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.
As subgenres of metal continue to evolve, their vaguely defined borders become irrevocably blurred to the point where one would either engage in fruitless pseudo-academic ontology or disregard the idea of subgenre classification altogether. The young upcoming four-piece Apothesary is one of dozens of bands that proficiently blend different styles to create their own well-balanced sound. The American quartet from northern California provides an energetic and exciting mix of thrash and death metal influences on their sophomore album Accept Loss Forever which comes six years after its predecessor. The album’s overarching theme of grief and loneliness, as rather crudely expressed by its title, ties the eleven tracks together to provide some coherence to the album as a whole.
The proliferation of a metal band is a clear sign of its growing popularity, but it could also be a reason for apprehension regarding its music's quality. On the other hand, one can consider the longevity of a given band as an indication of quality, but that would only cast a shadow of zealous snobbery and faux-refinement. Truth is, quality in music is more likely to be a function of countless random things including, but not limited to, personal taste. There are countless examples of bands exploding onto the international scene with superb debuts only to fizzle away later and become weaker shadows of themselves. On the other hand, there are bands who start off strong but are a work in progress in terms of finding their own sound and standing out from the hordes; Colorado’s Allegaeon is one fine example of the latter.
A friend once reiterated to me a rather clever phrase that seems to hold truth on the ground. The phrase was simply ‘Sweden is big in metal but metal is not big in Sweden’. Like many European nations, the general population of this charming country of just under ten million really doesn’t seem to care more about metal than the rest of the old continent. Yet somehow metal heads all over the world look at Sweden with respect and admiration for the countless bands it has produced and their impact on the genre as a whole. Some of the bands from and around the capital city of Stockholm have come to share some characteristics in terms of performance, theme and overall delivery and one of them is the relative newcomers Usurpress.