If you like any sort of melodic rock or metal, you probably know Frontiers Records as the leading force keeping that style of music alive, as well as the home of the majority of the bands and singers you've been listening to over the last two decades. They have been instrumental in stoking the fires of the careers of any number of bands, with a dedication to old-school music that refuses to believe the last ten years of metal evolution ever happened. That is, in many ways, a most welcome position to hold.
There are certain concepts of art that cannot be appreciated by youth. I don't say that as a way of denigrating the tastes of young listeners, implying that those with more years under their belts have superior opinions, but merely as a realization that some wisdom does come with experience. I know this from my own, where certain musical ideas seemed utterly incomprehensible when I was still finding my way. One of those was the concept of the avant-garde, a devil-may-care attitude that does not exactly mesh with the concepts of youth.
One of the saddest things that can happen, as a music fan, is to discover a band after their run has finished. Knowing that, as you fall in love with a band, they will never make another record is a crushing experience, the sort of thing that does make it difficult to delve into the past for hidden gems. Despite that, I do make an effort to see what I have missed out on over the years, which led me to Nightingale. I only discovered the band after the release of "White Darkness", which over the years has become one of my go-to melodic rock albums. It is a brilliant pi
As the resident prog guy here, there are certain things I am remiss to admit. One of them, germane to this review, is that I have never given much attention to Pain Of Salvation, despite their status as one of the bigger names in modern progressive metal. I can't say why that is, because I don't have a good answer. I have known about them for quite some time, but the most connection I have had with them is the fact that band leader Daniel Gildenlow is the (sometimes) uncredited fifth member of my favorite prog band, Transatlantic.
I hate to use the term 'supergroup'. Most of the time, the bands that get stuck with that label are pieced together from parts of other bands that are not quite so super. We've lowered our standards, and now anyone whose name you might have heard before qualifies to be a member of one. When Cream formed, they were three of the very best in the world at what they did. Today's supergroups don't come anywhere near that level of fame or acclaim, which makes it impossible for the next real supergroup to get the respect they deserve.
Of all the metal bands that have impressed me in the last decade, the vast majority of them have only managed to do so with a single album. Maintaining that level has proven difficult for many bands, but Orden Ogan is not one of them. My history with them goes back to the early days of independent bands putting their music online, where I stumbled across their song “Angels War”. I was hooked, and tracked down their album “Testimonium AD”, which was still rough, but a great starting point.
As a critic, it's easy to become jaded about music, given the amount of albums I get the chance to hear in a given year. When you hear so much, it begins to blend together, and the special spark that you're always looking for becomes continually more difficult to find. Both age and attrition make it so that we should be able to pull less and less out of each year, but that is not what I have found. Over the course of my time writing about music, the opposite has held true.
I'm never sure what to think of an album when the press material that comes along with it spends most of the words talking about the artist's other career, and the collaborators who contributed to the music. Neither of those is important in the slightest to the final product, which will have to survive on its own merit. Knowing a famous name was associate with it, or that the artist once did something in a different industry that was interesting, is not going to make me think any differently of the music I'm listening to.
Progressive metal is in a rough period right now. The old guard are either releasing sub-standard albums that only make it more obvious how far they have fallen, or they are drastically uncool with anyone who didn't become a fan when progressive metal was first being created. Progressive today tends to mean djent, a style that has sapped all the life and humanity out of music, turning metal into a math equation of time signatures, and not songs that anyone can actually remember.
There is usually a gaping chasm between the bands and albums that get critical acclaim, and those that get popular acclaim. Part of that stems from the way that critics think about music, which evolves into a pseudo-intellectual statement of one's own musical literacy. The other part is that quality rarely equates to popularity, so many records that get acclaim from people who live an breathe music are likely to go straight over the heads of the masses. Some bands are able to win on both fronts, and one of the more unusual cases has been Primordial.