album review

Album Review: The Answer - "New Horizon"

You're going to see your favorite band in concert and there's some group you've never heard of before opening the show. Here's the thing about most opening acts - they're just an inconvenience to get through before the act you came to see takes the stage. The thing for the opening band to remember is when they start, the audience is ready for a show, has high hopes and wants to be impressed. The band has exactly 5.25 seconds to accomplish this. If they're not hooked immediately, the audience could turn ugly.

Album Review: Dream Theater - Dream Theater

Dream Theater's new album is one that I can't help but judge with unrealistic expectations. Their previous album, "A Dramatic Turn Of Events", was not just an amazing album, or the best album in the band's storied history, it was so much the perfect encapsulation of what I think progressive metal to be that it has risen to the point where I call it my favorite progressive metal album of all time. It's high praise, to be sure, but every time I listen to that record, I'm amazed by how the band can take such technically demanding material and mix it with some truly glorious vocal melodies.

Album Review: Conquest - "The War We Rage"

"Thrash /THraSH/ (verb) - to beat violently and repeatedly". This definition fits the band Conquest and their newest album, "The War We Rage", perfectly. Thrash metal as a genre has been around now for more than 30 years. To be defined as a thrash band requires you to stay true to certain compositional elements which were developed "back in the day" and repeated time and time again. These are generally low-register, "chugging" guitars, double bass drumming, high-register guitar solos and screaming vocals. Conquest is truly the definition of thrash.

Album Review: Horisont - Time Warriors

In the grips of the retro rock revival, one of the things that remains lost on us is how staggeringly creative bands of that time were. They didn't just push the boundaries of popular music, and define rock as we know it, they did it at a pace that is unimaginable today. The Beatles' entire career lasted nine years, during which they wrote, tossed out, and re-wrote the rules several times. Life and music were different back then.

Album Review: Carcass - Surgical Steel

Anyone who knows me, or has read enough of my writing, knows that I'm not much of a fan of death metal. Most of it is too sloppy, too noisy, or just too far removed from what I consider the heart of music for me to get a lot of enjoyment from it. I understand why people love it, but I would never be able to throw myself headlong into the genre. In a discussion I had with my colleague Drew a while back, I challenged myself to make a list of my five favorite death metal albums. Smack dab in the middle of that list was Carcass' landmark “Heartwork”.

Album Review: Mark Deutrom - "Brief Sensuality and Western Violence"

Music is art and, as such, there are endless interpretations and styles to be had. Throughout history, there have been many, many musicians who have used a basic and culturally approved composition structure to put together a product which is readily digestible by the masses and the "art" of the music becomes lost in a sea of glory-hounds and pre-cast corporate templates. Every once in a while we are treated to an artist who breaks the music down to it's most basic parts and attempts to create a product that pushes the boundaries of what we have come to expect from our musicians.

Album Review: Fates Warning - Darkness In A Different Light

The bedrock of progressive metal as we know it is built upon two bands; Dream Theater and Fates Warning. With apologies to fans of Queensryche, it's the truth. No bands have been more instrumental in the development, propagation, and flourishing of progressive metal than those two standard-bearers. While Dream Theater has been earning accolades, and racking up bigger sales and a higher profile through the years, Fates Warning has faded into the background. After their landmark “A Pleasant Shade Of Grey”, Fates Warning has been the forgotten legend of progressive metal.

Album Review: GWAR - "Battle Maximus"

As time goes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to do reviews of GWAR albums. The simple fact is, there are only so many ways in common English that you can say “well, it sounds like GWAR.” Amidst all the blood and fluids that GWAR has dispensed over the last thirty years (or thereabouts, which seems unbelievable,) the band has quietly been highly prolific, never waiting more than three years to unleash a new album on their faithful followers.

Album Review: Tyr - Valkyrja

I'm often confused by the things that become popular. My mind and my aesthetic aren't compatible with common wisdom, so I'm often at a loss when it comes to understanding how certain elements become wildly popular, while others that may have more obvious merit are left by the wayside. Tyr brings this to mind, here presenting us a concept album about the voyage of a Viking warrior riding off into battle to impress the Gods. Viking mythology is certainly interesting, but it baffles me how Viking -themed metal has become such a large part of what we hear every year.

Album Review: Lullwater - "Lullwater"

With each passing generation of popular music, there are tropes that remain constant despite an ever-shifting landscape. One of the most prominent roles that has been played by many capable actors is the role of pleasantly listenable, broadly appealing and emotionally based rock and roll band. It’s been an important niche coming and going in the different eras of music history, the successor to the genre-defining acts that blazed rock’s trail in the late sixties and early seventies. Any band that can carry a melodic tune easily provides a recognizable touchstone of a given musical era.

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