heavy metal

Heads up, fans of early 90's metal. Prong is back with a new album. But before we get to just how awesome the new album is (sorry for the spoiler), I have my very own, albeit unexciting to anyone but me, Prong story.

We've talked about this before, but watching a band evolve and grow is one of the preeminent perks of being a music fan. When an artist adds a few pieces to each successive effort, the feeling as a listener is one of encouragement - you inherently want to see that artist turn the corner from being a talented band that hasn't quite put it together to a unified force. Tennessee's Whitechapel has managed to improve on each album, and so fans and media alike were hopeful for this new record "Our Endless War".

Certain images come to mind when you think of dark, heavy, doom-laden metal. None of those involve two blonde women tapping into the seedy side of music for their inspirations. We've come to be conditioned to think of certain people in certain roles, and there's a disconnect that occurs when our conventional wisdom is breached. It can be uncomfortable, and it often leads us to second-guessing in times we normally wouldn't be prone to such things, but it can also open our minds to new possibilities.

Emmure is one of those bands people love to hate. While a quick scouring of the internet seems to suggest that straight-up nobody likes this band, the pertinent truth is that somebody must, because Frankie Palmeri and company continue to release music. Somewhere out there, Emmure means something, and their persistence in the face of a continual stream of vitriol is worth investigating. So, with that in mind, we tackle the new album, “Eternal Enemies.”

How's this for a heavy metal story - a band works on an album at their own studio for the better part of a year and, just as they near completion, the studio burns and destroys most of the contents. One of the few surviving items are the master tapes of the album. This is what happened to Gamma Ray and the tapes that made it through the fire became their latest offering, "Empire of the Undead". It makes sense, though. Everyone knows metal cannot be destroyed by fire.

Every now and again, we need an album like this. A concise record that isn’t particularly concerned with technicality or image and instead seeks only to slake our thirst for the base impulses of metal as we know it. Anti-Mortem’s “New Southern,” the debut record from the band hailing from Oklahoma, hangs its hat on the idea that metal burns brightest in the furious furnace of the heart more than the unchained imagination of the mind.

Triptykon’s debut full-length record from 2010 “Eparistera Daimones,” was a confused affair, even though it was greeted with unqualified praise from the reviewing universe. It lacked direction, rambled on in random progressions, and never established a musical purpose beyond trying to cram as much force-fed anguish into the product as possible.

A tribute project of two people does not a true tribute make. Particularly as it relates to "This is Spinal Tap," the only true measure of the film's success is the critique of its peers. To that end, as with every tribute we do, Chris and I step aside to make room for the opinions of those who make the music we all love. Before we begin, allow me to take a moment to thank all the musicians listed below, and all the promotional and label reps who helped gather these anecdotes. As ever, our tribute project is only a success because of the legwork they do to make it come together.

M. DREW: Let's run with your posit for a moment that metal culture no longer exists in a cohesive sense (which I still dispute, but I can't debate without arguing in circles, which will get us nowhere.) We can at least agree that metal culture is fractured and in some state of disrepair. There's almost certainly a qualifier in front of the word 'disrepair,' but which one and how serious it is, is likely in the beholder's eye.

CHRIS: Metal's history in the movies is not particularly long or illustrious. All of the odd glances and snickering asides that metal gets from music fans of other stripes are magnified when the medium changes, as filmmakers seldom know what to do with a form of music that is the aural equivalent of a Michael Bay movie (take that for what you will). Most of the time, we end up with metal either being portrayed as music for idiots, or are subject to movies that try to deal with the subject matter with respect, but are terrible attempts at film. I'm looking at you, "Rock Of Ages".