One of the more welcome developments in recent years in the corners of rock and metal that we cover is the increased number of women taking up the cause. Whether it's the siren singing in bands like Epica and Nightwish, or the more belting vocals of singers like Anneke Van Giersbergen and Dilana, the number of women whose voices power the albums I hear is a refreshing change of pace. There are times when it is clearly a marketing ploy, but for the most part, a woman's voice is able to bring a new and different feeling to the proceedings.
Kamchatka - A 1250 kilometer volcanic peninsula in the Russian Far East located between the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. Also, Kamchatka is the name of a blues rock trio out of Sweden. I'll let you guess which of the two I'll be discussing this week. I'll give you a hint - it's not a land mass.
When I first heard Monsterworks' unique brand of 'super metal', it was one of the most staggering things I had heard in years. Their music sounded like the aural equivalent of putting pieces from different jigsaw puzzles together, and yet somehow ending up with a beautiful picture when you were done. “Album Of Man” is still one of the more interesting albums I have heard, on an intellectual level, and one that gave me hope that I may have found a band that could both surprise and please me.
"Behold the rock of ages. There stands the gates of steel where destiny awaits us - heavy metal sanctuary" - Battleaxe. Metal is as much a lifestyle as it is a musical genre. Metal is a brotherhood that can't be understood by non-metal fans. Put two metalheads in a room together and they will converse for hours about the origins and evolution of the music they love. Metal is life and life is metal. That seems to be the credo of the English metal band Battleaxe.
Slough Feg is one of those bands that I should love, but just never find myself listening to. Last year I reviewed three of their early albums as they were re-released by Metal Blade, and despite how much I enjoyed “Down Among The Deadmen”, I haven't found it in regular rotation. “Ape Uprising!” is my favorite Slough Feg record, but again, I don't find myself listening to it very often. I can't explain why, since every time I do, I'm reminded of how great a band Slough Feg can be.
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.
Normally, I'm not one who goes for gimmicks in music. I find them tacky, and mostly useless appendages that try to mask a band's deficiencies. Taking a cookie-cutter band and dressing them up in stupid costumes, or writing lyrics about only one subject, doesn't make them any more special. Gimmicks usually expose the band's shortcomings, because the obvious facade only draws attention to their perceived need to distract. I can think of very few bands with a gimmick who have managed to keep my interest, because a gimmick alone is going to get old after a while. Yes, even if you're GWAR.
I'm not one to actively seek out so-called "symphonic metal" bands but if I were Holland is the first place I'd start looking. I am part Dutch on my maternal Grandfather's side but I've never been to Holland. My question is "what in the world is happening over there?". A word of warning to the rest of the world - If you're thinking about getting into the symphonic metal game, you've got your work cut out for you. The Dutch metal band Within Temptation has nailed it with their latest album "Hydra".
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.