Sunday, June 29, 2014

Metal Round-Up: Kever, Gaped, Grey Skies Fallen

One of the best death metal releases from last year that missed a review on The Metal Advisor is Kever's Eon of Cycling Death. Simply put, the music exceeds expectations, being made up of an assortment of grinding riffs, pummeling drumming, and primitivity matched only by death metal's earliest years. Eon of Cycling Death is a release perfect for listeners planted firmly in the old-school mindset, and one worth checking out because, next to other bands churning out death metal evocative of the late '80s and early '90s, Kever is cream of the crop.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

When a Metalhead Talks Watches

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Hodinkee is one of my favorite blogs on the internet, regardless of subject matter. I find myself captivated by mechanical watches and, as the subject of many posts, I can't help but be drawn in as a regular reader, mesmerized by their inner-workings and beautiful designs. I often ponder how I can combine two of my favorite hobbies--music and timepieces--into a post appealing to my readers but, regrettably, my efforts tend to fall short.

Until now, that is.

Recently, Ben Clymer spoke with Eric Singer (current drummer of Kiss), during an installment of Hodinkee's "Talking Watches," where the musician waxed lyrical about his love for watches. Prior to this, I had a good idea of the extent of Eric's obsession--thanks to his endorsement of Ball, an American brand gone Swiss--but my jaw dropped when I learned how far the hobby went for him. As such, I analyzed his collection with great interest: from his magnificent Patek Philippe and its serious provenance, to his sublime LeCoultre moonphase inherited from his father, the man has seriously good taste in timepieces.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Metal Advisor Interviews Hogbitch

The Metal Advisor sits down with Sanford, Patrick, Suzy, and Chip of Hogbitch for a brief interview, where the band tells all about their origins, members' previous projects, recording, and the kookie term, Ur-metal.


Give us the backstory on Hogbitch. How did you form? Was it a spur of the moment thing?

Patrick: I think it was due to us all being longtime friends and [being] used to working in other projects together. Chip, Sanford, and I all played in an industrial noise band in the '90s called Evil Mothers. We did a reunion tour together around 2011, [and] then ended up putting together a short lived three-piece project for a benefit show shortly after. Later, we spoke about doing a more metal-inspired band, and Suzy was the natural choice for vocals.

Sanford: Patrick and I also were in a band called Boxcar Satan for years; sort of a mash-up of angular post punk and blues, and we occasionally collaborated with Suzy. We'd backed her up on some recordings, and she'd added vocals to a song or two on our CDs as well. It seemed logical to take that collaboration to the next level.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

From TMA's Inbox: A Message from a Confused Reader

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Months back, in December 2013, an anonymous (not to mention confused) reader sent me a ridiculous email. I meant to post it as soon as it hit my inbox, but it slipped my mind. Hopefully you find it as humorous as I do.


Dear Metal Advisor, High Exalted Lieutenant of Lucifer,

I would like to formally request that you take time and review my new favorite metal album, Lady Gaga's ARTPOP, as it is the greatest compilation of metal music that has ever graced the pointed, demon-like ears of metal fans around the globe. Listening to songs such as "Sexxx Dreams" really make the poignant message of Lucifer stand out in a way that all worthless, scathed low-life vagabonds around the world can relate to. Further, deeper into the maelstrom of rage and anger that is ARTPOP is the song "Swine," which is a testament to the inferiority of using dirty animals to worship our beloved Dread Father. Just look at this beautifully synchronized chorus, containing moving lyrics like:

Tesla - Simplicity (2014)

As the follow-up to 2008's Forever More, Simplicity more than meets its match, in both quality of songwriting and production values. That's not to say the former is Tesla's best effort of the 21st century--that honor belongs to Into the Now--but the material depicts a powerful, unyielding band with excellent attention to detail and little patience for filler. Indeed, Tesla's adherence to strict quality control over the past 28 years, at least for their distorted hard rock songs, is remarkable, and it's not unreasonable to expect better. The quintet's knack for timeless, catchy anthems essentially vanishes with Simplicity and, sadly enough, that means the album is toast, as far as a well-rounded package of music goes.

In other words, Simplicity is the complete opposite of Forever More. Lacking uptempo grooves found on previous records, the music feels lethargic, which contradicts the album's thematic focus on Tesla's golden age and should, in theory, be just the opposite: electrifying rock in the vein of their last two records and classic material. No doubt is Tesla's mindset in the right place, but that enthusiasm doesn't always translate into real life, making for less than satisfying results.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Uriah Heep - Outsider (2014)

In 1969, Mick Box and David (Garrick) Byron formed Spice as the predecessor to Uriah Heep.  Since its 1970 debut album, …Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble, critics and fans have long overlooked Heep.  Yet Heep, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin ushered in heavy metal in what was the first British wave.  Although Heep has not gained the notoriety of their compatriots, a 45-year history, 24 studio albums, and 18 live albums stand the test of time.  With their June 2014 release, Outsider, Uriah Heep has upped their game in the face of tragedy.  The May 2013 passing of long-time bassist Trevor Bolder caused many to question vitality of Heep.  However, the core of founder member Box, long-time vocalist Bernie Shaw, and keyboard-wizard Phil Lanzon have been together since 1986.  Only Bolder's death and the forced physical retirement of drummer Lee Kerslake in 2007 have caused changed personnel.  That group of musicians has proven to be polished and exceptional.  The addition of Dave Rimmer on bass has gelled a modern and precise rhythm section that recalls earlier Heep incarnations.  Outsider is the finest Heep release since the golden years of 1970-76 and the classic Heep lineup of Box, Byron, Ken Hensley, Kerslake, and Gary Thain.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Amberian Dawn - "Magic Forest"

Of my discoveries this year, Napalm Records and its dynamic roster of symphonic metal bands remains a solid favorite six months into 2014. My introduction to the label's lineup, Delain's The Human Contradiction, caught me by complete surprise and likely won't be topped until 2015, but that doesn't mean there aren't other treasures to be found. In fact, while surfing YouTube last week, I happened upon Amberian Dawn's "Magic Forest"--the title track from their upcoming record--and find myself looking forward to hearing more from them with each passing day.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Metal Round-Up: Carbon Black, Khmer, Hooded Menace

Self-released a few months back, Principium sees Rob Giles and Damon Bishop jump ship from Nekrofeist to a form new band, Carbon Black. Staying true to their roots, the music is largely unchanged from the two members' previous endeavors, save for a melodic edge reminiscent of heavier radio rock, which is excellent for attracting new listeners and elevating Carbon Black to heights unknown by Nekrofeist.

Principium's single, "Fade Away," is not only catchy--it's the best representation of Carbon Black's sound, a smattering of chugged guitars coupled with vocal melodies that, strangely enough, grow more appealing with successive listening. To be sure, though, this kind of music isn't for everyone. In fact, a sense of melody placed over Pantera-esque riffing is a real turnoff. But you know what? One can't help but root for the underdogs and hope they surpass Nekrofeist in every way possible.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Moloch/Haggatha - Moloch / Haggatha 7" Split (2014)

Chances are, once you've heard one sludgey doom metal band, you think you've heard them all and, to be honest, that's extremely tough to argue against. The issue with music slowed to a grinding halt and engulfed in distortion is that, unless a particularly creative mind is behind it, there isn't much one can do to stand out from another artist following the same criteria.

Thankfully, that doesn't mean great bands in a similar vein don't exist, because it's actually quite the opposite. Haggatha and Moloch, two sludgey doom metal acts sharing space on an upcoming split, don't exactly bring anything new to the table, but they do display dexterity with their craft and clearly know their way around both sludge and doom metal. And while they differ radically with their respective approaches to the music, their two-track split is very much worth seeking out because, at least for Haggatha, the material is fluid and easy to get lost in.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Night Ranger - High Road (2014)

The main problem with Night Ranger is that they don't know when to throw in the towel. Playing music out of love and only for yourself is admirable but, at some point, one has to sit back and face reality--High Road is a record on life support, gasping for air. It ain't pretty.

With most albums, I can find something to enjoy, even if the majority of the music is rubbish, but that isn't the case for the standard edition of High Road. Because close comparison with other recent releases is inevitable, 17 years ago, Neverland showcased the band sounding exponentially better, and even Hole in the Sun, a record released a mere seven years before High Road, proves that time can take a crippling toll on one's voice and creativity levels--gone are many of the lively, sugary bursts of memorable melody that made the band so great in the first place.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Agalloch - The Serpent & the Sphere (2014)

After a slew of records regarded as masterpieces, Agalloch had anywhere but up to go with The Serpent & the Sphere, their fifth overall full-length and a much anticipated album at that. You see, very few bands make it more than a handful of records before releasing something markedly lower in quality and, unfortunately for Agalloch, The Serpent & the Sphere is the one to break the mold. Whereas previous efforts were bursting with life, creativity, and unique ideas that differentiated them from their predecessors, The Serpent & the Sphere feels empty, lacking the distinct, innovative shimmer that fans have come to expect of Agalloch. Indeed, grasping at straws is a better way of putting it, because the band desperately attempts to recapture that sense of freshness, but only so many "perfect" records can come in succession before something gives.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Concert Review: Tesla @ Old National Centre, Indianapolis, Indiana - May 30, 2014

To be honest, seeing a concert in Old National Centre's Egyptian Room is never fun: it's often too hot, too packed, and the setup is so poorly laid out that you wonder how the lack of professionalism enabled the venue to book big acts in the first place. Knowing this, I approached Tesla's Friday showing in Indianapolis with trepidation, but in the end, I left quite pleased with their performance. For a band going on some 30-odd years of existence, they sounded remarkably good and let me tell you--Frank Hannon is one hell of a guitar player and Jeff Keith has maintained his vocal range exceptionally well.

But, despite that, the set list felt a bit subpar in parts. Lackluster numbers like "Signs," "Paradise," "The Way it Is," and "What You Give" marred otherwise great beginnings, and I would have liked to see "Edison's Medicine" and additional cuts from Into the Now, Forever More, and even Bust a Nut in their place. In my humble opinion, Tesla's later material has always been among their best and, even though the earlier work is what the fans want, being more adventurous with song choice is something I can certainly appreciate. Still, the band's composure and tightness made up for this and making the move to cross Tesla off the bucket list proved to be a worthwhile choice.