album review

As the resident prog guy here, it's a bit surprising that this is my first experience immersing myself in a full Ayreon album. Arjen Anthony Lucassen's project has sprawled through a series of double albums, amassing some of the greatest talent in the rock and metal world, and giving him standing as one of the biggest figures in all of progressive music. This time around, after the ending of the original storyline and a hiatus for other projects, Ayreon returns with a new story, and a new focus.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love music - all kinds of music. Certainly I have my favorites but I can usually find something to appreciate in every genre... except Middle Eastern pop music. That's just something I can't get into. So, with that out of the way, I present to you the latest album from The Infinite Staircase, "No Amends".

The Melvins remain, after thirty years, part of the bedrock of underground alternative music. The steadfast genre-denial and complete inability to keep still of King Buzzo ensures that The Melvins will always be an entity unto themselves. For “Tres Cabrones,” (literally ‘three goats’ but in slang ‘three assholes’ in Spanish,) as if to accentuate the point, there’s a credit in the liner notes for someone playing a toy piano. With that reinforcing every belief about the eccentricity of The Melvins, “Tres Cabrones” rolls on.

Hail Of Bullets did something remarkable with their first album; they made a record that actually sounded like an army of enemy tanks storming into town ready to crush anything in their paths. These death metal veterans made a statement right out of the gate, becoming one of the biggest and most important death metal bands since the nascent days, all with one record. That they were able to then turn around and use their second album to further their sound with new elements and more expansive songwriting meant that this was no one trick pony.

There was a time when grunge was an indomitable empire. A musical transcendence that touched and shaped all corners of popular culture. For reason abound that empire crumbled quickly, vanishing within four years of its apex, the symbolic final nail coming in the form of Soundgarden’s dispersal following “Down On the Upside.” The Seattle scene fell silent and the embers went dead as they were either ignored, or worse mismanaged, by the bands that followed. Grunge went to seed, living on in memory and the shadow of Pearl Jam’s adaptive evolution into a popular, relevant rock band.

Gather around, children, and I will tell you the tale of what it was like in the time before time. When the world was a vast emptiness waiting for a spark to ignite the torch of hope and rock and roll. It was 1975 and the spark erupted when a man we'll call "Lemmy" appeared on the scene with his band Motorhead. They would go on to bring the world "Overkill", "The Ace of Spades", "Iron Fist", "Eat The Rich", "Rock and Roll" and so much more. 38 years and 21 studio albums later, Motorhead gives us another gift in the form of their latest record "Aftermath".

Last year, Bad Salad came out of nowhere with a debut album that blew me away. “Uncivilized” was, and still is, one of the best Dream Theater inspired collections of progressive metal not to come from the masters themselves. That album showed not only that Bad Salad was a band with limitless potential, but that they were emerging fully formed, ready to take on the heavyweights of progressive metal with an approach that was all-encompassing and exciting.

Ra has been a name in my personal rolodex for a long time. For whatever reason, the Los Angeles band has a notable following in my hometown in Upstate New York, a connection that I still don’t understand. So it is with marked interest that I approach the new Ra release “Critical Mass.”

The seasons are changing here in the great Northeast. The days are getting shorter, the sky is grey and the air is turning colder. It's perfect weather to listen to some death metal. And, with Halloween fast approaching, it is fitting to now review "Resistance", the latest release from California "deathcore" band Winds of Plague.

Answering a question no one asked can be a dangerous enterprise, because the greatest uncertainty involved is in assuming someone cares about the answer. It’s Casual, the punk-ish band with roots in Los Angeles, is the erstwhile answer to the question “What would a mix of Black Flag and Rush sound like?” While that question seems to land on the spectrum somewhere between ‘untenable’ and ‘impossible,‘ the evident answer lies in the band’s new record “The New Los Angeles II”