heavy metal

In the spirit of honesty, I have a confession I must make; there has never been a black metal album I have enjoyed. While I can understand the mental state that leads to its creation, and the ethos is not philosophically unappealing, the actual music that falls under the banner has the same effect on me as fingernails streaking across a chalkboard (a sound that, ironically, does not bother me). I have tried listening to modern black metal, the 'classics', and random recommendations I've picked up in various places, but the end result is always the same.

Progressive metal is a splinter genre where you don’t see a lot of DIY, at least not on a noticeable level or on this side of the Pond. New Jersey progressive metallers Gyre are forging into that territory with a four-song EP “Second Circle,” that attempts to fresh take on a long developed idea.

James LaBrie's last solo album, “Static Impulse”, answered a question I'm not sure had ever been asked: what would it sound like if LaBrie fronted Soilwork? Far from his progressive metal roots, “Static Impulse” was a modern metal album in every facet, blending melodic choruses to state of the art riffing and juxtaposed screaming vocals. More than a shock to expectations, the album was a surprisingly effective vehicle for LaBrie, and was better than I could have ever imagined such an effort being.

It's the simple pleasures that help make life worthwhile. For me, there's the anticipation of listening to a new CD and the impossible wait just before the opening track starts playing. Generally, with my hand on the volume knob, I turn it up for maximum effect. When the first few notes begin there are three possible reactions - "Ooh, that's not very good. Let's try track two", "Eh, that's kind of what I expected" or "Hell yeah!".

Metal is not known for its beauty. It can be many things, beautiful included, but if there is one thing metal is known for, it's stringy-haired heaviness. Metal is not the music of the beautiful people, and we wouldn't love it so much if it was. But somewhere in calculations, the balance needed to keep metal from falling off the edge of relevance gets lost. Hearing as many albums a year as I do, which is still but a fraction, there is a titanic chasm of possibility few bands have jumped headlong into.

Often in literature, we see references to a person who has a piercing gaze, or is said to 'look right through you.' Never, until I sat down with Jill Janus of Huntress, did I fully understand what that meant. Her eyes are a pure, icy blue, and her gaze is somewhat magnetic. You lock eyes with her and get the impression like she's seeing inside you, watching your spirit. That said, she's also incredibly friendly, very gregarious and extra charming. We had a the following conversation about her band, her personal life including her Wiccan influences and, you know, Lemmy. Read on!

Children of Bodom has always been treated as a work solely of frontman Alexi Laiho. His vocals and guitar theatrics and songwriting dominate each of the band's releases, and "Halo of Blood" is no different. But behind Laiho stands one of the most talented bands working in metal today; adaptable, versatile, heavy, melodic, anything they need to be. Hidden in the shadows of CoB stands Henkka Seppälä, bassist and generally amiable guy. In search of his story, we sat down recently as Mayhem Fest.

Five Finger Death Punch has broken the curve for a band's acceleration, going from niche act to headlining phenomenon in fairly short order. Now standing aside Rob Zombie at Mayhem Fest and on the verge of a double release, I sat down with drummer Jeremy Spencer to talk about the band, how they got here, what it feels like, and what to expect from this album.

Life experience, viewed through a sort of existentialist paradigm, is an extremely persistent animal. There are certain lessons that life seems bound and determined to teach us, no matter how many times we attempt to ignore the moral. Foremost among those teachings and concurrently the one that is seemingly reinforced most often in our lives is “don’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s a little shameful to admit, but I’ve spent thirty years on this earth and occasionally still have slips in my understanding of this basic tenet.

Why are some musicians vagabonds, jumping from project to project in a constant state of motion? There's a cynical answer about the undying desire to find the band that will break through and bring fame and fortune, but for most it has to do with a need to make music. For a certain group of musicians, music is an addiction, something they have to constantly be involved with or else they go crazy. It's hard to separate these honestly passionate creators from the more shrewd businessmen, but every so often the answer becomes clear.