heavy metal

No great story can be told without drama. Uncomfortable though it may be, conflict is what keeps us engaged in the narrative, what makes us connect with the characters as they soldier on through their journeys. The life of a band is one of those stories, so many of them littered with lineup changes and shifts in direction, always searching for resolution. It is befitting that a band trafficking in epic sounds would have an equally grand story to tell, and such is the case for Rhapsody.

Following in the footsteps of legendary talent is never an easy thing. It's a thankless task, one that ensures the person in question will spend an entire career failing to live up to the standard that was set before them. In that spirit, anyone who still decides to travel down the well-worn road should be commended for their courage, regardless of the end result of their efforts. For every Norah Jones, there are dozens who's careers are only notable for their name.

As Kreator hovers around thirty years in the game, it's tough to have new commentary about their efforts. What can be said about Kreator that hasn't been said before? The corollary question to all of this is "is there anything new that needs to be said?"

This is not your father's heavy metal band. Whitechapel has always been labeled as a deathcore band, but there's more to it than that. They stem from a short-lived but extremely popular splinter of heavy metal that recalls the kind of brassy, grinding sound that dominated the years immediately following the change of millennium. This splinter gave rise to a burst of musicians such as The Red Chord, Nile and Converge, but then sank back into the background.

* The Smashing Pumpkins (which has become the epithet for Billy Corgan himself,) is soliciting fan-submitted art that evokes images pertaining to their new album "Oceania." Fans can tag and submit their art based on the album's 13 song titles through any number of social network and photo-sharing websites. For details on how and where to submit, we well as guidelines for the submissions themselves, check it out here. "Oceania" drops June 19th.

Having just released the excellent "The Hunt", Grand Magus sees two of their critically-acclaimed previous released reissued for fans who may have missed out on the band as they ascended to the top of the traditional metal ranks. The climb started with "Wolf's Return", the album that started to build a buzz around the band. Mixing elements of doom into a traditional metal framework, the album straddles the line between crushing riffs and the sound that would expand their horizons.

I've often wondered how much our experiences color the way we look at the music we love, whether the time in our lives we encounter certain sounds will forever define the impact certain records will have on us. I ponder this because of Ulver's collection of psychedelic covers, “Childhood's End”. Here we have an album of sounds lifted straight from the 60's and 70's scene, where the music served as a soundtrack to acid trips and other forms of mental alteration.

Fates Warning has earned a spot on the Mount Rushmore of progressive metal. Embracing the spirit of progression perhaps more than any other band of their ilk, Fates Warning has continually pushed the boundaries of what progressive metal can be, as well as the boundaries of who they are as a band. Though not as dramatic or publicized as the shifts in sound and style bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden have undergone, the continued evolution of Fates Warning is a hallmark in true progressiveness.

Cory Smoot's untimely and unexpected death was just another blow to a heavy metal community that had struggled through the deaths of James "The Rev" Sullivan, Peter Steele, Paul Gray and Ronnie James Dio. The loss of GWAR's most prominent axe-man caused the holding of breath, the first truly serious press releases from Dave Brockie in recent memory and ultimately the retirement of the Flattus Maximus character, a heretofore untold step in the pantheon of GWAR's fictional story and real-life history.

Objects in the rear-view mirror are closer than they appear. So says the disclaimer as you look to see how close the approaching headlights are while you speed through the dark. You may think you can, but the past cannot be outrun. It is in this spirit that Grand Magus catches me. One of the more interesting developments, to me, of recent years has been the growth of traditional metal. There are more bare-bones, stripped-down metal bands churning out the kind of music that filled the early 80's than at any point since the days of big riffs and even bigger hair.