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.
Head past the jump to see which receiving regular rotation on our headphones, stereos and turntables:
Where do solos fit into metal today? With the genre being as astonishingly diverse as it is — with regards to its rich history and evolution as well as the current state of things on its own terms — finding a simple answer to that question is no easy feat.
As far as progressive metal goes, there has certainly been a push towards more a lead oriented sound. Instrumental progressive metal in particular has some of its foundations in the works of 80s and 90s virtuosic shred metal heroes, who eventually found themselves out of fashion with the advent of nu metal and more aggressive forms of metal in general. That’s not to say solos disappeared entirely: on the heavier end of the spectrum, bands such as Slayer, and perhaps to a lesser extent Morbid Angel, both continued to eschew squeaky clean soloing in favour of furious, angry shredding, On the whole, however lead-oriented metal slowly found itself shoved by the wayside at first, only to have a dramatic resurgence with the advent of a more progressive sound.
That being said, modern soloing certainly doesn’t stop at progressive metal. The continued diversification of metal’s various subgenres has led to solos that serve all sorts of purposes within the context of a given song, from simply reiterating the core melody in a fairly climactic manner to essentially being the entire focus of the song from start to finish. From the chaotic and spastic to the most graceful — at least among those that particularly guitar-oriented metal has seen — here is a selection that highlights some of the various contexts in which modern metal guitar players have used the timeless guitar solo.
Danish mathy groove mob Cold Night For Alligators pull sounds, inspiration and ideas from pretty much every genre of heavier music. It’s this fusion of techniques and styles that has them ranked pretty damn high up in my list of “things Matt is telling you to listen to, dummy”. Now, in our beloved playlist sharing feature, the band let slip what exactly they’ve been listening to currently. As per, be prepared for some obvious and eclectic picks. Enjoy.
The past couple of years have been excellent for a new generation of death metal bands, particularly those with more technical and progressive leanings. And even though 2015 is almost coming to a close, there’s still just enough time for California’s Arkaik to remind us that they’re one of the most consistent bands to emerge from Unique Leader’s stellar roster. Lucid Dawn is finally here, and it’s going to rip your head from your body. Now you can finally check out the entire album, which is streaming below!
There’s a LOT of metal that takes its influence from space, from a conceptual, musical, or aesthetic standpoint, across every genre. Deathcore band Aversions Crown, for instance, holds down the heavy side of the fort with their neck-snapping grooves and grim ambience, all while their vocalists growl ruminations on planet-scale annihilation and reawakening alien gods; the techdeath giants of The Faceless play it much more fast and loose on their space-metal-defining Planetary Duality, opting to portray the idea of space musically with creepily dissonant, jazzy interludes and heavy usage of tools like vocoders.
No matter how a band does it, at the end of the day, there’s one concept that is hugely important to spacey metal: the atmosphere. It’s unbelievably tough to nail the intensely huge environment that is the great beyond, and although there are many ways to go about it, at the end of the day, it either works or it doesn’t. If it works, the album feels enormous in scope, grand, and has a foreboding sense of total awe to it. If it doesn’t, the music in question typically ends up feeling sparse, empty, bleak: still spacey, but in a way that doesn’t engage the listener at all.
Singled Out is our weekly column to round-up the singles and new tracks from the past week dropped by bands we cover. Consider this our weekly mix to help keep you all on top of the latest releases from across the metallic and progressive spectrums. Read past entries here, and go on ahead below to get Singled Out!
Sacramento-based The Kennedy Veil are no strangers to Heavy Blog; we’ve long touted the act as a major part of the post-Faceless wave of modern death metal that is gaining traction among extreme music fans. Their debut full length Trinity of Falsehood was an early highlight for 2014, and they’re quickly rising to prominence among the scene fostered by their label Unique Leader Records. While we look forward to a possible second entry in 2016, the band have deconstructed a few of the influences that have made Trinity of Falsehood possible.
Cynic‘s debut album Focus is undoubtedly one of the most influential works in metal. It influenced countless artists and shaped the nature of progressive metal for decades to come. But where did they come from? What happened to them? In the wake of their second (and perhaps final) break-up (assuming all the drama around the break-up resolves), it’s worth examining the culture that led to the formation of Cynic, their rise to fame, and how they’ve been interspersed with the rest of the metal scene and how far their influence reaches.
I don’t know about you, but I like my progressive deathcore to be weird, crazy, and absolutely off the hook (see here for more details). There’s a time for the more modern trend of slowing it down and djenting it up, but there will always be a special place in my heart for the likes of The Faceless, Arsonists Get All The Girls, Born Of Osiris, and their cohorts.
Unfortunately, all of these bands have either moved on from these roots or fallen apart entirely. I wake in dismay every day with that fact as the first thing on my mind; every morning, I step out of bed and think “golly, I really wish we could have had more of the stuff on Akeldama, The Game of Life, The New Reign, and other similar albums”. So imagine my overwhelming joy upon discovering Recite The Raven, a band that is breathing new life into the shambling husk this genre has become.
If you want to know what the best death metal in 2015 sounds like, look no further than Pennsylvania’s Rivers of Nihil, who are just about to drop Monarchy, one of the most impressive sophomore releases to ever come out of the death metal style. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a fan of blast-happy insanity, head-bobbing grooves or expansive and progressive song structures, this album has it all, and it’s smoking damn near every other modern band in the process. Now that the band is just about to head out on the road in support of this monolith of a record, Brody Uttley had a conversation with Heavy Blog Is Heavy while he was in his car up headed up to New York for band practice. I had a chance to speak with him about balancing brutality with progressive song ideas, handling the recording process on his own, the band’s touring plans, and much more!