album review

What makes Dethklok unique among gimmick bands (which is not an insult, merely a fact,) is that the “band” plays the role totally straight. Most metal fans’ exposure to the blend of comedy and metal comes through bands like GWAR or Haunted Garage, who make no secret of their over-the-top motives. Even the mighty Spinal Tap played up their persona, skillfully reveling in and mocking the signature characteristics of metal.

Some albums are destined to be bittersweet. No matter the result of the creative work put in, the surrounding events necessitate that the music will never be the full story. Those are albums that will always carry a label with them, the proverbial asterisk that they must wear like a scarlet letter. It's unfair to burden a work with the happenstance it emerged from, but it's something we can't help but do, and it's not something we're liable to change.

Both as a fan of music, and someone who dabbles in it, I'm a big fan of the vintage revolution that has taken hold in large swaths of the rock and metal world. There's something about stripped-down, simplified, authentic music that is appealing on a level no amount of modern flash can replicate. As more and more bands find new ways to combine computerized sounds with nearly inhuman displays of fretboard acrobatics, the old-school approach of building a song out of a riff and then playing it as a band holds more and more power.

Halloween is unique among most holiday celebrations in that it revels in darkness and quirky activity, allowing otherwise normal individuals to act totally out of character, protected by a mask. The holiday has become the rallying flag for macabre media and fascinations of all kinds and just as horror movies are stacked in the Fall, so to are goth records.

Cradle of Filth is a band with a history and track record as long and winding as the image of paths through a creepy, haunted forest that they try to capture and imprint on disc. Under the steadfast and dedicated leadership of Dani Filth, Cradle has always tried to stay one step ahead of the heavy metal game.

It seems almost impossible to think about The Sword’s “Apocryphon” without also thinking of their mammoth concept album “Warp Riders.” That record was nothing short of a modern masterpiece, masterfully blending blues-soaked doom riffs with the fiery grit of heavy metal, the end result a symphony of might and magic and science fiction. Fair or not, “Apocryphon” will be judged against “Warp Riders,” as the latter album was the exclamation point on The Sword’s rise through the ranks of metal.

One of the supposed glories about the old days of being a music fan was taking a trip to the local music store, rifling through piles of albums until you found the one you wanted, and then coming home with your new acquisition and letting yourself be encapsulated by the physical experience. Holding an album in your hands is different than clicking a download button, seeing the stacks of records on a shelf isn't the same as looking at a playlist, nor is nostalgia a replacement for the fact that reality has changed.

Geoff Tate's second solo album arrives at a time that long seemed impossible. The erstwhile leader of Queensrÿche, his voice was more than synonymous with the band's legacy. To think of Queensrÿche without Tate was absurd, because no band could survive losing not only its public face, but also the member most responsible for shaping the trajectory of their career. To lose Tate, it would be assumed, would be to commit career suicide. And yet, as we have seen countless times before, life doesn't follow along with what common sense would dictate.

Just in time for Halloween, erstwhile supernatural speculator and host of “Ghost Adventures” Zak Bagans is dipping his toe into the musical pool. He’s teamed up with Lords of Acid progenitor and creative force Praga Khan to produce an album intended to spook, scare and…dance?

The history of heavy metal has seen bands rise from all corners of the earth, but when the numbers are crunched, the majority of bands who have achieved a degree of notoriety come from a select few regions. It all started in England, then spread to America, Germany, and the countries of Scandinavia. Between them, they have amassed the most numerous and most influential metal bands we have ever seen. There are countries outside of those cornerstones that have made an impact on metal, but each time a band comes from somewhere else, it's almost viewed as an accident.