Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Track: Dream Theater's "On the Backs of Angels"

Dream Theater is back sans Portnoy. I had an opportunity to see him live with the band just before his departure, and I consider myself lucky because Mike is a great guy and a great drummer.

The upcoming Dream Theater album features Mike Mangini behind the kit. Although he's a monster player, I couldn't help but feel disappointed with his performance on "On the Backs of Angels" because I wanted to hear him doing his own thing, not something that felt like a Portnoy imitation. Still, I have high hopes for his performance on the rest of the album because of his work prior to joining the band.

Unfortunately, the meat of the song wasn't memorable in any way--merely standard modern Dream Theater fare, I suppose. The one thing that I really did love was the intro with the choir because I love those epic-natured climax builders. I think the band is at the point where they're super tight as group (though they've been at that point forever...), but they fail to impress because they're so predictable.

Don't misread me, though. This song is good, but it isn't great, especially from the group that gave us Awake. September 13th just needs to hurry up in any case. I want to hear this album ASAP.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Modern Thrash Done Right?

Referred to by some discussion on Metal Archives, I've been reintroduced to Onslaught. I don't have any previous experience with the band, but I do seem to recall that Steve Grimmett of Grim Reaper sang on an album or two. More than once (back in 2007-ish), I eyed the album Killing Peace at a local record store, but I never ended up picking it up, so I decided to take a gander at the title track, which gave me a thorough face melting.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Analog vs. Digital

The amazing Rega P5.
As of late, I've been putting some heavy thought into the heated debate that analog and digital formats spark. I personally don't believe one is better than another, but I do think they offer unique advantages over while still retaining a certain character that people love them for.

I won't lie: part of analog's appeal is the experience. There's nothing like holding a vinyl sleeve in your hands and analyzing the minute, artistic details seldom seen on a tiny CD booklet. Countless artists never had the opportunity to have their material released on CD, so it's like an extra world out in the vinyl-sphere. This may not be a big deal with metal because, in the grand scheme of things, metal hasn't been around that long, but with jazz, blues, and other genres, an immeasurable amount of music is "lost" because it never benefited from a digital release. On top of that, listening to your favorite records through a tube amp is sublime. In general, I'm sucker for the warmer sound characteristic of analog formats.

New Anthrax Song: "Fight 'em 'til You Can't"

Yowza. I just got smacked in the face with Anthrax's new song. Based on the situation with the band that has been ongoing for many years, and the fact that they haven't released anything decent since 1990ish, this was a surprise. No, it isn't a return to Spreading the Disease or Among the Living quality material, but it's still very listenable.

Quick thoughts - The good: Belladona sounds a lot better than expected, and the chorus was catchy enough. Throughout the song, I thought I recognized a few melodies reminiscent of past 'thrax tracks. The bad: As a fellow member of Metal Archives said, "Gridlock" called and wants its riff back. No big, though. I guess you're allowed to rip your own material off. The gang vocals get a big "meh" from me when compared with the older stuff. It sounds...odd.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Discoveries of the Week Part Four

...or should I say discovery? Nothing I've stumbled upon this week has come close to being as awesome as Demetori. Before this summer, if you asked me where the best metal came from, I would have likely given you an answer that included a mix of Europe, the USA, and Canada. However, I now find myself including Japan. My break from school has led me on a fruitful path to countless discoveries, helping me realize one thing: good metal can come from anywhere. Heck, I probably already knew that, but didn't realize it.

But I suppose I got a little sidetracked there. Apparently Demetori's discography is based off of music from an anime, but I can't tell you if that's true or not. Aside from a couple shows, I've never found myself interested in anime, and, to be completely honest, I'll probably never watch the series these songs pull inspiration from.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Passing Along a Morbid Angel Blog Called Morbid Fails

Fellow metalheads,

I just stumbled into a blog called Morbid Fails while adventuring around the net. Angry fans are parodying Morbid Angel by taking real pictures of the band and photoshopping them into some of the funniest things I've seen in a very long time. I just might have to give Illud Divinum Insanus a listen now.

Click here to go to Morbid Fails


Recent Hauls Part Two

Thoughts and impressions on a few albums, metal and nonmetal.
About a week ago I heard Black Country Communion's "One Last Soul" on satellite radio, which had me do a little investigating. Upon researching the band, I found that they had recently released a new album, but "One Last Soul" was on their debut, so I opted for that. If you're still not convinced simply based on the fact that I enjoy Black Country Communion, consider that the band is composed of veteran members, most notably Joe Bonamassa, a phenomenal blues/hard rock guitar player; and Glenn Hughes, a vocalist who goes way back, having worked with Black Sabbath, Iommi, Deep Purple, and others. On the whole, I really like the band's debut, but I have one beef with it: for the guitars, the production is too recessed, effectively creating a veil and blending them into the background when compared with the drums and vocals. Aside from that, this album is a very good effort with top-notch guitar playing and an outstanding vocal performance by Hughes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Concert Review: Uriah Heep @ Fraze Pavilion - Dayton/Kettering, Ohio: June 17, 2011

Wow, what can I say here? Uriah Heep put on one of the best concerts I've seen, coming second to the first time I saw Iron Maiden, though the experience may have been augmented because I sat on the stage while the band played. Iron Maiden certainly puts on a better show, but how many bands can top Maiden live? Few. Anyway, yes, I had the opportunity to sit on stage during the concert; to say the least, the perspective was interesting. Imagine facing the stage as at any normal concert. I was off to the left in between Mick Box's couple of Marshall stacks and some other equipment sitting on a little podium. I really got a sense of how concerts work (although, really, they aren't complicated). It was pretty sweet. Worth the money as my dad said.

Cool view, eh?
Before the concert, I was able to watch the band's sound check. Initially, it was your standard procedure. Play around with the instruments, tweak the sound. But after a while of sitting in the sweltering sun and heat, the band played a few songs for my family and I, effectively making it like a private little concert. And not to knock on the band or anything, but that was easily the best part of the day. I strongly believe they put in their best performance during the songs they played during the sound check, but the rest of the concert, as I said before, was very good in its own right.

Afterwards, the band left the stage for a meet and greet, some autographs, and a photo-op. They were all humble guys, genuinely wanted to talk to their fans, and were interested in hearing what we thought. Because Uriah Heep is somewhat unknown in the United States nowadays, the band is able to do just that. Bigger bands probably wouldn't dream of doing a meet and greet or, most obviously, let their fans sit on stage during the concert. I likely won't get to do anything like this ever again, but I'm surely glad I got to meet them (and that they turned out to be great guys). Despite that, I'm doubtful that I want to meet a band again. I wouldn't want to find out someone [insert band of your choice here] is a total jerk and sour the experience.

Mick doin' his thing during the sound check.
Following that, the band embarked to prepare for the concert. I had a long wait of ~3 to 3 1/2 hours before Uriah Heep would hit the stage. Yes, they got delayed and, to make things worse, the strangest opening act was paired with them. The opening band was Artisto, a poppy rock group that sounded akin to 1,000,000 other mainstream bands today. Totally unfitting, but the Aristo guys seemed pretty nice, even admitting that they hadn't heard of Heep before the concert. Mind you, this wasn't Uriah Heep's fault, as random acts are paired with them as openers at nearly every venue. Heck, I even asked the band who was opening for them, and they had no idea. Phil Lanzon [keyboards] summed it up nicely: "Hit or miss." In this case, a miss.

Although it may seem pretentious, I skipped Aristo's performance. From what I could hear, they were rather average. As I made my way down to the stage when it was time, a Uriah Heep fan complimented me on my Morbid Angel shirt; just goes to show that Heep is still popular with the metal and hard rock crowd. Upon climbing on stage and into my seat, I had a short wait while Heep came on. I took this time to examine my surroundings, primarily gawking at the stage setup. It was very plain Jane, no frills. With no decorations to be found, all equipment was exposed to the naked eye. This is likely my favorite kind of stage setup as I got to see extra guitars and equipment floating around.

Bernie being entertaining.
Shortly thereafter, the band stormed the stage in a typical confident fashion, as they should. Despite many line up changes, Uriah Heep has a considerable reputation because their influence on hard rock and metal has been generally unparalleled. Anyway, the band started off very strong and maintained that strength for the duration of the concert. They played quite a few tracks from their most recent album Into the Wild, along with a good chunk of classic material, though I would have loved to hear something from Abominog or Head First, two albums that I'm attached to for whatever reason. They're just fun. On a negative note, I was particularly appalled with the crowd's reaction to the new material. Very few seemed to know the songs, and their reactions were as predicted. Only a small number of people seemed to dig/recognize the new tracks, while the majority simply stood there with nothing more than a "Huh?" plastered all over their faces. These people only seemed to know songs like "Easy Livin'" and "Stealin'" as well. This duo is easily Uriah Heep's most well-known songs, inferior to a good measure of their discography at that. To me, those songs are like Judas Priest's "Living After Midnight" or " You've Got Another Thing Comin'." I could not care less if I ever hear them again. Funnily enough, the band kept turning around during the concert giving us a thumbs up or thumbs down to see what we thought. Of course we returned with a big thumbs up!

- (There were, however, a small number of people who were into the whole concert. One guy with the longest hair I have seen was headbanging so aggressively that his hair practically reached the stage [he was a few rows back]. The dude had the longest whipping hair I have EVER seen. In addition to that, there were a few people that seemed to be emotionally affected by the concert, along with others that were totally into it, singing all words and jumping up and down. The crowd wasn't a total failure!)

Tres amigos.
Moving on from my rambling, the whole band put in a great performance. Bernie Shaw's vocals were excellent, though I thought he struggled a bit on the falsetto "AHHHHHHH" highs. This is no bash on him either. I imagine those are hard to pull of in the fashion that Heep likes them. Surprisingly, I walked away most impressed by Russel Gilbrook. I reckon he was much better live than in the studio, in part due to his clean and lightning fast fills that he would pepper everywhere and because of his entertaining drum solo. The drum solo wasn't overly technical, but it was entertaining and memorable, in my eyes, the key to success. Trevor Bolder's bass playing complimented the drums nicely and formed a rock solid foundation. Mick Box's guitar playing was good, but I can't particularly remember anything special about it, mostly because he seemed to get buried in the mix like he does on some of the albums. In my opinion (at least for the albums), he needs to layer his rhythm playing, one track for each side as if there were two guitar players. I found myself staring at his custom Caparelli guitar for far too long as well. It's safe to say that I want that guitar, though I would nab one of his Yamaha Pacificas that he used on the Sea of Light tour over it any day. In a nutshell, the band was very tight, well-versed, and energetic, but I wouldn't expect anything less from a bunch of veterans.

Subsequent to the concert, we got the opportunity to hang out with the band again. This lasted for a good 30 minutes, and as before, the they were willing to chat about anything. They're just a group of great guys in it for the love of music. I walked away with two of Mick's signature guitar picks and one of Russell's drum sticks. I never saw that one coming!

Bashin' the skins.
In short, this will be a show that I will never forget, and it's evidence that Uriah Heep still knows how to put on an entertaining concert. Let's hope the band keeps releasing new material as consistently as they have been, so they can keep touring. Personally, I hope they gain a smidgen of popularity in the United States, so their return is guaranteed. No Europe, you can't have Uriah Heep all to yourself.

-The Metal Advisor

The setlist.

Phil and Trevor during the sound check.
Lookin' cool.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Morbid Angel = Dance Music?

Okay, so I still haven't heard Morbid Angel's new album, but judging by this, I don't want to. I've seen some of the songs described as dance music, and this is one seals that claim, with incredibly bad music and a totally funny Star Wars video sync.

It gets pretty hysterical when Darth Vader walks on. Get a laugh in or two.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Here We Go....!

Going to see Uriah Heep tonight. Wish me luck; hopefully I don't go deaf!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Recent Hauls Part One

Thoughts and mini summaries on a few things I've gotten recently, metal and nonmetal.

Swedish death metallers Interment recently released their first album titled Into the Crypts of Blasphemy after a slew of demos offered from 1991 to 1994. As you can probably surmise, these guys aren't strangers to the old school Swedish death metal sound because they were a part of it; you should expect exactly that, with dry, monstrous guitar riffs and a production that sounds dirty and gritty. The album isn't groundbreaking, but it is extremely enjoyable. A worthwhile listen.

Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets are a rock group based out of Japan. All lyrics are in Japanese, though the first few albums are instrumental-only, with heavy syth parts in place of vocal melodies that give the material a very 8 and 16-bit inspired sound. I have recently acquired the band's entire discography and, lyrics or not, they're a very fun listen. While the guitar playing is somewhat sloppy at times, it easily redeems itself by being peppy, vivacious, and extremely creative. Vocals are excellent; drumming is rather precise and skilled--quite a surprise to me. It would be an understatement to say I really enjoy this band, well, because I love them! In short, they are a fresh addition to my music library.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Has the United States been Important to Metal's Development?

Very much so.

I'm currently in a discussion with a well-intentioned user of You Tube about origins of thrash metal, and the United States' overall role in the development of metal as a genre. The user in question claims that the most popular bands that helped spread thrash are from England, and that the USA has had little to do with development of metal. Well, with all due respect, that's flat out wrong. There are, in fact, some thrash bands that came from England, notably ones like Xentrix and Tankard, but the most popular and most important ones hail from the United States and Germany. For example, the big four (Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth) all come from America, and there are a plethora of other bands like Overkill, Exodus, Testament, Nuclear Assault, Sadus, Dark Angel, Heathen, etc., and many obscure ones. Even more evidence are crossover thrash bands like D.R.I.. Germany has had the giant thrashers Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction, among others.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Discoveries of the Week Part Three

I'm going to be out of town away from my computer most of the time, so I'm going to do my discoveries of the week post today. If I do end up with some free time, I'll try to post something, but I'm not making any guarantees! With that said, let's move on.

1. Benediction are a band I've been interested in for quite some time based off of one thing: the album cover of Transcend the Rubicon. It's so intricate, so detailed, and so awesome looking. I love the river flowing through an ancient civilization, one that likely worshiped ancient gods.

I had a chance to listen to the album once through, and I was impressed. It's hard to have an overall impression based on one listen, but I found the album to have lots of variety tempo-wise from hyper fast to a more medium pace, like the track I'm posting

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It's The Real Thing, Baby!

It's 1:00 a.m., and I'm currently rocking out to Faith No More's "Zombie Eaters." FNM is one of my favorite bands, metal or not. Just trust me when I type this: the band covers a lot of bases and frequently steps out of the boundaries of metal to play funk, blues, alternative, jazz, avant-garde, you name it. Or they'll just simply fuse metal with another genre.

Simply put, to call Faith No More solely a metal band is highly inaccurate because they play so many different genres. And now that I think about it, my favorite record is probably King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime; that's not to say their other albums are bad. In fact, they don't have a bad album to their name, although I found Angel Dust incredibly hard to get into as it takes the Faith No More norm of being insanely weird and ups it many, many times. It was a grower, and a rewarding one at that.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Metalcore: The Agonist

I wouldn't be lying if I told you that I detested The Agonist the first time I heard their music. I dismissed them as the typical metalcore act--a mistake on my part--because I figured they rode the current mainstream trend of combining elements of hardcore/pop music with metal. Don't get me started on deathcore, either; that's a different story and even worse. Here's to hoping the fad vanishes soon.

It was only a few years ago that I stumbled upon The Agonist, too. They had all the makings of a metalcore band, like chugga-chugga riffs, generic breakdowns, and the worst harsh vocals you could ever imagine. As if fate, I accidentally ran into the band again during my freshman year of college. After giving them a serious look, I decided that they weren't all that bad because, yes, the harsh vocals were terrible, but the clean vocals were actually decent enough to keep me interested. And did I mention that The Agonist's vocalist is a female?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Favorite Metal Riffage Part Two

Cacophony are group based around the guitar antics of Marty Friedman and Jason Becker, two world renown guitarists, in both skill and inspiration. I've only heard their second album Go Off!, which is an excellent chunk of classically-influenced metal, and I look forward to hearing Speed Metal Symphony, a fan favorite.

The majority of Go Off! is based around the speed metal, shred, or neoclassical sound; Friedman and Becker favor exotic guitar scales for many of the songs and, as a result, I've seen some people claim that the music is relatively hard to get into. Personally, I don't find that the case at all because Cacophony's music is extremely engaging, memorable, and adventurous. It sounds fresh each time I listen to it, and I always discover something new to enjoy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Favorite Metal Riffage Part One

Much like anything else I've done in this blog, I'm going to start a series of posts where I highlight a metal riff that I enjoy. Let's take a look at Dark Angel's song "Time Does Not Heal." The album of the same name claims to have 246 individual riffs packed within its 67 minutes of goodness. It's certainly a bold claim, though I can't vouch for it because I haven't individually counted.

Regardless, the album rocks, but it was definitely a grower because odd vocal melodies scattered throughout the track listing turned me first. The majority of the riffs are thrash-based--fast and hyper speed alternate picking. For the song below, I prefer to let the music speak for itself. And if you like it, you'll likely like the rest of the album.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thoughts on Pantera

Hear me now; I'm openly admitting that I think any Pantera album released after Cowboys from Hell is utter garbage, but I still want to post about the band. We're going to take a look at the material released prior to Cowboys from Hell, the material that Pantera essentially denied existed. It's really too bad because their earlier stuff is their best.

First off, let's talk about Pantera's physical appearance during the eighties. Yes, you would be quite right to say that they looked like a hair or glam band; however, their music wasn't your typical hard rock and/or watered-down metal. And, please, let's not get me started on my personal pet peeve of calling hair or glam a music genre. It's not. It's nothing more than an easy way of classification for the ignorant.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Multi-Headed Hound: Cerebus

If you didn't know, a Cerebus is a three-headed hound that manifested itself in Greek and Roman mythology. Not getting the picture? Think back on that Harry Potter book or movie you read and/or watched. Gettin' it now? I thought so.

I've recently bumped into Cerebus and have found them to be a mesh of heavy metal and USPM. They're extremely enjoyable, highly skilled at their instruments, and write songs of good to excellent quality. However, I was disappointed to find out that they only released one full-length album, and that there's little hope of them resurfacing. Much like anything, nevertheless, I suppose that it is possible because NWoBHM band Hell recently released their first full-length album, despite forming in the early '80s.

Basically, it's perfectly fine to call Cerebus' Too Late to Pray a hidden gem. As with most records, the guitar riffs are the main attraction for me, but the vocal melodies are often very memorable; everything comes together to create a neat, little package.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Discoveries of the Week Part Two

Got a couple things to share.

1. I think it will be of interest to include Gojira's newest song because I know that some of my readers are big fans of the band. The particular track in question is called "Of Blood and Salt." Interestingly enough, Devin Townsend (as well as Fredrick Thordendal of Meshuggah) helped with this one, and you can hear his vocals right off the bat. Truthfully, I find his vocal melodies to be atrocious, pushing me to wonder why Gojira chose to work with him. It's completely understandable why they chose Thordendal because Gojira practically worships Meshuggah, but, as for the song itself, it plods along at typical chuggy pace, making it a slow, uninteresting piece of music. This is the kind of song you don't judge an album off of. If the record is indeed as bad the song, well, you're out of luck.

Verdict: My thoughts amount to a big "meh." Maybe it will grow on me, maybe it won't. Sadly, Gojira  don't have a good standing with me becuase I've tried more than once to "get" them, but the click never happens, and I always walk away forgetting what's went in one ear and gone out the other. I like a song here and there (okay, maybe more like two or three songs), but overall I'm not impressed by the band. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Gojira - "Of Blood and Salt"

2. Moving on... This next one is pretty bad. Historically, I've been a fan of Alestorm because they successfully combine a pirate aesthetic with power metal. However, with this new track, they've gone too far because they're effectively parodying themselves both lyrically and musically. I understand that pirates like to drink, but how many songs are they going to write about it and/or have lyrics concerning it? Not to mention the synth melody, vocals, and overall composition of the song are quite laughable. This one is filler, and not the kind you can happily spin at any given moment. Bunch of tomfoolery right here.

Alestorm - "I Am a Cider Drinker"

3. Well, I've got to bring something good to the table, eh? This one isn't exactly a new discovery, but it's been sitting in my listening cache and "to search for on vinyl" list for some time. You might call this one generic. I certainly won't deny that it isn't particularly original, but it successfully captures the rockin' heavy metal feel that made/makes the genre fun. Too many bands have forgotten what that's like. Thankfully, we've got the trad. heavy metal movement going on, so maybe we'll get lucky.

Tyrant - "Metal Rules" 


Thursday, June 2, 2011

3 Inches of Blood vs. The Traditional Heavy Metal Revival

Is it correct of me to include 3 Inches of Blood in the NWoTHM? Most of you would probably chime in with a resounding "no." Well, I guess I'd better explain myself. Based on 3 Inches of Blood's material prior to Here Waits Thy Doom, there would be no way in heck I'd consider them a part of the movement, but once the band released HWTD, that all changed.

While the album clearly incorporates other influences, it has an old school vibe that I just can't ignore--needless to say, it's pretty darn good at encompassing the vibe that metal heads hanker and drool over. Let me explain; the first part of the vibe is the production. It's clear, yet not overly polished. Although I found it odd sounding at first, it clicked after a few moments, and I'm thankful it isn't similar to the production on Fire Up the Blades, which was way too computerized for my taste.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Check Out Accept's New Video!

Figured I'd pass along Accept's new video for the song "Pandemic" from Blood of the Nations. Take a look at my review for Blood of the Nations if you haven't. Accept are back!