heavy metal

Anyone who has read these pages knows that I am not much of a fan of pure death metal. Having it mixed into more progressive sounds (a la Opeth) or played with melodic passages (a la Scar Symmetry) is just fine, but I have rarely ever sat down and played a pure death metal album end to end. That being said, there are a couple of exceptions to that rule. One of those is Bloodbath, who have shown the rare ability to make death metal that is both ferocious and catchy.

You know, there was a time when beards were a rarity in the world of heavy metal music. Lots of hair, leather and spikes but facial hair was pretty hard to come by back in the day. Scott Ian of Anthrax developed some impressive chin whiskers and Kerry King of Slayer grew himself a mighty goatee. Nowadays, a formidable beard goes part and parcel with the heaviest of heavy metal and helping to sustain that trend is UK band Krokodil, who's modus operandi is "mostly beards and riffs".

Australia has a long and proud musical history, both in terms of bands who have come from there and bands who have gone there to play.  The people of Australia are clearly in full support of the musical arts, particularly rock and extending into metal.  Still, for all that exposure and support, death metal is rarely thought of as a genre born Down Under.  Set to try and break that stereotype is Hadal Maw, a fast-rising death quintet hailing from Melbourne.

 

If I didn't know any better, by listening to enough heavy music, I would swear that the gods of rock and roll are the same ones worshiped by the Vikings. Rarely have there been songs written about the Greek and Roman gods, not that they didn't have some twisted stories that could make for interesting heavy metal, but something about the Norse has made them to go-to deities for metal bands. Skálmöld takes up their heritage, as many others have, with a bombastic style that pays tribute to those gods, while making us all feel a little bit more like an avenging warrior along the way.

Metal bands are cannibalistic. I don't say that in the sense of a Cannibal Corpse lyric, but in the sense that it's hard to find new metal bands popping up that don't have members of already established bands in them. It seems like practically everyone plays in three or four bands, which is great for fans of those players, but not so much when it means every band begins to sound even more like every other band. The members of Asphyx have been guilty of this, populating their main band, along with Hail Of Bullets and Grand Supreme Blood Court, and now Soulburn.

Here's a question... what if, instead of Ian Gillan, Black Sabbath had replaced Ronnie James Dio with a female singer? And not just any female singer. A female singer with power and soul who really knew how to belt out a lyric.

I think we have our found our answer in the form of the band Avatarium.

Avatarium is from the country that never seems to be short on new and interesting metal acts, Sweden. Hailing from Stockholm, they bring with them a sound that's part metal, part blues and a whole lot of intensity from vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith.

Machine Head are one of the few metal bands out there that make an attempt to be larger than life. Their music over the last few album cycles has tilted towards the epic, bringing back the scope and vision of when rock and metal was able to fill arenas. “The Blackening” is hailed as a modern classic, and Machine Head are one of the most talked about bands, even if the reason for it is not always positive.

Few names are as immediately recognizable in the world of metal as that of Max Cavalera; founding member and former frontman for metal giants Sepultura, founder of the Brazillian flavored metal group Soulfly and now, after reuniting with his brother, former Sepultura drummer Iggor Cavalera, face of Cavalera Conspiracy. If you're a fan of brutal, in your face, unapologetic metal, Max and Iggor are here to provide it with the latest release from Cavalera Conspiracy, "Pandemonium".

There is no word scarier to most metal fans than 'pop'. The thought of pop music seeping in and destroying the heavy beauty of metal is one of the things that unites the majority of the metal universe, and it's one of the reasons metal has remained in the underground. Metal is not at all about embracing any of the themes or sounds that are popular, which means that when a band dares to do so, they are almost branded heretics by the faithful. Heavy guitars aren't supposed to be able to meld with synthesizers and drum loops, not without recalling the brutal horror of industrial slaughter.

Despite being pulled on by the powerfully irresistible artistic forces of both coasts, the heartland of America remains staunchly attached to the values which built the foundation of American popular music.  Not given to wild swings of fancy, the Midwest maintains a strong connection to the blues roots which have shouldered the careers of rock and roll, metal, grunge, rap, country and damn near everything else.  From within that established legacy comes Seasons After, a Wichita-based alternative metal band that experiments openly with some farther out ideas, but remains smartly en