Chris C's blog

Album Review: Sabaton - Carolus Rex

Power metal has always been the red-headed step-child of the metal world, largely because of its reputation for being anything but heavy. The major-key riffs, high vocals, and songwriting that isn't obsessed with death gave rise to a slew of critics who think 'flower metal' is too embarrassing to be classified as metal. What they miss, aside from the very spirit of inclusion and open-mindedness metal is supposed to be about, is a wave of power metal that doesn't play by the old blueprint. Many bands use big melodies and bigger choruses to wrap up messages that are as heavy as any other.

Album Review: Tesseract - Perspective [EP]

Perhaps no subset of metal has exploded from creation as quickly as djent. The style born from the embers of Meshuggah's techincal percussive onslaught is the sound of the moment. While there are still more bands playing the more established colors of the metal rainbow, djent is where the attention of younger metal fans is focused. Every generation needs a sound of their own; for those currently coming of metal age, this will be theirs.

Album Review: Affector - Harmagedon

One thing that can be said about progressive rock and metal musicians is that there's no short supply of ambition in their work. Whether talking about concept albums, hour-long songs, or star-studded lineups, there is no such thing as 'too big' for their thinking. In large part, it's this kind of boundless creative energy that makes progressive rock and metal such an interesting landscape. So many sounds, feelings, and approaches can fit under the banner and be accepted that there's always a bit of a mystery when you first hear a new band, no matter the pedigree of the musicians involved.

Album Review: Six Feet Under - Undead

One of the questions that has long puzzled me as a music fan is to what degree an artist's standing as an innovator and genre-definer should be incorporated into their legacy. While being the first to travel down a certain path does necessitate a historical remembrance of that person's efforts, it doesn't mean that the work done to blaze that trail is worth remembering.

Album Review: Otherwise - True Love Never Dies

Mainstream rock has been a forgotten son of the metal family for almost as long as I have been aware of the music. Ever since the grunge explosion (the merits of grunge even being a definable sub-genre not withstanding), the singles that populate rock radio have had immeasurable influence from the bands that came out of Seattle. The post-grunge movement, as it became known, is known most of all for two things; bands that prefer angst to any other expression of emotion, and a wave of productions that made the bands indistinguishable from one another.

Album Review: Unleashed - Odalheim

Certain styles of music seem incompatible with long careers. Death metal is high on that list, with the focus on brutality and shredded vocal chords standing at odds with the rigors of aging. If it's true that people tend to mellow with age, it would stand to reason that death metal would not be populated by elder statesmen. Yet it seems to be that conventional wisdom, once again, is wrong. Death metal finds itself seeped in figures from the early days still cranking out new music.

Album Review: Oedipus - Vicious Little Smile

Fewer things test the patience of a rock or metal fan more than hearing the word 'pop' used to describe the music they love. Is it a stereotype? Yes, but not without merit. Rock and metal fans love their music for the power and aggression, the aspects that keep their favorite bands from breaking into the mainstream in almost every case. When they hear the word 'pop' come from a reviewer, or a press release, there's fear dripping from their pores. Pop music is for teenagers and people who never had the good taste to discover Led Zeppelin, not for tenured fans of 'real music'.

Album Review: Trioscapes - Separate Realities

What does a progressive metalcore musician do with their down time? For most, the answer is to start another death metal band and continue making and playing their favorite style of music for as long as they can. Band-hopping and side-projects are not a new thing, nor a bad thing, and they aren't going away anytime soon. They don't often hold the kind of interest they should, because they rarely extend beyond being a continuation of the artists' main project.

Album Review: Sonata Arctica - Stones Grow Her Name

Recent years have been awkward for power metal and its fans. Guitar Hero opened the door for a renaissance of the genre, with Dragonforce making it cool to play happy, major-key metal. Despite the opportunity being presented, the genre has instead seen countless bands taking a turn away from tradition, injecting large doses of classic metal and hard rock into their sound. Always unappreciated in the eyes of most metal fans, the bands did little to take advantage of their chance in the spotlight, ironically by moving in more commercial directions.

Album Review: Horisont - Second Assault

The retro revival of recent years is an interesting phenomenon, not just because of the reminds the music provides of a different time, but because the bands looking to the past can't decide what era should be resurrected for a new audience. The European metal scene is stocked with bands calling back to the 80's heyday of hard rock and glam metal, trying to remind people that this kind of music can be fun. Many of them are ridiculed for wanting to return to a time many true metal fans regard as a blight on the good name of heavy metal, leaving the essential point to go unnoticed.

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