album review

Autumn's new album "Cold Comfort" is a work befitting its creator's name. Varying between pleasantly warm and icily fragile, "Cold Comfort" is both a promise of uneasy transition and muted optimism. That said, this album would have been more complete if there had been one breakthrough moment at the end of it. There are those who would counter that autumn as a season seldom announces winter's arrival with anything but a whimper.

Bing Crosby. Andy Williams. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Mannheim Steamroller. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Austrian Death Machine? One of these names is clearly not in the same ballpark with the others (and no, it isn't the Choir.)

No one has ever quite been able to accurately explain to me what exactly Hollywood Undead is, what audience they’re shooting for, or what their message is. That’s not to say that these are rhetorical questions directed at the powers-that-be running the multiverse, but I’ve never been confronted with the answer. Are they just a rap rock band out of their decade? Are they self-effacing in some subtle way? I’m a man who loathes genre-fication, but I admit I’ve never been sure who this appeals to.

The re-release (with additions) of the long-lost Cirith Ungol rare tracks album "Servants of Chaos" is as much an anthropological study of heavy metal as it is a celebration of the band's accomplishments.

It is curious to see the strata of early metal and progressive rock laid so bare before the eye of the beholder, particularly through the lens of a band that helped popularize those genres without sharing in their lasting legacy.

"Th1rt3en," the latest offering from heavy metal titans Megadeth, is both a study of what Megadeth has been and could be. It is a self-contained road-map of Megadeth's past aggressions, present explorations and possible future.

“Evermore Darkly” is slightly thin as a companion piece to “Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa,” but that doesn’t mean it is without value.

Comprised mostly of re-cut or re-imagined tracks from the main album, “Evermore Darkly” presents the known cuts from that album in a style that is less abstract. “The Persecution Song,” is reworked in a way that makes the song more accessible while not losing its original pounding, or the effect of Paul Allender’s off-kilter, rangy guitar.

Behemoth. A name that carries a lot of weight, and a lot of stigma in metal circles. Considered the fathers of the Polish death/black/extreme metal scene, Behemoth has been both the center of celebration and consternation for over two decades. Cited on a 2007 list by Polish officials of artists who allegedly promote murder and Satanism, Behemoth is no stranger to controversy.

My word.

The internet has been fairly aflame since the announcement of the cooperative effort between Lou Reed and Metallica, two titans of their respective genres. Cynicism and hope ran high, the backs of necks bristled with both anticipation and fear. As more and more copies were released, and the web stream was opened to the public, the album took on notes of trouble. Soon, the clear skies above the album and its accompanying concept has turned black with a hurricane of vitriolic reviews and crushing waves of critical disdain.

To say that I was less than enthused about putting This Is Hell's "Black Mass" on my 'to-do' pile is probably an understatement. The band's press speaks volumes about the prowess of this evolving hardcore crossover band that lays down sobering, realistic lyrics....snore. I felt like I read those exact words about Hatebreed in 1999. Which only made me more withdrawn from the album. After all, hardcore has never truly died, but the last decade has seen a precipitous fall in both quality and popularity of the once crowded genre.

The reputation of Hammers of Misfortune precedes them, even with all the tumult and lineup changes over the years. With only two original members remaining and two new additions on this latest effort, cynical fans might expect that the halcyon days of Hammers of Misfortune are over. Yet, they soldier on with "17th Street," the band's fifth official studio release. The band's press tells you that this is an album blending elements of doom metal, progressive rock, NWOBHM, and probably a dozen other long-winded buzzwords.