Those expecting another Firewind record from Gus G will find themselves surprised by “I am the Fire.” The titular musician has said at length that for this, his first solo record, he wanted to defy expectation and shirk convention. While another guitar virtuoso, Jake E. Lee, released an album recently trying to prove he was still in the mold, Gus G is trying to break out of it. “I am the Fire” is Gus G’s personal release: his chance to write songs that feel good to him, regardless of how much discretion they do or do not require.
Blue and Gold, the power quartet from New York City, follows a simple and time-tested formula. Write songs people like. That probably sounds shallow, but it’s an axiom that is all too often forgotten, particularly amidst the image maintenance and minutia of independent music.
Let’s start at the top – the first thing that attracted me to Dark Forest’s new record “The Awakening” was the cover art. I was pretty sure I had seen that cover on a ‘Magic: The Gathering’ card, definitely green, probably an enchantment. Anyway, while that’s obviously the least important aspect of Dark Forest’s new effort, it does speak to the continuing power of cover art, even during this new digital age.
It's a fairly rare day as a music reviewer when you can be effusive in priase of something you don't totally understand, and rarer still when that statement is reflexive - that the not understanding is part of why you are being effusive. So it is with this wonderful mystery known as Destrage.
This video has been making the rounds since yesterday, and at first I thought it was nothing, but the more I see it, the more hypnotic it becomes. So what is it? Well, it's a J-pop song...but also a death metal song. It's by three girls who aren't legal age, and it appears to be about the joy of eating chocolate. Oh, and their band dresses up like skeletons.
…and so the thrash revival rolls on. Next up in the batter’s box is Hirax, the Southern California band originally formed in 1982 in the shadow of other SoCal acts like Metallica and Slayer. Through the ins and outs and machinations of a musical career, there have only been two constants in the extended history of Hirax – thrash and founding lead singer Katon W. De Pena. So what makes Hirax stand out? Well, they’ve got a thick and crunchy guitar sound, a badass attitude and a singer who looks a little like Tim Meadows. Let’s get to work.
The common album cycle these days tends to run two or three years. A band composes a selection of music, rehearses it, perfects it, records it, masters it, markets it, releases it, tours on it. Probably twice. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Thus far in the supergroup’s experimental life, Adrenaline Mob has been a frustrating example of the total being mysteriously less than the sum of its parts. Upon hearing their first record “Omerta,” the idea of prog luminaries Russell Allen and Mike Portnoy being able to make downbeat, two-step rock and roll seemed plausible, but incomplete. Logic dictated that the musicians in question must have the know-how to produce this music, so the up-and-down effort had to be a product of not having enough time to gel, or simply not feeling out the songwriting process.
In 1991 in Poland, Behemoth was formed. Capitalizing on the momentum and popularity of Venom and learning from the mistakes of Mayhem, Behemoth became the logical extension of Venom’s musical trend – more expressive, more visceral, darker and dirtier. Behemoth also became the answer to an intellectual question about metal – how far down this path can we go? How scary and vulgar can metal be and still attract an audience? For years, Nergal and his compatriots answered that call and laid claim to the throne of extreme metal in Europe.
At first blush, MaYaN’s new album “Antagonise” seems like an exercise in formulaic death metal with some melodic tangents, not so different from Soilwork, Susperia, Hypocrisy and a million different also-rans. Do yourself a favor; don’t let the first blush be your only consumption of MaYaN. There’s a lot more going on here than the initial impact alludes to.