Howling Sycamore is a supergroup which does interesting things within the avant-garde milieu but also does much that doesn’t immediately fall into the definition. Comprised of the cream of the crop of progressive metal, namely Jason McMaster (Watchtower), Davide Tiso (Ephel Duath), and Hannes Grossman (Necrophagist, Obscura), Howling Sycamore’s self-titled debut is a whirling mass of influences, ideas and composition drawn from the diverse world of progressive metal. These ideas, however, have been fed through a mirror darkly and now carry a distinctly sinister vibe that is wholly avant-garde. The result is an album that is often bewildering and scattered but which also feels convinced of where it’s heading, as paradoxical as that might sound.
The year is 1984 and Iron Maiden are in an interesting position. Hot off the tails of two great releases and their first major tour, the band are starting to feel the pressures and joys of success at the same time. This is a crucible in which many bands have faltered, unable to reproduce the original sound which garnered them their first modicums of recognition. Line-ups shake, creative differences being to tear at the structure of the sound, as each member brings forth their own vision as to what the future should contain. In this situation, there were many divergent paths down which Iron Maiden’s story could have gone; they had already faced several major line-up changes and their future was anything but secure. They could have easily broken up or lost track of what made their first albums work.
But, instead, they made Powerslave.
If the story of 1980 to 1984 was how NWOBHM (and more specifically, Iron Maiden) awoke metal from its dormancy to tear the boundaries of popular music, then 1985 – 1987 is about the coronation of thrash metal atop the metal throne, and the subsequent underground rumblings of a closely linked cousin, a blood brother faster, more brutal, and more astonishing — death metal.
Welcome back to our Taxonomy series, where we break down umbrella genres like progressive metal, post rock and doom metal and outline all of the progressions and subgenres that have matriculated over the past few decades. The dissection of thrash metal you’ll find below contains a detailed dissection of the most crucial genre in extreme metal style. Thrash led to incredible innovations over the years, and in turn, a multiplicity of styles has made its way back into the genre’s core traits to form some of the most forward thinking metal coming out today. Seriously, many of the bands mentioned below have released records less than a year ago, and in some cases, less than a month. There’s a ton of ground to cover here, so without further ado, let’s riff on some of the best thrash you can use to mosh in your bedroom.
Metal and science fiction clash along various cultural axes. Their marriage begins with tone; both have a penchant for the wildly grandiose and imaginative personas, for personality writ large across a vast canvas. The juxtaposition continues along more “meta” lines, with both being adopted (or perhaps relegated to) the “geek”…
Eden’s back! This means we get to talk about stuff like Tidal, other streaming services, this article about Opeth (which gets us pretty salty), the breakup of Bolt Thrower, Portnoy playing the 12 step suite he wrote for Dream Theater, inconsistencies in promos labels send to us, then new music or news from bands like Dark Tranquillity, Downfall of Gaia, Oathbreaker, Alcest, Metallica, A Sense of Gravity, the DOOM OST by Mick Gordon, Plini, Watchtower, Riverside, Pain of Salvation, Mithridatic and Venom Prison. Finally we talk about Elvenking’s underrated The Pagan Manifesto. Enjoy!
Yeah, we love pretty much everything on Season of Mist. So what? This week we talk about new music from Thy Catafalque, Brain Drill, Opeth, Snowy Shaw, SHOKRAN (teaser here), Noctem, Victor Wooten’s new band Octavision, Oxiplegatz, Exotype, Sleep Token, Hannes Grossmann, and Watchtower. Then we go over some news, like Darkthrone’s Fenriz getting elected for city council, Persefone announcing a new album, Sikth reissuing Death of a Dead Day, and Enslaved announcing a rarities collection. Then we discuss two albums that have been on our minds: Insomnium’s Winter’s Gate, and Misery Index’s The Killing Gods. We introduce our new segment, “Underrated release highlight of the week” – this week we talk about Arkona’s Yav. Finally, we talk about our process for discovering and ingesting new music. Enjoy! Also cool people time has some cool stuff.
For this week’s Beyond the Veil, I’ll be your substitute teacher. We’re going to look into twelve-tone technique, also called dodecaphony and twelve-tone serialism. It’s a technique used in some of today’s more “intellectual” metal writing. It’s a useful knowledge to possess, as it can add colour to your compositional palette and help you grow as a musician and as a listener as well. So, let’s lift the veil of obscurity on twelve-tone serialism, and let me introduce you to this technique, listeners and musicians alike!
Episode 18! This week we get pretty rambly and political, so warning! Opinions contained within! Including those on subjects like Kanye West, new Fallujah, new Wormed (see below), Eagles of Death Metal on gun control, Leprous’s crowdfunder, The Grammys, and Skuggsja. We also discuss the sudden passing of Riverside guitarist Piotr Grudzinski, Greg Puciato’s take on …And Justice For All, new music by The Odious and more. We finally get to talk about the techno thrash phenomenon of the early 90s, then discuss avant-garde metal, and go balls deep on Lamb of God! Enjoy!
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.…