It should come as a surprise to no-one that Omega (Nuclear Blast), the eighth full-length studio release from Dutch symphonic metal act Epica, is another concept-driven album. Formed in 2002, the band are widely known for their ambitious ideas and themes, covering everything from the Mayan civilization to religion, nature, quantum physics and the possibility that the universe is actually digitally created hologram. You know, simple stuff.
Please indulge me for one moment. I am not usually one for breaking the fourth wall when reviewing an album but bear with…. Back in 2004, I had a polar response to two albums in a way that encapsulates a particular dichotomy that fans (and bands) often find themselves caught up in that has stuck with me as a point of reflection ever since. To change, or not to change, that is the question… I remember the unshakeable feeling of disappointment at just how much Slipknot had changed their sound and attack on Vol III: The Subliminal Verses compared to Iowa (both Roadrunner), and the same deep sigh of discontent that Soil hadn’t changed enough (or at all, with Redefine, J Records).Continue reading
Motivational speaker John C. Maxwell once said Change is inevitable, growth is optional. In the world of Rock and Roll, an artist must embrace change and allow their music to evolve. Case in point, The Pretty Reckless released their fourth studio album this month, Death By Rock And Roll (Fearless Records) and it is glaringly apparent the band is not just embracing change but giving it a big ole bear hug. The twelve-track album is tinged with the ghosts of the tragic events that the band has experienced since their last studio album, 2016’s Who You Selling for (Razor & Tie). Continue reading
Whenever the subject of influential Viking metal rears its head from beneath freezing, storm-ridden waves, Dragons of the North (Napalm Records) by Norwegian act Einherjer usually finds its way into the conversation fairly quickly. Released in 1996, the record still remains a favourite among fans of the excessively hairy subgenre, and twenty-five years later the band are still going strong.
Foregoing songs about masked serial killers, nightmares and mental asylums, Detroit Stories (earMUSIC), the twenty-first solo album from shock-rock legend Alice Cooper, has been written expressly as a tribute to his hometown of Detroit. Forget about guillotines, spiders, Vincent Price and Frankenstein. This is a more down-to-earth, less twisted and surreal version of Alice, even if the record does occasionally touch base with the likes of From the Inside.
Hard to believe that we are rapidly approaching one year of living with the Covid-19 pandemic. What may be the strangest part of this forgotten year is that we as people have begun to normalize the lockdown. Hollywood tentpole films now debut on streaming services, sporting events march on with empty stands and the only way to catch live music is either dusting off concert film of yesteryear or watching a band’s official live stream. Gatecreeper is the latest to try their hand in a bare venue and played a blistering set from Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix.
At first, Jakethehawk’s second album closely adheres to the relentless wave of Stoner Doom. But while Hinterlands (Ripple Music) is rife with the heavy riffs and spaced-out psychedelia typical in the genre, it reveals a deep pool of influences that include Prog Rock, Shoegaze, Alternative, Folk, and a bit of Southern Rock among other tastes. The results are similar to the eclectic blend seen on Fostermother’s 2020 debut, though with a dramatic scope more in line with the likes of Howling Giant or Sergeant Thunderhoof.
With the release of their fourth full-length, Demon Head has gone from a particularly rustic Occult Doom band to full-on Goth Rock with a few sparse Doom elements. Glossy guitars and Robert Smith-esque vocals among other elements became prominent with 2019’s Hellfire Ocean Void and Viscera (Metal Blade Records) pushes them to an even further extent. But while this album should feel like the culmination of a well-realized evolution, the results are those of an unfortunately awkward misstep.
James Durbin may have been the “metal guy” during his season on American Idol, but it’s been an uphill battle for him to get any sort of street cred in the actual scene. His subsequent solo albums seemed noncommittal in terms of style and his brief stint singing for Quiet Riot felt more like an odd novelty than a real step forward. It’s hard to tell how the reception towards The Beast Awakens (Frontiers Records srl) will compare but at the very least, it’s a notable turning point on his path to Heavy Metal legitimacy.
While Yoth Iria has been recognized for featuring members of groups like Rotting Christ and Necromantia, their first full-length isn’t necessarily cut from the same cloth as their forebears. As The Flame Withers (Pagan Records) features the riff-driven structures and melodic flourishes common in most Hellenic Black Metal but pushes them to even further extents thanks to the equally prominent Traditional Metal and Doom influences. The results are comparable to Agatus’s The Eternalist, which featured a similar Blackened Heavy Metal mindset.