heavy metal

When a band replaces an iconic singer, it's a no-win situation. No matter the quality of the new voice, it will never be able to counteract the nostalgia we associate with the original incarnation. Accept has come closer than anyone in recent memory to breaking the curse. Reuniting without Udo Dirkschneider was a risk, one that resulted in “Blood Of The Nations”, an album that won critical acclaim and appeared on countless year-end lists.

When Bonded by Blood is the first band of the evening, each paying individual should be well aware of the night that is to follow. A perfect scene setter for everything that came after, Los Angeles’ Bonded by Blood is one of those rare acts who would have exactly the same amount of fun whether playing in front of 20 or 2,000. It is clear from the band’s raucous delivery that they enjoy playing their brand of thrash revival metal whether or not anyone is there to hear it.

Change happens so gradually it's hard to recognize the shift that's been made. Listening to “There Will Be Blood”, the immediate impression is that Dirge Within is a perfectly capable middle-of-the-road metal band. It's only when we stop and think that it becomes apparent how much metal has changed in the last thirty years. From the clinical guitar tones to the gruff shouting that encompasses most of the vocals, this is music that would have been extreme in the 80's, yet today it doesn't raise an eyebrow.

Being in a band that managed to establish a legacy is a blessing for a musician, and it can also be a curse. Once public opinion makes a verdict on your abilities, and your best works, it becomes nearly impossible for anyone to overcome those perceptions and establish a new reality. For Jeff Loomis, who for the last twenty years has been synonymous with Nevermore, everything he accomplishes both with this album and in the future will be seen through the filter of his previous band. Nevermore's breakup seemed inevitable.

There are no secrets here. Not that anyone expected there to be. Municipal Waste is an awful lot of things as a band, but subtle just plain isn’t one of them.

Their new album, “The Fatal Feast,” is sixteen cuts of punk-heavy thrash, and there are no other adjectives that can feasibly be used to describe the style of music. It is those things and nothing more or less.

In this era where nostalgia reigns supreme and everyone looks back with strained eyes in an attempt to dissect some heretofore uncovered golden nugget of wisdom, music is not immune to these effects. Since 2008, bands celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the rise of American thrash have gone back to the books, looking to temper their fire with long, discerning studies of trends long gone in hopes of resurrecting the past into the present.

He is the creator of beloved, fan-favorite shows like “Home Movies” and “Metalocalypse.” He is the man behind the phenomenon that is Dethklok, whom legions of fans dutifully keep up with and flock to their shows. He is the man in charge of the upcoming album “Galaktikon,” and probably has his hands full with six or seven others things, too. Mere mortals call him Brendon Small, and he and I had to chance to sit down and talk about a number of subjects, including music, career paths, television shows and trends, Iron Maiden and of course, horror.

Barren Earth – The Devil's Resolve

Countless bands have written songs and albums as an ode to the music they love. From Ronnie James Dio penning “Long Live Rock 'N Roll” during his stint with Rainbow, right through to the current classic metal revival, the psalm of metal solidarity has become almost a rite of passage for young bands. What is often unsaid is that underneath the love for heavy metal, the songs themselves usually offer nothing but an assortment of cliches.

The evening’s conflict had already been constructed before the first fan ever walked through the door. Paganfest 2012 was a tour set on answering a variation of the usual internet quandary concerning pirates and ninjas (on which my pro-ninja stance has been well documented.) Rather, the task for the evening was to settle the erstwhile grudge match between the two groups that were hosting the entire event. Who is superior? Pirates….or Vikings?