Enslaved – E

It’s pretty unfathomable that this is Enslaved’s 14th album. This is a band who has been relentlessly putting out quality albums for 26 years, and it’s no surprise that E is yet another notch on their belt. What is surprising, though, is how different it is. Ever since they adopted…

What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To – 10/21/16

For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to. For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.

Heavy Blog’s Editors’ Picks: March 2016

With so much great music out there and so much music that our staff reviews (and plenty that we don’t), it can be difficult to keep up with it all and determine which releases are the most worth your time. Harnessing the wide-ranging and diverse tastes of our editorial staff, our monthly Editors’ Picks column is our gift to you to guide you towards the music that’s impacting us the most. You can read our picks from previous months right here.

Ah, March! The end of winter is nigh, spring is nearly upon us, and the heavy hitters are preparing to unleash more music than we possibly know what to do with. Even though all of us here at Heavy Blog are practically salivating at everything that April has in store for us, this past month wasn’t exactly shabby. We’ve got a lineup of some incredible albums for you to check out if you haven’t already, and for the first time, we’re also including a shortlist of other albums from the past month (metal or otherwise) that get our collective seal of approval. Also for the first time, you’ll notice that we’ve installed a nifty little Spotify widget in our site sidebar featuring a playlist of said top picks from this past month. As always, feel free to share your own top picks in the comments, and without further ado, let’s dig in into this month’s offerings!

Skuggsjá – A Piece For Mind & Mirror

Many words have been spent on the blog thus far in regards to Skuggsjá, a project comprised of Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved) & Einar Selvik (Wardruna). However, the music has always taken somewhat of a backseat as we focused on the cultural narratives which spawned it and gave it context. While these are obviously important it would do us well to remember that this is, first and foremost, a creation of music. It’s also a damn good at that, blending folk, folk metal and black metal into an energetic and cohesive whole. Even though many styles are utilized on the album, it doesn’t feel like a hybrid creation, a crossing of genre bounds. Instead, each musical element present speaks to and draws from the same place: a dark, oppressive, majestic place which invokes harsh environments, blistering cold and vast depths.

21 – Hollow Years And Lyrical Pioneers

Episode 21! This week there’s a bunch of new music and bizarre happenings to talk about. New music from Leander, Cyclamen, Shokran (kind of), Otep and Eximperitus (Eximperituserqethhzebibšiptugakkathšulweliarzaxułum). Happenings include Rotting Christ’s temporary name change to be able to play in South Africa without offending religious sensibilities (Behemoth got off easy!), Iron Maiden’s ridiculous vehicular issues and some confusing “new” releases (Ghost Brigade and Vulture Industries) by Season of Mist. We also talk about an After the Burial interview, the upcoming Ihsahn album Arktis and the Skuggsja album that finally released. Then we go pretty deep on lyrical themes in metal!

Midgard Calling: The Role of Norse Culture in Metal

Metal has, sadly, played a distinct and central role in this conflation of ideas between “viking” and “norse”. By endlessly drawing from a single pool of images to describe these historical people, the same pool available to all of popular culture, it has reinforced, elaborated and cemented the image of the Norse as the ironclad marauder. The viking, in actuality a probably destitute and desperate person pushed from the liminal spaces of their society, forced to risk their life in order to sustain themselves, is depicted as a blood-hungry savage, intent on killing. In reality, vikings prefered quick sojourns on land with as much loot as possible while minimizing combat. Regardless, metal has chosen to view them as some omnipresent, ever threatening and efficient mercenary force, intent on as much damage as possible while holding a certain aloof and superior view towards mainland Europeans, hunting them like dogs. Fortunately, not all hope is lost. There exist several artists and bands within metal and its adjacent genres that work not only to represent Norse culture correctly but also to disseminate it to people around the world. These acts draw on the myriad atmospheres, influences and themes found in Norse texts to create a different image.

18 – Engage The Riff Machine

Episode 18! This week we get pretty rambly and political, so warning! Opinions contained within! Including those on subjects like Kanye West, new Fallujah, new Wormed (see below), Eagles of Death Metal on gun control, Leprous’s crowdfunder, The Grammys, and Skuggsja. We also discuss the sudden passing of Riverside guitarist Piotr Grudzinski, Greg Puciato’s take on …And Justice For All, new music by The Odious and more. We finally get to talk about the techno thrash phenomenon of the early 90s, then discuss avant-garde metal, and go balls deep on Lamb of God! Enjoy!

17 – Mixing It Up With Eyal Levi

Welcome back to HPIHC! This week we have a very special guest! The guitarist of Daath, famed producer and now businessman Eyal Levi! He joins us this week to inform us about a lot of production-related questions we’be been discussing for a while, and also how he’s taken a step ahead of the paradigm by building his own service (Nail the Mix) and innovated the process of teaching people about production. Then, Eden and I go into our usual discussions about news, including Skuggsja’s London exhibition, The Iranian metal band Confess facing execution for their lyrics, the 36th anniversary of the Black Sabbath album, and, well, our usual weekly Tidal shenanigans. Finally, we do our opinion time, this week tackling “good for its time” albums and, on a related note, Metallica.

16 – The Great Southern Careerkill

Welcome back to HPIHC! Eden’s back, and thus we’re back on track! Of course we talk about Phil Anselmo’s transgressions and the fallout that followed, new music from Skuggsja, Voivod and Killswitch Engage. Of course, there’s more Tidal shenanigans (involving Rihanna this time), then we go into our usual discussions. This time it’s about the material that supplements the experience of an album, be it music videos or supplementary material like liner notes, companion books and such. Finally we talk about the legendary Fredrik Nordstrom. Enjoy!

14 – Remedy Cast

Welcome back to HPIHC! This week we get pretty real. We cover new music from Norway’s folk extravaganza Skuggsja, the symphonic tech death ridiculousness that is Shadow of Intent, and the new Ulver album plus discussions around politics in music, the great Pain of Salvation and a core definition for progressive metal.