At The Gates is a household name to every Melodic Death Metal fan out there. Formed over thirty years ago, this group of guys invigorated the scene by gifting the people with their unruly and extreme proclamations. Along with several other eager acts from their hometown, like Dark Tranquility and In Flames, ATG bolstered what is now defined as Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal. The signature sound that they captured still storms the scene today, showing off the band’s Swedish roots with a grim and wistful flourish. They continue on to profess their dark truths on their new seventh full-length record, The Nightmare of Being (Century Media Records).
Los Angeles-based Progressive Metal band Kesem will released tyheir new album Post Terra via Sentient Records on September 24th. Muscially brilliant, and politically conscious, Kesem is a rising band you need to know for 2021. Althought they are focused on forging their own unique path creatively, fans of bands such as Dream Theater, Voivod, Opeth, Neal Morse, Spock’s Beard, Cynic and others will become quick lovers of this group. Check out their new single, “No Future,” exclusively at Ghost Cult!
Like 2018’s Becoming A Demon EP before it, Silver Talon’s first full-length album feels like the missing link between Sanctuary and Nevermore. The latter is especially felt with the sweeping layers of Jeff Loomis-style shred guitar, modern tones, and densely arranged vocal melodrama ala mid-era Warrel Dane. There is also an underlying Power Metal spirit throughout is perhaps most rooted in something like Refuge Denied or even classic Queensryche. The band has only doubled down on that spirit with Decadence And Decay (M-Theory Audio).
Ever since I was a kid, I have had a deep interest in cryptozoology. While I can accept most of these hypothetical creatures as misidentifications or outright fabrications as an adult, there is still the part of me that likes to imagine the possibilities. As a musician myself, a cryptozoology-themed band has also been on my bucket list for a long time. I’m sure plenty of bands with that sort of theming are out there, but the debut album from Mothman And The Thunderbirds makes for a particularly interesting variation.
Portland Metal band Silver Talon rose from the ashes of Spellcaster several years ago to forge a new path that in the long run may be more impressive than their predecessor with an (oc)cult following. Silver Talon will drop its first full-length album Decadence and Decay via M-Theory Audio, this week May 28th, 2021 and it’s full of absolute bangers. At once heavy, extreme, progressive, with penetrating lyrics delivered with unique vocils, that are almost dark and ethereal sounding. You can check out the new single “Next To The Sun” right now at Ghost Cult!
Everyone’s perspective of what they enjoy while watching a live performance is subjective. Some like to have that big splash of energy being thrown at them, others simply like to watch a well-played performance by their favorite musicians. In rare cases, you get to have both moods in the same set, particularly when we talk about instrumental music and that is precisely what The Aristocrats bring in their latest live album Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. The trio composed of Marco Minnemann on drums, Guthrie Govan on guitars, and Bryan Beller on bass released a live album that showcases perfectly what is “The Aristocrats live experience” is. The combination of comical glimpses in their jamming sessions, lots of musical influences, and the extreme dexterity of each of the musicians in their instruments is the order of the day in their live performances and you can listen to all of this in this album.
In the year of our lord, two-thousand and one, a musical miracle happened. After years embroiled in the first (and certainly not the last) major album jeopardizing lawsuit of their career, Tool, released Laterals (Volcano). The David Botrill produced album kicked off a new musical era for the band that was only hinted at on 1996’s Aenima (Volcano).
Eleven long years after their last full-length studio release, Floridian act Solstice makes a glorious comeback with Casting the Die (Emanzipation Productions), reuniting founder members Alex Marquez and Dennis Munoz for the first time since 1995’s Pray (Steamhammer SPV).
The biggest challenge for prodigious talents Henry, Eli, and Abe Ismert is the need to shift the narrative from discussion around their ages (18, 16 and 13 respectively) and their undoubted potential to the types of plaudits and eulogies that adorn the releases of the artists they aspire to be considered in the same breath as; the Mastodon’s and Gojira’s of our twisted, alternative Metal world. Previously released via Bandcamp in the COVID-restricted summer of 2020, the brothers from Kansas City are re-issuing their debut Grand Currents (self-released) on the back of a groundswell of support for singles ‘Sediment’ and ‘Foundation’, this time accompanied by a physical release.
An album of peaks and valleys, when flying high Grand Currents achieves that aim of refocusing the story to one of deserved acclaim. A twisted post-Thrash underbelly is a tough core that provides a grounding to a progressive modern Metal mentality, holding the expansive sensibilities on a tight leash that the brothers may do better to loosen on further releases. For it is those moments that seek to crack the skye that do Hammerhedd the most credit: halfway through ‘Drone’ and the Voivod-ian cortex wraps itself around a rhythmic Tool-esque build, or the discordant judder of the back-nine of ‘Sediment’. When they indulge their musical expressionism they really show their hand and talk of potential begins to be realised.
Yet, their greatest weapon also highlights their greatest shortcoming. While Henry Ismert is expansive and able to find twisted barbs in his guitar work, exploring spaces that Mastodon and Helmet have opened up, his rudimentary vocal output undermines both the finished artistic product, and the bands reach and appeal. To make the step that Hammerhedd (and let’s be honest, the band name doesn’t help either but we’re probably too far down that line to unwind that one…) could potentially make and to invade the alternative conscience in the ways the aforementioned other Progressive Metal leading lights have, they will need to find a way to bring the vocal performance up to the technical level of the other instruments on display, in a way the ideas and musical vision deserves.
Still, time is on their side. And Grand Currents possesses more than just flashes of potential. It does intimate there is more to come, yes, which can only be a good thing, and it is also a valid and worthwhile investment of your time, even if only to have been onboard for if and when they do find a way to raise the vocals to the level of the other instruments somewhere down the line.
Buy the album here: https://linktr.ee/hammerhedd
6 / 10
It’s been twenty-two years since Liquid Tension Experiment, the Progressive Metal supergroup formed by Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, The Winery Dogs) John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), and Tony Levin (King Crimson), released a record after their critically acclaimed album Liquid Tension 2 (Magna Carta). In this new album entitled LT3 (InsideOut Music) these musicians prove once again why they are part of the biggest bands in the genre and why they are considered to be among the best in their respective instruments and their craft.