Chris C's blog

Album Review: Queen V - The Decade Of Queen V

I'm a sucker for a gravel voiced, hard rocking woman. I don't know if it's because of how rarely I come across one that fits the bill, or if it's chemically wired in my brain that way, but there's something about a raspy voiced woman singing good ol' fashioned hard rock that makes me happy. When one comes along, all is right with the world for a little while, and this crazy world of music we inhabit makes sense.

Album Review: Iron Man - South Of The Earth

One of the things that gets overlooked when talking about music is the difficulty in finding the perfect name for your band. As an artist, you need to come up with something that is evocative, that captures the imagination, but also something that captures the spirit of your band in a few short words. And what you really want to do is avoid picking a name that saddles you as a joke for the duration of your career. No matter how much I may love an album from a band like Spock's Beard, there will always be a part of me that cringes when I have to say the name aloud.

Album Review: Dream Theater - Dream Theater

Dream Theater's new album is one that I can't help but judge with unrealistic expectations. Their previous album, "A Dramatic Turn Of Events", was not just an amazing album, or the best album in the band's storied history, it was so much the perfect encapsulation of what I think progressive metal to be that it has risen to the point where I call it my favorite progressive metal album of all time. It's high praise, to be sure, but every time I listen to that record, I'm amazed by how the band can take such technically demanding material and mix it with some truly glorious vocal melodies.

Album Review: Horisont - Time Warriors

In the grips of the retro rock revival, one of the things that remains lost on us is how staggeringly creative bands of that time were. They didn't just push the boundaries of popular music, and define rock as we know it, they did it at a pace that is unimaginable today. The Beatles' entire career lasted nine years, during which they wrote, tossed out, and re-wrote the rules several times. Life and music were different back then.

Album Review: Carcass - Surgical Steel

Anyone who knows me, or has read enough of my writing, knows that I'm not much of a fan of death metal. Most of it is too sloppy, too noisy, or just too far removed from what I consider the heart of music for me to get a lot of enjoyment from it. I understand why people love it, but I would never be able to throw myself headlong into the genre. In a discussion I had with my colleague Drew a while back, I challenged myself to make a list of my five favorite death metal albums. Smack dab in the middle of that list was Carcass' landmark “Heartwork”.

Album Review: Fates Warning - Darkness In A Different Light

The bedrock of progressive metal as we know it is built upon two bands; Dream Theater and Fates Warning. With apologies to fans of Queensryche, it's the truth. No bands have been more instrumental in the development, propagation, and flourishing of progressive metal than those two standard-bearers. While Dream Theater has been earning accolades, and racking up bigger sales and a higher profile through the years, Fates Warning has faded into the background. After their landmark “A Pleasant Shade Of Grey”, Fates Warning has been the forgotten legend of progressive metal.

Album Review: Tyr - Valkyrja

I'm often confused by the things that become popular. My mind and my aesthetic aren't compatible with common wisdom, so I'm often at a loss when it comes to understanding how certain elements become wildly popular, while others that may have more obvious merit are left by the wayside. Tyr brings this to mind, here presenting us a concept album about the voyage of a Viking warrior riding off into battle to impress the Gods. Viking mythology is certainly interesting, but it baffles me how Viking -themed metal has become such a large part of what we hear every year.

Album Review: Bl'ast - Blood!

Both as a journalist, and as someone with an interest in heavy guitar music, it's difficult for me to admit the staggering gaps in my knowledge. I wish I could say I know more than I do about every aspect of the music we cover here, but I came to the party late, and with a musical basis predetermined that makes it difficult for me to appreciate certain types of heavy music in anything but an intellectual way. One of those gaps in my knowledge is punk/hardcore.

Album Review: Ashes Of Ares - Ashes Of Ares

We metal fans are not above snobbery. We love our pedigrees as much as any blue-blood. When a new band comes along, we tend to look and see who the members may have played with in the past, hoping for an indicator of quality before we ever hear a note. Seeing a familiar old name attached to a project makes us feel better about getting involved with yet another new band, even if it does tip the scales before our brains are ready to make an informed decision.

Album Review: Monsterworks - Earth

My top ten list last year was incomplete, because Monsterworks' “Album Of Man” straddled the new year and now exists in it's own little world, unattached to any year in particular. It's a shame, since that album was a schizophrenic joyride through some of the wildest and most daring metal I've come across in a long time. It was, and still is, a bit of a confusing puzzle, but the pieces were so tantalizing that not seeing the big picture isn't really a problem.

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