heavy metal

Metal is an absurd theater, when you stop and think about it. Much of the music we love is played with unwavering conviction, as though an amplifier turned up high enough can actually transmit the music to the Gods. It sounds stupid, but it's exactly why we become fans, and why we stay involved with the scene, no matter how many people may point and laugh at the more outlandish escapades of our heroes. Metal has a long history of being cheesy, over-the-top, and utterly ridiculous, and no band has ever been so guilty as Manowar.

Nothing has been more of a surprise in recent years than the sustained revival of the thrash scene. Thought dead when the classic 80's bands moved on to more commercial styles of music, nostalgia kicked in a generation later, and we find ourselves in the second coming of thrash. The masters are still out there doing their thing, better than they have for decades in many cases, but the influx of new bands is astounding. Thrash has seen a new wave of bands taking up the mantle, spreading the gospel of speed and heaviness around the world once again.

Six long years. That's how long Spineshank has been away. Nine long years. A near decade has passed since the band's last studio album and subsequent Grammy nomination. On the comeback trail, Spineshank has released "Anger Denial Acceptance," their new record that attempts to encapsulate all the emotions that one experiences after life-altering events.

For those who heard “Kiss the Sun Goodbye,” the debut album from Vampires Everywhere!, get that image out of your mind. It is meaningless now, a blip of adolescence that one must stumble through before emerging as a man.

You remember Spineshank? Almost a decade ago, they were on top, culminating with a Grammy nomination and critical acclaim. Shortly after that though, the band disappeared. Some nine years later, the original lineup is reunited, and the band is healthy, unified and ready to climb the mountain again inch by inch. Drummer Tommy Decker sat down with me to talk about where they've been, what it means to Spineshank to have "Anger Denial Acceptance" releasing right around the corner, and what it's like to persevere as a band.

Ready to take on the world as part of the Warped Tour, Vampires Everywhere wants you to know that this is not the same band that released their debut album "Kiss the Sun Goodbye." This is a new act, a better act, a stronger act, and they want to introduce you to their new lineup and new sound. Frontman and self-proclaimed vampire Michael Vampire sat down and talked VERY candidly about where his band was, where they are now, what it means to be a vampire, why people are attracted to vampirism, and naturally, "The Lost Boys." Read on:

This is not what I expected. Dr. Acula traditionally has presented listeners with wildly variable, scatter-brained music, embracing frayed edges and the pure nonsense that deathcore makes possible. I expected more of the same from "Nation," and was instead presented with a relatively cohesive, all-systems-go, straight ahead moshfest that not only sounds marginally out of character for the band, but is a solid improvement.

Psychology has taught us many things about the human condition, few of which can be applicable to an examination of a black metal album. However, there is one phenomenon that is worth considering. We've learned, through studies, that humans are better able to differentiate between members of their own ethnic/racial group than those of other backgrounds. Likewise, fans of black metal will have no problem identifying Brume D'Automne from every other similar band, and can point to the qualities that make them stand out as a unique entity.

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.