Chris C's blog

Album Review: Sonata Arctica - Stones Grow Her Name

Recent years have been awkward for power metal and its fans. Guitar Hero opened the door for a renaissance of the genre, with Dragonforce making it cool to play happy, major-key metal. Despite the opportunity being presented, the genre has instead seen countless bands taking a turn away from tradition, injecting large doses of classic metal and hard rock into their sound. Always unappreciated in the eyes of most metal fans, the bands did little to take advantage of their chance in the spotlight, ironically by moving in more commercial directions.

Album Review: Horisont - Second Assault

The retro revival of recent years is an interesting phenomenon, not just because of the reminds the music provides of a different time, but because the bands looking to the past can't decide what era should be resurrected for a new audience. The European metal scene is stocked with bands calling back to the 80's heyday of hard rock and glam metal, trying to remind people that this kind of music can be fun. Many of them are ridiculed for wanting to return to a time many true metal fans regard as a blight on the good name of heavy metal, leaving the essential point to go unnoticed.

Album Review: Accept - Stalingrad

When a band replaces an iconic singer, it's a no-win situation. No matter the quality of the new voice, it will never be able to counteract the nostalgia we associate with the original incarnation. Accept has come closer than anyone in recent memory to breaking the curse. Reuniting without Udo Dirkschneider was a risk, one that resulted in “Blood Of The Nations”, an album that won critical acclaim and appeared on countless year-end lists. Mark Tornillo was able to step in for the perceived voice of Accept and win over the fans by treading the same ground Udo did, but with superior skill.

Album Review: Dirge Within - There Will Be Blood

Change happens so gradually it's hard to recognize the shift that's been made. Listening to “There Will Be Blood”, the immediate impression is that Dirge Within is a perfectly capable middle-of-the-road metal band. It's only when we stop and think that it becomes apparent how much metal has changed in the last thirty years. From the clinical guitar tones to the gruff shouting that encompasses most of the vocals, this is music that would have been extreme in the 80's, yet today it doesn't raise an eyebrow.

Album Review: Jeff Loomis - Plains Of Oblivion

Being in a band that managed to establish a legacy is a blessing for a musician, and it can also be a curse. Once public opinion makes a verdict on your abilities, and your best works, it becomes nearly impossible for anyone to overcome those perceptions and establish a new reality. For Jeff Loomis, who for the last twenty years has been synonymous with Nevermore, everything he accomplishes both with this album and in the future will be seen through the filter of his previous band. Nevermore's breakup seemed inevitable.

Album Review: 3 Inches Of Blood - Long Live Heavy Metal

Countless bands have written songs and albums as an ode to the music they love. From Ronnie James Dio penning “Long Live Rock 'N Roll” during his stint with Rainbow, right through to the current classic metal revival, the psalm of metal solidarity has become almost a rite of passage for young bands. What is often unsaid is that underneath the love for heavy metal, the songs themselves usually offer nothing but an assortment of cliches.

Album Review: Pigeon Toe - The First Perception

When approaching any album tagged with the label 'progressive', it must be kept in mind the two connotations the word carries. Progressive music can be an ethos, eschewing conventional structure to tell stories, or it can be a tightly defined form of music celebrating the virtuosic talents of the players. Oddly enough, for a genre of music that carries an air of intellectualism and musical sophistication, the expectations and tastes of the fans can be as narrow and insular as those of any other metal sub-genre.

Album Review: The All-American Rejects - "Kids In The Street"

The All-American Rejects make me feel old. As a member of an internet community supporting a not-to-be-named pop band, I was one of the first to come into contact with the then upstart kids. Their independent label first album gained traction and spread among pop-rock fans by word of mouth, building a fan-base before getting the major label treatment. What was evident in that first batch of songs was a knack for writing a hook. Saccharine as any fan of grittier rock music would call it, that debut album was a masterful piece of pop music, considering the youth on display.

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