heavy metal

It's been a long and twisted road since "Calculating Infinity," hasn't it?

"Option Paralysis," the newly released work from mathcore veterans and acquired taste The Dillinger Escape Plan, is an attempt to get back some of what the band has lost over time.

The idea behind east coast thrash metallers Arsis is a good one. With “Starve for the Devil” the band has attempted to bridge the gap between European style artistic metal and American-born biting, ugly metal. The end result gets caught in the tug of war between the two ideologies and never really bursts through to meld them creatively.

You know what my favorite Fear Factory album is? Demanufacture. Do you know why? Because that album is explosive but rhythmic, deadly and passionate while still crafted and artful.

For all their metal bravado and reputation, Fear Factory's strongest asset has always been their secret ability to balance ferocity and fragility. They used to be able to precariously dance on the precipice of "too much," all the while performing a both destructive and inventive form of heavy metal.

Born from the combined talents of current and former members of Amorphis, Swallow the Sun and Kreator, Barren Earth is a unification of Finnish metal veterans making an album.

The first thing I noticed is the satisfaction the band has taken in the product they've created. That can be a hard thing to detect in a recorded release, but there's something about Barren Earth's "Curse of the Red River" that screams pride. They believe in every note, every tone, every growled word.

- First and Foremost, the somewhat somber news late last week that Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy is finishing off recording tracks for the new Avenged Sevenfold album. This of course comes following the news of The Rev's passing a couple months ago. The show must go on, I suppose.

I admit this is not what I thought it would be.

From hearing the description and reading the band’s press release, I truly expected Abscess’ new effort “Dawn of Inhumanity” to be a mess. I thought it would be visceral and unrefined; a slogging pile of steaming metaphor and brutal imagery.

Evaluating an Overkill album is at this point much the same operation as evaluating an AC/DC album. If you like one, you’ll like them all. So for me, it’s more a question of how much I like the album relative to other Overkill efforts. I’m always curious to see what new minor cosmetic tweaks the band has made ever since finding their stride with “The Years of Decay” in 1989. Much the same as their American thrash contemporaries over the past two or so years, Overkill does not disappoint with their newest release, “Ironbound.”

I can tell you all right now that I am going to run out of superlatives for this show and these musicians. You had to be there. That’s really the short of it.

Before I get too far, the opening act was New York City natives The Brought Low, and if you like Wolfmother, they're worth a look. There's talent to be had in this band. They played a tight set and did a fine job keeping the crowd warm. Moving on.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to see Motograter live before they truly hit the skids and disintegrated as a band. At the time, I remember thinking that Ivan Moody was one of the more energetic, if not entirely charismatic, frontmen that I had seen. His mixture of intensity and grit was a sight to behold. So, with the chance to see him again, this time without body paint and singing for the power quintet Five Finger Death Punch, I was really looking forward to what the night would entail.

This just didn't work out.

Serj Tankian went to all the trouble of getting his hands on a full orchestra to recreate his solo album "Elect the Dead"...and then didn't have them do anything.