heavy metal

First and foremost, “Inner Monster Out” is not Brazilian heavy metal as we traditionally think of it. Loaded with melodic artistry and accessible structures, Shadowside ignores the looming legacy and idiomatic trappings of their countrymen such as Sepultura or Torture Squad. What is left in place is a sound more akin to a cross between Lacuna Coil and not-quite-Iron-Maiden. That comparison has surprisingly little to do with the fact that Shadowside, like Lacuna Coil, has a female lead singer.

Emerging from Wales, Anterior arrived on the scene in 2007 with their debut album "This Age of Silence." Critics worldwide credited the band's acumen, and heavy metal pundits were now watching Anterior closely on radar. Widespread touring in support of acts like The Black Dahlia Murder, DevilDriver and Dragonforce increased the band's notoriety, all underscored by their affiliation with Metal Blade Records.

Cover songs can be a tremendously difficult wire to walk. This is even more true when covering songs that are beloved in the eyes of the general public in their original incarnation.

“Shallow Bay” is a greatest hits album that represents the full catalogue of Breaking Benjamin. Now, it should be noted that includes both the good and bad parts of their legacy.

It’s also more than that. To obtain the deluxe edition of this release is to gain ownership of a double disc loaded for bear with rarities, live cuts, remixes, acoustic performances and all other manner of scattered musical ephemera.

The metal community has been waiting for the sophomore album of Black Tide ever since their debut was released. Everyone who was anyone, no matter their opinion of the album, was witness to the nearly limitless potential that Black Tide was harboring. Merely teens at the time of their first release, the band was considered in need of just a little refinement; a few minor tweaks, and Black Tide would join their inspirations (Metallica, Trivium, et al,) in the upper echelons of heavy metal's notoriety.

In 2002, I saw Soulfy and In Flames open for Slayer. Of the two openers, In Flames impressed me more, coming equipped with style, youth and engulfing passion. I was certain that In Flames was destined to become part of the heavy metal landscape for years to come, as were most other attendees and metal people on the whole.

There’s something about German power metal that sets it wide apart from all other manifestations of heavy metal; it is even different than the power metal from other European nations. The strong identity of Germany’s entry into the genre seems to be brewed from a combination of that country’s robust tales of yore and musical idiom inexorably entwined with baroque and opera.

Defining a band's legacy is always a difficult thing. In the case of the Indestructible Noise Command, that's made doubly difficult by a rise to seeming prominence followed by a label failure and then a more than two decade hiatus. Now, 2011 finds the INC back in business, a resurrected agent of a gone era faced with a new metal reality. I sat down with guitarist and creative force Erik Barath for some honest Q and A about being back, and what it took to get back.

If you thought Crowbar’s “Sever the Wicked Hand” was the shoe-in champ for “Most Vicious American Metal Album of 2011,” you might be well served by staying your judgment for a moment and taking a listen to this.

Sometimes, music is powerful enough that it can evoke mental images in the listener’s mind. While listening to Indestructible Noise Command’s “Heaven Sent, Hellbound,” a few pictures were clearly conjured in my brain. In no particular order, this album could be used as the soundtrack for:

1) A low-altitude napalm carpet bombing
2) A shotgun-wielding bank robbery

In the muddled quagmire of up-and-coming bands that is crowded with acts like Black Veil Brides and Motionless in White, there stands Lazarus A.D, an increasingly rare embodiment of the original tenets of American metal. Bred with speed and groove and forged in the heart of thrash's nuclear furnace, Lazarus A.D, represents the kind of ferocious fidelity to metal's principles that empirically seems to be from a bygone era.