Sunday, July 31, 2011

Albums that Prompt Memories

Vibes' new location isn't particularly good looking.
More often than not, when I purchase an album, there's always a story that goes along with it. I can remember when I bought it, where I bought it, and why I bought it. These days, with the digital file age, I can't make the same connection or form any sort of memory that makes the listening more enjoyable.

The album that prompted this post is Acid Bath's Paegan Terrorism Tactics. I will admit the record never sunk in with me aside from a few tracks, but I can remember all the specifics of where, when, and why I bought it. It's interesting because those events are irrelevant and typically unimportant for the listening experience, but I like the record even more because of those details.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Physical Copies or Digital Files? The Modern Day Music Dilemma

Is the guy who owns these records nuts or just really passionate about his music? You decide.
Modern day is interesting. The local records stores we all know and love are rapidly disappearing due to lack of profit or they are being subsidized by bigger corporations that stock nothing but the typical shelf fodder. All that remains are chain stores that I would rather not step into to look for music. Thank god for Amazon and online distros.

You would have to be living under a rock for the past decade to not understand why this is happening. The fact of the matter is records don't sell like they used to. People don't want a hard copy of their favorite music anymore. They would rather obtain it illegally, or pay for a digital file. Pay for a digital file, you say? Yes. Personally, I would never think about paying for a digital file as A) I like to have something tangible. It makes little sense to pay for music I can't touch, especially when a hard drive crash could potentially happen, wiping out my music collection. B) I want the best quality possible. I won't touch a MP3 with a 10 foot stick unless it's correctly encoded to a verified 320kbps. Go ahead, call me picky. With a CD, I can rip the albums to my computer in FLAC or Lossless and have CD quality audio at one click. Then I can take those files and convert them to 320kbps MP3s for my digital audio player. iTunes and similar places should be ashamed that they swindle people out of money for a lower quality recording. I suppose I'm not the poor sap paying for a digital file, though.

It's true. I like having a massive album collection, whether it's composed of compact disks, vinyl, or cassettes. Heck, I'll even include 8-track. The feeling of standing in a room surrounded by music is a sensation unlike any other. I can't explain it, but when I walk into a room full of music, I get very excited. It isn't the same scrolling through a screen deciding what to listen to. It's sterile and it doesn't evoke any emotion from me. I like browsing shelves of music.

Yes, I primarily listen to music off of my computer and digital audio player. Am I a hypocrite? Absolutely not. 99% of the music stored on my hard drive I own a physical copy of. The rest I got from a friend. I can certainly say that my experience isn't the same as putting a record on the turntable or popping a compact disk into a hi-fi CD player, but I have enhanced my computer-based setup quite a bit. I use audiophile grade headphones plugged into a tube amp which is routed to a great DAC plugged into my laptop. It's sterile picking the music, not listening to it. I tend to listen to music this way because it's convenient.

In the end, I guess I have nostalgia for something I barely experienced. The digital file era has been upon us for quite a few years now and it isn't going anywhere. For the most part, I've lived in the age of internet where people feel entitled to have everything right at their finger tips.  

"Hey man, have you heard the new Iron Maiden album?" 
"Nope. Let me go download it really quickly."

Screw that.

-TMA

Friday, July 22, 2011

Discoveries of the Week Part Seven


I posted about Immolation yesterday. Majesty and Decay is starting to sink in, and it's actually pretty darn good. Like I already said, I never had a strong interest in Immolation before I purchased this album. They aren't exactly a new discovery either because I already knew about them and had even heard a handful of tracks from this very record, but they are new in a sense that I actually own an album.

I want to take this post as an opportunity to introduce you to material from Majesty and Decay. I really am enjoying it, and it's just one of those things where I need to post about it. The best way I can describe the album's sound is dry--dryer than a desert. The production is pretty standard fare in that it's overly polished, but it has its own distinct character (due to the dryness) that I can appreciate. The riffs create a nice dissonant atmosphere, but because of the production, they are easy to follow and break down into smaller pieces. Vocals are typical death metal style, but extremely easy to understand. This album doesn't do anything wrong.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recent Hauls Part Three

Stopped by the mall today with a friend just for kicks. I decided to drop by FYE and was met with the usual overpriced compact disks, but I was able to find a few albums that were within reasonable price range. That isn't saying much, however, as a portion of FYE's stock is the typical trash that gets lumped into the metal section and clearly isn't.

As a big fan of Havok's first effort Burn, I find it astonishing that it took me this long to purchase their newest album. Based on first listens, Time is Up takes the same basic formula of bombastic thrash metal, but ups the heaviness as well as the riffiness. I haven't heard this many awesome riffs crammed into an album since, well, forever.

If you like riffs, this album will wet your taste-buds nicely because it combines elements of thrash and death metal in such a way that's catchy, yet somehow refined. The guys sound a little more mature on this record, possibly due to the more polished production, but no worries as they've avoided down spiraling with their sophomore effort. Currently I deem this a must buy for metal fans and as proof that Colorado knows how to thrash.

Oh, yes, Immolation. I never really had a strong interest in the death metal band until I saw the cover to Majesty and Decay. Whether we like it or not, at some point we're attracted to a band based on artwork. Neat illustrations are certainly a big part of the experience, but the music is still the core. Luckily, Immolation deliver with a dissonant sounding brand of death metal that's somehow addicting. I can't quite explain it at the moment, but for what this album lacks in memorability, it makes up for in addictabillity (Yes, I made that word up. Remember, you saw it here first!). Relying on first listens, I can't really recall what I heard, but it has something that makes me want to go back to it. It might be the overly dry production with a boosted drum sound, or it might be the interesting riff structures. Whatever it is, I like it.

That's it for now. I have another haul of records to group into a "Recent Hauls" post, but I'm still digesting them.

-TMA

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An Often Debated Topic: Music Productions

An unfortunate victim to the sterile and computerized-sounding productions of modern day.
I'll admit I'm only 20 years old, but I long for the crisp and clear productions that quite a bit of metal used to have. Nowadays anything even remotely mainstream tends to have an overpolished, computerized sounding production that, to be honest, really irks me because it's so superficial. It's like plastic surgery, a fake kind of "beautiful" that isn't great to begin with.

Okay, okay, I know I'm making a generalization, but these fake sounding productions have become so common that some of my favorite bands are succumbing to them. Take NWoBHM band Hell for example. The dudes started in the early '80s and got their first record deal at the end of the '00s after they reunited in 2008. Their music was supposed to be raw, unadulterated heavy metal that scared the living %@^% out of people. Instead, Andy Sneap worked his "magic" with the band and made them sound, for all intents and purposes, lifeless. I know people like Sneap's work because it makes bands sound heavy, but it just comes off as excruciatingly dull and there's no dynamic range to any of it. Think back to ancient Greek mythology's succubus (a demon that takes form as a woman) that sucked all life out unsuspecting victims. Sneap and others like him are effectively a succubus toward music. We must eradicate them. *Sigh* Sure, I like a few of Sneap's productions, namely Kreator's Enemy of God and Accept's Blood of the Nations, but otherwise I'm not a fan. I do give him props for helping Hell release their music though.

Tired of listening to me complain? I thought so. I've gotten my point across, and you're either going to agree or disagree with me. Which ever side you chose is perfectly fine as we have our own preferences and such. I just wish there was a little more diversity productionwise these days.

-TMA

New Guys on the Block: Driller


Between the time I go to sleep and when I rise in the morning, quite a bit can happen in the world of metal and hard rock. Last.fm is my global hub for all musical activity as it keeps track of what I listen to on my digital audio player and on my computer. Of course, that excludes my CD player, turntable, etc.

Via Last.fm, I came into contact with UK-based rockers Driller who let me know that three of their songs were available for free download. You know me--I'm all for checking out some new tunes. Driller reminds of a better Whitesnake when Coverdale and the boys actually want to rock. I'm not much a fan of Whitesnake as most of the band's music is really very cheesy and lacks some "oomph," but Driller reminds me of the good side of the band, similar to tracks like "Sweet Lady Luck." I particularly enjoy the more funky side to their music exemplified by songs like "Angels without Wings." However, of the three tracks I was able to sample, "Alchemy of Love" is easily the best because of its strong and memorable guitar riffs.

-TMA



Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tridon - Lucky #7 (2011)

A ninja would probably use this as a weapon.
Occasionally, I'll stumble across something that immediately catches my attention, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way. For Tridon, it was the former. As some of you know, The Metal Advisor now has a Twitter account, and it has been very beneficial because I've discovered some fledgeling and obscure bands that are quite good, a lot of the time better than their bigger contemporaries.

Of course, Tridon are one of them. The band's vocalist, Rick Fredrick, started following my Twitter account, which sparked the inevitable "Hey, I gotta check this band out." I'm sure glad I did, or I would be missing out on some sweet tunage. From the my first listen of "10-Fold," I knew I was going to be hooked.

Based on the 35-second clip "10-Fold" put forth, I took a chance and ordered Lucky #7  (although it was a good chance, the kind you don't feel bad about), and the album arrived in a timely four days. Surprisingly, the band included two logo stickers with the CD, one of which will surely adorn my car window because I want the band to get noticed in any way possible. Word of mouth and anything that doesn't have to do with the internet ain't dead yet. Sure, Twitter/Facebook/whatever creates a prime exposure spot for bands, but I find the most fun way to discover a band is through a flyer, word of mouth, or even a blind buy at my favorite record store. Tridon appear to have the potential to turn into something big, but without proper exposure and the right connections, they aren't going to be fully realized. Let's make it happen!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eclectic Taste is Wonderful, Isn't it?

These girly-girls vs. something like Dio? Psh, yeah right. 






Laugh all you want, but for the last week or so I've been totally absorbed in a pop group called 소녀시대, or in English, Girls' Generation. My listening habits with the group keep on getting stronger because of how catchy and addicting their music is. As a fellow Last.fm'er put it: "They're so sugary and completely addictive after the first listen." I estimate I've racked up 300+ plays from these girls in the past week based on what my Last.fm says and from what I didn't allow to be transferred to my profile. Because of that, there's been a slight drop off in metal blogging, but you can rest assured that my interest in our sacred music is as strong as ever.

At one point in my life, the majority of what I listened to was metal and hard rock. Nowadays, I'm much more open-minded and have heard pretty much everything that metal has to offer in one way or another, so it's tough for me to play metal all day and not want to put on something from another genre. There's too much good music out there to be close-minded and life is just too short to stay within the confines of metal and hard rock. Pop, jazz, blues, orchestral music, etc.....you'll regularly find it mixed in with the music that we all know and love on my Last.fm charts. I view my growing eclectic taste as a wonderful thing.

My last listening session consisted of a mix of NWoBHM band Hell, prog metallers Fates Warning, jazz extraordinaire Miles Davis, and the always catchy 소녀시대. Pretty  awesome, if you ask me. Sure, two of the bands are metal, but they differ subgenrewise. Then you have a dab of jazz and a smattering of pop from South Korea. It's as good of a playlist as I've ever mashed up because the enjoyment factor was extremely high. 

In all seriousness, though, if all you listen to is metal and hard rock, you should get out there and seek out more of what the musical world has to offer. Toss your metal albums back on the shelf for a couple of minutes and putz around cyberspace for a new genre to try out. If you don't like what you're sampling, no worries. It never hurts to try and you're a better person because of it.  

-TMA

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hell: NWoBHM's Modern Secret

Hell have come back from the grave and are ready to reap vengeance. After reforming in 2008, Andy Sneap picked them up and gave them a chance to release their first album after 30 dang years! I just got the debut in the mail today and I'm impressed with it, blown away even. The luscious choir keyboard parts are to die for and the whole atmosphere is pure evil. Good, ol' heavy metal is still alive and kickin'.

I'll pass along the video to one of the songs from the album. It slays. Hard.

-TMA



Monday, July 11, 2011

What is it About Vinyl?


Seriously, what is it about vinyl?

While I will surely pick it up on CD in the future, I nabbed Jag Panzer's latest effort, The Scourge of the Light, on wax yesterday. There's just something about taking a look at enlarged artwork, album sleeves with easy to read lyrics, and the wax itself, whether it's traditional black or another hue from mother nature's color palette.

With modern albums, there's not really much of reason to purchase them on vinyl. I'm a firm believer that today's digitally recorded music will likely sound better on CD (unless it's compressed to death), which is fairly obvious. I spotted a few Lady Gaga albums on vinyl yesterday when I was at a local record store in Denver and quietly laughed to myself. But is it really a laughing matter? No, not really. As I've said before, a big part of vinyl's mystical allure lies within the experience. For many people, a requirement of top sound quality flies out the window when the needle hits the wax. It's hypnotizing to watch the needle make its way through the grooves of your favorite album, as well as hear the pops, hisses, and other various noises on a well-worn record or one that hasn't been taken care of properly. And then there's the warmer sound that vinyl offers, which quite a few people favor. I'm one of them.

People can advocate for digital or analog, but it's best to be a fan of both. You're only going to find some music on digital formats and others on analog. Unfortunately, there's the issue of ease of use with vinyl, and it usually = $$$, as well as being high-maintenance. Is there a setback to everything in life? Pretty much. Take your record collection for what it is, a rather fragile and primitive format with a few quirky qualities. You only live once. Why not enjoy your music in a unique way?

-TMA

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Discoveries of the Week Part Six: TRIDON


Hello, my fellow metalheads!

I apologize for being a day late on my series of "Discoveries" posts, but it's just as well. Because of my newly established Twitter account, I have been enjoying some increased traffic, as well as the occasional new discovery, which brings me to a smokin' band called Tridon.

Hailing from Arizona, the band seems to be a bit unknown, which is a shame, really, because they certainly know how to bring on the hard and heavy assault. The most addictive aspect of the music is the fact that many of their songs have a heavy groove laced with an extremely catchy melody over the top. It works extremely well, and I can already tell their album is going to be one that's going to be in my rotation for a while once I get around to picking it up. Sadly, what I'm basing this opinion off of is from the samples from their website. I cannot tell you how much I want to hear a full song. These guys are sick.

Now, when I think about what genre to describe the band, metal and hard rock come to mind. Very metallic guitar riffs are unquestionably present throughout their sound, but I find the melodies and other instruments to create a nice hard rock base. I'm not sure what the band describes their sound as, but, to be honest, they shouldn't even care because they rock so hard.

Not much else to say other than I'm going to nab their newest album Lucky #7 as soon as I can. I wish only the best to Tridon as they continue to make their way through the metal and hard rock world. Spread the word on these guys and spread the message of their music. Why? Because they flat out ROCK!

Check them out here: http://www.tridonmusic.com/

-TMA

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

So, Megadeth Played a New Song a Couple Days Ago...

A few days ago, I discovered via Dave Mustaine's Twitter that Megadeth were going to play a new song live. I figured I'd give it a listen because I mildly enjoyed the band's last album, though I wasn't blown away by it. The new song, titled "Public Enemy," makes me think of the rap group instead of something metal-related, which is humorous, to say the least.

As for overall impressions on the track: I find it to be a bit weak sounding when compared to anything on the last album. Not weak in a poorly composed way, but weak in a thrashy sort of way. Let me explain; after 1990 or so, Megadeth started going in a more heavy metal sounding direction, rather than their previously thrash-oriented one. Personally, I think Dave and the boys redeemed themselves a bit with Endgame, as it was the thrashiest in a long time, but "Public Enemy" sounds like heavy metal, instead of thrash. My initial impressions leave me thinking that the track could have been on Countdown to Extinction or Youthanasia. Both of those albums were actually very good, but I'm looking for a full on thrash assault, something I know I'm not going to get. I do think the galloping riff is quite nice, though.

I expect the studio version will rock my socks off and probably follow in the super heavy vein that Endgame enjoyed. If the band's upcoming album has a handful of listenable songs on it, I'll be satisfied. It's not like I listen to Megadeth for current material anyway!

-TMA

Megadeth - "Public Enemy"


Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Summon Thee!

At this moment in time, I'm situated in a place that's neatly nestled in the mountains covered by lush, green conifer forests. I'm planning on taking the ever so cliché walk through the woods accompanied by a black metal band of my choice. I've only heard good things about going on this sort of walk, mostly in that it enhances the black metal listening experience. What do I have to lose, anyway? Nothing. As I've said before, I'll try anything music-related at least once. I'm an open-minded kind of guy.

Most of you probably expect I'll pick a band like Darkthrone or Mayhem. Nope. For this special walk, I'll be going with Summoning. The band's unique blend of atmospheric elements, medieval-like melodies, and Tolkien-themed lyrics scream "of the forest" to me.

I'll be honest here: Summoning has only recently clicked with me despite owning an album of theirs for quite some time. Though I wanted to hear the band's music, I initially became interested because of the cover to Minas Morgul. It's an amazing piece of artwork, one that screams fantasy in a world full of secrets and concepts that have yet to be discovered. I will likely hang the cover on the wall of my house someday, but that won't be any time soon. I'm only a college student!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Small Grab Bag of Metal...

Life has gotten in the way of blogging today! Let's fix that with a few favorites.

1. I gotta post a song from the new Novembers Doom album because it has been a huge hit with me. "Six Sides" is my favorite track off the record at the moment. Just listen to those massive riffs!

Novembers Doom - "Six Sides"


2. One of my all time favorite metal sounds is the USPM movement of the eighties. It involved power metal that was heavily influenced by thrash, creating a sound that actually had power behind it, which I can't say that same for many bands today. Liege Lord are a great band to start off with if you've never heard the sound, but there are countless bands from the movement that demonstrate its excellency.

Liege Lord - "Fear Itself"


3. For this last one, let's touch on Lizzy Borden, a favorite heavy metal band of mine. They criminally underrated and never got the exposure that they deserved. They've never put out a bad album; in fact, I highly recommend that you listen to all of Lizzy Borden's output as soon as you can.

Lizzy Borden - "Give 'em the Axe"
 (I wanted to post "No Time to Lose," but I can't find the studio version on You Tube. Make sure you listen to that song!)



-TMA

Friday, July 1, 2011

Discoveries of the Week Part Five


Aside from Amaranthe, there's been a severe drought of metal this week that has caught my attention in a good or bad way. Because of that, I've decided I'm going to revisit an old favorite of mine from an album I desperately need to purchase.

The band in question are Fifth Angel, a superb heavy metal band from the mid to late eighties. Sadly, they never made it past 1989, releasing their last album Time Will Tell and then calling it quits. I've heard it's a bit more commercial than their first record, but I doubt it's anything like the obvious ploy to get airplay that Amaranthe swear by. I particularly like "Time Will Tell" because the opening riff is absolute genius, a catchy, yet sophisticated interpretation of the classic heavy metal riff.

As we've been over many-a-time before, these guys look kinda hair metalish. Well, they're a heavy metal band through and through, never faltering and watering down their sound. There are plenty of metal bands that gussied themselves up a little in order to get some attention in the '80s. I won't bad mouth them for that, but they should have let their music do the talking rather than using physical looks to pick up some recognition. Unfortunately for Fifth Angel, they went pretty much nowhere, and it's a shame because their music was so great (from what I've heard!). Although they've apparently reformed in recent years, I consider them dead until I stumble upon new material.

So, what you're getting with this track is unforgettable heavy metal that you'll likely have on repeat for a while. I don't blame you. This track is excellent.

-TMA

Fifth Angel - "Time Will Tell"


Amaranthe: Perfecting Pop

Amaranthe living the big life with a Porsche GT3.
Three people do vocals in Amaranthe? What is this--a pop group? Well, yes.

By now, you've probably heard some really poppy "metal" of whatever variety. I find that the guiltiest offenders are usually metalcore or Gothenburg-styled melodic death metal with a catchy chorus shoehorned in. I suppose I should tell you that I just ran into the group Amaranthe via Last.fm during a random band search, but I'm left scratching my head as to how anyone can call them metal. Mind you, I'm making my assumption based one song because it's so darn poppy.

Apparently Amaranthe released their first album a couple of months ago. Looking into the band on YouTube, they seem to have been marketed fairly well beacuse their video for "Hunger" already has over half a million views despite only being released in February. My guess is that it's due to their female vocalist who appears to be a gimmick, meaning she's there to attract attention, perhaps promoting album sales in the process. Sure, she's a pretty decent vocalist, but she should set out on a pop career, not some glitzy, overproduced pseudo-metal pop project.

I scratch my head even more when see what people are calling this band subgenrewise: a melodic death metal and power metal combo. I don't hear any power metal in this song, just a healthy dose of pop fused with a heavily metalcore-inspired melodic death metal sound. The fusion of pop is so great that it's really only metal in a few places; I'll consider a few of the "riffs" metal if I'm feeling nice. Regardless, I predict this band will be a good gateway for aspiring metalheads to bigger and better things.

Laughably, I read on Blabbermouth that the guitar player said he wanted to do something completely new and fresh with this band. He didn't succeed, of course.

-TMA

Amaranthe - "Hunger"