Each month, we always seem to come to the same conclusion when it comes to our Editors’ Picks column: Friday release days open the floodgates and unleash a seemingly endless stream of quality new music. But while some of our Editors and Contributors sit down gleefully each week to dive into this newly stocked treasure trove, others find themselves drawing a blank at the end of the month due to the breakneck pace needed to keep up to date with what’s been released. Which brings us to this Heavy Blog PSA: a weekly roundup of new albums which pares down the the week’s releases to only our highest recommendations. Here you’ll find full album/single streams, pre-order links and, most importantly, a collection of albums that could very well earn a spot on your year end list. Enjoy!
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.
Few bands in the modern prog scene are as controversial as The Contortionist. Despite their growing success, the ongoing transition in sound from trailblazers of progressive deathcore to settling into a niche of post-rock and prog influenced alt metal has proven to be divisive among their otherwise dedicated fanbase. Although there were clear and deliberate steps away from deathcore between their celebrated debut Exoplanet and its well-received follow-up Intrinsic, the true turning point for The Contortionist came in 2014’s Language, and it’s no wonder given the lineup overhaul that occurred at that time. Vocalist and keyboard player Jonathan Carpenter and bassist Chris Tilley amicably left following the Intrinsic touring cycle for personal reasons, with the band picking up Last Chance To Reason’s Michael Lessard (vocals), ex-Scale The Summit’s Jordan Eberhardt (bass), and keyboardist Eric Guenther. With the band now half-consisting of new members and a trajectory towards prog already heavily hinted at, it’s no wonder that Language wound up being such a departure.
I’m back, and so is Eden, so we have a normal episode for once! And it’s a glorious trainwreck. We talk about new music, including Myrkur, The Arusha Accord, Akercocke, Leprous, Igorrr, Fractal Universe, ZETA, The Contortionist, The Faceless, and Queens of the Stone Age. Also, Gene Simmons of KISS trying to trademark the metal horns. We have an extended discussion on bands appropriating spiritualism and eastern philosophy and then do the first part of a deep segment on Devin Townsend. Specifically Strapping Young Lad and Devin Townsend Band. This one’s a wild ride, so enjoy!
“Sumeriancore” was an interesting genre. A highly specific brand of progressive metalcore that coincided with the rise of Sumerian Records, lead by prominent bands on that label, it was very popular for a few years and then dissolved into djent shortly after. Born of Osiris were at the forefront of this, if not the main driving force. Being part of the original “big 4” of the genre along with label mates Veil of Maya, The Faceless and After the Burial, they’ve inspired many other artists and headlined many tours. They’ve had some wildly acclaimed albums, and some that are borderline ridiculed. A decade after their debut, where are they now? Where is the genre? And what’s their future? That’s what we’re here to discuss today.
What’s the difference between a good concept album and a shit one? Hard to say. Does it depend on the lyrical content? Thematic refrain and reprisal? Who knows. There’s even sneaky concept albums, the likes of which the layman listener wouldn’t even begin to fathom had intentions beyond riff, chorus, solo, repeat. The Cold Sun might be one of these; Loathe seem like a band bold enough to attempt such a thing on their debut full length. What isn’t up for debate is this – The Cold Sun is just about all filler. Twelve tracks. Six songs. Zero (or damn close to it) cares.
Persefone are no newcomers to metal, but they do stand in the shadow of their previous release, The Spiritual Migration. This album, lauded by many (including us) as a masterpiece of modern progressive metal, completely destroys any but two or three other releases in its own genre. It was, and remains, fresh, surprising, intimately familiar and yet, somehow, irreverent at the same time. Therefore, when the band announced a crowdfunding campaign for its follow up last year, titled Aathma, breaths were held across the community. Can Persefone achieve one of the two options above? That is, can they either recreate something close to The Spiritual Migration or, failing that, depart from that monumental creation into something just as good?
Welcome, one and all, young and old, to our Album of the Year 2016 week! We have SO MUCH content lined up for you! Some of that content includes guest lists from artists that either released music in 2016 or of which we’re just huge, dorky fans. To kick us off, we have Maeth’s…interesting list. In case you’ve forgotten, Maeth released the exceptional “Shrouded Mountain” this year, putting us to shame for ignoring them so far. They’ve also submitted the list below of their Top 10 Albums from 2016 , which we’ve left u-ranked and also unedited, making them the first contributors to our brand new Heavy Blog Guest List feature.
One of the biggest trends of 2016’s seemingly-ubiquitous djent scene has to be the fact that most bands have tried to stray as far away from their metal roots as possible, all while still trying to maintain a semblance of grit. What fans have been left with is a mostly watered-down clone of any number of bands’ earlier material. Too many musicians out there have decided that their heavier past simply isn’t cool and have instead opted to make what can only be described as progressive metal’s take on elevator music. Thankfully for Canada’s Auras, they’re out for blood on Heliospectrum. This record may be just as uber-clean and electronica-influenced as they come, but it’s one of the only times in recent memory that something out of this subgenre has sounded this pissed.
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.