Brian Giffin – Encyclopedia of Australian Heavy Metal

The Encyclopedia of Australian Heavy Metal

The Encyclopedia of Australian Heavy Metal(Dark Star) is a thorough listing of most, if not all, of the bands to have been born in the land down under. This is the third revised edition of the encyclopedia lovingly compiled by long time fan Brian Giffin. In his opening he shows the reader just how many people and how much work goes into creating a book of this depth and length. The worldliness of metal is also emphasized. It is clear that Giffin takes Australia’s role on that world stage very serious.

Giffin’s desire to highlight Australia’s presence in global metal is not misplaced. The only Australian band most average music listeners can name is AC/DC. Even then, many mistakenly believe they are from the United Kingdom. Interestingly the encyclopedia seems to confirm that AC/DC are the biggest band to come out of the country. The entry on them is one of the longest in the entire book. One third of the book based resources in the References section are solely written about them. While it is good to acknowledge this part of Australia’s history it also makes the reader wince since the goal of this encyclopedia is to introduce people to all the country’s metal offerings.

This encyclopedia is one of the most in-depth there is out there when it comes to sheer length and number of bands mentioned. Although this is a testament to Giffin’s thoroughness and love for Australian metal it can present itself as a setback. Many of the mentioned acts only have a single sentence to describe them. A good chunk of others read like a “Where Are They Now?” article since there is so much overlap with band members and the formation of new bands out of defunct ones. This is where one wonders if being a completest has been given favor over accessibility. The book may have been more clear and engaging if important bands in certain sub-genres were highlighted and defunct ones were mentioned in the biographies of newly formed bands where appropriate. In defense of the smaller bands being included, there are some interesting entries one may not have heard of otherwise. One such case is the description of Circadian which reads, “Circadian is an enviro-centric one-man doom band…” It makes the reader wonder just how specific one can get with their music approach.

While the encyclopedia is a great example of how passionate metal fans are, it is likely not something casual listeners will be interested in. It is easy for the entries to seem never-ending as the whole work could use more visuals. The wiki version that Giffin mentions in the opening is better for those who just want to look into a few bands from this part of the world. Credit must be given to the man for opening readers’ eyes to just how much music there is to be discovered; especially considering all 342 pages of the encyclopedia is just on metal.

 

The Encyclopaedia is available now via

Lulu: http://bit.ly/1VEkqeC

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1frgKvY

 

5.5/10

MELISSA CAMPBELL

 

Metsatöll- Karjajuht

 

Do you like heavy metal? Do you like folk metal? Do you enjoy Estonian history? Do you find yourself playing The Elder Scrolls or similar RPG too much? If you answered yes to any of the above, then I recommend you check out the newest release from Estonian folk metal band, Metsatöll, entitled Karjajuht (Spinefarm)! Coming in just shy of 45 minutes, Karjajuht will impress any sort of metalhead. Metsatöll keeps the listeners engaged by keeping every track fresh but not so different that the listener loses focus. Having just seen them for the first time earlier this year, it was a no-brainer for me to pick up this album, listen to it just short of 3,000 times, and review it. For those new to this gem, they play with your typical metal instruments, but also incorporate other traditional instruments such as bagpipes and flutes among others. Karjajuht is, to my knowledge, the 6th studio release from the band, as they have been playing together since 1999 and are true work horses! This newest release proved to be a difficult task of deciding which songs were my favorite and which ones may have been a slave to the skip button.

The first two tracks, ‘Kulmking’ and ‘Loome Mesti’, showcase the traditional instruments from Lauri aka Valruven as I mentioned earlier as well as thrash elements from the rest of the group (Markus on guitar and lead vocals, Raivo on bass and backing vocals, and Marko on drums and backing vocals). The next three tracks I like to classify as “sing-a-longs” because they all tend to find their way back into my head daily and I catch myself humming them throughout my work day. ‘See On See Maa’ is the first of these tracks and actually features Valruven on vocals. This track is slower compared to the last few tracks with a very catchy chorus. ‘See On See Maa’ gives off a feeling as if you are part of the Estonian Armies and are at rest after a day of fighting, singing at a campfire with your comrades. ‘Terasest Taotud Tee’ is another catchy track that returns to the “thrashy” upbeat style previously seen on the album. The chorus in this song comes complete with gang vocals, always a plus for crowd interaction at live shows! (or even just singing along in your car on the way home from the day job) Another song that stuck out to me was ‘Torrede Kohtudes’ with vocals once again being fronted by Valruven mostly during the verses and Markus returning during the chorus. Valruven also busts out a mandolin of sorts for this track with a memorable riff that occurs during the intro, throughout the song, and in the outro as well. This song is certainly on the list of “circle pit” songs should it make the next tour’s setlist. For those who are big on the slow, heavy riffs, the next track is right up your alley, entitled ‘Metslase Veri’. If you were not head banging at any point in Karjajuht yet, you will be by this track for sure! Finally, if you were looking for that epic song that could close out a future set, look no further to the last track, ‘Talisman’. Slow, heavy, melodic, dragons…. ok there may not be any dragons. but this last track will make you feel like you are marching into battle against one for sure. Once the fade out begins in the last 20 or so seconds, you will realize two things: 1) You have been head banging for quite some time that it hurts and, 2) you are fairly upset that this album is coming to an end.

Overall I was very pleased by this newest release from Metsatöll. Having said that, I still don’t feel the same magic as I did when seeing them live but that could just be the listening atmosphere. Now becoming a fan of this band, I may need to start looking into Rosetta Stone for Estonian so I can start learning the song lyrics outside of the choruses! Karjajuht is quite a good album for those to start listening to this band (as it was technically my first time listening to them via studio release) and will get the new listeners to search for more. As good as Karjajuht was, I still feel like they still have not unveiled their true masterpiece to the world quite yet.

7/10

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TIM LEDIN