Music

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.

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.

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.

Nature abhors a vacuum.  Whenever there’s a gap of empty space, the universe will seemingly conspire to make sure that atoms of some kind or another rush to fill the void.  Hell, I once saw a term paper were a kid tried to argue that the tide swells at night because there’s no water on the moon and the ocean is attempting to reach the moon and fill the void.  Nonsense, but you had to admire the effort.

One of the saddest things that can happen, as a music fan, is to discover a band after their run has finished.  Knowing that, as you fall in love with a band, they will never make another record is a crushing experience, the sort of thing that does make it difficult to delve into the past for hidden gems.  Despite that, I do make an effort to see what I have missed out on over the years, which led me to Nightingale.  I only discovered the band after the release of "White Darkness", which over the years has become one of my go-to melodic rock albums.  It is a brilliant pi

As the resident prog guy here, there are certain things I am remiss to admit. One of them, germane to this review, is that I have never given much attention to Pain Of Salvation, despite their status as one of the bigger names in modern progressive metal. I can't say why that is, because I don't have a good answer. I have known about them for quite some time, but the most connection I have had with them is the fact that band leader Daniel Gildenlow is the (sometimes) uncredited fifth member of my favorite prog band, Transatlantic.