heavy metal

I've had a love/hate relationship with Fozzy, ever since they ditched the cover band gimmick and started writing their own material. With each passing album, I've seen a band that knows how to write some solid melodic rock/metal, but can't keep their focus all the way through. “All The Remains” had some great tracks, but ventured off into unnecessary rap metal. They then ventured off into unnecessary prog, and more beat-driven music, all of which brought down the solid songs that made up the majority of the records.

At the risk of sounding like a press release, John Garcia has managed to carve himself out a unique niche in the music world solely by being among the progenitors of his chosen style. Beginning with Kyuss and continuing through Slo Burn and then with Vista Chino, Garcia is a prominent face on the Mount Rushmore of desert music, whether it be called desert rock or desert metal.

Resurrection is a funny concept and particularly ironic for a band with ‘Judas’ in the name. The idea of coming back from the dead is a totally alien concept in the general human condition, but in music it happens frequently and with reckless abandon. A veritable arsenal of artists have proclaimed their retirement only to find after a short time that the heart still burns with passion for the music, or as cynics suggest, the wallet still burns through dollars.

Recently, I was embroiled in a debate over the nature of progressive metal. What was at the heart of the discussion was the old schism between prog and Prog, a distinction that has never been fully sorted out. When spoken, and without the capitalization made apparent, we could be talking about music that either attempts to circumvent traditional structures by exploring musical boundaries, or music that is fully dedicated to playing technically challenging material. Both claim the mantle of progressive, but my mind can only legitimately give the title to one of them.

When one thinks of Australian metal or rock, invariably AC/DC and Jet are the stereotype. Airbourne and some others are in there too, but everybody at this point knows exactly what’s being talked about. So when Envenomed was reportedly a melodic thrash act from the continent down under, there was a certain amount of cynicism that was probably to be expected. Why break the stereotype now, it’s been working so well?

When I say "channel zero", what comes to mind? Is it the Public Enemy song "She Watch Channel Zero"? Or maybe you think of a half-hour sitcom/sketch hybrid about a post-apocalyptic colony that broadcasts a pirate television station in the wastelands near what used to be Glendale. While both are good, and correct, answers the answer I was looking for is "Belgian thrash metal band who just released their latest album "Kill All Kings" on Metal Blade Records". Better luck next time.

Let’s face reality right off the hump – coming off the success of “Blood for the Master,” it’s all been on the upswing for Goatwhore, a band of that rare breed that still fervently believes metal is best as a DIY, furious experience. For Pete’s sake, their poster (albeit edited,) appeared in a SportsCenter commercial. To quote that network’s Stephen A Smith: That’s. Box.

What makes folk metal interesting is how it is the unlikely union of two things that should not go together. Metal is hard, brash, and abrasive, while folk music is soft, acoustic, and introspective. Folk would be at the bottom of the list of other genres I would expect metal to ever be paired with, given the fundamental differences between them, and yet there is a healthy and thriving scene of folk metal bands that have managed to forge a connection between the two styles.

One of the more unfortunate realities of being a music fan is that the more you seek out great music, the less you will find. There are only a certain number of albums out there that will resonate with you passionately, and expanding your search and listening to more and more records is futile. What will happen is that you will wind up hearing massive amounts of music that are either bland or offensive to your senses, to the point where you begin to doubt if you still love music the way you once did.

There’s just a certain joy about new projects, aren’t there? They all possess a certain sense of combinative anticipation and mystery that makes them compelling. The beginning of a new project, especially when the members of said musical enterprise have established themselves under other names, is an endless spring of contemplation and speculation that only ends when the result graces us with its presence.