got together in Liverpool, they had no idea that some enthusiastic yelping and screaming, two guitars, bass and drums could spark a revolution. They didn’t suspect that four working class chaps could form a rock ‘n’ roll band and make a set of records that would influence countless bands and encompass multiple styles, and write songs that people would still be enjoying decades later. This band, of course, is Carcass. Yes, there was that OTHER band, The Beatles, who did all those things, too. But this is an extreme metal blog, and in this existentially hellish alternate universe, Carcass may well be The Beatles.

As Carcass prepares to undertake a tour with “love ‘em or hate ‘em” blackgaze critical darlings Deafheaven, some of you may be wondering how we got here. Well, keep in mind that The Beatles’ own John Lennon spent a lot of time with more out-there avantish types in the 70s, too. He cranked out some borderline unlistenable noise with Yoko Ono which is, frankly, far less palatable than Deafheaven; but there’s admittedly a lot of screeching in both. If you’re surprised that Carcass made this choice, well, shows how much you know about Carcass.

Wait—John Lennon and Deafheaven what?