Chris C's blog

Album Review: Trinakrius - Seven Songs Of The Seven Sins

It's almost a rite of passage that at some point in their career every metal band will either make a concept album, or will at least write a thematic suite of songs. Something about compositions that extend beyond the usual boundaries of a four minute song is like catnip for artists, the sort of thing they think needs to be done to prove they are indeed artists at heart. What gets lost in translation is how few concept albums actually work as a focused piece of music.

Album Review: Spock's Beard - Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep

Spock's Beard is known for three things; 1) having a silly name, 2) once having Neal Morse in the band, and 3) no longer having Neal Morse in the band. Simply put, their early run of albums helped to create the modern prog scene as it currently exists. What gets lost is that the band never stopped moving forward after Neal moved on to his solo career. Taking the Genesis route, Spock's Beard kept on going, even if they weren't receiving the same amount of attention they once did.

Album Review: Master - Faith Is In Season

We all know the names of the legendary and influential bands that laid the groundwork for today's metal universe. Their legacies are undoubted, the influence massive. But for every band that became immortal, there were others that were forgotten, left behind, doomed to spend eternity in the shadows. It's a simple fact that only so many can make it to the top of the mountain, and only a few can be recognized as innovators, but they were never alone. There were always other bands, who didn't make it, who pushed them along on the path toward becoming legends.

Album Review: Six Feet Under - Unborn

It was less than a year ago that Six Feet Under revealed a revamped lineup to the world, unleashing “Undead” onto a death metal world that wasn't expecting Chris Barnes to make relevant music ever again. The band had been through some stagnant years, and the “Graveyard Classics” series of cover albums had destroyed much of their credibility with serious listeners, so the fact that “Undead” was able to resurrect the band's image was an act still a few steps short of a miracle.

Album Review: Intronaut - Habitual Levitations

When you pare things down to their essence, truths become clear. When progressive metal is put through the sieve, two common strains stand out. The vast majority of bands fit into one of two categories; those who play technical metal in the mold of Dream Theater, and those who use metal as a framework for throwing in any crazy musical bit they can come up with. That's why we have countless bands that are called Dream Theater clones, and a rising number of bands that are impossible to describe, but very few who play Fates Warning's style of progressive metal.

Album Review: Omnium Gatherum - Beyond

Over the last few years, as the remaining remnants of melodic death metal withered on the vine, the genre as a whole began to suffer. It wasn't that the turn of the millennium strain of melodic death metal was a cultural touchstone that needed to be saved, but what replaced it didn't account for the very reason it ever existed. Melodic death metal was the bridge between those people who listen to music simply to be pounded by the loudest mash of noise possible, and those who can appreciate heavier sounds but still need to have a conventional song to wrap them in.

Album Review: Neaera - Ours Is The Storm

Death metal bands are at a disadvantage before I hear a single note of their music. Just by the nature of what they play, it's extremely difficult for any of them to stand out from the pack. Unlike every other genre, where voices and tones vary wildly, death metal is confined to a set of standards that make everyone sound more or less the same. While that's great for fans who are immersed in the music, and can pick out those small differences and magnify them, it leaves people like me weary from listening to album after album, band after band, that all blend together.

Album Review: Enforcer - Death By Fire

A few years ago, I thought we were about to experience a revival of 80's sleaze rock, to the size and scope thrash is currently seeing. Guns N Roses managed to finally put out “Chinese Democracy”, Motley Crue managed to resurrect themselves with a new album and an endless string of touring, and there were new bands like Hardcore Superstar that seemed poised to break out and become what their name already proclaimed them to be. It was that band, and in particular their song “Dreaming In A Casket” that made me believe in the sleaze renaissance.

Album Review: Coldsteel - American Idle

Just how big is the thrash revival we've seen over the last handful of years? These sorts of things are hard to quantify, but here's a good example: Coldsteel, a New York thrash band that put out exactly one album in their career, has enough attention and interest to reunite and put out their first new material in twenty years. You know the movement is serious when it's not just the big names of the past that are being resurrected, but also the ones you never heard about in their own heyday. For a band like Coldsteel, this is more than they could have ever hoped for.

Album Review: Suffocation - Pinnacle Of Bedlam

It's always difficult to review the latest album from a legendary band, especially when they don't fall into your realm of expertise. Death metal has never been my thing, and even in my brief escapades into the genre, Suffocation never crossed my path. Of course, I know of Suffocation, I just can't speak with any authority as to their status or stature. It's with that in mind that I find myself hesitant talking about this new album, because I'm not sure how much their reputation in death metal circles has influenced me.

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