With plans to tour with their almost original line up – between the five current members of Candlemass all of them were in the band at some point across the legendary Doom Metal acts first two albums, and all were present and very much correct for 2019’s impressive The Door To Doom (Napalm Records) – on hold, Sweden’s epic morose masters ventured into the world of live lockdown streaming, capturing their 2020 performance from Stockholm’s Studio Gröndahl for release on multiple visual and audio formats under the title of Green Valley Live (Peaceville). Continue reading
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
While it may be OK to not be OK, as the main refrain of the thumping anthemic opener ‘Enlightenment?’ insists (and while it absolutely is, we still have much work to do as a collective mass to support each other), Sleeps Society (Sleeps Brothers, in assoc. with Search & Destroy, Spinefarm, UNFD, Universal) takes a step and seeks to provide a place, a community packed with a kinship of like-minded souls who will be there with and for each other. It would be easy for the Sleeps Society (a Patreon-based family) to be empty words and hollow platitudes, but there is integrity to the missives that are as important to the overall point of While She Sleeps in 2021 as the songs. Continue reading
Death Metal is in rude health. It is a status that has been brewing and broiling over the last ten years, with pushes and spurts in pocketed sub-sub genres, until now the whole scene, and its multitude of variants and mutations and off-shoots, feels like it is not just doing alright, but burgeoning with a lush virility unseen since it’s fomentation some thirty years ago.
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
Directed by Mike Holderbeast (Exhorder/High on Fire) what you see (and hear) from “Crowbar from New Orleeeaanns!” third slab of live streamage is what you’d expect to get… Crowbar playing a bunch of songs in an empty bar. Continue reading
There was a time where Metal had an ageism problem; the perception prevalent that once heavier bands passed certain milestone birthdays or anniversaries, or wracked a certain number of albums, or miles on the road, they became jaded, watered-down parodies of themselves. The late nineties, and, to be fair, a good chunk of the first decade of this millennium, were not kind to our grizzled veterans, some of whom fed into the prophecy, with stock output outweighing those who could still hold their own.
As we draw down (the moon) on our reveal of the top seventy-five albums of the year, as voted for by the cast, crew, and alumni of this fine rock, metal, punk, hardcore and indie-focused site, we can take a moment to reflect on the power of heavy music, and that every one of the seventy-five albums we are celebrating and acknowledging will have had a positive impact on several of our team and readers.Continue reading
There is more life in the old dog of Traditional Heavy Metal now than at any time since the glory days of the early eighties, as a whole new generation of Classic Metal loving reprobates are making their mark in the world, while the original protagonists continue to release new material. Ghost Cult runs the rule of the best of the latest releases, including a new EP from Gatekeeper and full-lengths from Traveler, Rhapsody Of Fire, Last In Line and Matt Harvey‘s Pounder while also taking in Vision Of Atlantis’ new live album, and it is the hot new puppies that are taking the plaudits…Continue reading