heavy metal

Metal fans are a fickle lot, aren't we? We demand material worthy of our fandom, and one day's hero can be the next day's goat. Fortunes change both for better or worse in an instant with one album release, one radio hit, or even something as elementary as a haircut.

Sully Erna's solo album "Avalon" seems to serve two purposes. First, he finally gets to explore his fascination with tribal drums and acoustic music to his heart's content, without the weight of the Godsmack name and subsequent label expectations. Second, he created a vehicle which allows him to create all the songs about longing and soul-searching emotional torment that it seems he's been brimming with since his band's eponymous album.

There are a certain number of things that must be said in regard to Serj's album, and they relate to both the man and the music. He possesses a nearly flawless sense of the dramatic. Sometimes teetering on the precipice of melodrama, Tankian has an innate talent for crafting music of grand context. This album, not unlike any of his solo adventures, would be well adapted for stage, complete with larger-than-life characters, exotic sets and resplendent costumes.

Just a handful of hours before they would ravage the stage, I was invited into the private confines of the tour bus for the Australian powerhouse Sick Puppies. What I encountered was not the metal powerhouse of inexhaustible energy that the band is on stage. Rather, I was presented with three young, appreciative and thoughtful musicians who are humble about their beginnings and proud of their product. We talked conversationally about music, about how they broke it big, and of course, about horror movies. So here are Shimon Moore, Emma Anzai and Mark Goodwin

I remember seeing Insane Clown Posse merchandise begin to crop up in the late years of junior high and early high school. At the time, I truly thought they were just a passing fad, two painted rappers who would eventually lose their edge and move on like a spring rain shower. More than ten years later, as I popped “Big Money Rustlas” into my DVD player, I have to give ICP a certain modicum of credit. The first ten minutes of their DVD, prior to even the title menu, is advertisements for various products, services and wrestling associations that the ICP supports or utilizes.

Albums like this are why I take so much joy in listening to music. It makes sifting through all the boring, blasé, baseless music seem trivial in the face of unearthing such beaming majesty as this.

Simply stated, and cutting to the chase, “Warp Riders” from The Sword, a band that is sure to be in the ranks of metal aristocracy soon, is my runaway favorite for Album of the Year.

Somehow, even after all the years of latent dormancy, three of the four original members of Autopsy can come back together and still rock it. It must be like riding a bike, as this incarnation of the long-thought-to-be-dead gore metal classic hasn't really missed a step relative to their other works.

Disturbed always leaves me in a strange place as a metal fan. The selfish, select, protective metal fan in me wants to write them off as another example of metal overproduction; a band that some record label wants me to like. Conversely, the honest music fan in me can’t help but admit that they have written a whole bunch of incredibly catchy songs.

As a side note, someone whispered to me that Disturbed will be talking with fans on Ustream about the album on release date, which is Tuesday the 31st (5:30 PM EST.) So if you're a fan, scope that out for yourself.