Monday, July 29, 2013

Light Bringer - Scenes of Infinity (2013)

Often times, thinking outside the box is tough given what little room there is for evolution in power metal. Poised to break down this misconception, Light Bringer--perhaps Japan's rising star--combines mainstream hooks and odd time signatures, creating an oddly listenable product; and one that sounds absolutely divine next to the generic drivel churned out by their peers.

Thanks to vocalist Fuki's acrobatic range, and her experience dabbling in peculiar genres, the band's last two records are the ones to grab first. Light Bringer's 2013 release, Scenes of Infinity, builds upon what made Genesis so sterling: an amalgam of popish tendencies and crushing instrumentation that begs to be spun over and over. Like the rest of their discography, the five piece make their love for other music no secret. In fact, both records are littered with everything from bass noodling, simplistic melodic clich├ęs, and a cultural influence only the most devoted otaku could love.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vinyl Feature: Iron Maiden's Piece of Mind, Powerslave, and Live After Death

Saying Iron Maiden's original vinyl issues sound better than their 1998 CD remasters would be an understatement. Even chock full of dust, these records emit a glorious, uncompressed racket, and each instrument breathes as it should, sounding positively organic. Seeking out these worn but charming first pressings isn't necessarily a bad idea; in fact, it's just about the greatest thing one can do as a budding heavy metal vinyl enthusiast. 

Merch order form included with Piece of Mind
From my collection, Piece of Mind, Powerslave, and Live After Death are my favorite examples of Martin Birch's dexterous production work, a quality the remasters sadly tend to mask. While all three records were found pre-owned, I can't speak highly enough of their warmth and openness, even with minor crackles and, in Powerslave's case, a scratch on one side that reveals the fragility of the medium. 

Being a double album, Live After Death is a gatefold, while the other two are the tried-and-true slipcases that nearly all 12" vinyl call home. Especially neat is Powerslave--its textured, almost cracked-looking cover is far from the norm, which is quite tough to capture on photograph. Piece of Mind is closer to standard fare, but the release's inner sleeve showcases a young Iron Maiden, with a clever play on the album's title (check out that brain served up on a platter!), as well as an order form for vintage merchandise.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Maze of Thoughts: Women and Heavy Metal

Metal's most popular woman, Doro.
At heavy metal's inception, women were at the mercy of piercings, tattoos, and black garb (Don't believe me? Scoot on over to Google images and key in "heavy metal women!"). A "necessity," these traits conformed to a common stereotype giving street cred and recognition among a testosterone-dominated style of music. If a woman's appearance didn't match one of those characteristics, fans scratched their heads and took her less seriously, a tradgedy all things considered.

Today, a good portion of women (and men!) are as clean-cut as any pop artist. As metal has gained a larger following, people from all walks of life have dedicated their every waking moment to writing, crafting, and ultimately releasing heavy music. The juvenile idea that both genders must look and behave crudely has largely vanished, although it remains the perception for outsiders peering in.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Why Reckless Records is Great

A recent visit to Chicago's Reckless Records left me without a Twisted Sister album and with a reggae-like release I didn't particularly care for. Unfortunately, I failed to notice the mix-up until I had long departed the windy city, and I wasn't sure when my next visit would be, or if I would have time to spend in the store. That, however, didn't stop the chain's owner from going out of his way to correct the issue, surprisingly including a few stickers and "sorry" note in the process. At his own expense, he packaged up the 10-plus-year-old CD and shipped the album right to my door. Now that's customer service.

As I've celebrated in the past, the online marketplace is invaluable for sourcing hard-to-find releases and underexposed bands. In fact, a fairly large portion of my music collection wouldn't exist without the Internet, and I'm quite thankful for what places like Amazon, independent distros, and others have to offer. Nevertheless, there is no substitute for leafing through a stack of records, even with cyberspace's vast array of merchandise found at the click of a mouse.

Excellent customer service is what keeps me supporting brick and mortar establishments, and Reckless Records is the star-studded, shining example of how a business should carry itself if it wants to uphold good practice. Positive experiences draw customers back, often with a few extra people in tow each time, so Chicago's best undoubtedly has my money for the foreseeable future.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Axl Rose's Nemesis: Iron Maiden

Formed in 1985, Guns N' Roses hadn't even the slightest idea that their debut, Appetite for Destruction, would top Billboard's 200 chart and make them a household name. For most fans, the allure was "Sweet Child O' Mine"--the band's only single to reach number one--and monster guitarist, Slash, who helped lead them to success.

Following Appetite for Destruction's good fortune, Guns N' Roses were granted a spot on 1988's Donington Monsters of Rock festival alongside names like Iron Maiden, Kiss, and Megadeth. Being selected for the bill was certainly no small feat with one album under their belt, but the band filled the position with relative ease based on their debut's acclaim. Compared with the rest of the line-up, they were inexperienced, but that didn't stop them from showing the crowd what they had to offer.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Vinyl Feature: Kingsblood's Trudging Through the Field of Crows

Photo credit: James Fiend
Like other Gogmagogical releases, Kingsblood's Trudging Through the Field of Crows is offered in multiple colors: two red and one green, otherwise known as "dragon's blood." Previously lacking a record deal, Kingsblood have put forth the best artwork in ages and easily the finest in the Gogmagogical line-up, handily topping Cold Blue Mountain and just edging out Fister. But what all three bands share in common is the feeling of being handpicked for the roster because they are indeed quality and rarely does that happen in triple succession.

Aside from the cover art, the stunner is each color. In addition to the ghoulish-green, both reds are the hook for buyers and undeniably irresistible to even the hardcore purist who only purchases black. Not unlike Cold Blue Mountain's release, which sounded better colored, Kingsblood follow suit with clear, crisp dynamics and little, if any, surface noise.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Metal Advisor Talks Classic Rock Magazine and Sampler Disc, 24 Carat Gold

I blabber about Classic Rock Magazine and a sampler included with issue 184 called 24 Carat Gold over at Rockthought. The sampler is far from gold, of course, but that's the reason I'm letting loose some steam on it.

Check it out here:


Friday, July 5, 2013

Concert Review: Melechesh + Vreid + Lightning Swords of Death + Reign of Fire + Withering Soul @ Mojoes, Joliet, Illinois - June 25, 2013

I stood shocked at the attendance level for Vreid and Melechesh: at the concert's peak, 50 or less fans had shown up. The turnout was surprising, considering the following these bands have over the internet, but here's the thing: cyberspace is far from reality and often what's popular on message boards and music databases doesn't translate into real life. Oddly enough, I was okay with that because I easily grabbed a center position and happily soaked up every note the headliners belted out over the duration of the night.

That being said, I generally detest standing at the front because, not only is the sound muddy, but is it also less optimal for listening. In this particular instance, however, that was not my concern, as I was interested in seeing the two perform since they were purportedly masters in a live setting. The other three bands--Withering Soul, Reign of Fire, and Lighting Swords of Death--would be like icing on the proverbial cake if they were decent.

As I braced myself for the coming onslaught, I moseyed over to the half set-up merch booth and looked over a vast array of tees, vinyl, cassettes, and CDs. Being the massive Vreid fan that I am, I decided to nab a Welcome Farewell shirt and Vreid Goddamnit concert that is grossly overpriced on Amazon and, better yet, playable in United States-coded DVD players. Much to my dismay, patches and other memorabilia from bands not even performing would later appear at the booth. I definitely missed out, but I suppose that's what the internet is for.