Trees of Eternity – Hour of the Nightingale

All music has themes but metal is a genre which wears its heart on its sleeve. Thematics color everything in metal, from audience reception and marketing to the actual composition and execution of the music itself. It can affect production, tone, scales, and much more in an effort to align everything with a perceived image or to jar that image by deviating from the norm in just the right way. Take goth metal; a sub-section of doom, it relies on the theme of autumn, death, depression and nature for its impact. We haven’t even mentioned bands yet and album art, track names and that certain goth sound has already sprung into your mind. Sometimes, these themes become even more powerful and, by some twist of fate or by a pecuilar predestination, reflect in the musicians themselves: they might reflect the ideals of the music in their actions or in the facts of their lives.

And sometimes, that reflection has a bitter edge.

41 – Dogs Of Eden

You didn’t think that, once I discovered the secret of being lazy about these show notes, I’d go back to being not lazy, right? The structure of that sentence was abysmal. But I had a fun time trolling Eden this episode, and so did his new dog (RIP)! We talk about: Oddland, Disillusion, Alcest, ColdWorld, Native Construct, Babymetal, Devin Townsend, Departe, Brain Tentacles, Opeth, Orphaned Land, Infant Annihilator, Betraying the Martyrs, Inanimate Existence, Fountainhead, Anciients, Hannes Grossmann, Leander, Abnormality, Wintersun and Nader Sadek. Then, balls deep on Lamb of Dog! I mean, Lamb of God!

Stepping Stone: Wintersun’s Wintersun

Wintersun’s eponymous debut was a watershed album for me. Before Wintersun, I listened exclusively to power metal. If I found the courage to tell someone I liked metal, I assured them I didn’t listen to “the heavy stuff with the screaming”. But the basis of my hasty qualifications began to crumble away as I became bored by the pomp and feather-light punch of supposed “power” metal, and I found myself enjoying the odd song with harsh vocals. Wintersun was the album where extreme metal finally began to “click”, and struck through the stubborn levee that I’d built. As such, it was the bridge for the heavier parts of the metal, an album which made me more confident in listening to the music I liked rather than the music I already knew. That is the very essence of a “stepping stone”, opening up a whole new field of music for us if not whole new methods of listening.

Hey! Listen to Goatpsalm!

I’m not incredibly knowledgable on folk metal, but I have noticed a recent trend of bands that have done a great job putting folk elements into their music. Wintersun and Saor are the first to come to my mind, but even other, lesser known groups, like Forndom (which will hopefully find its own HLT in the future) have done incredible jobs reinventing the folk metal sound.What Russia’s Goatpsalm brings to the proverbial folk metal table is, in my opinion, incredibly original, at least in presentation. It’s as if the band has been able to strip folk metal down to its barest elements—the sounds of nature, the occasional acoustic guitar, and an assortment of ethnic instruments—and sort of build their sound up from there.

Keep of Kalessin – Epistemology

It’s been five years since the previous Keep of Kalessin album, and the band has gone through some odd times. But the Norwegian progressive black metal trio have finally returned with Epistemology, and they’re not holding back. They’ve refined their sound, rediscovered themselves and as a result created an album that hits…

Bloodshot Dawn – Demons

Every once in a while there’s a band that comes out of nowhere and completely blows one away. Bloodshot Dawn did that with their self-titled 2012 debut, coming to a scene where melodic death metal was more or less dead, and they put a very strong statement of “No it’s not dead,…