heavy metal

Every generation needs an AC/DC. Despite losing their original lead singer, Bon Scott, in 1980, AC/DC has managed to hang around for a few generations thanks to replacement Brian Johnson. However, with guitarist Angus Young getting dangerously close to 60, there’s something about him prancing around in a schoolboy outfit that has lost some of its original appeal. That isn’t to say AC/DC has lost their touch, they’re still one of the most entertaining live acts in the world, but when the time comes to officially pass the torch, no band is better suited for the handoff than Airbourne.

I have a lot of respect for bands that know when the time is right to walk away. Far too often we see bands that cling onto life, churning out albums and tours for no other reason than because they know no other life. It's an understandable temptation, but it's one of the reasons being a fan is sometimes difficult. We invest our time and our energy in the music, only to find that the bands aren't doing the same. The Devil's Blood has taken the other route, choosing to walk away before the release of this, their third and final album.

There are a lot of aspects of the current rock and metal scenes that I just don't understand. Unless a band fashions themselves as a throwback to the past, there is a gravitational pull to include ever increasing amounts of extreme elements into what used to be normal rock. Today, bands like Mastodon and Baroness are considered mainstream, when my ears tell me there's nothing inviting about the majority of the sounds they conjure up. The need to scour the songs, to remove any trace of shine from them, is a train of thought I have never been able to board.

Brooklyn, New York, for a long time, was one of the foremost scenes in all of heavy metal. Generally characterized in alternating turns by sludge, sleaze, doom and camaraderie, the city gave rise to some of the most influential metal acts of the '80s and '90s. Chief among them were Type O Negative and Life of Agony, both acts featuring New York veteran Sal Abruscato. Sal has returned with a band all his own, releasing a second album with A Pale Hose Named Death, and hopes to keep the spirit of Brooklyn metal alive. Here to discuss his album, his band, his history and pizza, is Sal Abruscato.

In 2009, vocalist and guitarist Toby Wright formed Age of Taurus as a one-man studio project. After self-releasing the demo “In the Days of the Taurean Empire” in 2010, Wright’s project quickly grew in popularity and received numerous stellar reviews. Eventually there was enough interest in Age of Taurus to turn it into a real band. That’s where guitarist Alastair Riddell, bassist Richard Bruce, and drummer Darius Claydon come in.

We’ve been talking a lot lately about the revival in traditional metal and the rise of bands that embody the blues-doom spirit. Consequently, we’ve had the conversation about whether it’s fair to constantly make Black Sabbath the default analog for all these bands, or whether that’s simply the lazy way out. In the case of Church of Misery, we see a traditional doom band from Japan who has made it their sole career aspiration to be compared to Sabbath, openly idolizing the Birmingham legends and simultaneously declaring themselves “unworthy” of their metal gods.

It would have been hard to imagine, not too long ago, that Queensrÿche would once again be one of the biggest stories in the world of metal. Their glory days were well behind them, and they settled comfortably into their place as a band that made new records to satisfy their creative itch, while spending most of their time on the road as a greatest hits package. It's a fate that befalls almost all bands who survive long enough, and even the forward thinking, progressive mindset the band possessed couldn't stop the audience from no longer wanting to hear new music.

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.