album review

There’s nothing spectacular about Hammer Fight’s new CD “Hammer Fight.” But, there’s nothing wrong with it, either. Their album blows through town in a hurry, able to be listened to twice in the time it takes to listen to most albums once.

Just Like Vinyl’s “Black Mass” can’t quite decide what it wants to be. The album is caught in the void between acid-wash screamo punk and jagged-edged alternative metal. The record aims for the middle, shooting for a cut-with-scissors feel in the vein of At The Drive-In. While “Black Mass: successfully replicates the feel of those too-long-gone college radio classics, that’s all it does; replicate.

Whatever happened to rock and roll? There was a time when rock bands ruled the world, selling out stadiums and lighting the imaginations of music fans everywhere. Rock music was about having a good time, celebrating life, and enjoying the hell out of the moment. But somewhere along the way, we all decided we were too cool for that anymore, and we needed to move on to more artistic endeavors. Merely playing music and having fun with it wasn't good enough, everything had to push boundaries and break new ground.

Throughout human history, whenever a cultural force rises to prominence, there is inevitably a counter-movement that rises to meet it. The Roman Empire had the numerous Gothic tribes, Persia was met by the Mongols, the British Empire squared off with various revolutionaries over the centuries, and the New England Patriots are seemingly opposed (and thankfully stymied,) by the New York Giants. Such is the irresistible yin and yang of the universe, the powerful but delicate balancing act of nature.

Bay Area super team-up Dublin Death Patrol, that singular commiseration of well-known thrash superstars, has produced a second album to follow up their debut “DDP 4 Life.” Beginning with Testament vocalist Chuck Billy and former Exodus lead singer Steve Souza, this heady collaboration has presented the world with “Death Sentence.”

Originally founded in 2007 under the verbose name “Dragonslayer Project,” Austrian metallers Dragony shortened their title, tightened up their operation and released their debut album “Legends.” It promises the pitch-perfect escapism we’ve all come to expect from symphonic power metal, complete with the standard tankard-swinging anthems and finely tuned lore.

Right now may be the best time since the heyday of the 70's to be a progressive band. Not since the anything-goes days of yore has the scene been filled with so many bands willing to step outside the box, and so many fans wanting to take the journey with them. Everything from classic prog rock, to the technical wizardry of progressive metal, to the brazen attitude of progressive death and black metal, everywhere we look is filled with bands no longer content to play within the confines of the typical.

At what point does consistency become stagnation? Even the most remarkable of stimuli loses its efficacy if repeated too often. It's a truth that we face on a daily basis, but one we don't often give much of our attention, instead focusing on whatever is shiny and new. It's a natural reaction to have, to be fixated on things we haven't seen or heard before. The quest to seek out as much good music as we can is never ending, and it's one of the driving forces for most fans.

The path a band takes is rarely a straight line. Detours pop up that throw into upheaval whatever momentum can be gained, making a career as much a test of endurance as it is a measure of the quality of work produced. It would be nice to think circumstances that fall out of our control wouldn't have such an impact on where life takes us, but we are not given that luxury. Bands are subject to the whims of fate as much as anyone else, and while some are blessed with good timing, others find themselves stuck with the blackest kind of luck.

In a world of heavy metal gone mad with technical proficiency and absolute mandatory perfection of style, craft and cadence, there survives the Texas Hippie Coalition. Thriving in the far too often overlooked splinter genre of southern metal, THC has spent the last few years dropping one record of feel-good, high octane metal after another. Defying trend by surviving on notes that go for a roll in a pile of distortion hay, Texas Hippie Coalition proves that grit and swagger can be just as effective as technique. Thus, their new record, “Peacemaker.”