Category Archives: Metal

WALKING BICYCLES RELEASE TWO NEW VIDEOS FOR “SO” AND “BADADA” ON YOUTUBE

walking-biycles_xray_digitalWalking Bicycles have two new videos up at Youtube for So and Badada.  Both songs are from their latest album and the videos incorporate live footage filmed at their record release show this past summer at the Empty Bottle in their hometown of Chicago.  The visuals capture the controlled chaos and intensity of Walking Bicycles, and the energy singer Jocelyn Moriarty gives out both onstage and in the studio.

Walking Bicycles balance noise and pop elements with cathartic dynamics and these two songs and accompanying videos are just a small sample of what the band are about.

Walking Bicycles released their latest album To Him That Wills The Way via their label Highwheel Records in August, their first in four years.  The band was forced into hiatus when guitarist/songwriter Julius Moriarty was sentenced to three years in prison on marijuana charges.  Moriarty opened up about his experiences with Noisey back in August.  It’s an inspiring read and it shows Moriarty and wife Jocelyn coming out of the experiences stronger for having been through them.

Walking Bicycles are currently working on tracks for a new album and I, for one, am excited to hear where the revitalized band is going next!

LINKS:
So video
Badada video
Noisey Interview
Highwheel Records
Highwire Daze Interview

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In Flames

siren-charmsSiren Charms by In Flames (Epic Records)

There’s plenty of bands that started out metal and went on to something else: The Gathering turned their back on metal adding influences from Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins to their style, Anathema evolved into a more atmospheric rock band and Cynic turned into a progressive, ambient, jazz, rock amalgam that is a thrill to hear. On their two most recent albums Opeth channels pastoral and psychedelic bands of old without losing their own past heaviness. And there are plenty of bands that incorporate pop elements into their metal.  In Flames want to be catchy and accessible and metal all at the same time.  After two decades of causing neck damage they continue to experiment with textures, vocal approaches and rhythms searching for that one (or, hopefully, an album’s worth) great pop metal song.

in-flames-2014-640x400On Siren Charms  the band sounds eager to bring in new ears. In Plain View balances heavy & hard with a softer side in Anders Friden’s varied vocals, swinging from anguished clean singing to gut-punching screaming in the chorus, it’s all crisp and shiny and razor sharp.  Everything Is Gone combines several tempos, Daniel Svensson showing off his skills, speed punk one second, double bass kicks the next, then slamming into an all-out brutal metal part.  Paralyzed sounds like In Flames’  version of a post-apocalyptic love ballad with Orjan Ornkloo’s buzzing synths and Friden’s singing about being out on our own in a wasteland.

With Eyes Wide Open begins with harmonized guitars leading to a very catchy rock ballad, the keyboards way in the background, Friden singing clear and strong, Bjorn Gelotte and Niclas Engelin’s guitars shining through for maximum uplift.  When Worlds Collide remind you In Flames can do dangerous and they don’t disappoint. Swedish opera singer Emilia Feldt joins in with her sexy croon and angelic fills to add a sense of wonder.

Creeping up towards the end of Siren Charms, on Monsters In The Ballroom, In Flames tempers what’s mainly a soaring and heroic rock song with screamed vocals and chugging and harmonized guitar riffs. The crunchiness and double kick drum finale is especially satisfying for the headbanging.  To wrap up the album, Filtered Truth features Peter Iwers’ bass, carrying the melody along with Ornkloo’s keyboards, Friden screaming about the rage inside as the guitars and drums burn and crash.

In Flames will be on the Siren Communion Tour with Red Fang and Opeth this winter and will play the Hollywood Palladium on December 9th.

(Review by Bret Miller)

LINKS:
Inflames.com
Facebook
Twitter

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Slipknot

greychapter1.5: The Gray Chapter by Slipknot
(Roadrunner Records)

Slipknot

What can one say about them? Since their break into the music scene in 1999 with their genre changing Self Titled album, to the extremely sadistic Iowa, toning it down a few years later with Vol 3. The Subliminal Versus, to the there amazing comeback in 2009 with All Hope is Gone many people have asked what more they could do? With the death of beloved bassist and co-founder Paul Gray in 2010, and the departure of powerhouse drummer Joey Jordison in late 2013, many, including myself thought the band was finished and over with. I can’t even tell you how wrong we were.

A few months back after the drama had subsided, all of Slipknot’s social media had literally, gone black. There was nothing. Out of nowhere random words started to be posted. With this tease everyone began to regain hope that the Knot would return. On August 1st 2014, the nay Sayers sure had to bite their own tongue with the release of their first song in 5 years, The Negative One. Every Slipknot album to date has been extremely different from one another each having its own special factors. With the release of only one song, The Negative One takes every aspect of Slipknot that we all love and crams it into one song. The pure energy emitting from the lyrics sparks feelings of anger and sadness almost instantly. After a few more weeks, a music video was released for the first official single of the new album; along with a music video for the song The Devil In I which metaphorically punched everybody in the face. With heavy riffs to strong and meaningful lyrics the first single of the album is sure to make every new and old Slipknot fan happy. The music video also features two new members on bass and drums, the identities of which are still to this day unknown, and Slipknot plans to keep it that way. Although the bassist has been pretty much guaranteed, we will keep the name to ourselves out of respect to Slipknot.

A lot of times when reviewing an album it is hard to get through, not because the music is bad, but because ever so often the music sounds so repetitive and the same as the bands last album. With the release of Slipknot’s fifth album .5: The Gray Chapter, it is sure to shock everyone. This record has given me no trouble in writing about it due to how solid it is from start to finish.

slipknot2014The first song  XIX is more of an intro into the album. With bagpipes and what sounds like solders marching in the background, Vocalist Corey Taylor sings with such grief and anger that it immediately puts you in the mood to listen to a Slipknot album. With lyrics such as “Nothing appeals to me, no one feels like me, I’m to busy being calm to disappear”, the song is a perfect intro in the record.  Continuing with the slow sounding intro but this time with a soft guitar riff the second song Sarcastrophe begins, after a few seconds a powerful distorted band comes in. With a particularly impressive drum fill (WHO IS IT?!), the band comes in with a fast paced classic Slipknot riff. The emotion that comes to mind with Sarcastrophe is panic. The intense screams of Corey Taylor and the riffs by guitarists James Root and Mick Thomson, this song will definitely hit you in a way you would never imagine.

In the middle of the album a song by the name of Skeptic plays. This song is most likely very special to the band because it is obviously about Paul Gray. With lyrics such as “There will never be another crazy mother fucker like you” and “You were the best of us,” a dedication to Paul Gray this song surely is.

A song that stood out to me that was particularly different was Killpop. Emitting emotions of grieving, sadness and depression, you really hear the pain that this band is feeling. Towards the end of the album you hear some truly classic heavy Slipknot with my two favorite songs, Custer and Nomadic. These two songs really bring the band together as a whole. These two songs really bring the remaining members into the picture. With percussionists Chris Fein and Shawn “Clown” Crahan, and DJ’s Sid Wilson and Craig Jones, these two songs scream aggression. Going all the way back two Iowa, which many say is Slipknot’s most aggressive and heavy album, these two songs are as hardcore Slipknot as it gets. Prepare to go crazy when you hear them. Sid Wilson and Craig Jones surely add a side of crazy to this album. Any band can be 2 guitars a drummer and a bassist, but with these two it brings a sense of insanity to the music that helps define what Slipknot truly is.

All in all, Slipknot’s fifth album .5: The Gray Chapter is absolutely perfect. Front to back this album puts you through every emotion that is possible to feel. I will say that a lot of people were worried that the new drummer, who ever he (or she?) is, would not be able live up to Joey Jordisons style. Let me assure you that although it is not Joey, whoever this guy is the perfect choice besides Joey. This record takes old and new Slipknot and puts it together in sweet, sweet harmony. With amazingly heavy songs, heartfelt lyrics this will take you through a wild ride. When listening to the album, don’t be bitter because its not him, because trust me, this guy is great. .5: The Gray Chapter hits stores on October 21st. Be prepared for a ride through hell and back. This album will not disappoint and makes me proud to be a Slipknot fan.

(Review by Edward Brandon)

Slipknot on Facebook

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Exodus

exodus coverBlood In, Blood Out by Exodus (Nuclear Blast Records)

The tenth studio album by Exodus grabs you by the throat and throws you into the mosh pit from the opening minutes of their new album Blood In, Blood Out.  Guitarist and leader Gary Holt has paired down the Exodus sound and this is their best album in years, if not their whole career.  While Exodus hasn’t enjoyed the success of some of their peers they have sold over five million records in their 34 year career and they continue to create compelling and complex metal that is both visceral and violent and a whole lot of head-banging fun.  Original singer Steve “Zetro” Souza also returns to the fold bringing even more energy to the songs that Holt had written.  Souza’s vocals are a thrill to hear, as he wails, growls, chants and raps his way through the songs.  Sparks fly off the guitars of Holt and Lee Arbus, solos attack  you like the chest-bursting Alien, Jack Gibson’s bass sounds like he’s using bridge support wires and Tom Hunting excels at both a fast punk beat and the slower tempos, a powerhouse of a drummer.  Kirk Hammett offers a guitar solo for the anthemic Salt The Wound, Testament’s Chuck Billy roars over the end of BTK.

(Photo by Bruce Getty)

(Photo by Bruce Getty)

On Black 13, the title track, Salt the Wound, Body Harvest  and the rest of the album the band play like men half their age, seemingly revitalized and ready to prove to themselves, if not the rest of the world they’ve still got what it takes to blow minds and speakers.  This is driving music, metal to kick-start your heart, audio defribullators to remind you you’re alive.

Exodus get more complex  in their arrangements for the second half of the album, slowing down only a little, crafting a convoluted yet powerful middle section for Wrapped in the Arms of Rage, with also features many awesome guitar leads.  Food For The Worms is how you’ll feel after being battered and bruised by the last song on Blood In, Blood Out, a go-for-broke song that alternates between stupid fast beats and heaviosity that still remains accessible.

Blood In, Blood Out is a career high for Exodus, joining  fellow thrashers Testament and Anthrax who have both recently released their best albums to date.

(Review by Bret Miller)

LINKS:
Exodus’s website
Facebook
Nuclear Blast
YouTube

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Heliosaga

towersinthedistanceTowers In The Distance by Heliosaga (Self-released)

One chance encounter with Heliosaga, and you would thoroughly believe this collective to be the next great European symphonic metal band in the grand tradition of Nightwish and After Forever.  Surprisingly, Heliosaga hail from the Midwestern town of Isanti, MN – clearly showing that Europe does not hold a monopoly on one of the most magical sub-genres in the metal arena.

Towers In The Distance by Heliosaga is a stunning collection of songs that will set the imagination in flight, complete with emotional operatic vocals and wondrously imaginative musicianship. You’d have to go as far back as the vastly underrated Aesma Daeva to find an American symphonic metal band so vibrant and inspiring.

heliosaga2014The glorious adventure begins with the epic A Tower So Tall, where one immediate notices the gorgeous lead vocals of Chelsea Knaack weaving gracefully through the fiery metal soundscapes. Scarlet Sphere is so vast and memorable, one could imagine the track all over radio airwaves – if stations ever played anything this sweeping and mystical. Lost then rages at the listener with a feral intensity that will tingle the senses.

Hideaway is a power ballad that has the operatic vocals spiraling into the stratosphere – such a wonderful showcase for all musicians on this evocative piece. To Heal All Wounds then sends Heliosaga into sonic overdrive with its bombastic melodies and hard rocking dynamics. Memorativa will haunt the senses with its tragic opulence permeating throughout.

Hunter’s Moon cleverly shows a mixture of classical music and driving metal that should capture the hearts of many a music aficionado. Edenscar is sure to have the genre fans waving the metal fists high in the air while Luminary is destined to enrapture all who encounter its darkly enchanted reprieves. The grand finale then commences with the staggering unleashing of All Souls, showing true artists at the very height of their creative genius.

Towers In The Distance by Heliosaga present an intriguing magnum opus that connects with its audience on a deeply personal level. Chelsea Knaack’s vocal performance is captivating, ranking right up there with the likes of Tarja Turunen and Vibeke Stene. The guitar artistry of Damien Villarreal is absolutely adventurous, leading the material into such majestic heights. Jordan Ames delivers a tremendously solid performance on drums. Bass guitar tracks were recorded by Chad Novell (Fibonacci Sequence) and a guest guitar solo was performed by Gilbert Pot (Elegy). Superb tech credits include Michael Hansen (Phonomik, Chainfist) handling the mix at Phon Studio and Jacob Hansen (Epica, Volbeat) supplying mastering duties at Hansen Studios. With a debut this magnificent, it will be exciting to see what the future has in store for the monumental Heliosaga.

(Review by Ken Morton)

Heliosaga on Facebook

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Meshuggah

meshuggah i coverI (Special Edition) by Meshuggah (Nuclear Blast Records)

Ten years ago this past summer Meshuggah released the 21 minute epic I to commemorate the beginning of their friend Jason Popson’s Fractured Transmitter label. While fans are hungrily awaiting the next Meshuggah full length, we’ve got this re-release of I to sate us. As disjointed as the various parts may have been prior to mixing, they all sound of a single ear-melting piece. The band didn’t have to appeal to their present label, given release for one song to support Popson, the band still had the pressure to continue to impress their fans.  Every member an imaginative musician, I feels like classic Meshuggah: downtuned guitars and insane solos, harsh vocals, the percussion of three men in one, multiple rhythms and tempos and movements within songs among other elements. Turn it up loud and revel in the ambient guitar string plucking, followed by double-bass kicks, guitars locked into tight circles leading to a chugging and angry section, then a slow yet menacing guitar segment building to a futuristic “protecting the world from extinction” vibe that would make Geddy Lee smile.

Also included in this special edition is a live version of Bleed, taken from their 2012-13 tour.  The band play with such precision I wonder if they’ve been bionically augmented to be able to keep up their style of playing. Dancers To A Discordant System follows, also from the same tour and released last year as a free promotional release for Scion. Dancers is a slower song yet no less thrilling for it, the band playing variations of the same riff, the groups coming to an agreement at the halfway point then getting down to a truly godlike headbanging session for the ending, mountains crumpling at the power.  Pitch Black ties up the EP. Recorded in 2003 and previously released on the Scion download with Dancers, Pitch Black reveals a more accessible yet still brutal side of Meshuggah.  beginning with a downtuned guitar chug accompanied by tribal drum tattoo, mysterious guitars pluck in the shadows, Jens Kidman’s vocals a smoky and subtle chanting, a guitar solo crashes down, at first sounding like a hard jazz saxaphone.  Later, the quiet segment features a guitar part that is bluesy and played with soul. Then to bring it all to a destructive conclusion, the band combines performances from all the previous parts for one serious pit-stomping party.

(by Bret Miller)

LINKS
www.meshuggah.net
facebook

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Twilightfall

energyofcover1The Energy of Soul by Twilightfall (Svarga Music)

Twilightfall is a melodic death metal collective based out of the Ukraine, featuring a former member of the notorious Nokturnal Mortum within their ranks. Guitarist / vocalist Wortherax played lead guitar on Nokturnal Mortum’s legendary Lunar Poetry and Twilightfall releases and has made appearances in noted Ukrainian bands such as Munruthel and Khors.  Fans of old school In Flames and Children Of Bodom will be thoroughly enraptured by the dynamic compositions Twlightfall has to bestow to the world. The Energy of Soul is the triumphant debut for Twilightfall – a stunning collection of songs that will envelope your senses with it’s heavy yet majestic reprieves.

The magnum opus rages into supersonic gear with the staggering title cut The Energy of Soul, demonstrating at once the supreme musicianship to found within the Twilightfall experience. Spirits of Ancestors is spiraling and mystical, weaving intrigue throughout the powerful European death metal soundscapes. A Mirror of Dreams and Reality continues the spellbinding odyssey followed by the epic sonic declarations to be discovered within Welcome To New Day.

twilightfallphoto1Your Chance will make the listener want to wave their fists in the air and jump into the nearest mosh pit. Go A Long Way To Each will haunt the senses with its gorgeous serenity merging into a sweeping wall of intensive sound. The grand finale then commences with the magnificent Storm leaving a lasting impression upon all heavy metal adventurers.

The musicians who present the Twilightfall manifesto include the aforementioned Wortherax on guitars and vocals, Aywar on guitars, Odalv on drums, and Freyr on bass. Svarga Music may also be counted upon to present the very best in extreme metal from the Ukraine, and with The Energy of Sound by Twilightfall, the label has issued a genre classic that many will wish to revisit throughout the grand and glorious metal ages ahead.

(Review by Ken Morton)

Twilightfall on Facebook

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Zgard

contemplation1Contemplation by Zgard (Svarga Music)

There’s black metal, there’s Pagan metal, there’s epic metal – and then there’s the grand and majestic tapestries of the mighty Zgard -combining the three influences, coming up with a masterwork that is absolutely stunning to behold.  Contemplation is the fourth magnum opus presented by Zgard from the mystical and troubled Ukraine, seven absolutely visionary tracks that will set your imagination in flight. Yaromisl is the mastermind behind Zgard, and the compositions he has bestowed upon the world at large present a thrilling auditory odyssey that you’ll want to revisit time and again.

After the freezing winds and haunting chants prepare you for the sonic perils ahead, Contemplation opens with the gigantic refrains of Highlands, enrapturing the listener with its sheer magnificence and vibrancy. It is then time to ring the Underworld Bells, a sweeping track that will transport you to the darkest of places with its absolutely cinematic refrains.

zgard2014_1The title track Contemplation is then unveiled, a staggering epic where spoken word and intensive vocals are mixed with a mesmerizing wall of sound. Wedge Of Cranes soars into the stratosphere with its captivating sense of intrigue, complete with thunderous guitars and assorted exotic instruments.

An ominous reprieve is then found within Silence, an instrumental piece demonstrating an ambient side to the Zgard experience. Incarnation Memory then places the metal into overdrive, where bombastic choirs, impassioned vocals, and even more folk instruments render this track a celebrated standout. And then closing out the spellbinding journey is Through The Forest, commanding and ambitious in scope, showing a true artist at the very height of his creative prowess.

One of the most exciting entities within the Ukrainian metal scene and beyond, Zgard is sure to fascinate music aficionados all across the world with the splendid Contemplation. An underground classic of epic proportions, Contemplation is sure to wind up on more than a few Top Ten lists when 2014 spins to its conclusion, It will be exciting to see what adventures Yaromisl and Zgard has in store for us all next…

(Review by Ken Morton)

Zgard on Facebook

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ACCU§ER

Who Dominates Who? 2014 cover art

Who Dominates Who? 2014 cover art

Who Dominates Who? (2014 version) by ACCU§ER (Red Shift Records)

The triumphant comeback for the mighty thrash metal collective ACCU§ER continues to rage on with an all-out vengeance. And now, we look to the days of the past – 25 years ago to be exact – the underground classic Who Dominates Who? was originally unleashed in 1989 – and remains highly regarded as crucial thrash metal. In modern day 2014, the German ACCU§ER has chosen to re-issue Who Dominates Who? on this significant anniversary – and not only did they remix the original recording – but they revisited each of the songs, presenting all new versions that are wondrous to behold. So we have both editions of Who Dominates Who? in one single package – rendering this one absolutely required listening for all thrash metal connoisseurs looking for a collectable they’ll want to replay time and again.

Who Dominates Who? 1989 cover art

Who Dominates Who? 1989 cover art

Two of ACCU§ER’s very best are featured on this special release – the relentless Master Of Disaster and the scathing Who Pulls The Wire? remain two of the most compelling tunes the genre has to offer, and in a remarkable contrast, both versions dazzle the senses with their vibrant intensity. Another grand standout is the driving Bastard, heading straight at the listener causing a sonic version of blunt force trauma. Comparing all 9 tracks both old and new is pretty exciting, resulting in an exhilarating auditory experience that is not to be missed!

accuser1The combustible new version of Who Dominates Who? has been newly recorded by the current line-up with producer Martin Buchwalter (Destruction, Suidakra, Perzonal War) at the helm. This is the chance for fans to get the songs with Frank Thoms on vocals, who was the guitarist on the original album. Included in the release is the old as well as new artwork, rendering this double CD a must have for thrash metal fans all across the world. Be sure to check into this, and the many other ACCU§ER releases, and get ready to bang your head into the realms of oblivion and beyond.

The 21 Century ACCU§ER assault force consists of Frank Thoms on vocals and guitar, Dennis Rybakowski on guitar, Frank Kimpelon bass, and Oliver Fechner on drums. Here’s hoping the mighty ACCU§ER make their way to their States one day!

(Review by Ken Morton)

ACCU§ER on Facebook

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Fallujah

fallujahcd2The Flesh Prevails by Fallujah (Unique Leader Records)

An absolutely staggering work of magnificent artistry and sheer ambition, The Flesh Prevails by Fallujah unleashes death metal at its most devastating. Atmospheric and enigmatic, The Flesh Prevails is an all-out epic – a grand assault to the senses that will leave the serious music aficionado wanting to experience a whole lot more. The follow-up to their well-received debut Harvest Wounds, The Flesh Prevails is a blistering triumph that should place Fallujah firmly within the ranks of the metal elite. The controlled instrumental chaos and scathing vocal attack are wondrous to behold, sending all nine of the tracks soaring into the stratosphere.

fallujah2014_2The fantastic journey commences with the dazzling Starlit Path, where an ominous overture explodes into a tirade of progressive madness and intrigue. Carved From Stone then slams through your psyche with its ferocious reprieves and unforgiving atmospherics. The Night Reveals is spiraling and technical, with searing vocals and superb musicianship from all sonic Fallujah travelers.

Title track The Flesh Prevails is mostly instrumental, derived from the most threatening of dreams, followed by the relentless pummeling of the mesmerizing Levitation. Alone With You serves as a diabolically sensual overture to the gorgeously lethal soundscapes of Allure. And then the final compositions Sapphire and Chemical Cave demonstrate a band at the very height of their creative prowess – a thunderous one-two punch of massive proportions that is nothing short of astounding.

Based out of the wildly diverse San Francisco music scene, the sonic jihad known as Fallujah consists of Alex Hofmann on vocals, Scott Carstairs on guitars, Brian James on guitars, Robert Morey on bass, and Andrew Baird on drums. Currently on the Summer Slaughter Tour supporting none other than Morbid Angel and Dying Fetus, Fallujah is destined to leave their mark on metalheads all across the country, and are imaginative enough to appeal to an even wider audience.   An exciting collective we are sure to hear a lot more in the months ahead, Fallujah and their compelling symphonies of the extreme are not to be missed!

(Review by Ken Morton)

Fallujah on Facebook

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