I just love album titles that act as declarations of intent, telling you all you need to know about what you’re about to hear. That’s certainly the case here; Montreal’s one-man project Allelic makes the kind of Canadian black metal that’s given us excellent bands like Thrawsunblat, steeped in the wild and foreboding nature of that northern state. The Smoke of Atavistic Fires is a perfect title for that; it conjures to mind ritual, primal forces, and mystical knowledge, all of which feature heavily on this album, whether in the form of blistering black metal crying out pain and defiance or with fully fleshed out and haunting folk passages. We’re super proud to premiere this intricate and ambitious album in full! Head on below for the whole damn thing and I’ll meet you after.
Amorphis has had an eclectic career, to say the least. The Finish melodeath pioneers have been responsible for some of the most memorable and the most forgettable melodic death metal the genre has to offer. While modern times may have seen them become overshadowed by their countrymen in Insomnium and Children of Bodom, yet few have traversed a stylistic spectrum as wide as Amorphis. The near three-decades since their inception has seen the band go through significant line-up changes, all while incorporating sizable aspects of folk, progressive, doom and even power metal into their ever-evolving sound. Now with thirteen studio records under their belt, finding an entry point into their oft-overlooked yet not inconsiderable career can be a daunting task. So, in celebration of the release of their new record Queen of Time, here’s a look at 8 of the most definitive and rewarding moments of their career.
Why do we like metal? Can we come up with a logical, objective answer? There may be as many reasons to like metal as there are metal fans. The genre keeps growing year after year, its borders being pushed ever so fervently to encompass an increasingly broad spectrum of instruments,…
My heart is warmed by artists who categorize themselves into really weird, specific, or wholly unique genres. Not only is it a plus to know immediately that the band doesn’t find themselves represented by conventional labels, but it also adds a healthy dose of mystery and intrigue. Take for example…
In the 2000s, metal went through a strange phase. Scandinavian high octane melodeath bands found a shared passion for melody, hooks, and flashy guitar work with power metal bands as well new lyrical inspiration from folklore. Overnight, it seems metal spawned a whole scene with a new pool of clichés (well, sort of new) to exploit. Folk metal was nothing new at the time but there was a huge rebranding of it and every label was jumping on board. New bands popped up every year, some great and some boring as hell. One of these bands, Ensiferum, unfortunately introduced heavy metal’s most notorious edging expert, Jari Mäenpää, into the world. Jari left in 2004 to focus on Wintersun, but Ensiferum has continued its steady output of quality music since his departure. Their new album, Two Paths, continues their streak.
Orden Ogan has made an extremely enjoyable power metal record with Gunmen. Like fellow power metal acts Unleash The Archers and Witherfall earlier this year, the band manages to make their respect for the genre’s past clear while still finding new sounds to play with. Originally a small-time act in the folk metal boom of the mid-2000s, Sebastian Levermann, the mastermind and frontman of the group, has worked to make the act one of the most unique and fresh voices in the current power metal scene. There’s so much to talk about here not least of which is Levermann’s talent for writing choruses with lots of huge choirs. Just listen to the opening title track.
Sometimes you put on a record and the music cascading into your head gives you a jolt straight up your spine. That opening salvo is everything you want, pushing all the right buttons and getting your blood pumping, your heart racing, and your mind zeroed in on nothing but the music. Pure, unadulterated sound that fills you with elation, an exuberance you can barely contain. I have been overcome by this sensation many times as a music listener. It’s that uncommon state of absolute and unashamed excitement for what comes next. Unfortunately, what actually comes next doesn’t always live up to that initial rush, either by sheer sugar rush effect or simply because the remaining tracks on the album aren’t up to the standards set by the opening track. What it comes down to is that many albums are good, but few are great. It is a truth that music lovers have to accept every time that damned opening track teases us into blind, all-encompassing hope that the rest of the album will live up to the soaring heights of those first few, precious moments. Cormorant’s new album Diaspora gave me this feeling I just described. But in those first few incredible moments, I couldn’t help wondering whether this reaction would persist. What resulted over the next hour was a thoroughly remarkable journey that I have relived and revisited many times since then. TL;DR: This album is profoundly good.
Long Island based Iapetus provide us with a left of field lesson in what ambition bridled by talent can create. Their 2017 self-release (which is, and always will be, completely free) The Long Road Home is an ambitious album which spans progressive death metal, neo-folk and progressive metal. It insists, even unto the brink of failure, to go where the vision of the two artists takes it rather than where convention would dictate it should go. As mentioned, during this process it comes dangerously close to overreaching its boundaries and even faintly grazes the markings of overwrought artistry. But for those willing to brave those extremes of wild, self indulgent and un-tethered self expression lies an album full of great musical moments.
Just about this time last year, Simon ran a piece about how Icelandic black metal was primed to be the next big movement in the genre. Though I had been familiar – and highly impressed – with albums from Misþyrming and Naðra, I was genuinely surprised to see how many other quality black metal bands hailed from the small, not-so-icy island. And thankfully for BM fans, Simon was right about this being a growing trend, as 2017 has already plopped Draugsól’s Volaða Land onto my running top releases list for the year. The album title’s apt translation to “poor country” points to the desolate atmosphere that permeates throughout the record.
As in everything, the trajectory of global culture has affected the ways in which we perceive and consume metal. While we won’t have the time to go in depth on concepts like “the West”, “globalism” and “cultural appropriation”, it’s safe to say that metal is too often viewed with a Western-tinged lens. Thus, Europe (western/northern Europe, that is) and the US are often viewed as the focal points of the community and, sometimes, as the only grounds in which events worth consider occur. However, the reality is far from that and is much more positive: metal, like any cultural community which has, is or will one day thrive, is a global phenomenon.