Over the years, KISS has done a better job of tearing down their own legacy than any critic ever could. Through their capitalist machinations, and the never-ending torrent of insults directed at everyone who is no longer in the band, KISS has become the traveling freak show that critics in the 70s accused them of being. It's difficult to even talk about KISS with a straight face anymore, since even the band refuses to admit their own importance in the grand scheme of things.
In recent years, there has been a rash of nostalgia, and the first wave of every metal genre has roared back to life with new, and mostly well-received, albums. In the world of death metal, there have been mistakes (Morbid Angel, anyone?), but the majority of the old guard has been producing some of their best albums since the mid 90s. Obituary never really went away, but like all of the bands of their time, they got swallowed up by the waves of new genres that came along in the new millennium.
Twenty-five years is an eternity. It's an entire generation that has come and gone, and that is how long it's been since Sanctuary has released an album. Their two records from the late 80's are underground classics, but the band is best known for what they became; Nevermore. It was that band that was able to break through and become one of the bigger names in metal, and it's that band that would make the bigger splash by returning at this time. Instead, Sanctuary has gone back in time to pick up where they left off, as though the last twenty years had never happened.
Metalcore has always been a bit of a shotgun wedding. There was no reason that screamed verses and cleanly sung choruses were supposed to be put together, not to mention becoming the blueprint for an entire genre of music. Very few of the metalcore bands have ever been able to make a compelling case for why their music isn't the musical equivalent of the TV show “Chopped”, with random ingredients thrown together for the sake of seeing what could be made of them.
Six years after the world did its darnedest to implode, it's not surprising that we are in the midst of a doom revival. Though seminal bands like Cathedral and Candlemass have called it a day (the latter I'm skeptical of), doom is pumping strong in the metal underground. Bands like Electric Wizard and Sun O))) garner all manner of critical acclaim, and while doom is never going to barn-storm the charts, the scene is healthier than it has been in ages, because we are living in the aftermath of shattered dreams.
For all the great bands and historical impact the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal had, I have to say that it's a subset of metal that I never had much experience with. Aside from Iron Maiden, most of that entire generation exists in my mind as academic notes I have read about, not altogether unlike peering through the fossil record. So when a new band comes along that promises to revisit the sound and feeling of that time, I'm not sure what to think, since I don't have an opinion on the original.
When bands like High On Fire, who lead the way in the world of sludgy stoner metal, get praised to the hilt, I'm often left confused as to what it is I'm missing out on. That particular brand of metal, with fuzzed out guitars and riffs upon riffs, taps into the primal need for heaviness that so many metal fans have, but seldom shows the care for songwriting that I dare say is necessary, no matter how heavy your band is. Stoner metal is called that for a reason, because it was long noted that being in an altered state was necessary to either play or enjoy so much of it.
Certain phrases don't appear to make any sense. We hear them, and even without letting our minds pour over the intricacies language can convey, we instinctively know there's something wrong with them. I'm reminded of this as I prepare to listen to Khold's “Til Endes”. The album is described, in the accompanying literature, as 'groove-laden black metal', which is one of those things that doesn't sound like it should be. Black metal is the antithesis of groove, a frosty concoction of pain and misery, with no time or patience for such endearing qualities as 'groove'.
Most people wouldn't know it by looking at me, but half of my heritage comes from Poland. Knowing that fact, you might think that I would taken at least a passing interest in the music scene from that country, but that isn't the least bit true. Poland has not been a leading exporter of music I would want to listen to, but the fact that Decapitated comes from one of my ancestral homelands is enough to at least pique my curiosity.