album review

Emmure is one of those bands people love to hate. While a quick scouring of the internet seems to suggest that straight-up nobody likes this band, the pertinent truth is that somebody must, because Frankie Palmeri and company continue to release music. Somewhere out there, Emmure means something, and their persistence in the face of a continual stream of vitriol is worth investigating. So, with that in mind, we tackle the new album, “Eternal Enemies.”

How's this for a heavy metal story - a band works on an album at their own studio for the better part of a year and, just as they near completion, the studio burns and destroys most of the contents. One of the few surviving items are the master tapes of the album. This is what happened to Gamma Ray and the tapes that made it through the fire became their latest offering, "Empire of the Undead". It makes sense, though. Everyone knows metal cannot be destroyed by fire.

Every now and again, we need an album like this. A concise record that isn’t particularly concerned with technicality or image and instead seeks only to slake our thirst for the base impulses of metal as we know it. Anti-Mortem’s “New Southern,” the debut record from the band hailing from Oklahoma, hangs its hat on the idea that metal burns brightest in the furious furnace of the heart more than the unchained imagination of the mind.

The thing about concept albums that often gets forgotten is that both the artist and the listener have to truly be invested in the story for the album to work as intended. Without that sincerity, they amount to nothing more than bloated albums that use art as a means of excusing their weaknesses. When a bad idea comes along, like writing a double concept album about a mystic charlatan who was the medieval equivalent of a carnival huckster sitting in front of a crystal ball (yes, I'm talking about “Nostradamus”), there is no hope of the album ever overcoming the subject matter.

Triptykon’s debut full-length record from 2010 “Eparistera Daimones,” was a confused affair, even though it was greeted with unqualified praise from the reviewing universe. It lacked direction, rambled on in random progressions, and never established a musical purpose beyond trying to cram as much force-fed anguish into the product as possible.

No metal band has meant more to me over the years than Edguy. They were the first heavy band I got into, and have remained a favorite throughout the ensuing years. While many were criticizing their decisions, whether the comedy that crept in on “Rocket Ride”, or the modern darkness of “Tinnitus Sanctus”, I was firmly in their camp. Fans may have been wishing for the band to return to the style they perfected on “Hellfire Club”, but their refusal to stay in place is one of the things I like most about them.

Have you ever had to put yourself out in front of other people to be judged? I think just about everybody has. Whether it was an oral report in school or a project at work, it's never easy to stand up and let people critique something you've worked hard on. It's even more difficult for an artist. Good art comes from the soul. You spend a lot of time working, practicing, honing your skills but, eventually, if you want to take your craft to the next level, you've got to put it out there and let it be judged by the masses. People you don't even know are evaluating your soul.

Paper is a deceptive medium. It always has been. Insidiously, paper sits idly by and lets people scrawl out visions that look like can’t miss propositions until they get into planning and ultimately, execution. Paper never voices an opinion or contrarian voice – it never gives any indication that the information encoded on it might be faulty or without merit. So when From Hell, a band composed of members of Nevermore, Slayer and Death Angel slides across the desk, promising a semi-concept album full of crafted horror stories, it seems like a great idea…on paper.

In the annuls of heavy metal, when all is said and done, I continue to believe that Ronnie James Dio will endure as the greatest hard rock and heavy metal singer of all time. From his early days in Rainbow, until his last recordings with Heaven & Hell, there was no denying the force of nature that was Ronnie James Dio. He was everything that was great about metal; a caring, intelligent man who loved nothing more than the power of music. Throughout his illustrious career, Dio's voice became synonymous with metal, his voice the soundtrack of countless lives.

Take a look around. Everything seems to be moving so quickly. Today's world is a fast paced, go-go, what's next, sort of place. We should all strive to take a few moments to slow things down a bit. Fortunately, we now have a soundtrack to help us achieve that very thing and it comes in the form of the new album by the Rhode Island based doom metal trio known as Pilgrim, "II: Void Worship".

"II: Void Worship" is a sequel to their first album, "Misery Wizard" which I was unfamiliar with prior to hearing this new album. So, this was my introduction to Pilgrim.