Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Sword - Warp Riders

The Sword - Warp Riders

  • Doom metal meets hard rock meets scifi concept rock opera. Yeah, this was only a matter of time coming with a band like The Sword. I first heard of The Sword a few years ago when they were a supporting band for Metallica, I've been a fan ever since. Not only do they continue the trend of face-punching groove-laden riffs reminiscent of Black Sabbath but it is their strongest sounding record to date. This is the first album they hired an external producer for and it shows, not to say that their self-produced works were not well-produced but that this is their most polished and smooth sound release to date. The album tells the story of an archer banished from his tribe on a planet in tidal lock around three suns...still with me? The overarching story is as far fetched but the music is intense in a gripping way that makes you hold on for the ride. There is not a bad song on this record I feel and it is one of my favorite records to just pop in and relax to.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Option Paralysis

The Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis

  • To date I can only name a few albums that sound as diverse as this. The Dillinger Escape Plan have crafted a nice niche in the hardcore/metalcore scene over the years and still remain precise as they do unique. The way they blend progressive elements such as the use of odd time signatures with metal and hardcore influences while still managing to sound chaotic at times is incredible. This album seems to showcase that style: The first track sounds like Mike Patton recorded the verses while Trent Reznor handled the choruses. It's actually interesting to note that I felt that it sounded like Trent Reznor was a large influence on the band this time around. The six and a half minute long piano-driven track "Widower" (which is sandwiched between two of the most loudest aggressive tracks on the album) is probably the strongest evidence of this. All the spastic energy on this album seems to channeled into build an overall architecture and will satisfy both progressive fans as well as metal fans.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Alcest / Kylesa

(still some 2010 stuff but these are really good and worth your time)

Alcest - Écailles de Lune

  • "Blackened-french-shoegaze" is what I first heard this described as and that alone made me check it out just to see what the hell it is. Alcest is a shoegaze/post-metal/atmospheric black metal (tags according to project of just two guys from France. While it sounds like something that would never work the way they blend the theatricality, fast-paced rhythms and fierce vocals of black metal with the entwining atmosphere, dreamy melodies and echoes of shoegaze is nothing short of extraordinary. I can't think of another word besides beautiful to describe this record, it traverses from ghastly to haunting to enchanting. Pick this up if only for the fact that there is nothing else like it that I can think of. 

Kylesa - Spiral Shadow

  • Hot on the heels of last year's Static Tensions comes Spiral Shadow, and for this release Kylesa ups the levels of pysch-rock and rhythmic complexity. Kylesa has always been a band that struck me as "riffs first" and they still do but peel back the in-you-face rawness and there is a level of dense complexity that few bands exhibit. Their use of two drummers to create tight intricacy and rhythmic complex grooves without going on ten minute long space-prog abstractions is a skill in it's own. While keeping the grooves and riffs first Kylesa attempts to blend a lot extremes, the almost pop-radio riff that starts the track "Don't Look Back" is mixed with a thick and dense driving verse progression. One of my favorite things about this band is how they use the blend of vocals from guitarists Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants. At times it sounds like a call and response between the shouted vocals of Phillip with the witchly haunting singing of Laura.  Noise mixed with melody, ragged simplicity mixed skilled musicianship, and dreamy soundscapes mixed with thick cutting sludge metal riffs, Kylesa continues deliver.

Monday, February 21, 2011

More 2010 Stuff

Touché Amoré / La Dispute - Searching for a Pulse/The Worth of the World  (Spilt)

  • This spilt comes from two awesome hardworking bands. Touché Amoré is a post-hardcore/hardcore band that blends "traditional" hardcore with screamo (reminiscent of Orchid at times) and put on a hell of a live show, I saw them open up for Converge back in May and they killed it. La Dispute is a post-hardcore band with quite the experimental edge to them, if you haven't heard either bands yet I highly recommend both of them. This spilt sounds amazing, both bands incorporated a consistency with each other that lacks in must splits and the end result makes you wish it wasn't just a 7". Touché Amoré also have another spilt with Make Do And Mend (another awesome hardcore/post-hardcore band) that is really good but this one is my favorite so far.
(for the more metal-minded)
Kvelertak - Kvelertak

  • I'm a little confused what genre to exactly call these but I think Kvelertak is a hardcore band first and while they incorporate a variety of other influences that mindset is still pretty obvious. Kvelertak is a hardcore punk band from Norway that incorporates black metal influences, classic rock influences and rock n' roll into their sound. This is one of my favorite albums of the year almost just because there is nothing else like it. They feature three guitarists in the band to create a heavy thick sound (which a lot of hardcore lacks) and go from melodic riffs and intros to that trademark Norwegian black metal chaos. It's loud, it's fun and I love this album. On a side note it should be noted that Kurt Ballou (best known as the guitarist from Converge and one of the best metal producers around) produced this album if you need any other reason to check it out.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Bang Your Head

    So I'm gonna be writing on new stuff over the next few days but I do want to touch on some awesome albums from 2010 because I never got around to putting my list out. So here are a few metal albums, be warned I listen to EVERYTHING so don't hate when I post one of my favorite indie or electronic albums. Still feel free to comment because I would love to hear your opinion on what I post.

    Enslaved - Axioma Ethica Odini
    • Enslaved is fast becoming the Opeth of the black metal scene. Combining the smooth melodic elements of progressive music with the sheer ferocity and chaos of black metal is no easy feat but that is exactly what Enslaved manage to do with this album. Axioma Ethica Odini is definitely a black metal album with shrieked vocals and tremolo-picking abound but there are plenty of times where it opens up into massive riff-laden sections and guitar work that sound as inspired by David Gilmore as it does of Varg Vikernes. Definitely one of my most played and highest recommended metal albums of last year.

    Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier

    • It's kind of hard to believe this is the 15th Iron Maiden to date, and from what it sounds like you would almost expect it to have come out back during their Powerslave-era. This is not only one of the best Maiden albums to date but definitely one of the best metal albums of this year. Unlike some of their more recent releases this one has some serious lasting potential. It's incredible to hear an album this good from a band this old, they combine fresh takes on what they've been doing for 30 years with that same in-in-your-face thundering groove, and killer guitar harmonies that can only be Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. Only one song on this record is under five minutes long (The Alchemist) and is probably the most old-school Iron Maiden sounding track. Even that four and a half burst of speed seems to be filtered through the eyes of older wiser Maiden and is followed by a nine minute long prog-metal tour de force. This is also the fourth Iron Maiden that Steve Harris (founder and bass player) has a songwriting credit on every track and it shows but throws some huge curve-balls. It's always been rumored that Iron Maiden intended to make 15 albums and the title of this one (The Final Frontier) has had fans speculating if this is the last Maiden album, only they know and even if it is they are going out swinging.

    Hello World (and first post)

    So I've decided to start blogging again after a few months and I've decided to start completely from scartch with a new format too. Hope you guys enjoy and feel free to comment.

    (I'm going to start with some of my favorites from 2010)

    letLive. - Fake History

    letlive. is probably one of the best modern post-hardcore bands, and the real kind of post-hardcore (think At The Drive-In, Glassjaw, Refused) at that. It seems like there has been a void in good post-hardcore in that vein since the early half of this decade but letlive. seem to be out to change that. Fake History is one of the most addictive and ferocious post-hardcore releases since Glassjaw's "Worship and Tribute". The vocals range from barked out yells to growls all while showcasing some of the best songwriting in a genre frequently devode of originality and integrity.

    The Chariot - Long Live

    The Chariot got their start as one of those christian metalcore bands that were all the rage last decade it seemed. Long story short, they released three albums and they were all horribly generic, average at best and terrible at worst. Between their release last year and this year's they unsigned from their previous label, switched to analog recording and apparently listened to a LOT of Converge. This new album exhibits that chaotic kind of hardcore style that Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Gaza have perfected but has an overall positive kind of feeling. Trumpets even sneak in on a few tracks. This is definitely a leap in the right direction and it is worth checking out despite what you may have heard about this bands' previous work because they sound like a completely different band now.