album review

Leprous is one of those bands I should be more familiar with than I am. Their last album, “Bilateral”, won massive acclaim from all around the metal world, but for reasons I'm not sure of, I never got around to listening to it. There was something about the blend of technical progressive metal with more modern influences that didn't sink in with me when I heard a clip or two, at least not in the way a band like Seventh Wonder is able to, so I come into “Coal” with a clean slate and an open mind.

I’m going out on a limb, here. “Relentless, Reckless Forever” is one of the best fifty albums ever. EVER. And I know I’m going out on a limb by saying that because I know that the other two gentlemen who write about music for this site, whose opinions I very much respect, both heartily disagree with me. But that’s the way I feel, and that was my mindset as I encountered “Halo of Blood.”

For all the talk of the evolution of heavy metal over the years, we often get caught up in a misconception. Not all evolution is good, and sometimes we don't want things to change. There was never anything wrong with four people walking into a studio, playing a few big riffs, and putting out a record that was never supposed to be anything more than a bit of fun. Metal loses its charm when it becomes too serious, which is why the continued renaissance of vintage-inspired bands are so welcome.

Ever since Type O Negative’s “Dead Again” in 2007, the members of Type O have spread their wings and tried to continue their accomplished careers with multiple other projects. While there was no certainty that “Dead Again” would be Type O’s swan song and no way to know about the eventual untimely death of Peter Steele, one can’t help but wonder if the members of the Brooklyn-based icon knew something we didn’t.

Immolation is a death metal band from Yonkers, New York that knows its niche. Steeped in the rules and regulations of American death metal, Immolation is straight ahead, no frills death complete with biting riffs and ugly, guttural vocals.

We've all heard the old saying, “you can't go home again.” While we all may be aware of it, bands seem not to have taken the message to heart. There seems to be a never-ending stream of bands from the 80's and 90's taking up their instruments once again, trying to capture their glory days one more time before it's too late. Some of these outings are successful in rekindling a legacy, like Hell was able to achieve, while others fall apart because of the time spent away from music, and some beg the question of whether enough people would still care to even attempt such a feat.

When last we heard from My Dying Bride, just last year, they were continuing to build their legacy with the very good “ A Map Of All Our Failures”. That record was all things My Dying Bride; heavy, doomy, progressive, and singularly theirs. They are one of those rare bands that have carved out a sound entirely their own, and when you hear it, you know exactly who it is. Not content to let that tome of death/doom gather dust, the band is back already with an EP of songs recorded around the same time, reinforcing everything “A Map Of All Our Failures” brought to the table.

During this recent revival of traditional metal, it has become commonplace that any band with blues roots and an analog mentality gets slapped with the label “sounds like Black Sabbath.” While that speaks volumes about the enormity of Black Sabbath’s legacy, it’s also an easy, marketable out for any band that rocks at less than 200 bpm.

It’s rare to hear of an orchestral-arranged melodic death metal coming from the United States. It’s even rarer to conceive of that band coming from a place like Chicago, which is barely even thought of in heavy metal, much less this style of heavy metal. Yet, armed and dangerous with a ten track debut record “Fires of Life” is Starkill, Chicagoland’s newest heavy metal band, determined to take what is commonly thought of as a European sound and make it their own.

Recent times have been quiet for the burgeoning djent scene. After a rush of releases thrust the fledgling music upon the masses, the stream of releases capturing the zeitgeist of the times has slowed to a trickle. I can't say whether it's a coincidence, or if the recent albums from genre leaders Periphery and grandfathers of all that is djent Meshuggah, may have made many of their followers go back to the drawing board.