An attacked guitar fades in with a straight Rock n’ Roll riff before spacious strings reverberate around the listeners’ skulls. They give way into the abyss as an almighty Sludge riff threatens to swallow the world whole. ‘This Is Fine’ centres on this aforementioned riff and grinds in a cyclical manner around one’s speakers eviscerating the local surroundings. ‘This Is Fine’ is an understatement: as an opener to an EP, it is borderline excellent. Billy Myers III’s shouted vocals have the force necessary to level council flats, and come across as blissfully effortless to listen to. Continue reading →
Last time around, 2015’s The Color Before The Sun (300) saw New York progressive rockers Coheed and Cambria abandon the lavish story arc of their previous seven albums and move away from the polished and heroic approach they had made their own, ploughing a more straightforward alternative rock furrow. Whether it was an attempt to attain new fans, a one-off experiment, or simply a stylistic change that didn’t quite work, nonetheless, long-time supporters of the band will be pleased to hear that the fantasy conceptualists have returned to what they know best. Continue reading →
Swedish doomsters Sorcerer has an interesting story. Formed in Stockholm in the late 80s, they’d already broken up by the time a compilation of their demos was released in 1995. And that was it. No more demos, no proper début albums. Cue twenty years of silence suddenly punctured by 2015’s In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross (Metal Blade); a massive record that was one of my favourite Doom records that year.Continue reading →
Chevelle has released a new single, ‘Young Wicked’, from the their upcoming release, The North Corridor, scheduled for a release date of July 8th by way of Sony Music/Epic. You can hear Young Wicked at this link or below:
The North Corridorwas led by Joe Barresi, the American record engineer and producer who has worked with bands like Kyuss, Tool, Melvins and Queens Of The Stone Age.
Drummer Sam Loeffler commented about the songwriting undertaking for the new release: “We just wanna write a bunch of songs that we like and we wanna play every day on stage. Pete’s [Loeffler, guitar/vocals] our writer. He works tirelessly at it. We work on everything together, but Pete writes the songs and he brings them to us and then we compose them as a band, as most bands do. And it’s been a really good process. We’re super excited to play these songs. ‘Cause you play songs for so long, you just wanna play new stuff.”
When asked in an interview if they are involved in picking singles from the albums or if they just leave it to the label to make that decision, Pete said: “We actually battle everyone all the time. We have a good feeling when we get close — ten [or] fifteen songs that we’re gonna do. But, ultimately, it comes down to just hashing it out and picking one, which is tough. It’s not easy.”
The North Corridortrack listing:
01. Door To Door Cannibals
03. Joyride (Omen)
05. Last Days
06. Young Wicked
07. Warhol’s Showbiz
09. Got Burned
10. Shot From A Cannon
Lamb of God released their video for Overlord today. You can view the video at this link or below:
‘Overlord’ is the second video from VII: Sturm Und Drang, following ‘502’ released earlier this month. VII: Sturm Und Drang is due out on July 24, via Epic Records in the USA and Nuclear Blast for all other territories.
Cover Art: Art Direction by K3n Adams (www.k3n.com)
The band is also hosting a contest to win a trip to see the band perform in Las Vegas. Enter the contest here: http://tuns.pk/T6HcdeQ
Amorphis will be releasing a brand new album soon from Nuclear Blast, which certainly had most fans I spoke to at Maryland Deathfest excited. Jan Rechberger has high hopes for the album and gave us a progress report of sorts and what to expect.
“It’s going good! I’m really happy with the results so far. I believe we are in the mixing stage at the moment. Some instruments are still being recorded and there is some background vocals to record next week, but I think the mixing has started. It should be ready in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be heavier than the previous stuff. More aggressive and more epic in every way I can possibly imagine. Lots of orchestration and female vocals, lot of grunt vocals, clean vocals, and pretty much every element our band is known for. I think it’s coming out in September.”
There have been quite a large list of notable bands to come from Finland, a country seemingly acting as a well oiled machine, consistently pumping out great metal music. There had to be some reason behind why Finland has become a farm of sorts cultivating band after band, all just as exciting as the next. The answer I received had both myself and Mr. Rechberger laughing but was quite insightful.
“There’s only one answer and it’s a bit cliché but it is dark and cold and depressing all the time and we have nothing else to do but fucking play metal. Its hard to say, before when we started, there were no metal bands being known outside of Finland, mainly just some underground metal bands. I really don’t know the reason besides the depressiveness and darkness but also the level of education in music is really high in Finland we have really good schools for musicians. Lots of professional musicians in Finland with good teaching going on. I guess of late more and more of these bands are making it so others believe they can make it so they keep playing metal and keep coming. I get this question a lot but really didn’t think about it like that before. I guess it’s the same in Sweden as there’s lots of Swedish bands also. So maybe the environment and circumstances of Scandinavia drives people to make metal I guess.”
Amorphis, by Hillarie Jason Photography
With all of these bands coming out of Finland, both metal and non-metal, Jan was able to speak on some of the local music he enjoyed, but like many, cannot seem to keep track of all of it.
“Yeah there’s a lot of rock and pop acts and Finnish hip hop. I don’t really listen to them really, nothing against them though! But I don’t really listen to Finnish bands that much. There’s a lot of metal bands really good ones and lots of good rock and classic bands from the 70s and 90s. Mostly the 70s progressive style of bands, bands that you probably don’t know really that I was into back when making Tales. But there’s so many rock bands in Finland I lost track years ago.”
Amorphis may be busy writing a new album, going out on tour, and playing the festival circuits, but there is always something to do on the down side. Jan actually keeps himself quite busy between his studio and being a father.
“My studio at home keeps me busy. I record some bands, mostly electronic music. I also have a family with two kids (aged ten and seven). Basically touring and making music takes up most of my time anyways. I do like to play football though.”
Working harder than most new bands, Chevelle still has the hunger they had when they broke out of the suburbs of Chicago nearly 15 years ago. Touring constantly behind last year’s La Gárgola (Epic) album the band has been winning over new fans on their recent tour with The Used and Marmozets. The band does a great job mixing up their sets tour after tour, playing all the hits as well as deep cuts for the die hards too. This tour will lead into a slew of summer dates playing fests such asPointfest in Maryland, The Loudwire Music Festival in Colorado, andX Fest in Pittsburgh, as well as more headline shows. Seen in this photo set from Melina D Photographyat Sherman Theater in Stroudsberg PA, the band is killing it on stage for fans nightly.
I’d like you to stop what you’re doing right now and pay attention.
For here is the most impressive and important heavy metal album thus far in 2015. This is the record that is going to inhabit the upper echelons of those end of year lists and we are only in the year’s early months. This is the record that you’re going to smile knowingly about and, when all the hipsters come out of the woodwork to declare their love for it, you’re going to feel smug in the knowledge that you were there when Frost (Osmose) came out and when Axioma Ethica Odini (Indie/Nuclear Blast) changed your world view of what was possible with progressive metal. In Times (Nuclear Blast), the thirteenth album from Norwegian progressives Enslaved, is a record of staggering, jaw-dropping brilliance.
In Times distils the essence of Enslaved in brilliant, grandiose fashion but, like all great albums, suggests new, as yet uncharted opportunities. To use sporting parlance, suggesting that the band are at the top of their game is to truly misunderstand what’s going on here. Enslaved are not just at the top of their game; they are in the process of trying to change the game being played. In Times delivers six extended, expansive aural essays as opposed to songs. They are all brilliant, all have their own internal narratives, nuances and highlights and yet, knitted together, manifest themselves as the most coherent and immersive album of this band’s career.
‘Thurisaz Dreaming’ kicks things off in spectacular yet familiar fashion. We are thrown back into the brutal and ferocious territory that is reminiscent of the black metal hinterland of the band’s early period. This works on a number of levels- as a visceral introduction and a statement of intent for the new record, it is all welcome and vibrant strum und drang. As a reminder of how far the band have come without compromising their aesthetic or values it is a glorious throwing down of the gauntlet. About three minutes in, we move elegantly into the more progressive melodic territory of the band’s more recent past. It’s akin to pulling a handbrake turn. In lesser hands, this juxtaposition of styles would be clunky and knowing. With Enslaved, such is their talent for aural narrative, this seems like the most natural thing in the world. It is a technicolour, vibrant and furious opening.
It then gets even better. ‘Building with Fire’ is one of the best and most compelling manifestations of the band’s melding of clean, open singing and harsher brutalism that I have ever heard. It has a hypnotic 4/4 beat that acts as a simple yet effective architecture for the dual vocal talents of Herbrand Larsen and Grutle Kjellson. It’s brilliantly effective, and catchy as hell.
And then it gets better still. On ‘1000 Years of Rain’ we have one of the most intricate, eloquent and astonishingly creative songs the band have created. It is a rich and richly nuanced epic, covering an extraordinary range of styles, stitched together like a medieval tapestry. This is what the soundtrack to Game of Thrones sounds like in my head. We are treated to folk, hymnal chanting, riffing bigger than tectonic plates and a brilliant attention to detail that brings the listener back time and again to discover new gems as well as simply wallow in the gloriousness of it all.
Exemplary is the most apposite word that I can conjure for the majesty of ‘Nauthir Bleeding’. It stretches to almost breaking point the band’s capacity for bringing together the dream-like melody with gnarly bombast but it’s a stretching that never breaks, largely because this is a band that knows exactly what they are doing and do it with aplomb; being taken to the edge has rarely felt as thrilling.
The simplicity of what Enslaved do – the light and shade, the ambient and terrifying is simple enough to explain, much harder to deliver. On the ten minutes plus dynamism of the title track you really understand just how accomplished they are. This is the most obviously progressive track here with long ethereal passages that reflect the album’s otherworldly nature whilst continuing to blend in the relentless riffage that they are equally renowned for.
The album coda, ‘Daylight’, is well, magnificent, driving through fantastic melodies and power to the inevitable conclusion that leaves you shaking your head at how good it all is.
In Times is a reflection and a look forward; it is the most complete encapsulation of what Enslaved are about and what Enslaved are capable of. Again and again, In Times shifts your expectations about what “good” looks and sounds like. This is the most daring, ambitious, otherworldly and evocative album of an already deeply impressive career. It is the record where any scintilla of doubt of their genius can be banished from your mind, consigned to the dustbin and given a right royal telling off. With In Times, Enslaved have created an album where every ounce of their creative nous has been distilled into an album that is simply and utterly spellbinding.