Welcome to Heavy Blog is Heavy’s feature, “The Anatomy Of.” Taken from the Between The Buried And Me album of the same name, in which the band pays tribute to artists/bands that they feel have most inspired their songwriting, “The Anatomy Of” allows us to hand off the metaphorical microphone to bands so they can talk about their influences. Read more entries from this series here.
As many of you Heavy Blog readers know, we’re nerds. And we love being nerds. This may come as a shock to some of you, actually, but to the majority, you’ll instantly recognize us as fellow nerds. I mean, who’s really the audience for heavy metal anyway?
That said, it’s always a wonderful thing when powerful musicianship and straight-up nerdery come together to form something so utterly fun and enjoyable. Which is why several of us are big fans of Dan Behrens, more commonly known in the musical world as Danimal Cannon! Or Armcannon, if you’ve been following his work for some time. You may remember Dan from his recent premiere of “Behemoth” from the forthcoming Lunaria, but we were also lucky to have him on our 2014 Heavy Blog is Heavy year-end compilation with “Red Planet.”
But what makes Danimal tick? It’s not just delicious yogurt and smoothies for children, but a wide range of really rad influences. Find out in our latest entry in The Anatomy Of!
1. Dirty Loops
Jazz fusion pop music! I never would have guessed that this would be my most listened to album of 2015. The lyrics are abysmal, but the arrangements are absolutely incredible. This album proves you can write a catchy tune while still flexing insane musical chops. The complexity found on this record uses a lot of devices not found in most progressive music. Perfect usage of oddly-timed triplets, jazz chord stab 1/16th note away from the beat, drum fills that make your head spin. I have to note that it has the best bass guitar performance I’ve heard on a recent record.
I also adore the mixing on this record, and used it as a main point of reference when mixing my new album, Lunaria. Very modern sounding, yet completely natural and organic without drum replacement or samples. It inspired me to use stereo doubled vocals during the choruses to have the mix accentuate musical climaxes. Absolutely gorgeous album in every way—except the lyrics.
In my opinion, Extol is one of the most underrated bands in all of metal. Synergy is THE progressive thrash metal album. Undeceived and The Blueprint Dives are incredible albums that sound nothing alike. Their chord work, crazy rhythms, and wholly unique riffs set them apart from the millions of sound-alike metal bands. They rarely employ the incredibly overused “low open string pedal point chugging riffage,” their riffs are all over the neck, with strange chords beautifully inserted, and trills on tasty outside notes. My only complaint is that they rarely play guitar solos, and the reason it bothers me is that every solo they do play absolutely rips. More solos please!
3. Eric Whitacre
Eric Whitacre is a composer most known for his choral music, and has an instantly recognizable style. His usage of giant stacked chords, loaded with secundal harmonies, really changed the way I view consonance and dissonance in music. He manages to build musical tension in a way I never knew was possible, while still remaining absolutely gorgeous. I was able to collaborate with him in 2013 to remix his Virtual Choir 4 track and added Gameboys and guitar solos to his already incredible choir arrangement.
4. Buke and Gase
A progressive indie rock duo that sounds absolutely unique. They’re a perfect blend of great songwriting, polyrhythm pounding, and controlled dissonance. They’re a group all my prog-head friends have been passing around saying, “Whoa, have you checked these guys out?” Arone Dyer’s bass ukulele strumming influenced my guitar to handle complex chordal flavoring up top during the bridge of my song “Red Planet.” Their use of rhythmic tricks to intentionally confuse the listener influenced how I presented the opening section of “Coalesce” by leaving off a single 8th note at the beginning.
Virt is a monster. He’s one of the best composers in the world, whether he’s creating chiptunes, barbershop, movie scores, disco funk, progressive butt rock, and quite literally ANYTHING in between. His biggest influence to me has been in his chiptune music, where he showed me how a simple square wave can be an incredibly expressive instrument. In his track “Mecha Kukai Travels to Chang’an,” he transforms NES square waves into traditional Chinese instruments like yangqin dulcimers and erhu violins by intricately controlling the ASDR and vibratos of the instrument. Then he manages to incorporate them into a startlingly catchy progressive buttrock chiptune. I told you—he’s a monster.
Dan Behrens (aka Danimal Cannon) is an instrumental musician who specializes in progressive rock, shred, and chiptune music. His forthcoming album, Lunaria, will be available on March 11th, 2016 via Bandcamp. Pre-order now to grab “Behemoth” as a single! You can keep up with Dan on Facebook and Twitter!
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