In China, there is a myth that carp swimming upstream try valiantly to swim up a waterfall, a clearly impossible task. Yet, they persist and persevere, straining every muscle as they strive to reach the top, and sure enough, a rare few are able to get there. It is said that any carp which successfully makes the climb is then rewarded for their determination with transformation into a mighty dragon. After swimming upstream for a decade, Stone Sour announced themselves a dragon of rock with their last two LPs, House of Gold and Bones (HoGaB) Parts 1 & 2 respectively. The masterful double album was the epitome of progressive hard rock in the modern era, infused with a thrilling concept, reoccurring musical and lyrical motifs, seamless transitions and excellent riffs. Taylor’s vocals moved effortlessly between unbridled aggression and morose beauty. The songwriting was inspired, each song standing proudly on its own two feet, yet even better when placed alongside its brethren. It was a rare release to draw inspiration from the giants of the 70’s and, when all was said and done, comfortably stand shoulder-to-shoulder beside them. Thus one could be forgiven for feeling optimistic about where Stone Sour went next. Unfortunately, Jim Root’s acrimonious departure in mid-2014 led to doubts over their future sound and direction, doubts which a pair of cover EPs did little to dispel. And so here we are in 2017, four years on from the magic that was HoGaB. Stone Sour is back, with Christian Martucci (Black President, ex-Chelsea Smiles) having replaced Root on guitar. The question though, is can they live up to the hype?
The self-titled album can be quite a statement for several reasons. A self-titled release by a seasoned outfit – think Sodom’s 2006 effort for example – can be the aural distillation of what a band is about and what it really sounds like. The more common case however is the self-titled debut full-length which signals the arrival of a new act on the scene and in a way serve as a reference point for the future. Loviatar, from the Canadian capital, has been active for the better part of this decade, releasing four EPs before finally putting together their first full-length Loviatar. This Ottawa-based quartet incorporates some sludge and doom metal elements in a rather homogeneous thirty seven minute post-metal journey where walls of sound are efficiently built and torn down from segment to segment to create a concise yet confounding listen.
We’re back with more fantastic jazz from the second quarter of 2017! Unfortunately with the departure of staff writer and our friend Jimmy Mullett from Heavy Blog, it’s left a hole in our Jazz Club trifecta. Thankfully we were able to fill that void quickly with our buddy Dave Tremblay of Can This Even Be Called Music? Dave is constantly finding interesting and original stuff in the way of jazz and elsewhere, and we’re excited to have him join and help us recommend jazz of all stripes that demands your attention.
There’s an inherent alchemy required to successfully combine two seemingly disparate forces into something new. Famous, enduring pairings can be volatile and even counter-intuitive at first glance, but when done properly the result can be something far greater than the sum of each part. Peanut butter and jelly are each perfectly enjoyable on their own, but when paired together they create one of the most well-known and universally enjoyed sandwiches in modern history. Likewise, Calvin is a perfectly funny — albeit bratty – cartoon character and, similarly, Hobbes is a charming and occasionally profound tiger. But it’s their pairing that creates something greater: a friendship that serves as a vehicle for an entire comic strip, a philosophical and temperamental foil for each character to bounce off, and the sheer intangible joy the strip provides readers by allowing us to live inside their friendship. By fusing two independently enjoyable ingredients, an effective pairing can not only allow for a greater appreciation of the pair’s individual components, it can simultaneously create something richer and more meaningful in the magic as well.