Formed in 2004 and based in Tehran, Angband plays a style of Power Metal in the vein of American groups like Iced Earth and Jag Panzer rounded out with elements of Prog and Persian traditional music. Their fourth full-length album, aptly titled IV (Pure Steel Records), is their first to come out since 2012’s Saved From The Truth as well as the first to feature Tim Aymar of Control Denied/Pharaoh fame on lead vocals. The prospects are exciting, but the actual execution ends up being a rather mixed bag.
Ambient music is tricky. Get it right and you can create some of the most mind-blowing, expansive, forward-thinking art imaginable. Get it wrong and you’re left looking like a pretentious mess. It’s very difficult to ride the line of pretension and come out on the right side when making anything that forsakes a conventional song structure, but by album six, you’d think K-X-P would be pretty adept, right? Continue reading
Guns N’Roses, Aerosmith, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, ‘Nothing Else Matters’, Skid Row, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Bon Jovi, Billy Idol, Faith No More, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Bowling For Soup, Korn, Slipknot… who was it for you? Who was your Gateway band? Maybe the list I’ve given shows my age a bit, but it makes a point. For people to get to their Indian’s and Portal’s or even their Behemoth’s and Winterfylleth there needs to be something to guide them on their way and introduce them to the fold.
And just because we’ve (and I don’t mean Ghost Cult, per se) have decided there’s a “cool” line in the sand and the “mainstream” is above that line and therefore not worthy, or kvlt or true enough, doesn’t mean that it corresponds that there isn’t quality, valid, exciting and interesting music going on in the more commercial arena of our rock and metal world.
It also doesn’t mean there always is…
Perhaps Black Veil Brides IV (Lava/Universal Republic) is the wrong album to be having that discussion on, and perhaps that discussion should take place around Avenged Sevenfold, or more pertinently Mastodon, or Slipknot. Though what about non-Killswitch Engage “metalcore” and bands with slopey fringes and bits of emo? See, it’s OK to talk Mastodon, they were underground who got popular, and it’s OK to talk Slipknot, they’re allowed, but not Trivium. “We” have decided they’re not “real”. And we definitely can’t talk Black Veil Brides. They’re girlfriend metal. All image. Style over substance. All their fans are teenagers… I have a one word answer to that. Kiss. OK, all their fans may no longer be teenagers, but they were forty years ago. The biggest whores to image and commerciality are classic, timeless legends. Also, the more observant of you will have noticed the Motley Crue-dipped-in-tar look has quietly been banished to the back of the BVB wardrobe.
OK, context set, bullshit blustered, let’s address the album at hand. If you’ve consciously avoided Black Veil Brides, or never strayed onto rock radio or video stations, their sound is well established by now and there are no surprises in that respect. There are smatterings of more recent Disturbed and a load of metalcore-lite (but with the thrashy bits removed), all combined with Andy Biersack’s clean baritone that sounds slightly out of place, and, well, a little short of the presence you’d expect from a voice fronting one of rock’s big bands. He’s not even a David Draiman let alone an Axl Rose.
Where IV also falls down is that it doesn’t have the stand out track, the big anthem, that its predecessors had, as even best of the bunch, ‘Drag Me To The Grave’ falls short compared to the not-as-good-as-the-Poison-song-of-the-same-name ‘Fallen Angels’, or their best song, and genuine quality rock anthem ‘In The End’. Without that big single to hang the album on, we’re left with a bunch of samey songs that are perfectly decent in their own right, but don’t make you raise your fist and yell…
While it is worth noting that BVB may be a gateway band for the many and the millions, it’s also worth noting that this is not the album to pitch this particular argument on. When considering the context of “mainstream” rock/metal albums, this doesn’t have the songs of a Ten Thousand Fists (Disturbed – Reprise), the swagger of a Hail To The King (Avenged Sevenfold – Warners), the intelligence of a Once More ‘round The Sun (Mastodon – Reprise) or the depth and genius of The Black Parade (My Chemical Romance – Reprise). It’ll do well for them, of that I’m sure, but in the annals of time it won’t even be held up as the first, second or even third best, Black Veil Brides album to date, let alone achieve any status higher than that.
The countdown to the Official Ghost Cult Magazine Album of the Year for 2014 continues. Please consume and enjoy the results of our 2014 Writers’ Poll. We hope it will introduce you to some of the incredible works of art you may have missed that we have had the immense pleasure of listening to and writing about this year.
In our third installment we bring you albums 30 through to 21
“Casualties of Cool is an intriguing experiment from a man who excels in making left-field music. Go in expecting massive a prog-metal exercise will only lead to disappointment, but having an open mind will result in a rewarding experience” DAN SWINHOE 8/10 Full review here
29. ANATHEMA – Distant Satellites (KScope)
“One of our world’s most understated bands, despite the plaudits they get, Anathema have once again showcased their knack for penning both forward thinking and emotionally driven music which oozes real human character and sentimentality”. CHRIS TIPPELL 9/10 Full review here
“When we look back on this part of their career, we will likely understand that these are less like regular EPs that other bands release, and much more like a mini-opus, in pieces. Down clearly realizes their collective vision, no matter who is in the lineup, every time”. KEITH ‘KEEFY’ CHACHKES 9.5/10 Full review here
“Sadistic and aggressive with endless moments of bleak reflection Splinters is a leviathan unleashed upon unsuspecting listeners and a release surely destined to grace many year end lists” ROSS BAKER 9/10 Full review here
Like a massive-antlered stag glimpsed amidst a wintry landscape, breathtaking, elusive and hard to pin down, The Serpent and the Sphere looks set to continue their elegant and ever-evolving legacy JAMES CONWAY 9/10 Full review here
25. THOU – Heathen (Gilead Media)
“A storm manifest as a piece of music, as devastating as it is awe-inspiring, Heathen is varied and compelling for the entire runtime”. TOM SAUNDERS 9/10 Full review here
“Sharp, buzzing riffs and symphonic keys, strength and brutality amongst moments of pomp and beauty, bloody entertaining and another show of form” PAUL QUINN 8.5/10 Full review here
23. PYRRHON – The Mother of Virtues (Relapse)
“The Mother Of Virtues doesn’t just challenge what is “extreme”, but calls into question whether some of what is produced is actually even music. Completely and utterly impenetrable, and exceptional with it”. STEVE TOVEY 9.5/10 Full review here
“Eyehategod continue to age like a good whiskey, seeming to improve as time goes by, but by no means losing their sting”. CHRIS TIPPELL 9/10 Full review here
21. ALCEST – Shelter (Prophecy)
“Shedding the last vestiges of metal, let-alone any lingering black metal leanings, a captivating and stunning piece of music poured straight from the heart”. JAMES CONWAY 9/10 Full review here
Ghost Cult Magazine Albums of the Year: 50-41
Ghost Cult Magazine Albums of the Year: 40-31