album review

As a new year is at its dawn, a wellspring of hope and optimism will once again flourish, the belief that the coming year will be better than the last. It's natural to think that things will get better, that something grand and great will be coming down the line to lift our spirits. It's why we celebrate the coming of a new year, when it's really an arbitrary delineation of where we happen to be in a never-ending orbit.

Earlier this week I talked about Rogga Johansson's Megascavenger, and here we are a few dyas later discussing yet another of his projects. This time out, Humanity Delete graces us with their debut album, though any such comments are laughable considering the amount of material Rogga has released both in his career, and this year alone.

It wasn't that long ago I was reviewing Revolting's “Hymns Of Ghastly Horror”, the latest album from the latest band culled from the never-ending death metal mind of Rogga Johansson. Having not paid much attention to the death metal scene, I already felt like I was being overloaded with material from him, and now comes yet more music from the most prolific artist working in metal today. Megascavenger continues Rogga's tradition of never stopping, never letting up, never thinking enough is enough.

Sons of Aeon is a sort of death metal supergroup, born from active parts of Ghost Brigade, Swallow the Sun and a couple others. In pre-release press, the band says all the right things, talking about the influence of death metal pioneers like Bolt Thrower and Napalm Death. The band goes on to describe their aversion for albums put through the production wringer, talking wistfully about the days when drums were played by a human being and not re-tracked by heartless machinery.

Take a look at that cover art. Look at it again. One more time. If you are left with any uncertainty whatsoever as to the kind of heavy metal album that Sonic Pulse has released, then you simply are being myopic.

Heavy metal cover art has seen some small evolutions over the years, but these are mainly cosmetic, as the iconography has bent and waved to the whim of culturally pleasing aesthetics in the moment. What remains paramount is that metal cover art must, by genre-dictated norm, conform to one of four principles:

1) Heavy-handed demonic imagery

One of the things that irritates me about the metal scene is the habit of making everything sound like a bigger deal than it really is. I'm referring mostly to the incessant need to label any project that features people who have been in other bands as a 'supergroup'. The bands that actually deserve to be called that are exceptionally rare, and the cluttering of the scene with dozens who wrongly wear the moniker only serves to make me even more upset when the end result turns out to be lackluster.

Progressive music walks a fine line for most of its existence, trying to balance the gratification musicians garner from playing difficult and involved compositions with the gratification listeners need to be able to elicit from those same songs. Finding the right mix of challenge for the player and fun for the audience is a bit of a magic trick, not unlike pulling a rabbit out of the hat. There are a few bands who have been able to marry the popular and the insular, but the numbers who manage to do so are few and far between. It's the nature of the beast.

If you are a heavy metal fan, Motörhead’s live show is one of those pinnacle “must-haves.” While Lemmy and his cohorts continue to insist that they are nothing more than a rock and roll band, seeing Motörhead live is watching a living oral history of the genesis of heavy metal.

It's hard to remember sometimes that music is in fact art, and the songs and albums we listen to are supposed to be artistic expressions of the people who create them. Music has taken many turns over the years, and all but a few of those movements have ended up with a more commercialized product, records that aim more to please fans and bring in profits than they do give life to creative impulses.

Every genre, it seems, has its own sense of nostalgia. As the classic bands of every facet of metal continue to chug along, and in many cases find more success than they've had in decades, a new wave of bands is popping up, using the classics as more than merely an inspiration. While there are the bands making waves with their new takes on familiar tropes, there are even more dedicated to replicating what was great about the past, giving fans who weren't old enough at the time a look back into what the scene was like when innovation was everywhere.