I am at Rough Trade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the Boston-based art-rock band Bent Knee, both to interview them and to see them play live for my first time. I would love to say that I had been following the band for years and have already seen them a handful of times, but somehow their head-spinning mixture of heavy-hitting Faith No More energy, proggy theatrics, and off-kilter pop/rock experimentations somewhere between Björk and St. Vincent had escaped me until only just this year when a fellow Heavy Blogger introduced me to them through their 2014 sophomore LP Shiny Eyed Babies. Upon hearing tracks like “Way Too Long” and “Being Human” I was instantly hooked. The blend of jazz influences with the bite of heavy rock and metal, extensive incorporation of violin, and the powerful siren sounds of vocalist Courtney Swain were more than enough to grab my attention, and I quickly did all I could to catch myself up on their (at the time) 3 albums.
As incredible as the tour was, the pairing of Coheed and Cambria and Between the Buried and Me in 2013 had caused a bit of head scratching. Certainly, the Vinn Diagram of audiences on that trek had quite a bit of overlap given both acts’ prog leanings and love of conceptual universes, but you could really feel the divide in the room between fans of either band.
Chances are, if you’re on this website in the first place, you’d likely find yourself in the center of that Vinn Diagram because you know that catchy post-hardcore and technically-minded prog metal compliment each other well. And if that is indeed the case, then you’re going to love Philadelphia’s In The Presence of Wolves.
Sludge metal was born out of hardcore punk bands discovering Black Sabbath. The greatest sludge albums combine all the raw aggression and rage of hardcore with the slow tension and power of doom metal. Since its beginnings in late 80s, the genre has grown into punk’s willingness to experiment and created some of the most forward thinking metal albums of all time from the likes of Mastodon, Neurosis, and Isis. In other words, though sludge combines fairly simple ingredients, the results are almost always sophisticated.
Man, this has been quite the year for weird, skronky extreme metal, hasn’t it? In the past four full months, we’ve gotten releases ranging from great to genre-defining from Sunless, Dodecahedron, Ingurgitating Oblivion, Artificial Brain, and Ulsect, in roughly that order chronologically. It’s almost too much to handle, especially in a genre as heady and labyrinthine as this. Truly, our collective cup has been runnething over for some time now, and now John Frum is here to refill our cup once again, whether we like it or not.
During the mid-2000s, the UK hardcore and metal scene underwent a re-energisation of sorts due to the emergence of several bands who have since spearheaded the genres to modern popularity. Bands like Enter Shikari and Bring Me the Horizon resonated with mainstream crowds since their inceptions and have since established themselves as global institutions. On the other hand, Architects instantly occupied the forefront of an underground charge and, over the years, have also crossed over into popular realms. However, bubbling underneath the surface was (and still is) a whole scene of innovative, vital artists whose records define the country’s musical output at its finest, with albums that will undoubtedly stand the test of time among aficionados of heavy music. One such act is Devil Sold His Soul who, in this writer’s humble opinion, are one of the best bands the UK has ever birthed.
Most music nerds can name at least one instance where an album stopped them dead in their tracks. You know the feeling. Those moments when the mind slowly pushes out all other thoughts and daily duties that regularly clutter the brain in order to make ample room for complete and total fixation on one incredible piece of music. There’s no multi-tasking in this space, no working on our various outside projects with music happily and quietly occupying the background. Instead, the music muscles its way front and center. It is music at its most alive, vibrant, and commanding of our full attention. In those distinctly transcendent moments, the music is everything.
Change and progression have been requirements for respected rock bands (and art) for as long as there have been rock bands that want to be taken seriously. If you evaluate He Is Legend by this criteria only, they are one of the most successful bands of all time. Now He Is Legend are back with Few, their first album since Heavy Fruit in 2014.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of catching up with Cade Gentry (bass), Alex Linden (vocals/guitars) and Zach Johnson (vocals/guitars) of doomsters Bereft (who just released a great new record titled Lands). Like any legitimate conversation that takes place in Wisconsin, we met for a couple of beers at a local tavern and discussed important things like which chain makes the “best” shitty pizza, how Def Leppard may or may not suck, and the merits of quality TV like Forensic Files and Designing Women. Most of our time was spent talking about how these regular dudes came together to put out one helluva heavy-ass record (seriously, check it out).
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.
Metal is a deeply saturated genre of music. The overwhelming glut of new albums that cross one’s path on a regular basis make it nearly impossible to absorb all of the new music being released. You can listen to hundreds of metal albums in a year and still kick yourself in the teeth for missing nearly every album on most metal publications’ year-end lists. Given this current state of affairs, it is not at all difficult to miss out on some really great music. Which is a shame, as well as the only logical explanation I have for why Swiss progressive metalcore aficionados Scars Divide aren’t absolutely annihilating the metal world right now.