Sunday, November 15, 2015

Vreid - Sólverv (2015)

Vreid is a band that needs no introduction on The Metal Advisor. Near the site's inception,  I remembered just how much Milorg blew me away--two years after its release date--with a layered, intimate portrayal of Norway's struggles with the Nazis during WWII. The record had me embark on a massive recommendation spree, passing off specific tracks to anyone who would listen, and I even went on to see the band in 2013, with two good friends in tow.

The record released that year, Welcome Farewell, was admittedly a step down, but that effected the concert little. The band was simply sublime in their execution of each track and had a well calculated approach in how they engaged a small, but eager, crowd. And while Welcome Farewell didn't exactly hit the spot like Milorg did, the record was still an interesting, intellectual entry in the band's discography. From the cover art to the standout tracks, which had a particular way of squirming into your brain, Welcome Farewell ran away with a spot on my best albums of 2013 list--which was no small feat, considering the fierce competition that year.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Metal Advisor on Instagram

Yes, the deed is done: TMA is on Instagram. It's a platform that I think is great fun and can bring like-minded people together.

Want to follow? Just click here, or search "themetaladvisor" on IG.

-TMA

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ghost - Meliora (2015)

As 2015 draws to a close (close enough!), it's only natural that we take a look at one of the most anticipated releases of the year, Ghost's Meliora. Now, you may ask yourself if the record is truly deserving of all the grandeur and fame, given that Ghost consistently flirts with quality and mediocrity on each of their releases. Reactions are largely emotionally driven to the band's discography, and Meliora is no different--ridiculous as it may sound, thinking is often clouded by an irrational hatred of Ghost bringing outside listeners (re: fans unfamiliar with rock, or even hard rock and metal) into the fold for a look-see, as they become enamored with the six-piece's unabashed pop sensibilities. Then, too, are those who listen to Ghost just to annoy naysayers and support the band's rapid ascent to the top as they represent metal in the mainstream.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Electric Red - Celestial Wizardry ~ Magical Astronomy (2015)

Touhou metal is far enough off the beaten path, but should you desire to venture outside of metal norms, Electric Red has you covered with its Celestial Wizardry ~ Magical Astronomy EP, a 25-minute epic built around eight arrangements. At first, the music can seem overwhelming, but there's no denying that it has an otherworldliness to it as it cycles between power/progressive metal and softer passages. The trick up the one-man project's sleeve is that, as songwriting breathes and flows freely, repetition is kept to a minimum. A winding adventure is a better way to put it.

More or less, the sheer volume of ideas is Electric Red's strength, as is, generally, how the music is arranged. It's nearly impossible to tell where the song would divide into eight arrangements, so the track plays seamlessly from start to finish. Just as Electric Red intended, the EP is a sprawling, complex arrangement in its entirety--and, at the very least, takes five listens to sink in. There's always a new piece to discover under the layers upon layers of sound, and only near the middle does the chunky progressiveness manifest itself when the guitars split into multi-note riffs and drums provide muscular backing. A real treat, too, is listening to the synths take over the leading melody from the rest of the music--they complete the progressive package with their liquid-like tone and add a dash of genre familiarity to the track.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Unlucky Morpheus - Vampir (2015)

With Light Bringer's dissolution, Fuki Tenge needed an outlet to channel her creative energy full time. And what a choice she made: Unlucky Morpheus, a group that started by rearranging Touhou tunes, only to later compose completely original music. The act's 2015 release, Vampir, is the second installment in their renaissance writing original music, but like its predecessor, the record is a massive entry in the power metal field and an important one at that. What makes it important is simple: the music is well written while combining elements of metal and classical music. Power metal is no doubt the dominating sound, but bits and pieces of death metal, melodic death metal, and classical music also surface in the mix.

Because of the mix of styles, Unlucky Morpheus has often been described as neoclassical power metal, most notably with their first original album, Affected. Affected came to fruition in 2014, while Vampir came a year later, bearing uncanny similarities and production aesthetics. Both are comparable and unmistakably Unlucky Morpheus, so it's not unreasonable to surmise that the music was conceived in the same writing sessions.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls (2015)

When Iron Maiden unveiled The Book of Souls' first single, "Speed of Light," in August, disappointment set in faster than the (get ready for it) speed of light. The song felt tired and lazy; the riffs generic and the writing completely typical of contemporary Iron Maiden rockers. Feelings of "where is the metallic guitar playing?" set in, making this reviewer curious about the direction the band intended to go in for the rest of the album.

Upon the record's release earlier this month, first listens weren't particularly promising. The Book of Souls was no Brave New World or Dance of Death. It didn't even match A Matter of Life and Death, which was a step back from those two, and it fell at the feet of The Final Frontier, which was a collection of music lacking writing prowess and attentiveness.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Demetori - 愧人贖悪 ~ Evil People as the True Object of Salvation ~ (2015)

In late 2013, Demetori quietly released Le Grimoire De Reve, an album fans claimed was a vast improvement over Begierde Des Zauberer and, more importantly, a return to form. I, however, personally found the record a step behind Begierde Des Zauberer, though it was classical Demetori, but still praised the band for playing it safe. For 2015, the two-piece has done very much the same with Evil People as the True Subject of Salvation, but the quality is step above Le Grimoire De Reve, with their always-improving chops and knack for melody being the main driving force behind each song.

What elevates Evil People as the True Subject of Salvation above Le Grimoire De Reve is a question to consider when making your way through the record. Stylistically, the album is Demetori through and through--there are no surprises and the two-piece sticks to the same writing process in place since their inception. Where differences become apparent, however, is in the arrangement process. Although I'm wholly ignorant of Touhou, the video game series Demetori compositions are based upon, I can tell many of these tracks are similar to songs the two-piece has arranged across previous albums. Nevertheless, the difference is that attention to detail is higher, with stickier melodies and a balance of rhythmic aerobatics from Kyuhouji's drumming. Tracks like "Counter-Clock World" are absolutely punishing in how they pummel you with a combination of galloping riffs and speedy percussion, while "Grief of Ressentiment" sits at the opposite of the spectrum with a slower, though emotionally crushing, tempos and instrumentation. And, for what it lacks in English proficiency, "Flow My Tears, the Said" makes up for the shortcoming by being the most memorable of the record and a career slam dunk for Demetori.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Vreid Track Streaming: "Haust"

Happy September 1st, mothers. To celebrate, one of my favorite groups, Vreid, has dropped a new track for us to sink our teeth into. Word on the street says that it steps back to Windir days and moves away from the rocking melodicsim Vreid has been known for in recent years. I don't necessarily disagree, but I think it subscribes to a combo of both, which makes Vreid, well, Vreid.

Either way, it's killer, and I expect another year-topping album from these Norwegians. I had the pleasure of being on the guest list for one of their shows a few years ago, and they're truly a class act, who write captivating, immersive music.

Can't wait for this one. Too bad I'm not on the promo list.

-TMA

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Status Destrose: Mardelas, Fate Gate, and Disqualia

The demise (or supposed hiatus) of Destrose--a band I included in a piece last year--birthed a handful of acts as the membership went in different directions. Virtuoso-like vocalist Marina went on to form supergroup Mardelas with former Light Bringer members, while founding member Mina established Fate Gate, a band piggybacking off Destrose's small, but important, successes. More specifically, the band released an alleged original version of Destrose's "Romancer," which feels poorly executed and rough around the edges. The vocalist, whose name escapes me, performs adequately, though she lacks power and body to her voice.



Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cattle Decapitation - The Anthropocene Extinction (2015)

"Streamlined" (predictable, familiar, and sticks within boundaries) is the initial thought that entered my mind when spinning Cattle Decapitation's newest effort for the first time. Monolith of Inhumanity felt jumbled in comparison, willing to branch off into weird directions, and pounce on every available opportunity to experiment, but thinking back on it, that's what that record was aiming for--a stylistic shift. Comparatively, The Anthropocene Extinction repurposes the sound, sugar coats it, and makes it accessible insofar as extreme metal can be, meaning the music simultaneously beats you up and keeps you coming back for more. But is it above Monolith of Inhumanity, a record destined to become a modern classic?

Indeed, both albums share more similarities than differences. The two are based on the same template, after all, and incorporate Ryan's first forays into cleaner vocals, giving the music massive hooks. Where they differ, however, is songwriting: yes, the riffs are similar; yes, the core concept is very much alike; and, yes, it's unquestionably Cattle Decapitation--the flow, atmosphere, and structuring is simply different.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

More New Music: Saxon's "Battering Ram"

The new Saxon track, "Battering Ram," pretty much speaks for itself--what you hear is what you get, and there's nothing more to it. That's the way Saxon has always been, and after a zillion-year existence, it's not going to change any time soon.

The music is good--perhaps too good because it shows other veteran metal bands how to kick ass.

*AHEM*

IRON MAIDEN

This is balls-to-the-wall (Accept reference intended) heavy metal how it should be played. Andy Sneap is by no means a proper producer--everything he touches sounds sterile and similar, after all--but at least the music has the bite and pomp to it that any heavy band deserves.

Monday, August 17, 2015

W.A.S.P. Strikes Back with "Last Runaway"

Ah, W.A.S.P.! --a band once worth their weight in gold, known for churning out classics such as The Headless Children and "I Wanna Be Somebody." Today is a different story, however--Blackie and co. continue to dig the hole they're stuck in deeper, with music that, by no coincidence, sounds the same on every damn album. From Helldorado on, I've found W.A.S.P.'s discography a chore to listen to and simply uninspiring (aside from spurts of brilliance) when spinning two or more of these records back to back. A creative rut is a better term for it, and it sucks. Hard.

But, of course, Blackie is back with more as any good rockstar should be, and "Last Runaway," as he calls W.A.S.P.'s newest offering, is a rather interesting one at that. It's got the same drum pattern and structuring as past, recent W.A.S.P. material, but by god, the key is different and so is the melody. Can we truly say this song is something fresh?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Iron Maiden Returns with Video-Single "Speed of Light"

WARNING! If you're offended by yet another modern, bland Maiden song, close the fuck out of YouTube.
After a long battle of attempting to renew The Metal Advisor's domain name, I'm back. Needless to say, Google wasn't particularly nice about it, especially when the username slipped my mind, and there was little way of recovering it. In the end, sifting through old emails was the key, but the important thing is that there's metal to gossip about, so let's get to it.

Today marks Iron Maiden's first new song since 2010's lackluster The Final Frontier. It should come as no surprise that the track--"Speed of Light"--carries the all-too-familiar aesthetic of brick-walled production and cardboard sounding drums. Guided by producer Kevin Shirley, the storied six-piece is more or less doomed for the foreseeable future, and with Harris residing in his comfort zone--as he has for many years now--the sound is unlikely to change before Iron Maiden calls it a day.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Taking Weeaboo to the Next Level: LadyBaby

This is not how I envisioned my first blog post in quite some time, but I can't resist the temptation.

As I sat down to my desk a few mornings ago, I noticed a text from a friend with a link. Typically, these are links to Asian pop music because he knows it's a vice of mine and a genre I shamelessly enjoy with a fervent passion. What the link's thumbnail suggested was pretty standard fare--a trio comprised entirely of women. Or so I thought. 

Looking closer revealed that the middle member was a tad bigger than the girls to the left and right. Intrigued, I thumbed the play button and realized what I assumed was another bubbly dance song couldn't be more wrong--the middle member was indeed a cross-dressed man and and Australian at that. Metallic sounds quickly overtook the speakers, reminding me a of BabyMetal, a group that I hold mixed feelings about but gave props to last year on my best songs of 2014 list

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wonderfully Nerdy: A Conversation with Øyvind Rekdal of Cleaver & Chton


At The Metal Advisor, we make it no secret that we love Cleaver, Chton, and their free-spirited members to death. Three years ago, we interviewed Cleaver for the first time and found them cordial, sincere, and, best of all, fun as hell, so we naturally jumped at the chance to talk with them again--and Øyvind was ready and raring to go at the opportunity. 

Our goal with this interview was to get a bit more personal and find out what drives the collective membership (or, in this case, Øyvind!). The story behind Cleaver's music and what inspires their themes and imagery were questions we curiously pondered, as we absorbed Øyvind's grimy, spacey sci-fi answers. Or perhaps it was the horror books and films the band spoke highly of in the past. Regardless, it was a bunch of hoopla and folklore to us, but we're eager to learn and, with Øyvind's book and film recommendations in hand, we have an extremely solid place to start.

And you will, too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Havukruunu - Rautaa ja Tulta (2015)

Havukruunu made a substantial splash on The Metal Advisor last year, appearing on the year-end song list in a respectable sixth place (though the list was in no order!). Since then, the two-piece has been hard at work crafting more melodic black metal hooks with a pagan tinge, and their record, Rautaa ja Tulta, is of course another lovely affair deserving of a look. Screeched, brooding vocals intensely head each song like nails on a chalk board, while the music cruises powerfully underneath--the pairing isn't far removed from what Windir, Vreid, and others commit to recording. The contrast between the two can be slightly jarring at first, given the melodicism of the music, but if one has any degree of familiarity with black metal, it's a non-issue.

Symbolic of struggle may be a better way to describe the contrast between the vocals and the music, though. There's a push-pull between the two that, despite the contrast, has them work in tandem with one another for musical survival. Not all melodic black metal is like this, either. There's something inherently different about Havukruunu versus other black metal bands. And it feels great to know they're using it to their advantage, intentional or not.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Iron Maiden - The Wicker Man (2000)

Recently, while browsing a closing record store, I came across Iron Maiden's Wicker Man single for a measly dollar. Going-out-of-business sales are often great for treasure digs, and this time was no different, as I scored big after years of not wanting to pony up the money for an altered track for the radio. Admittedly, though, the song is excellent and features a slightly reworked chorus, where Bruce lets a smattering of harmonized vocalization shine. Overtaken are the nifty, melodic guitar leads that underpin the usual chorus fare on Brave New World, but it's still nice to hear Maiden mix it up, even for the sake of a single.

Curiously, one can't help but wonder if this version of "The Wicker Man" was a product of Maiden's or the record label's. You'd think that any decent label would know better than to mess with one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time--who have have received very, very little radio support throughout their illustrious career--but big labels are businesses. They don't think rationally (in terms of the artist's historical past). They don't care about the consequences of their actions (if money is involved). And they sure as hell don't give a rat's ass what the hardcore fan thinks. Now is as good a time as any to get the money train rolling and cash in on success, they hastily justify.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mary Todd - Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel (2014)

Time gets the best of us and sometimes we forget what we had planned for the weeks ahead. Back in November, Mary Todd enjoyed having their first-ever music video for "THC/Consensual Cannibalism" featured on TMA and, even though we weren't completely enamored with their music, we enjoyed having them.

A question we planned to answer was: how is the rest of the album? Well, to get it out of the way, Mary Todd and Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel aren't metal. In fact, they hardly resemble it, but the music is still balls-to-the-wall abrasive music, and thats good enough for us. Admittedly, it isn't the kind of music typically enjoyed by TMA and its readers, but we strive to help artists promote their music in spite the style.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Legionnaire - The Enigma of Time (2015)

Most of us can agree that we need more traditional heavy metal in our lives, but the fact of the matter is that good examples are hard to come by. Being evocative of metal forefathers is a fine aspiration, but all too often bands reaching for "classic" status come off as cheap imitations and lack the creativity needed for lasting, memorable music. One band poised to break mold, however, is Legionnaire, a Finnish quartet with two rough demos to their name, in addition to the essential songwriting zest needed to reinvent the wheel. In a nutshell, their music is emotional, climactic, and, yes, filled with all the harmonized guitars and riffs one could ask for.

Looking more closely, Legionnaire's music isn't about a formulaic approach. In fact, it's far from it and varies tempo quite often, which keeps the songs from stagnating and dying a slow, painful death. Their sophomore demo, The Enigma of Time, in particular, shows a group tightening the reigns as they step ever closer to becoming a single entity in each song.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Phantom Blue - Built to Perform (1993)

Although it doesn't appear impressive at first glance, Phantom Blue's Built to Perform is a scorcher, albeit with a subtleness to it that helped it fly under the radar for the last two decades. You see, initially, the music doesn't seem like much--it's basic and feels a bit has-been, in a sense that it's all been done before. But somewhere between five and 10 listens, it begins to click, because the music comes alive in a way that you never thought it would.

What makes Built to Perform quality, you ask? Well, for starters, there's a gritty, no-frills nature to the music that either makes or breaks every song. Broken is the word that comes to mind for the first few spins--the album just doesn't seem like anything special and lacks the glamor needed to push it into an otherworldly realm. As it sinks in, however, you begin to appreciate how the music's backbone is COMPLETELY exposed and never tries to hide under a compositional veil. Immediately, it cuts right through the bullshit and let's you know it's real. It doesn't try to overcompensate for lack songwriting skill and neither does it attempt be something it isn't.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Jupiter - The History of Genesis (2015)

After Versailles' sudden split in 2012, many fans feared for the worst, nervously biting their fingernails when considering the members' creative well being and how they would endeavor to craft music in the future. Shocking, too, was the rift between vocalist Kamijo and the instrumental part of Versailles in which the two halves went separate ways to pursue their respective projects. Predictably, Kamijo launched a solo project under his own name, but lacked basic focus (re: sticking to a single genre), despite writing music uniform in quality. Jupiter, on the other hand, stuck to their power metal-based roots, releasing Classical Element the following year and The History of Genesis in 2015, which is arguably the more varied of the two and demonstrates progression and concentration as a band.

What's most surprising about The History of Genesis is not the level of quality Jupiter adheres to, but level of experimentation the band explores. Although Versailles alluded to it with tracks like "Zombie" as far back as 2008, the melodic death metal influence is readily apparent in "Darkness" and grows stronger in the album's second half when tracks "絶望ラビリンス" and "Sacred Altar" closely brush up against the sub-genre without compromising Jupiter's sound. There's something to be said of that, too, as truly good musicians keep a sliver of familiarly during experimentation to avoid alienating their loyal fan base. And, again, Jupiter does just that, introducing foreign elements while staying very much the same.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Concert Review: Behemoth, Cannibal Corpse, Aeon, and Tribulation @ Old National Centre, Indianapolis, Indiana - February 21, 2015

Long time no talk, eh? To be honest, I've been heavily reevaluating the direction in which to take TMA because four years have elapsed since I casually dipped my toes into the blogging world and watched my creation exceed my expectations.

Four years; can you believe that?! 

Neither can I (Thanks for sticking with me!). What was once curious step into uncharted territory one college night became a regular part of my life and, ultimately, an outlet for me to express my thoughts on music. And fruitful it was, affording me with opportunities I never, ever thought I'd be fortunate enough to experience, not to mention enabling me to land other writing gigs on completely different topics.

But, lately, what was effortless began to feel like a chore and bit too familiar. I felt that, with each new piece--particularly album reviews--rehash was quite evident in my writing. And that's when I decided to take a step back to reevaluate the site, give it a new direction, and reboost once abundant creativity.

Just this past Saturday, I saw Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, Aeon, and Tribulation and, to a degree, that helped revitalize my attitude toward TMA. In particular, what surprised me was Behemoth's ability to filch the headlining spot from Cannibal Corpse because, in terms of influence, few bands enjoy Cannibal Corpse's prominence and swag. They were a joy to watch on stage as years of trial and error had taught them how to balance professionalism and entertainment. And, of course, they were exceptionally tight and perhaps the tightest I've ever seen.

Friday, January 16, 2015

SOME RECORDS I REALLY LIKE FROM 2014 AD: Maybe You'll Agree

By Maxim Björky

Having excluded any bands who are unfortunate enough to be friends with me, I found this listening guide actually became a lot easier to put together. As usual, it ended up as a sort of dissonant puzzle whereby I try, in vain, to reconcile absurd glory and steel with the kind of black metal fit only for unemployed philosophy TAs. At the end of every single one of these lists, I always find myself standing over this sort of grotesque monster, sewn-together by nothing more than my own dorky obsession with discovering new, novel, and challenging things. In any case, my high school counselor said that it might be good to take a break from reviewing gas station bathrooms on Yelp and mix things up for the sake of my portfolio.

Let’s get down to business.

Demos and EPs


10. Violent Hammer – More Victims demo (Shadow Kingdom Records)

Viciously mixed. Not your grandma’s war metal.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Toxik - "Too Late" + "Crooked Crosses"

TMA is in a short break mode as the first of 2015's worthwhile releases slowly trickle in.

In the meantime, Toxik released two new songs late last year, and I'm finally getting around to giving them a listen. Your thoughts are more than welcome--I'm leaving the two tracks, "Too Late" and "Crooked Crosses," below for your listening pleasure.

-TMA



Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Year in Review: The Metal Advisor's Top 10 Albums of 2014

Tremendous (Yes, I'm using that word for the umpteenth time. It's a versatile one, isn't it?) is the only word that comes to mind when thinking back on 2014. The year was curious one, indeed, because I sank my teeth into a number of bands that I had never heard before; some of which were fortunate enough to make this list and others that narrowly missed out. And that's what made this year harder than 2013--I had to be choosy.

The problem is that there's simply too much music out there. Most of it is shit, I'll give you that, but as I said in my songs list, once you uncover the diamonds in the rough, you feel positively overwhelmed. More often than not, so many are at your disposal that choosing is a bitch.

But we'll persevere. We'll get though this list, and push happily into 2015 as we fondly reminisce on the best albums of last year (and, unlike 2013, in no particular order!).

---


ADX - Ultimatum

ADX has always been a favorite of mine, from their nearly perfect debut to their newest effort, Ultimatum. Be aware that the entire record is, lyrically, written in French, which has been the case for the band since their inception. Be aware that it takes nothing away from the record, either.

ADX's brilliantly catchy songwriting is in place on Ultimatum and little has changed from the old days. If you go into the record expecting material like Exécution, you're going to get that. ADX doesn't mess around and hasn't slowed down with age. Long live these French masters.