Chris C's blog

Album Review: Ayreon - The Theory Of Everything

As the resident prog guy here, it's a bit surprising that this is my first experience immersing myself in a full Ayreon album. Arjen Anthony Lucassen's project has sprawled through a series of double albums, amassing some of the greatest talent in the rock and metal world, and giving him standing as one of the biggest figures in all of progressive music. This time around, after the ending of the original storyline and a hiatus for other projects, Ayreon returns with a new story, and a new focus.

Hail Of Bullets - III: The Rommel Chronicles

Hail Of Bullets did something remarkable with their first album; they made a record that actually sounded like an army of enemy tanks storming into town ready to crush anything in their paths. These death metal veterans made a statement right out of the gate, becoming one of the biggest and most important death metal bands since the nascent days, all with one record. That they were able to then turn around and use their second album to further their sound with new elements and more expansive songwriting meant that this was no one trick pony.

Album Review: Bad Salad - Puzzled [EP]

Last year, Bad Salad came out of nowhere with a debut album that blew me away. “Uncivilized” was, and still is, one of the best Dream Theater inspired collections of progressive metal not to come from the masters themselves. That album showed not only that Bad Salad was a band with limitless potential, but that they were emerging fully formed, ready to take on the heavyweights of progressive metal with an approach that was all-encompassing and exciting.

Album Review: Stryper - No More Hell To Pay

It's time for a little theology lesson. Stryper has gotten a bad reputation over the course of their career for their beliefs, but the people who criticize them are either intellectually lazy, or dangerously ignorant. For all the bands that sing about, if not outright praise, Satan and other demons, they miss the bigger picture. The opposite of God is not Satan, it's nothingness. Like yin and yang, light and dark, you can't have one without the other. So congratulations all you heathen black and death metal bands, you may not know it, but you're exactly like Stryper.

Album Review: Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed

If I've learned anything about black metal over the years, it's that it's as much about an ethos as it is about music. Black metal has become a philosophy for people who don't understand what philosophy is (I'm a philosopher, so I'm allowed to say that). The legions of black metal bands, and the fans who pledge allegiance to the crusty heaps of brutality they create, use music as sort of a religion. Instead of worshiping a deity, they grovel at the feet of misanthropic noise.

Album Review: Sepultura - The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart

Not being a thrash fan, nor of a certain age, the name Sepultura exists to me as an artifact of history. I've read about the band's tumultuous history, but having not lived through the controversy it created, nor being retroactively interested in the music the band made, I have no opinion to offer on the subject, nor any biases one way or the other to color my opinion on this record. Sepultura, for all they have accomplished, and the legacy they've created, is just another band to me.

Album Review: Blues Pills - Devil Man

The origins of hard rock and heavy metal lay in the blues (Black Sabbath started out as a blues band, after all), yet I have never found much appeal in that particular form of music. Whether talking about the original wave of blues artists, or the later blues revivalists, or the blues-rockers who use it as a way to sell lousy rock records, none of it has ever made an impact with me. I find that funny, since I tend to specialize in all manner of downbeat and depressing art. For whatever reason, the blues has eluded me.

Album Review: Noctum - Final Sacrifice

When I take a step back and try to figure out what's going on in the world of metal these days, two radically divergent things become apparent. There's a schism going on, with a set of bands trying to move us forward into whatever god-forsaken trend is going to take over the world next, while another set is trying to move us backwards to a time when music was simpler. I tend to cast my lot with this latter group, the bands that ache for a time when 'studio magic' meant making people believe a warlock was helping you record, not a computer playing your parts for you.

Album Review: Argus - Beyond The Martyrs

I don't like to do so, but Argus is a band that I will forever think of as connected to another similar band. It's not fair to either of them, but Argus and Sinister Realm came about at roughly the same time, I discovered them concurrently, and they play similar enough music on the same schedule that it's hard for my mind to separate the two. Both of them released debut albums I was quite fond of at the time, at the first heights of the traditional metal resurrection.

Album Review: Running Wild - Resilient

Part of me is sad that I missed out on the speed/pirate metal boom that took place when I was too young to know what heavy metal even was. The 80's were the heyday of cheese, and not much was cheesier than a bunch of guys with long hair dressed up like pirates while they tried to play music to make you think they were aggressive. We saw a brief resurrection of the style a few years ago, but in this day and age, the facade no longer works. The world is too cynical for such slipshod gimmicks, which is why Running Wild was laid to rest not too long ago; it's time had passed.

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