Friday, May 31, 2013

Blood Stain Child - Epsilon (2011)

Ignore the album artwork because, quite frankly, it sucks.
Three words describe Epsilon: fruity, colorful, and blissful. You would be correct in thinking these are not normally associated with metal. In fact, the album faces an identity crisis for much of its 50-minute runtime and falls deeper into the pop realm, mixing electronica with highly distorted guitars and soaring vocal lines. But for what the record lacks in aggressiveness, it makes up for with slick songwriting, something many bands matching bizarre genres of music often disregard.

Although the majority of Epsilon adheres to predictable song structuring, "Stargazer," Blood Stain Child's most popular track, is the easiest to digest. Despite being only slightly heavier than radio fodder, the trance-infused rocker is perhaps the best representation of the sound the band aims for and, like the rest of the record, pushes boundaries in the artistic world. At its core, Epsilon has been done before, but the small finishing touches tout the record as fresh and as something unique.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dark Tranquility Releases New Video for "Uniformity"


Take a gander at Dark Tranquility's new video. I've never been terribly interested in their music, but with the hype surrounding this one, I figure I'll go through their discography very soon. Despite what naysayers might claim, I'm sure there are a few gems hiding here and there.

-TMA


Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Metal Advisor Interviews Camden Cruz of Seven Kingdoms


Back near The Metal Advisor's inception, I was just discovering Seven Kingdom's music and digging their sound immensely. Since then, the band has grown bigger and released an additional album, making a colossal splash in Europe while touring with Stratovarius and Amaranthe. The Metal Advisor talks to Camden Cruz to check in on Seven Kingdom's progress, and discovers the band's surprising eclectic tastes, along with their place in the modern metal world.

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Camden Cruz
How has your tour of Europe with Stratovarius and Amaranthe been? Based on your Facebook page, you were very excited to embark and seem to get a very good response from the crowds!

Camden: Oh yes, the tour has been very good for us. The type of music we play is much bigger here in Europe, so we are just thrilled to be able and spread our music across the pond! The crowds have been exceptional for us. I think we are making a very good impact even as the opener!

I imagine you have your fair share of funny moments from touring with these bands, too. Any juicy stories you’d like to share?

Camden: Haha, it's definitely something funny every day, mostly maybe with the crew. Everyone seems to get along great, and there are lots of moments to cherish. Honestly, nothing busting-gut funny has happened, but everyone is for sure just having a good time every day. One crazy thing was the bootleggers selling shirts outside in Italy. It was almost like they are in some sort of mafia that can't get into trouble!


All three of your records are well-received, so I’m not surprised with the success you’re enjoying. Where are you pulling most of your live material from, and what are your favorites to play?

Camden: We are playing mostly songs from the latest release, The Fire is Mine. We also are closing with "Into the Darkness," a song from the self titled record. I have to say my favorite songs to play are the first two songs we have been playing, "After the Fall" and "Flame of Olympus."


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Loss of Another Legend: Trevor Bolder Dies at 62

Trevor Bolder, an influential force in the rock and metal world, passed away yesterday at the age of 62 from pancreatic cancer. After being fortunate enough to meet Uriah Heep at a concert two years ago, I stared shocked as a blogger friend, Gogmagogical, tweeted me the news and wondered what the band would do without one of its longest standing members. Is soldiering on even an option at this point?

My biggest fear is that Uriah Heep will collapse while searching for the right member to fill the line-up. Although Russell Gilbrook is a relatively new addition--2007 being his year of entrance--you'd be hard-pressed to find a discernible difference in the music, aside from more complex percussion rhythms. With Bolder's passing, a replacement isn't a particularly feasible task or a desirable one at that. When an act has been comprised of the same stable membership for years on end, the material begins to feel like a familiar friend, with an accepted and expected sound emerging from each album. Without Bolder, and assuming Uriah Heep push for another record release, I predict a change in musical aesthetic, no matter how little.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Historically Important Format: Singles Then and Today

My adoration will never run out for this single.
Today, singles, regardless of medium, serve very little purpose for anyone but the diehard fan, and the likelihood of a purchase is usually based on any extra material included in the package. Unique cover art adorning each release is often fantastic and another reason to occasionally indulge in a nearly dead format, too. Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast 2005 re-press is an excellent example of this, with no silly sterile paper sleeve surrounding the record. But sadly, the majority of contemporary singles never find their way to a tangible setting in the first place.

For modern day, digital distribution is the single's new home. In the past--notably the fifties and sixties--the format enjoyed a brief renaissance, as rock bands pressed their music to 45s, making it easy to consume and spread. Nonetheless, musicians later began to focus on albums--essentially portfolios showcasing a greater body of work--as a creative outlet and left singles to gather dust in attics across the globe. Presumably, the format would never enjoy popularity again, but taking a look at the current mainstream industry proves otherwise: with the creation of digital stores like Apple's iTunes, individual songs have surged in popularity thanks to ease of access, videos promoting specific tracks, and a cheap admission price.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

New Megadeth Track: "Kingmaker"


Let's see here: Megadeth are back with a new track, and it sounds a bit different than the last one. "Kingmaker" sees Megadave experimenting with a lower vocal range, and it works for the most part, but I can't say I'm too psyched for the album, given the groovy, chuggy nature of this track. Hopefully Megadeth can pull off a complete scorcher like they did with Endgame.

-TMA

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Leaving the Nest

Just adding a note to say that I successfully graduated college. Very happy and hope for many more days of fruitful metal-blogging.

-TMA

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chthonic Releases New Video for "Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace"

I have to admit Chthonic's current "look" is quite silly.
Chthonic's newest video is like a fusion of video games and samurai culture. I'm obviously not understanding the connection at all, but at least the video appears well-produced, no matter how cheesy it is. Musically, "Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace" doesn't match "Next Republic," but I'm crossing my fingers for it being the weakest track on the upcoming album. Let's hope for the best.

-TMA

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Metal Advisor Interviews Daniel Taylor and Brandon Squyres of Cold Blue Mountain



As an avid follower of Gogmagogical Records, I jumped on a chance to interview the latest addition to the label's roster, Cold Blue Mountain, and familiarize myself with the band's story. Despite being a relatively new act, they have enjoyed immense success with their recent vinyl release and already have a second full-length in the works behind closed doors. Let's take a look into the Cold Blue Mountain camp. 


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To kick things off, give me the nitty gritty on Cold Blue Mountain. What’s your story as a band?


Daniel: Back in late 2008 or so, our guitar player Will and his roommate at the time, our original bass player Zach, started writing some riffs and fucking around with an idea for sort of a heavy instrumental band. I had played in a band with Zach before so he called me, and we jammed, and the first day already had a couple of songs pretty much in the bag. We wrote a couple more, then went into a studio with our friend Chris Keene (who mixed our full-length and is recording and mixing our next record right now) and made a little demo CD, which is still floating around out there in the world; weirdly enough, it seems like it's really popular on Russian/Eastern European torrent sites. Anyway, that CD was entirely instrumental, but when we started playing live, people kept saying they could hear vocals totally ripping on it. I even had a buddy who recorded some vocals over it on his computer for kicks. 


By that time we had added Sesar on second guitar. And we all sort of agreed that it would be awesome to add a singer, and Brandon was a dude who we all knew who was in bands in town, and he was pretty much an obvious fit. He joined up and we played a few shows and went in the studio to record the self-titled full-length. Right after that, Zach moved out of town, and we signed up Adrian, who had played bass in Brandon's former band, The Makai. Since then, we've just been playing around Chico and up and down the West Coast when we can and writing more songs, since some of the songs on the full length are 4+ years old now. There's even one or two riffs on there that we literally jammed on that very first practice, so we're pretty amped to get some new stuff going.  
Who or what inspired you? Books, music, and poetry. Anything is fair game!
Daniel: I've always been a big reader. Books-wise, I'm sort of a morose, existential-angst kind of guy: Melville, Bukowski, Emerson, Thoreau and that lot. Likewise, musically, I've kind of always been a fan of mopey shit: from sappy mall-emo (most of which I'm too embarrassed to actually mention) to jazz and classical stuff, Rachmaninoff and Romantic/Classical-era composers (try making a Schubert or Mendelssohn station on Pandora sometime if you want to make life feel a little more cinematic) to, what I kind of use as a reference for this band, post-rock/atmospheric stuff like Pelican, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky--stuff like that. 

Metal-wise, I was always more of a '90s ripper kind of guy: Pantera, Sepultura, old Metallica. The closest reference I really had when I was younger to what we're playing now was maybe Down or old Soundgarden. But in recent years I've gotten way more into the doom sludge type heavy stuff, mainly through playing with bands and being in bands with dudes who turned me onto stuff: bands like Yob and Lightbearer. I try to rip them off as liberally as I can manage. Haha.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Overkill - Killbox 13 (2003)

As the nineties rolled around, and after the vicious assault that was Horrorscope, Overkill succumbed to the ever changing tides of time by releasing I Hear Black in 1993. Considering the deterioration of thrash metal's popularity in the nineties, Overkill's adoption of groove metal was not completely unexpected, but it would take nearly 10 years to crank out a consistent release that would convert those yearning for the five-piece's earlier efforts. Chaly and the boys called that album Killbox 13; and killer it was indeed, with clanky bass-lines and an earth-shattering heaviness that completely blew away fan upon their first, curious listen.

The real surprise, however, was Killbox 13's ability hang with Overkill's classic material, leaving vague throwbacks to older efforts with Verni's massive bass and knack for building melody. Previous "gems" like W.F.O. and The Killing Kind suggest otherwise, but the band was poised to grab their music by the reigns and string together line-after-line of slick riffing as they had in the past. Any lingering doubts about Overkill's current direction were forgiven; the reputation that New Jersey's finest had worked so hard to earn re-established itself, if only for a few years until they fell back into a slump with ReliXIV. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bear with Me

I'm sure you're aware: final examinations can be a burden. In any case, the posting "drought" will end shortly. I'll be focusing on a variety of topics, including an interview with Cold Blue Mountain, women in metal (and the countries where they are most prevalent in the genre), the South Korean metal scene, reviews sprinkled here and there, and much more.

Until then,

-TMA