heavy metal

There is no discernible reason I should enjoy this album. There's nothing especially revolutionary about it, no novel innovations of musical genius, no genre-bending composition of elements, no inspired, emotive soliloquies to make one pick up an axe and return to the fray.

Yet, there's an inimitable something about Candlelight Red's can-do album that makes me unable to dislike it.

SHEAR’s new album “Breaking the Stillness” is a brazen attempt to blend as many oversized elements as possible into a tiny suitcase, and slam the lid closed before the contents eject chaotically around the room. Somewhere between 80’s synth arena rock, Scandinavian guitar metal and new era Euro power metal, this album is a lot of things to a lot of people and perhaps not everything to anyone. Whether you’re looking for a dense, instrument heavy headbanger or something recognizable and accessible for a road trip, this album can, oddly enough, serve both of your needs.

With the 1991 release of the Black Album, Metallica irrevocably changed both the course and public face of heavy metal. The genre was changing; evolving into a mass-marketed medium that was willing to sacrifice the high-speed tempos and thrash mentality that had carried the genre through much of the 1980's. In place of that idiom stood a sound that attempted to bridge the gap between Judas Priest and Slayer, Black Sabbath and Nuclear Assault. Metallica had established a tenuous beachhead on the precipice of both mainstream accessibility and superstardom.

With a name like "The Thousandfold Epicentre," it probably goes without saying that the new album from The Devil's Blood is not to be taken likely. I feel no shame in admitting to you that this review has taken me longer than any review I have ever composed. The album is a dense tapestry of elements both sanguine and chaotic, hypnotic and variable, fragile and durable. After the fifth time through this album, I looked back at my collected notes to see what thoughts I would put to paper.

Machine Head’s newest album, “Unto the Locust” is not an effort recommended for those succored by simplicity. Unlike the Deep Purple album that the band’s name invokes, this brand of American heavy metal is not for those looking for a hallucinogen-induced quadraphonic, two-four downbeat good time.

Bing Crosby. Andy Williams. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Mannheim Steamroller. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Austrian Death Machine? One of these names is clearly not in the same ballpark with the others (and no, it isn't the Choir.)

No one has ever quite been able to accurately explain to me what exactly Hollywood Undead is, what audience they’re shooting for, or what their message is. That’s not to say that these are rhetorical questions directed at the powers-that-be running the multiverse, but I’ve never been confronted with the answer. Are they just a rap rock band out of their decade? Are they self-effacing in some subtle way? I’m a man who loathes genre-fication, but I admit I’ve never been sure who this appeals to.

By now you're probably heard. Black Sabbath has announced that they will be reuniting in 2012 to play the eclectic Download festival, manage some kind of world tour, and record an album together for the first time in 33 years. They've launched a new website and have pledged to delve ito the world of social networking. Which strikes me as funny, only because we're talking about four sixty year old men who are generationally closer to Sonny and Cher than Bieber and Twitter.

The re-release (with additions) of the long-lost Cirith Ungol rare tracks album "Servants of Chaos" is as much an anthropological study of heavy metal as it is a celebration of the band's accomplishments.

It is curious to see the strata of early metal and progressive rock laid so bare before the eye of the beholder, particularly through the lens of a band that helped popularize those genres without sharing in their lasting legacy.

Death Angel is one of the oft-overlooked also-rans of the thrash movement of the early to mid 1980’s. Their name is spoken mostly in the dusty corners of memory, their legacy not as pronounced as so many of their musical kin. To mistake that somewhat faded glory for a lack of talent or acumen, and place Death Angel on the discard pile is a fool’s errand. Death Angel remains a vital and virulent band in this new millennium, and their performance as the first band on the stage was evidence enough that they remain hungry and capable.