album review

There was a time when grunge was an indomitable empire. A musical transcendence that touched and shaped all corners of popular culture. For reason abound that empire crumbled quickly, vanishing within four years of its apex, the symbolic final nail coming in the form of Soundgarden’s dispersal following “Down On the Upside.” The Seattle scene fell silent and the embers went dead as they were either ignored, or worse mismanaged, by the bands that followed. Grunge went to seed, living on in memory and the shadow of Pearl Jam’s adaptive evolution into a popular, relevant rock band.

Gather around, children, and I will tell you the tale of what it was like in the time before time. When the world was a vast emptiness waiting for a spark to ignite the torch of hope and rock and roll. It was 1975 and the spark erupted when a man we'll call "Lemmy" appeared on the scene with his band Motorhead. They would go on to bring the world "Overkill", "The Ace of Spades", "Iron Fist", "Eat The Rich", "Rock and Roll" and so much more. 38 years and 21 studio albums later, Motorhead gives us another gift in the form of their latest record "Aftermath".

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.

Ra has been a name in my personal rolodex for a long time. For whatever reason, the Los Angeles band has a notable following in my hometown in Upstate New York, a connection that I still don’t understand. So it is with marked interest that I approach the new Ra release “Critical Mass.”

The seasons are changing here in the great Northeast. The days are getting shorter, the sky is grey and the air is turning colder. It's perfect weather to listen to some death metal. And, with Halloween fast approaching, it is fitting to now review "Resistance", the latest release from California "deathcore" band Winds of Plague.

Answering a question no one asked can be a dangerous enterprise, because the greatest uncertainty involved is in assuming someone cares about the answer. It’s Casual, the punk-ish band with roots in Los Angeles, is the erstwhile answer to the question “What would a mix of Black Flag and Rush sound like?” While that question seems to land on the spectrum somewhere between ‘untenable’ and ‘impossible,‘ the evident answer lies in the band’s new record “The New Los Angeles II”

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.

Whoa, what is this?

You ever seen the Robert Redford movie “Sneakers?” There’s a scene where the character Whistler (played by one of the all-time great character actors David Strathairn,) figures out that the computer hardware his crew stole is the most powerful decryption tool ever created; that possessing it gave him complete access to every secure network in the United States. Whistler’s reaction, accompanied by a symphonic crescendo, is “Whoa.” That’s how I feel about Warbringer’s new album “Empires Collapse.”

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.

Chemistry, or the study of the composition, properties and behavior of matter, was not a favorite subject of mine in school but I do enjoy mixing things together to see what happens. So, lets break out the blender. Combine equal parts thrash, hardcore and punk, add a splash of anger and a generous amount of distortion. Now grind that mother. Pour the mixture into an album cover featuring a syringe-toothed cobra, surrounded by eyeballs and you've got yourself the "Chemistry of Consciousness".