If I didn't know any better, by listening to enough heavy music, I would swear that the gods of rock and roll are the same ones worshiped by the Vikings. Rarely have there been songs written about the Greek and Roman gods, not that they didn't have some twisted stories that could make for interesting heavy metal, but something about the Norse has made them to go-to deities for metal bands. Skálmöld takes up their heritage, as many others have, with a bombastic style that pays tribute to those gods, while making us all feel a little bit more like an avenging warrior along the way.
Metal bands are cannibalistic. I don't say that in the sense of a Cannibal Corpse lyric, but in the sense that it's hard to find new metal bands popping up that don't have members of already established bands in them. It seems like practically everyone plays in three or four bands, which is great for fans of those players, but not so much when it means every band begins to sound even more like every other band. The members of Asphyx have been guilty of this, populating their main band, along with Hail Of Bullets and Grand Supreme Blood Court, and now Soulburn.
Alternative rock, or what passes for it these days, is not something I keep apprised of, so much of the rock music the greater populace knows about are the sorts of bands that have slipped past my radar. Trail Of Dead, as I will shorten the name for the sake of my sanity, are one of those bands that for whatever reason I have never had the opportunity to experience. I have heard the name countless times, and it seems like I have known their music, but I haven't.
Machine Head are one of the few metal bands out there that make an attempt to be larger than life. Their music over the last few album cycles has tilted towards the epic, bringing back the scope and vision of when rock and metal was able to fill arenas. “The Blackening” is hailed as a modern classic, and Machine Head are one of the most talked about bands, even if the reason for it is not always positive.
There is no word scarier to most metal fans than 'pop'. The thought of pop music seeping in and destroying the heavy beauty of metal is one of the things that unites the majority of the metal universe, and it's one of the reasons metal has remained in the underground. Metal is not at all about embracing any of the themes or sounds that are popular, which means that when a band dares to do so, they are almost branded heretics by the faithful. Heavy guitars aren't supposed to be able to meld with synthesizers and drum loops, not without recalling the brutal horror of industrial slaughter.
I've been thinking that this year might mark the official death of melodic modern rock in the mainstream. Rock music hasn't had a true hit single in years, and most of the recent ones have been by either Nickelback or the Foo Fighters. Both of those bands have new singles on the airwaves, and their new contributions to rock and roll are both notable for their complete lack of melody.
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.