album review

Being in a band that managed to establish a legacy is a blessing for a musician, and it can also be a curse. Once public opinion makes a verdict on your abilities, and your best works, it becomes nearly impossible for anyone to overcome those perceptions and establish a new reality. For Jeff Loomis, who for the last twenty years has been synonymous with Nevermore, everything he accomplishes both with this album and in the future will be seen through the filter of his previous band. Nevermore's breakup seemed inevitable.

There are no secrets here. Not that anyone expected there to be. Municipal Waste is an awful lot of things as a band, but subtle just plain isn’t one of them.

Their new album, “The Fatal Feast,” is sixteen cuts of punk-heavy thrash, and there are no other adjectives that can feasibly be used to describe the style of music. It is those things and nothing more or less.

In this era where nostalgia reigns supreme and everyone looks back with strained eyes in an attempt to dissect some heretofore uncovered golden nugget of wisdom, music is not immune to these effects. Since 2008, bands celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the rise of American thrash have gone back to the books, looking to temper their fire with long, discerning studies of trends long gone in hopes of resurrecting the past into the present.

Barren Earth – The Devil's Resolve

Countless bands have written songs and albums as an ode to the music they love. From Ronnie James Dio penning “Long Live Rock 'N Roll” during his stint with Rainbow, right through to the current classic metal revival, the psalm of metal solidarity has become almost a rite of passage for young bands. What is often unsaid is that underneath the love for heavy metal, the songs themselves usually offer nothing but an assortment of cliches.

When approaching any album tagged with the label 'progressive', it must be kept in mind the two connotations the word carries. Progressive music can be an ethos, eschewing conventional structure to tell stories, or it can be a tightly defined form of music celebrating the virtuosic talents of the players. Oddly enough, for a genre of music that carries an air of intellectualism and musical sophistication, the expectations and tastes of the fans can be as narrow and insular as those of any other metal sub-genre.

Modern Day Escape is the black sheep of Standby Records' family, a wayward but still loving brother who treads a path ever so slightly different than their labelmates. All of the other children that comprise this "Rock and Roll 2.0" movement are caught between the two poles of emo-rock and heavy metal, while Modern Day Escape does not suffer from a similar crisis of identity and image.

The All-American Rejects make me feel old. As a member of an internet community supporting a not-to-be-named pop band, I was one of the first to come into contact with the then upstart kids. Their independent label first album gained traction and spread among pop-rock fans by word of mouth, building a fan-base before getting the major label treatment. What was evident in that first batch of songs was a knack for writing a hook. Saccharine as any fan of grittier rock music would call it, that debut album was a masterful piece of pop music, considering the youth on display.

Almost two years after announcing that a new album was in the works, God Forbid is returned to the land of the living with their new effort "Equilibrium." The album raises curious questions, as the particular splinter of heavy metal and hardcore that God Forbid helped pioneer may be nearing the end of its most effective window.

Several years ago, following their debut effort "Against the Grain," I wrote on these very pages that for their future albums, The Veer Union would be facing an ultimate choice. They had the talent to pursue one of the two thrones of modern rock and roll. Either they could chase Nickelback and try to carve a niche in the bloated party rock genre, or pursue the Foo Fighters for dominance in the radio-friendly but still skillful traditional rock and roll paradigm.