Even a cursory glance of our biweekly “What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To” posts (last week’s update here) will reveal that there is a great deal of variety among our staff’s musical tastes. Due to this, we brainstormed the idea of “Playlist Swap,” another biweekly segment that takes place between playlist updates. We randomly select two of the participants from each update, have them pick their favorite track from each of the nine albums in their grid and then send the list over to the other person to listen to and comment on. Within these commentaries occurs praise, criticism and discovery, and we hope that you experience a few instances of this last point as well. This week’s post brought staff members Eden Kupermintz and Mark Valentino together to peruse each other’s tastes:
Mark’s Grid & Eden’s Thoughts
Deafheaven – New Bermuda – “Luna”
Deafheaven: the band everyone loves to hate. Honestly, I didn’t like Sunbather that much but it was a decent album. I guess I was excited to see how New Bermuda would come out and whether Deafheaven could outlive the hype. Not surprisingly, I actually like this album more and “Luna” is a good example of why: the track has much more “space” than anything off the last album and that’s great; it really gives the composition breathing room and thus, has more of an overall impact. The quieter part in the middle is especially good in the sense, breaking up the structure. Overall, it’s pretty good which is more than I could say about Sunbather.
Athletics – Who You Are Is Enough – “II”
I had no idea what to expect from this, seeing as I’ve never heard of Athletics, but my friend Mark does not disappoint; this was produced by Greg Dunn of Moving Mountains and that’s really no surprise at all. What I liked most about this post rock creation was how understated the tremolo picks were: they are subtle hints throughout this whole thing. The vocals are also pretty damn good, mixing an almost grunge feel a la Alice In Chains to further empower the impact of the whole thing. To conclude, I’ll probably be adding these guys to my rotation, right alongside the inevitable yearly gates comeback, as winter is coming very soon (first rain coming down as I’m writing this).
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven – “Sleep”
Calling this a track is a bit funny: in true Godspeed You! It’s around twenty three minutes and contains a lot of the classic elements we’ve come to expect from them: longing, voice overs, complexity, and melancholy. All of those are fortified here by one of the best intro-crescendo-break-outro structure of Godspeed’s career. It’s funny but the about the tracks I actually know and listen to a lot from this list, I have the least to write. I guess it’s because they’re so iconic in my mind, “Sleep” especially. I can still remember listening to it for the first time.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F# A# Infinity – “Providence”
Talk about iconic tracks. It doesn’t get more iconic than F# A# Infinity and with damn good reason. “Providence” is a good example how so many post rock bands have been trying to emulate the Godspeed sound since the project first erupted into our minds. The subtle buildup in the beginning of the track, playing off the opening sample, the supposedly random use of horns and strings after that, the drum led middle part. That terribly pretentious silence near the end. It all just screams Godspeed and that’s a great thing. It’s actually been a while since I’ve sat down to listen to this album all the way through. That was a mistake.
Mutoid Man – Bleeder – “Surveillance”
I had actually sort of skipped this album and judging by this ferocious, not quite two minute track, that was a mistake. There’s so much of what made thrash and stoner great to begin with this on this track and the early Metallica vocals make it so much greater. What’s to say? The riffs go hard, the track is all about kicking you in the face and that outro is just insane! Talk about leads and that scream! I’ll make sure to add the full release to my rotation very, very soon.
Dream Theater – Black Clouds and Silver Linings – “The Count of Tuscany”
Oh, Dream Theater. Historically speaking, they are my favorite band; I grew up on Awake, Images and Words and Falling Into Infinity (my favorite album by them). I went through high school with Scenes From a Memory in my ears. But somewhere after Octavarium, I lost track. That album in itself was really disappointing for me, not to mention those that came before. Back when Black Clouds and Silver Linings came out, I really wanted to give them a chance; sadly, it did nothing for me and this track was actually one of the main reasons why. The intro is so lifeless, so filled with ideas I had heard a million teams. The later parts are just as bad: dominated by pointless unisons between Rudess and Petrucci, once the lifelines of the band, they simply go nowhere for me. Add the mis-utilization of LaBrie throughout this entire track and you get the prime example of why this period of Dream’s career will forever be boring for me. Luckily, their later, self-titled, was actually pretty damn good. I might put that on now, for a second. Or maybe Awake.
Coheed & Cambria – Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV vol 1, From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness – “From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness “
Oh god, I love this album so much. There’s really no competing with the innocence and vivacity that this album has. I love The Afterman but these earlier creations of Coheed are sometimes more special, containing a more…scattered yet endearing version of their music. Especially lovely are the drum/bass arrangements on this track, arrangements which would have never fit in with Coheed with their slightly silly and off-kilter vibe. Claudio is excellent as he has always been and this entire track is just a joy to listen to.
Caspian – Dust and Disquiet – “Arcs of Command”
This is the track I waited for the most off this list. I have been putting away Caspian’s new release for a special time and I think that the first rain qualifies is that time. Holy hell, is this good. Better than what I could have expected; this is This Will Destroy You with a bit of set and setting in one easily digestible, immediately relatable, somehow superior, package. The production is so damn good, highlighting the bass that is so important to post metal. Oh god, those riffs are so emotional and groovy, backed to perfection by the towering cymbals. Simply put: yes, yes, this is the post metal that we need in 2015. This is the revelation and the promise of things to come. Did we give this 5/5? Because we should have. This is a modern day classic.
Bolt Thrower – …For Victory – “Remembrance”
I have been told a million times to listen to Bolt Thrower. The track is perhaps even more fitting seeing as their drummer sadly passed away recently. I can definitely see the allure of this track/style: it harkens back to Sepultara’s heyday, when this brand of violent thrash was especially virulent. It’s not really my style but I can definitely see myself coming back to this when the going gets tough and I need to punch someone in the face. Those whistles on the guitar are especially pleasing, getting my blood roiling in anticipation of the breakdown that is sure to come. Yep, here it is. Awesome.
Eden’s Grid & Mark’s Thoughts
Children of Nova – Impossible Landscape – “Moments of Clarity”
I’ve never heard of Children Of Nova before listening to Impossible Landscape, so I don’t feel too bad about sleeping on this band, but I would definitely recommend them to anyone who listens to Circa Survive, Coheed and Cambria, etc. I definitely dig the legato/arpeggiated ambient lead guitar parts over the intricate drumming in each verse. The vocals remind me of a weird mixture between Matthew Bellamy of Muse, Luka Kerečin of Wings Denied, and one other vocalist whose name is just slipping my mind right now.
Soilwork – The Ride Majestic – “Enemies In Fidelity”
Soilwork are a melodic death metal band that have been an integral part of the genre since the beginning of their career. Although I was into The Living Infinite when that dropped in 2013 (funny enough, the first time I saw Soilwork was when they toured for that album, and I won a pair of tickets for the show through a contest that Heavy Blog did for the NYC show, and now I’m a part of the blog 2 years later. Go figure), I feel like The Ride Majestic is a step up from The Living Infinite. I’m pretty sure my favorite part of Dirk Verbeuren’s blast beats. They truly are one of a kind.
Adebisi Shank – This Is the Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank – “Genki Shank”
Upon delving into Adebisi Shank, I had no idea what to expect, but I definitely dig what I was hearing. They kind of remind me of a mixture between And So I Watch You From Afar and Chon with a pop vibe. Definitely will be looking more into this band for sure.
Rumour Cubes – Appearances of Collections – “Research and Destroy”
Rumour Cubes are a band I’ve heard of but never took the time to check out. From hearing the track “Research and Destroy”, it’s like I’m listening to a heavier (so to speak) and faster Godspeed You! Black Emperor, just that there’s not that much of a crescendo going on, it’s just straight up in your face symphony with guitars, drums and bass along with string instruments.
VOLA – Inmazes – “Owls”
Like Rumor Cubes, VOLA are a band I’ve heard of but never got around to checking them out. Although I don’t really care about progressive metal as much as I used to, I can definitely get into VOLA. In the song “Owls”, there’s a perfect balance between lush ambience and bouncy heaviness which I think is really cool.
A Sense of Gravity – Travail – “Answers Lost”
I’ve heard A Sense Of Gravity a few times before, and although I think they’re cool, the clean vocals just don’t really do much for me. Maybe they’re just something that has to grow on me the more I listen to them, which I hope is the case because I’m digging all of the instrumentals behind the vocals in the song “Answers Lost”.
Pain of Salvation – Remedy Lane – “Beyond the Pale”
Pain Of Salvation have always been a name tossed around in progressive music, and rightfully so. Unless I haven’t been paying attention much, it seems like they’re kind of not as popular as they should be in the world of progressive metal. Daniel Gildenlöw is a great songwriter for sure. The only thing that throws me off about them on this track is that at around the 5 minute mark, the vocals sound kind of weaker than they could be, like he could have definitely gotten a little louder and add some more power to his screams. A little more anger in music never hurt anyone.
Kill Paris – Galaxies Between Us – “Summer Daze”
Kill Paris are probably the odd band(?) out of this whole playlist, which I can totally get down with. Electronic/techno/whatever you want to call it is a genre that I’ve wanted to get into, but never knew where to start. What makes Kill Paris cool and enjoyable (or at least this track) is that the beat of the song isn’t your typical techno song with a simple 4/4 beat consisting of a kick and snare or hi-hat and snare, it gets experimental. I also really enjoy the funky bass lines you hear through out the song. I’m definitely going to look into Kill Paris more.
Elder – Lore – “Legend”
Lore is a great album that came out this year. I really enjoyed this album because it mixes stoner, doom, sludge metal with memorable riffs. My friend and I drove down to Louisville, Kentucky in August for a fest he put helped put together, and this album was one of the albums we were listening to on a Spotify playlist he made for the trip. I always find with long songs, they make traveling more fun and go by quicker in a way. I would definitely recommend Lore or just Elder in general to someone who’s just starting to get into sludge metal and has no idea where to start.
-EK, SM & MV