heavy metal

D.M: I guess I'll launch the first volley.

The anticipation was both palpable and unspoken.  The collective combination of hope and grief was evident on the faces on the gathered throng.  Still, it was undeniable that less human fodder had assembled to stand in front of GWAR.  Whether that was the product of a cold, snowy night when people are Christmas poor or whether it was the manifestation of doubt about GWAR’s ability to continue in the wake of their founder’s death was uncertain, but the brave masses rolled into the venue hoping for the best.

As we approach the end of another calendar year I find myself asking reflective questions... is it time to change my impossibly high standards and the inevitable disappointment that goes along with them to something more realistic? Do I expect too much from people? Should I just be happy with what I have or should I continue to strive for more? Is "good enough" really good enough? And what about all this new music I've been hearing?

2014 has summarily been both the year of the side project and the year of the industrial revolution (pardon my co-opting of the phrase,) so it seems remarkably apropos that the year should just about wrap up with Emigrate’s “Silent So Long,” the second side album from Rammstein’s Richard Kruspe.

 

It’s not all that often that I go deep-ending into prog records, and even less often that I’m interested in three-song re-mastered demos from seven years ago.  But it probably says something about Haken’s “Restoration” that we’re even here having this discussion.

 

Progressive metal is in a rough period right now. The old guard are either releasing sub-standard albums that only make it more obvious how far they have fallen, or they are drastically uncool with anyone who didn't become a fan when progressive metal was first being created. Progressive today tends to mean djent, a style that has sapped all the life and humanity out of music, turning metal into a math equation of time signatures, and not songs that anyone can actually remember.

There is usually a gaping chasm between the bands and albums that get critical acclaim, and those that get popular acclaim. Part of that stems from the way that critics think about music, which evolves into a pseudo-intellectual statement of one's own musical literacy. The other part is that quality rarely equates to popularity, so many records that get acclaim from people who live an breathe music are likely to go straight over the heads of the masses. Some bands are able to win on both fronts, and one of the more unusual cases has been Primordial.

So, I'm sitting in my favorite chair with a turkey sandwich in one hand and a fresh cup of coffee in the other. The album I'm reviewing this week begins to play on the hi-fi. It starts off innocuously enough with your standard thrash guitar beginning. I take a bite of my sandwich. The song kind of sounds like something Testament or Death Angel might have done back in the day. Then, 48 seconds into the album, it snaps into some killer NYC hardcore straight outta 1993. Was I shocked? Indeed. I nearly dropped my turkey sandwich.

The thrash revival that began some twelve to eighteen months ago has nearly grown stale.  What we’ve seen is a stable of bands who understand the spirit of thrash, but ignore the most effective tenets of its execution.  Speed speed speed is the diet of the day, with nary a thought given to pace and cadence and musical design.

 

The very idea that Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies and Exodus were hitting the road together was enough to make fans check their calendar – had time somehow reverted to 1987 and nobody noticed?  The night to come was certain to be a gleeful revival of Cold War vitriol…with the exception of the fact that Slayer would be watched with eagle-eyed sharpness by all in attendance.