We were able to survive the first week of 2022. Even if it’s with a bunch of weird stuff that is still happening, we can focus about all the positive possibilities that the new year may have in store for us. I have made my new year’s resolution be to listen to more music. If you know me personally you may ask “how can you listen to more music?”, well… I ask myself the same thing and I think I can do better. Personally, I’m really looking forward for the new Messa, Into Eternity, and Porcupine Tree albums this year, but before we get talking about the future, let’s delve ourselves on how much of a great year 2021 was for heavy, dark music. Some of the best albums I’ve heard in a while came out in 2021 and, honestly, it was pretty hard to assemble this list since there were just so many great albums to just narrow them down to 20. But I was able to come up with my final list and, after much deliberation, here are what I consider are the top 20 sonic repercussions of a Pandemic that is still at large:
After two years of releasing the amazing album Pitfalls (Inside Out Music), the Norwegian Progressive Metal band Leprous comes back with an equally strong effort on their new album Aphelion (Inside Out Music). This is the kind of album that is released in what seems to be perfect timing, particularly for those who are going through some type of mental health issue. The quintet brings a variable set of songs that can capture both the passion and dexterity of the band in what seems to be a great year for Progressive Metal/Rock music.
It is quite outstanding when we sit down to realize how human nature can easily adapt (for better or worst) to its surroundings and environment. Particular historic examples in the music industry like the shift of the typical major label model, to music piracy, to streamings platform era, and some more social events, like a pandemic, are some of the major challenges that musicians have had to deal with through history. How some musicians have been able to, somehow, stay on their feet and continue to deliver quality products to their fans it’s simply remarkable. Some bands have been able to release some formidable production, and an example of this is Tesseract’s latest livestream event P O R T A L S (Kscope Records), released in December 2020. Continue reading
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.
After a year and change of no live shows, every single band on the planet has got to adapt themselves into the world of live streaming. The few live stream concerts I’ve seen have portrayed each band’s unique style and vision, but none as bizarre as The Melvins’ Volume 3: Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! which aired last Saturday, May 1st. The complete show is exactly what you would expect from this legendary band. The live stream started with acoustic versions of ‘Dark Brown Teeth’, a King Buzzo cover, and ‘Up The Dumper’. The most interesting and funny aspect of this particular live stream is that it felt like you were hanging out with the band in between songs. Each transition from song to song had a small interview that started with the whole band, then with Buzz Osborne, followed by Steven McDonald, and finishing with Dale Crover. Each interview featured hilarious stories of the band and their lives that covered the usage of masks to, of course, weed. The overall performance of the band was superb with a sound the sound quality you would expect from a band like The Melvins and the visuals were in the more psychedelic side that went along well with each of the played tracks. Overall this was a fun and refreshing way of conducting a live stream event and one that only sets up for the upcoming return of live shows.Continue reading
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.
Funny, before writing this review I had just finished a very interesting conversation about Swedish bands with someone as passionate as I am for Swedish music and we concluded that there must be something about being born in Scandinavia that automatically increases your chances of being good at making music. Spelljammer proves this point with their latest effort Abyssal Trip (RidingEasy Records). An equally catchy, beautiful, heavy, and dark album that brings a scenario that can be only compared as being a collection of Black Sabbath’s darkest, twisted tracks but heavier and more melodic. And it’s impossible not talking about Black Sabbath when talking about a Stoner/Doom Metal band, but this Swedish trio can easily be in the same conversation.
Puerto Rican Thrash Metal titans Calamity have announced the addition of Weslie Negrón (Moths) taking over bass guitar duties. The band is currently finishing the writing process of their new album and will enter the studio for a later 2021 or early 2022 release. This will be the follow-up to their 2019 album Kairos. Check out this video of their reveal of their new bassist Weslie!
Analyzing the evolutive process of an artist of a band tends to be a journey full of debacles and details that are indeed interesting. Taking into consideration the personal issues that every artist deals with while writing an album is a very impactful and important aspect of how the final product comes out and one thing is for certain, COVID-19 and all that we lived through 2020 will be a heavy influence in all the albums that we listen to this year. Soen’s Imperial (Silver Lining Music) is no exception. An album as captivating as their last effort Lotus (Silver Lining Music), the Swedish band is expanding what could already be considered their signature sound: strong, beautiful, and catchy ballads that mix heavy sections here and there. Maybe, as mentioned, it is because of all the different situations that everyone went through last year that made the band go through a route that is perceived as sentimental but, more than anything, it feels real.