heavy metal

M. DREW: Addressing Wizard first, I had never before considered the possibility that glam existed as anything other than meaningless party rock. The revelation that glam was part of a quasi-realist take on the Cold War, an effective 'we're gonna get blown up, so we should have sexy parties now!' changes the entire nature of how I view the genre, and also how grunge could ascend thereafter. It makes entirely too much sense that the hubris of glam would have been a cover for the ever-present fear of nuclear annihilation.

M. DREW: I'm still not entirely sure what to make of 2013 as it winds down, except to say that I think it was an excellent year for metal overall. Yet, the complication arises in that I can't pinpoint one single facet that was better or worse than the others. As I look back at the albums we covered (and the ones we didn't,) I feel like the metal offering this year was a mile wide and an inch deep. Even as I contemplate my own top ten (-ish) albums of the year, I find that they were produced by at least four or five different splinter genres.

Attentive readers have heard Chris and I talk a lot this year about the preponderance of retro metal bands channeling dark blues into the metal furnace. One of the movement's vanguard, and one of the bands who really gets it, is Noctum. Here to explain himself, his band and their release "Final Sacrifice," is drummer Fredrik Jansson.

Deicide's career has been one long roller coaster ride. They helped set the standard of American death metal with their first two albums, then fell into disrepair as stagnation set in. As all this was happening, I was completely oblivious to anything they had done, since death metal still only existed in my periphery. It wasn't until the Deicide that became famous was fractured that I came on board. The resulting album, “The Stench Of Redemption”, was a remarkable album, and the shot in the arm the flagging Deicide brand needed.

When was the last time you actually had FUN listening to a metal album? Most metal is all angst and pent up aggression. All too often, metal bands take themselves WAY too seriously and try to out-metal each other. “I’m heavier”. “No, I’m heavier”. “Well, my lyrics are darker”. “No, MY lyrics are darker”. Well, your old pal Wizard is here to tell you that metal doesn’t have to be such a downer. And here to help me explain is Hammer Fight.

After so many years of constant tours, going to a GWAR show is now like visiting an old friend. There will be some new stories to be sure, but you know when you arrive, it’s going to be a jovial retelling of some of the same old classics.

I chuckle as announcements roll out for albums, and every band that was formed sometime in the 80's described itself as 'legendary'. It's simply impossible for all of them to be such, but more than that, it amuses me how much revisionism has occurred of what the time was really like. Bands that have reformed and claim status as kings of metal were utterly forgotten during their initial runs, which makes it a little hard for me to believe anything they claim for a legacy.

I sometimes wonder about the people who make and listen to the most extreme types of metal; how they came to embrace such a fringe element of heavy music. I have a hard time imagining people jumping straight from what they would hear on the radio to full-on black metal or grindcore, and yet so little of the traditional forms of metal remains in those styles that I often struggle to find any connection at all. Surely, they must have been fans of less abrasive forms of metal first, but it's more a guess on my part than an actual statement of fact.

It was a strange night to be in Worcester, Massachusetts. Stranger than usual, that is. At the Palladium, the city’s cardinal music showcase, two very different forces were converging on the city. Finntroll was in town with Blackguard in tow, a powerful double bill of folky heavy metal. On the same night, in another part of the same venue, was a foam party. As one can imagine, this made for excellent people watching, as there were booty shorts, furry footwear and studded belts as far as the eye could see.

As the resident prog guy here, it's a bit surprising that this is my first experience immersing myself in a full Ayreon album. Arjen Anthony Lucassen's project has sprawled through a series of double albums, amassing some of the greatest talent in the rock and metal world, and giving him standing as one of the biggest figures in all of progressive music. This time around, after the ending of the original storyline and a hiatus for other projects, Ayreon returns with a new story, and a new focus.