album review

In due time, it's almost a guarantee that every sub-genre of metal will end up blended with every other. Bands like to break new ground, to establish legacies, and being able to claim an entire sub-genre as your progeny is an effective way of doing so. As the combinations are used up, it leaves some interesting amalgamations unexplored. What might at first thought sound like an undesirable experiment, could actually turn out to be a pleasant look into the future.

I have never been a fan of Nile. I should probably start by saying that.

It seems like I should be. High speed death metal? Check. Ancient Egyptian mythology? Yep. References to H.P Lovecraft? It's got those, too! If Nile could see fit to squeeze in a couple tunes about chocolate cake and the Oakland Raiders, they'd have a bunch of the basic tenets of my personality covered. Yet, it doesn't work for me.

Metal is an absurd theater, when you stop and think about it. Much of the music we love is played with unwavering conviction, as though an amplifier turned up high enough can actually transmit the music to the Gods. It sounds stupid, but it's exactly why we become fans, and why we stay involved with the scene, no matter how many people may point and laugh at the more outlandish escapades of our heroes. Metal has a long history of being cheesy, over-the-top, and utterly ridiculous, and no band has ever been so guilty as Manowar.

Nothing has been more of a surprise in recent years than the sustained revival of the thrash scene. Thought dead when the classic 80's bands moved on to more commercial styles of music, nostalgia kicked in a generation later, and we find ourselves in the second coming of thrash. The masters are still out there doing their thing, better than they have for decades in many cases, but the influx of new bands is astounding. Thrash has seen a new wave of bands taking up the mantle, spreading the gospel of speed and heaviness around the world once again.

Few men in progressive rock have been as prolific as Roine Solt. Over the course of his career, he has appeared on a staggering number of records, and established himself as one of the leading forces of modern progressive music. It's in that spirit that “Banks Of Eden” is an oddity, the first Flower Kings album in five years. With eleven albums in a career spanning few additional years, the extended absence for the band came as a shock, even as Stolt took part in the reformation of the supergroup Transatlantic.

Six long years. That's how long Spineshank has been away. Nine long years. A near decade has passed since the band's last studio album and subsequent Grammy nomination. On the comeback trail, Spineshank has released "Anger Denial Acceptance," their new record that attempts to encapsulate all the emotions that one experiences after life-altering events.

For those who heard “Kiss the Sun Goodbye,” the debut album from Vampires Everywhere!, get that image out of your mind. It is meaningless now, a blip of adolescence that one must stumble through before emerging as a man.

This is not what I expected. Dr. Acula traditionally has presented listeners with wildly variable, scatter-brained music, embracing frayed edges and the pure nonsense that deathcore makes possible. I expected more of the same from "Nation," and was instead presented with a relatively cohesive, all-systems-go, straight ahead moshfest that not only sounds marginally out of character for the band, but is a solid improvement.

Psychology has taught us many things about the human condition, few of which can be applicable to an examination of a black metal album. However, there is one phenomenon that is worth considering. We've learned, through studies, that humans are better able to differentiate between members of their own ethnic/racial group than those of other backgrounds. Likewise, fans of black metal will have no problem identifying Brume D'Automne from every other similar band, and can point to the qualities that make them stand out as a unique entity.

No great story can be told without drama. Uncomfortable though it may be, conflict is what keeps us engaged in the narrative, what makes us connect with the characters as they soldier on through their journeys. The life of a band is one of those stories, so many of them littered with lineup changes and shifts in direction, always searching for resolution. It is befitting that a band trafficking in epic sounds would have an equally grand story to tell, and such is the case for Rhapsody.