These posts are written by: Joe Whitenton

Edguy – Monuments

Edguy’s Monuments does a pretty great job as far as compilations go. Not only does Edguy include an EP’s worth of new material, they also include a DVD of live performances, and a never before released track from their classic days when they weren’t the German hard rock superstars that they are today. Hardcore fans like myself will find many reasons to pick this thing up and new listeners will find this release a great starting place for Edguy. Monuments showcases the power metal/hard rock masters perfectly in currently forms and presents a unique chance to look back at the band’s impressive career.

Integrity – Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume

Metalcore wasn’t always the poppy, hair-flipping, Jonas Brothers-ass affair that it turned into during the early to mid 2000s. Metal and punk have always had an interesting dynamic and when the two cross over it has almost always resulted in compelling music. Black Flag showed their love for Black Sabbath on My War and the first thrash records of the early 80s are seriously indebted to hardcore punk and crust punk. In the 1990s, metalcore was one of the many punk-metal amalgams thriving. It combined the sludgy, downtuned, groovy metal of the day with the politics, angst, and breakdowns of hardcore punk. One of the originators of this fusion, Integrity, gained their popularity off their highly influential debut album, Those Who Fear Tomorrow, a thundering record that still holds up today. Unlike many of the bands in that early metalcore scene, Integrity hasn’t gone away since their legendary early release. On the contrary, the band is still firmly plugged into the current metal-punk world and makes some of the most interesting metalcore available. Their newest album, Howling, for the Nightmare Shall Consume, continues their long streak of successes.

EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Icaria Are “Transcendent”

Icaria remembers to have fun and, thus, we are fortunate to have an exclusive stream of their upcoming debut album, Transcendent, here on Heavy Blog Is Heavy. This five-piece progressive metal outfit from Atlanta packs a serious punch with their flashy compositions, tight production, and relentless intensity. The band sounds like a cross between Periphery on their most recent poppier albums, Coheed and Cambria, and just a hint of shreddy power metal. It’s an absolute blast. There’s nothing mind-bending here and nothing that will change the face of progressive metal but that is not a bad thing. Icaria is making thoroughly enjoyable metal that has a lot of pop appeal but still maintains its musical integrity and complexity.

Hey! Listen to Isaurian!

Metal newbies would have you think metal just started borrowing from shoegaze’s sounds a few years ago. While Deafhaven popularized the fusion in 2013, the genres have been bedfellows for quite a while. Jesu, as far back as 2004, brought the psychedelics of shoegaze together with abrasive industrial metal, a juxtaposition rarely touched upon by newer metalgaze bands who usually gravitate toward aesthetics of black metal and sludge metal. Brazil’s Isaurian brings a new vibe to industrial shoegaze metal (that’s a mouthful). Where Jesu went ugly and violent, Isaurian dials it back to a gothic melodicism.

Carach Angren – Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten

Symphonic black metal was born out of the original Norwegian scene in the 90s. In the same years that Darkthrone and Immortal were making their most classic releases, Dimmu Borgir and Emperor were adding synths and keyboards to the black metal sound. The genre expanded and experienced a peak mainstream appeal in the 2000s with a handful of the surviving Norwegian bands as well as other legends like Cradle of Filth and Anorexia Nervosa leading the charge. Today, these records are often written off as too commercial and overly cheesy, remembered with a fond nostalgia at best and an urge to erase them from history at worse. Regardless of its arguable merit, the symphonic black metal sound barely thrives today. Rather than deal in dramatic orchestral arrangements, current black metal albums usually find new extremes in dissonance or break new ground by merging with more melodic genres like shoegaze and post-rock. Carach Angren brings black metal back to a more theatrical sound and has no problem with going over the top. But is the result something stomachable or anything close to the old classics?

Unleash The Archers – Apex

Crafting a great power metal album is a difficult thing. The genre is so steeped in thrills and adrenaline, it can be easy to create something too over-the-top and annoying. Writing the catchiest chorus, playing the fastest solo, and singing the highest notes aren’t going to mean anything if the music doesn’t have depth and meaning. Great power metal albums like Nightfall in Middle Earth, Land of the Free, The Metal Opera, and, more recently, Noble Beast employ subtly when necessary. They have memorable choruses and great riffs but also moments of real emotion. While less serious bands like Primal Fear, Dragonforce, and Sabaton have their proper place and legitimate enjoyment factor, they will never be remembered in the same way.