heavy metal

Toronto’s Crimson Shadows understands their genre better than most. Melodic metal, even when crossbred with other subgenres, has always faced the criticism that it’s difficult to take seriously – the music isn’t dark enough, the message not bleak enough to accommodate a ‘discerning’ metal fan’s taste.

I come into contact with a lot of people who do not share my musical tastes, and I notice certain trends among them that often catch me by surprise. One of those is that fans of mostly extreme metal often have a soft spot in their hearts for traditional metal, despite all the clichés about it that their preferred style of music tried to eradicate. And among those fans who have such a proclivity, Wolf is one of the bands that often gets brandished as an example of what traditional metal should be.

Gaz Jennings is a name well known in the perpetual underground of heavy metal. As the songwriter and guitarist for the now-defunct Cathedral, Jennings helped pen and perform some of the great classics of doom metal, teaming up with Lee Dorian to energize the genre after a particularly fallow period.

It was only natural that once metal music became intertwined with video games that there would be a degree of co-mingling, that bands would start to soak up the sounds and influences of the games that took metal under their wing. It's odd, in a way, that a genre that tries to push boundaries would instead have a faction that aims to introduce regressive sounds, but that is exactly what has happened. The soundtrack of old 8-bit video games has seeped into areas of the metal culture, and has created an odd amalgam of sounds that I could never have predicted.

So, what do you do when you're a drummer and your dad is also a drummer but not just ANY drummer. He's one of the most iconic metal drummers ever. What is a son to do? Join a power trio and put out an album filled with some of the best hard rock this reviewer has heard in a long time. That's what you do.

I first heard about Dragonforce before they became popular through the Guitar Hero games. I heard about their first album when it came out, and I was quite puzzled by what I was hearing. It was lightning-speed power metal, played at tempos I could barely register, and topped off with some of the most gloriously cheesy vocals and melodies I had ever heard. On paper, it sounded like a disaster, but they somehow made it work.

Strap in. Along Came a Spider’s new record “Resurgence” is a twisting ride. Dive in when you’re ready.

One of the interesting things about hanging around the music scene long enough is seeing how a band changes and grows from album to album. Of course, when many bands take between three and five years to put each record out, doing that is a chore. We easily forget where we were and how we felt when those records came out by the time the next one is released, which blunts the impact the evolution of a band can have. After five years, anything will sound good, because we've been so anxious to hear new music. It's a subtle trick that bands lacking creativity readily exploit.

Longtime fans of heavy metal will surely recognize the subject of this week's review. It's a little band from Germany known as Accept. Personally, Accept holds the distinction of being the very first metal band I ever saw live. At the risk of dating myself, I saw them in support of their "Metal Heart" album when they opened for Iron Maiden at the Glens Falls Civic Center back in 1985. Their classic "Balls To The Wall" is still one of my favorites.