Think of Caligula’s Horse or Vildhjarta, two extreme ends of the same phenomenon. They each stretch the limits of what the genre does in opposite directions: one towards the melodic side and one towards the heavier side. Now to these annals we can add Stargazer; while their album Tui La, which sees release on August 18th via Famined Records, is not their first piece of music released, it is their first full length album. It is chock full with the kind of formula we described above, a djent-y approach to progressive metal which blends chugs, technical riffs, off kilter vocal work and an overall progressive structure. However, unlike the bands mentioned above (and perhaps most similarly like Uneven Structure), Stargazer refuse to sacrifice either side of the formula, instead preferring to wield both approaches at the same time.
Djent had an explosive entrance into the world of heavy music, around the start of the decade. It was a truly exciting occurrence, with first-wave acts like Periphery, Animals As Leaders and Cloudkicker filtering the technically-driven progressive sound of acts like Meshuggah, Sikth, and those of the budding “Sumeriancore” movement, into something altogether more accessible, while still retaining much of their forebears’ technical and progressive edge. Yet, like most new sub-genres, djent quickly devolved into pastiche and gave way to over saturation—perhaps a little bit quicker than most. Djent, it seems, has had a propperly ballistic trajectory, and—in 2017—as its momentum trails off, it’s hard to get excited about this once-promising phenomenon.
Let’s get the superlatives out of the way right now: Uneven Structure’s debut album Februus is the greatest album to come out of the djent movement. There are contenders, for sure. Masstaden. One. Periphery. Each album was groundbreaking in its own right and contributed great things to the genre, but when examine progressive songwriting abilities, emotional content, scope of dynamic, and overall ambition, Februus rose above the rest. Needless to say, this provides a bit of a challenge for the French prog unit; some bands that find themselves wedged into a niche fail to find much light trying to claw out from behind the shadows cast by a monolithic debut. Factor in lineup changes and nearly six years between records, the hype and anticipation built for their sophomore full-length might seem insurmountable. Can lightening strike twice, or can Februus’ power be attributed to a fluke of being in the right place at the right time?
It’s been nearly six years since we were absolutely floored by Uneven Structure’s debut album Februus. It was a perfect storm of ambition, atmosphere, and emotional/conceptual depth that made it tower above the array of djent records that dropped in the early 2010’s. Depending on who you ask, it may be the best record that has ever come out of that scene.
The follow up La Partition is no slouch, either.
How to navigate the sheer number of festivals now available for the metal fan? With the aim of helping you sort through this vast variety, we’ve compiled the following primer. It’s by no means extensive; it’s simply impossible to write about all of the festivals we would have liked to mention. We focused on those we’ll be attending and on those who have the most attractive setlists in our eyes. That being said, do feel free to share more great festivals with us in the comments and please enjoy this, our selection of festivals for 2017.
Though it may seem like we talked ad naseum about how fucking spectacular 2016 was in terms of new music, the fact remains that we saw more fantastic albums drop than we could seemingly keep up with. But just when we thought our palates were satiated, here comes 2017 with an excellent early roster of release announcements, some we’ve expected for a while and others that came out of nowhere. The following is a surely incomplete list of all the albums worth craving as we ring in the new year. Some of these albums have been fully announced with pre-order links and all that jazz, while others are merely probable assumptions based on various updates on social media. Regardless, these are all phenomenal projects worth looking for in the coming year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to comment with some albums you’re anticipating so we can share in your excitement.
When we say “multi-instrumentalist”, what do we mean? Certainly, at the basic level of the term, there is the technicality and skill involved in mastering and playing multiple instruments. However, composition and songwriting are also large aspects of the phenomenon described by the term “multi-instrumentalist”. We expect a kind of eclectic approach mingled with a far-flung direction, a tone and voice that would single out the “multi-instrumental” artist in our minds as a discrete, musical unit.
Clément Belio’s career, so far, has both cemented and called into doubt the “multi-instrumentalist” label. His album from 2014, Contrast, was more of an experiment in homage, in variance around familiar themes. It was brilliant, to say the least, but perhaps lacked that innately emotive spark that would cement his direction and musical interest. Thus, we waited with baited breaths for his next release, not quite sure of what to expect. Would the next release continue the line which Contrast sketched out? Would it even be metal, when you take into consideration Belio’s extensive, musical education and background?
“The occult” is a term that gets thrown around quite a lot these days. It’s mostly used to describe a certain aesthetic, one laden with candles, burly cloaks and pentagrams. It can also be used to connote an eerie or bizarre, a sense that something is off. That shouldn’t be surprising; after all, “occult” comes from the Latin “occultus”, something hidden or secret. However, the occult is also a field of study, a body of knowledge and a sociological term which underwent plenty of historical permutations to finally end up with the meaning and context is bears today.
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.
It shouldn’t be a secret that we here at Heavy Blog were MIGHTY impressed by A Dark Orbit’s Inverted. Even though we’re already a couple of weeks into 2016, our very own Matt MacLennan is still hyped on the record, and decided to hit up Chad again to cover a myriad of different topics.