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The legend of Dracula is many things to many people, but the story of Vlad the Impaler is surely one thing; metal. The life of a brutal ruler who put his enemies on spikes to scare away any potential rivals to his throne is the stuff metal is made of, and the fact that legend has it he then turned to the dark side and became the most famous vampire of all time, is just the icing on the cake.

We seem to be encountering a trend lately.  The album’s we’ve covered so far in 2015 all seem to fit neatly into the broad category of ‘I bet I know what this sounds like.’  Well, enter Engel into that field, with their new record “Raven Kings,” the latest entry from the veteran journeymen of Swedish melodic death metal.  Now, I can hear it already: ‘Another Swedish melodic death metal band, they probably sound just like Children of Bodom.’  First off, you’re wrong because CoB is Finnish.  Moreover, you’re wrong because the emphasis on “Raven Kings” is on ‘melodic.’

If you like any sort of melodic rock or metal, you probably know Frontiers Records as the leading force keeping that style of music alive, as well as the home of the majority of the bands and singers you've been listening to over the last two decades. They have been instrumental in stoking the fires of the careers of any number of bands, with a dedication to old-school music that refuses to believe the last ten years of metal evolution ever happened. That is, in many ways, a most welcome position to hold.

Now I know what you’re thinking – another Napalm Death record, it probably sounds like every other Napalm Death record.  But that’s not why we’re here, and that’s not why we go through these exercises.

 

Many, many years ago when I was just a budding metal-head, my band of choice was Iron Maiden. I had not yet developed an ear or a liking for metal other than Iron Maiden with the possible exception of Black Sabbath but, even then, it was Paranoid and not much else. Then, one day, my buddy Rod introduced me to Venom's "Welcome To Hell" album and, frankly, it scared the crap out of me.

Never before had I been exposed to something so brutal, so heavy, so demonic. I had no interest in it. I was content to listen to the first four Iron Maiden records and go about my business.

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Here's the second edition of films and books that are probably better if not just as good for 2015: 

 

  1.  Film: Goodnight Mommy (January – Austria)

Young twin brothers living in the countryside with their mother wait for her return. As she returns home, she is bandaged from extensive cosmetic surgery and nothing is the same as it was before.

Finally, some professionals.  The end of each musical year is normally crammed with last minute releases and also-rans that labels clean out of their closet before they take a holiday break and begin anew.  2014 was no different, trailing off with an unremarkable pile of sludge that careened through the New Year holiday.

 

There are certain concepts of art that cannot be appreciated by youth. I don't say that as a way of denigrating the tastes of young listeners, implying that those with more years under their belts have superior opinions, but merely as a realization that some wisdom does come with experience. I know this from my own, where certain musical ideas seemed utterly incomprehensible when I was still finding my way. One of those was the concept of the avant-garde, a devil-may-care attitude that does not exactly mesh with the concepts of youth.

In leiu of a "Best of 2014" list, I thought it beneficial a list of upcoming 2015 movies/television and books are similar in vein or the books the film/series is based on to either hold you over until the release or fulfill that need for more of the same. 

 

1.Film: Fear Clinic (January)

Happy new year, friends. I hope you had a chance to check out the list of my top 10 favorite metal albums from 2014. If not, I recommend you find it and read it. If you already have then you may recall that one of the bands at the top was a group called Calabrese.

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