Jeremy Bolm and his band Touché Amoré have kept me good company lately as I've grappled with these questions under the red glow of cancer. Their album, Stage Four, detailing Bolm's grieving process after his mother died of the same terrible illness afflicting my father-in-law, lives on a loop in my mind and heart now. The lyrics are honest, passionate and absolutely heartbreaking. Bolm's incredibly vulnerable declarations of hurt, loneliness, regret and suffering are absolutely necessary and equally wonderful. I find myself comforted, listening in gentle communion, to a work of art that shares my grief brilliantly and empathetically.
As Immolation proved earlier this year, one can age with power and magnitude, only increasing one’s stature as the past becomes a launch pad to an even more nuanced and aggressive future. Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer also tested this theorem in 2016, to mixed results. Age does not always sit well with metal bands, but many try to use their longevity to their advantage, releasing albums 25+ years into their career. This month, Obituary, equally loved and reviled death metal legends, join the ranks of veteran bands trying their hand at perfection through age.
Metal is a deeply saturated genre of music. The overwhelming glut of new albums that cross one’s path on a regular basis make it nearly impossible to absorb all of the new music being released. You can listen to hundreds of metal albums in a year and still kick yourself in the teeth for missing nearly every album on most metal publications’ year-end lists. Given this current state of affairs, it is not at all difficult to miss out on some really great music. Which is a shame, as well as the only logical explanation I have for why Swiss progressive metalcore aficionados Scars Divide aren’t absolutely annihilating the metal world right now.
First impressions are often a make or break endeavor. Job interviews, first dates, introductions to new people, that awkward first dinner with the folks-in-law… we’ve all had them, and we all know that they matter to some extent. Bands undergo a similar audition for our attention when releasing their first album to the teeming masses, and our willingness to stick with a band throughout their discography is often determined by our regard for their initial work. New York’s sludge-covered doom masters Unearthly Trance are no exception.
Black metal has a storied and profoundly ugly history. Most fans of metal as a whole need no introduction to the bloody and unhinged events that brought one of metal’s most notorious genres into the limelight. As black metal has progressed, however, less violent and anti-social forms of the genre have taken center stage as the principal players in the genre’s evolution. Blackgaze, atmospheric black metal, experimental black metal, blackened death, the list goes on. But every so often a band emerges that blends the musical stylings that have propelled black metal into bold new territory while heralding back to black metal’s more sinister, malevolent aesthetic; that portion of the genre that makes your skin crawl. Enter Italian black metal duo Lorn and their incredible new EP, Arrayed Claws.
In the spirit of Rick James, nostalgia is a helluva drug. Each of us has our poison. Movies from our childhood, specific foods, sights or smells that bring us back to a different, seemingly simpler time. Even our politics can (unfortunately) be influenced by our individual or collective sense of nostalgia. But this piece isn’t about that. Mainly, it’s about metalcore. Of all musical stylings, there is perhaps none that bring me back to my formative years of musical development more than this sub-genre. Though I do not find myself listening to metalcore very frequently in my current album rotation, I will occasionally stumble upon an album, single, or EP that scratches that nostalgia itch. Mirrors’ debut EP Fools Paradise does just that.
With their latest record, Atonement, Immolation has brought to our ears what is essentially Jake LaMotta in audio. It is not attempting to impress with flashy speed or impenetrable technique. It is instead a fiendishly calculated and precise blow to the face; a menace glowering over the fallen, emanating power and reveling in destruction newly wrought. It is punishing. It is methodical. It is precise. It is destructive.
Progress and change are divisive topics. How these words are defined, contextualized, and framed is dependent on a vast array of variables that metamorphose and evolve with each topic they are attached to. Soci... Read More...