album review

Orphaned Land is a band totally consumed by their message. Normally in metal, that message has a good chance of being insipid or sophomoric. We’ve seen messages that range from “CHAOS!” to “Drink until you can’t feel feelings anymore” and let’s not forget the tried and true “all organized societal institutions are crap.” As fans, it falls on us to either embrace or, more commonly, overlook any petulance and merely attempt to absorb and judge the music.

As crazes come and go, I can usually figure out the mass-market appeal that drives people to love whatever the latest and greatest thing is. That doesn't mean I'm going to care in the slightest for any of them, but I can at least understand why everyone else trips over themselves chasing the latest fad. The one that I have yet to come to grips with is the zombie craze. The undead have become the biggest thing going, from the slower than paint drying “The Walking Dead”, to movie after movie after movie featuring the lumbering corpses rotted back to life.

Female fronted metal bands are, sadly, lumped into two categories; those who treat their singer as a gimmick, and those who provide operatic qualities men can't manage on their own. It's a gross over-simplification, but a large swath of the bands do fall into those categories. What is most disappointing is how little room there is in the current scene for a band to play classic heavy metal with a female voice. There are a few bands doing it, but none muster a fraction of the attention even second-rate male dominated bands lay claim to.

Deep breath.

This is one of things that you never think you’ll see in your life. Usually the next statement after that is some kind of unbridled joy, but the release of Black Sabbath’s “13” leaves feelings of wary confusion. Questions remain abound – What is this? Why are we here? Was this trip really necessary? This isn’t a cash grab (at least it better not be,) so why does it even exist?

Metal bands these days aren't unlike sets of Legos. Much as kids take the little plastic blocks and use the same pieces to build anything their little minds can think of, metal bands are increasingly composed of the same members, just reconfigured in different combinations. There's a double-edged sword quality about this development, as while it is welcome to have more music being made by many of the best players in the world, there's also the threat that all of these bands will wind up watering down the scene by making everything sound like everything else.

Following the death of lead singer Layne Staley, Alice in Chains went on an elongated hiatus. Very few bands have been able to survive the death of a lead singer, but 2009’s “Black Gives Way to Blue” put all doubts to rest and proved to the world that there was indeed life after death for the Seattle-based grunge band. With the “comeback album” now behind them, “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” seeks to prove Alice in Chains’ ability to endure in a music scene very much removed from 1990 when “Facelift,” the band’s debut studio album, was released.

Over the past four or so years, no band has risen from underground to head-of-the-class faster than Amon Amarth. Their last album “Surtur Rising” was a breakout party onto the main stage despite being their eighth record, which is testament to the band’s patience and dedication.

It seems like every year there’s another Classic Rock revivalist band that attempts to reimagine the sounds of the ‘70s for a new generation of listeners. Bands like The Sword, Wolfmother, The Answer, Graveyard, and many others have all done a fine job incorporating the sounds of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, but they have survived their own band’s debut because they managed to blend in enough of their own identity.

At the rate these albums have been coming out, I need to either invent a time machine so I can go back to 1983 and learn to love thrash, or stick my head in the sand for another three years until a new trend is established. The number of thrash albums hitting these days is astounding, considering how the genre was all but dead until The Big 4 came out of hibernation. It's great news for adrenaline starved fans, because nothing can pump the blood like good ol' thrash can, but it's slightly less inviting for people like me who have never been filled to the brim with youthful bile.

One of the first rules of journalism is that the story should never be about you. Attention should always be focused on the subject or action of the piece, with the reporter acting only as narrator. We here at Bloody Good Horror pride ourselves on trying to keep to that rule, only allowing our personal experiences to color articles as a product of our editorial insight (or lack thereof, as I’m sure my readers have at least occasionally believed.)