I may be a bit premature in saying this, but I think that the best Black Sabbath album to be released this year will not come from Black Sabbath, but from the Black Sabbath inspired band Orchid. If I didn’t know any better I would swear that their new album, The Mouths of Madness, was released in the 1970s in between the bevy of other iconic Black Sabbath albums and Ozzy was just trying out a new vocal style. From the riffs, the grooves, song structures, down even to the cover art that definitely has a Master of Reality crossed with Vol. 4 look to it, this album is pure Sabbath. And with such blatant stylistic similarities to the fathers of metal, you would imagine that a band could never reach the heights that Black Sabbath did during their peak. Well, if The Mouths of Madness was a legit Black Sabbath album, it would rank as one of my all time favorites up there with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and the landmark self-titled album. And coming from the huge Black Sabbath fan I am, that’s saying quite a lot.
Not much of an intro to write here other than here are some really great albums that have come out in 2013 that I’ve been digging on that are available on Spotify. It’s a bit of a mixed bag without any rhyme, order, or reason (much like my music listening habits), some underground stuff, some popular stuff. Maybe there’s something here you overlooked or never heard of. Enjoy and give a shout out to any 2013 albums on Spotify you’ve been digging on!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
This interesting tidbit was sent to us some weeks ago and while not the most ‘metal’ thing in the world, maybe some of you out there will get a kick out of it, I know I did. Basically it’s a trilogy of E.P.s by an instrumental band called Robot Monkey Arm which pay homage to great film scores like the ones you would hear in a Spaghetti Western, ’70s Exploitation Flick, or cheesy Sci-Fi movie. The band doesn’t do exact covers, but instead uses the atmospheres of the scores to create some cool atmospheres in their original scores. In the music you get an eclectic mix of metal, funk, prog, surf rock, chiptune, and jazz, and it’s all a damn good time on each tune. My favorite of the bunch is a tune called “Cinema Vomitif” where there is this whole ‘James Bond does Mortal Kombat in Hell after ingesting a couple tabs of blotter acid’ feel to it.
So, if you dig movie scores, especially those of the ’60s and ’70s, and experimental music, do give this E.P. Trilogy a listen. And as always, if you dig it pass the good word onto your buddies and stuff. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Two years ago when my ear drums caught the crunchy Satanic grooves of Ghost’s debut album Opus Eponymous it was a bit of a musical revolution for me. First off, there was just no band that I had known about making modern music like them with that heavy 70′s vibe mixed with Black Sabbath style doom metal and a generous sprinkling of Mercyful Fate. The right amounts of heaviness and catchiness won me over immediately and to this day Opus Eponymous is one of my most frequented haunts at minimum getting a playthrough a week. Second off is the lyrical content. Ghost sings about Satan and Satanism pretty much to the point where it’s so over the top it becomes absurd and humorous. You can’t help but chuckle at how they were able to twist the words of the Our Father prayer into an Our Satan prayer on the tune “Ritual” or how they turn the much used Christian phrase ‘Stand By Him’ into meaning ‘Stand by Satan’. And they do all this with a perfectly straight-face trying to make you believe that they are serious in their Satanism, but you know deep down, they aren’t. And that is where I find the real fun in the genius of Ghost, if you give a listen to any Christian or faith filled band you will also easily hear how over-the-top it is with all of cheesy Biblical quotes and professing that ‘God’ is the only way and yadda yadda yadda. It’s such a fun little parallel. Finally there is the contrast of their themes and their musical output. On one hand you could call Ghost a metal band, but since there is a crap-ton of pop influence by way of bands like ABBA one does have to question Ghost’s metal cred. That contrast of super hammy yet infectious melodies and tunes to the super Satanic themes creates such a contrast that one has to wonder how it even works in the first place, let alone find an audience that could bring popularity to the band. Though one would think that the metal fans would find them too soft and poppy for metal stardom and the pop fans find their Satanic themes a bit too dark. Oddly enough, they did find an audience with this contrast as they became one of the biggest rising stars in the metal realm gaining big support from fellow metal artists like James Hetfield and Phil Anselmo and in the pop scene gaining lots of coverage in big name publications like Rolling Stone.
If there is one band I really can’t stand, it’s The Police (though I will say Stewart Copeland is a sick drummer). Sting’s vocals I find beyond annoying and the amount that they rip-off Bob Marley riffs is staggering, but all to many popular bands with bad vocals and c/p-ed riffs to verbatim exist and they don’t annoy me as much as The Police. What really irks me about the band is underneath all of the crap I can’t stand, exist some wonderfully well written songs that have massive potential if only the obscuring rust were to be scraped away. So in turn, when a band does a cover of a Police song, I usually end up enjoying it immensely, cause ya know, good songwriting and all. Which brings me to my #4 favorite cover song, “Message in a Bottle”.
Robb Flynn and Co. simply just rock this song hard. Doing away with all the fluff, Machine Head bring “Message in a Bottle” to its core and the impact the song has is infinitely more powerful and meaningful. A song about desperation and need of help just doesn’t work with an upbeat light rock feel, but when you metal it up some the whole of the tune hits like a well-directed punch to the gut. I particularly enjoy that dreamy echo on the low-key guitars in the intro and how well the song just explodes into an outburst of emotion when the pre-chorus hits. Some damn fine cover work. Check it out! Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
Machine Head Version:
Original Police Version:
Really? How does Clutch do it? For a band I’ve been a rather huge fan since I got my hands on their eponymous titled 2nd album the Maryland quartet has only slightly disappointed me once over the course of another 9 albums (while I dig it enough, I feel that their previous album Strange Cousins from the West, was a drop in overall song quality), various EPs, and a multitude of live records. I can think of no other band that is able to maintain such a long running, strong consistency to the quality of their music and at the same time keep a consistent style and sound that somehow evolves from record to record (well Opeth maybe, but that is debatable). And so, here we are at album number ten, and to be honest, I was a little worried that maybe they peaked on From Beale St. to Oblivion and would just churn out good, but not f’n great albums like Strange Cousins… from there on in. Boy, was I wrong. The aptly titled Earth Rocker is an absolute beast of an album and serves perfectly as the landmark album number ten from the hard rockers. Acting almost as a self homage to themselves, Earth Rocker takes the many quirks from all of the bands previous records and rolls them into one big fattie and a side of brews leading to one of Clutch’s absolute strongest records to date. You’ll find the fat grooves of Elephant Riders, the humor of Pure Rock Fury, the heaviness of Transitional Speedway League and the self titled album, the songwriting strength of Blast Tyrant, the oddness of Robot Hive/Exodus, and the bombast of Beale St. All with that trademark Appalachian blues sound Clutch has trademarked and performs so well. If this overly long opening paragraph isn’t enough to convince you to buy Earth Rocker, read on brother (sister), read on.
A bit over a year ago I stumbled upon a blog called Blood & Banjos, and with a name like that, how could I not stop and check it out. Upon reading one of the first few posts that they had I quickly learned that the blog was to be a chronicle of the creation of an album from its inception to its finish. The original idea for the record was conjured in the brain of project leader Mike Lindsay during a casual conversation between friends when the idea of making an album that combined the visceral, raw sound of black metal with the conservationists passion for bluegrass music. The churning mental gears quickly gave way to Mike starting up the project of seriously making an attempt at this daunting task of combining polar opposites of the musical spectrum. Blood & Banjos were born.
Throughout the year I kept up reading this blog, as a look into what goes into writing, recording, and conceptualizing an album from start to finish was quite interesting to me personally and seeing it being done by a group of regular Joes and not the usual ‘big rock star’ album chronicles piqued my interest further. Then there’s the fact that they were not just creating your usual metal album, but quite an experimental take on it, my interest went through the roof. As time went on and their posts on concepts and brief histories into the styles of music went on things started to shift from concepts and ideas towards actual songs being created. Very neat stuff, and being the cool dude he is, Mike took the time to listen to the comments people were leaving on his blog and even embraced a few ideas for specific song sections I threw his way when he went to post up the next demo recordings. The fact that Mike had the management capacity to be able to make recordings with his group of musicians and collaborators scattered all across the USA and EU was very neat to observe also.
Now, some of you may be thinking that the whole black metal/bluegrass combo has already been done, and quite well I might add, by the one man band Panopticon on his album Kentucky. While this may be true, what really grabs me about the Blood & Banjos project is the angle they are approaching the concept from. Instead of going for the intensely deep side bluegrass and metal like Panopticon did, they are putting the focus on the fun side of the genres. Almost resembling a Broadway spectacle, the album will tell the tale of a simple Appalachian family man named Abram Stone who has been deceived by Satan into believing only himself and his banjo can prevent the coming of the anti-Christ and the coming Apocalypse. The town’s mayor and townsfolk stand in his way and inevitable violence of mass proportion ensues. Amazing concept if you ask me, and B&B take it a step further by taking the time to actually cast various musicians and singers to fill the various roles in the story.
So after a bit over a year of conceptualizing and writing, Blood & Banjos have finished the first phase of production and have even released some awesome demos (you’ll find something to listen to at the bottom of this post) and now starts a phase where they really need the help of music fans everywhere. I’m sure you know getting quality recording of ones music doesn’t come cheap, and even for the more economical options a pretty penny must be spent. Being the regular Joes they are with day jobs and the like, dropping 10 grand for an album recording just isn’t in their personal budgets, but fortunately, this wonderful thing called Kickstarter exists and could very well ensure that the bands dreams of seeing this project come to life does so at the highest possible quality. While the band states that even if they don’t meet their goal, they will still see this project through to completion, but wouldn’t you like to hear such an awesome concept for a record come to fruition as shiny as possible and actually know that you were partly responsible for that happening (c’mon, everyone one loves bragging rights even if they don’t admit it ). So head over to the bands Kickstarter page, make a pledge, get yourself some cool perks (that poster is looking mighty fine), and support independent music, cause without it we’d be stuck listening to the same old stuff that the major labels habitually pump out. And it should go without saying, share the Kickstarter with as many as you can, you could be the one responsible for the really rich dude that has a passion for both metal and bluegrass music and has a hankering to toss a few grand at the project, I’m sure Mike and the rest of Blood & Banjos would be very appreciative. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!!
Demos will be added to the bands Bandcamp as they are released, you can hear a couple in the player below now
I guess you can call this the week of what the actual fuck did I just watch videos. Less for Ghost’s, err, sorry, Ghost B.C., new video for “Secular Haze” which I just find hella neat, but the other 2, there had to be some kind of drug consumption when planning those out and putting them together.
First up is Periphery’s new video for “Scarlet” off of Periphery II (which I am kind of warming up to after giving it another spin after watching this video). At first I thought it was going to be a neat, high production sci-fi stuff, with a slightly tongue-in-cheek style (how they opened the spaceship door cracked me up). As soon as I saw that the spaceship the band was traveling on was in the shape of one of those mustard bottles you find at your local burger shop (not McDonalds, but the good Mom and Pop ones) or diner, slightly tongue-in-cheek was thrown out the window for ludicrous speed, this video is going plaid. So, without spoiling too much before you watch it cause the WTF factor is half the fun, I just need to ask, mustard or ketchup? Also, best waste of a record labels advance for a music video since Red Fang and current early leader for #1 video of the year.
Next up is Maynard James Keenan and the band he’s putting too much time into instead of getting that Tool record fans have been clamoring about, for what, more than a decade now. Puscifer’s rendition of quite possibly the most famous song ever recorded is a very straight take on “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Maynard’s voice sounds great and fit’s the song well, and the harmonies are done excellently. But how bout that video. Using a classic film I can’t name or recognize (but I probably should) Maynard and some chubby dude’s, John Wayne Gacy?, heads are superimposed on the actors. It’s pretty creepy, and it’s all down hill from there. If people staring into your soul with a rapist’s gaze while eating eggs disquiets you, you’ve been warned. Anywho, great and very creative video, just the way I like ‘em.
Lastly we have the new video from Ghost for you. Much less on the WTF factor and has performance footage of the band. But unlike most performance videos, this one fits the band quite well as they choose for a kind of 70s American Bandstand backdrop that matches that retro sound of the band. I also got a chuckle that this was released at the same time as the pope’s resignation. And I don’t know about you, but I am totally hyped for when the new Ghost album lands in March, and this tune just reaffirms my hype.
The riff, a melodic phrase, often constantly repeated, forming an accompaniment or part of an accompaniment for a soloist. In metal, we are not lacking in the heavy use of them. In fact the large majority of all metal and hard rock revolves around the riff. The riff is what hooks you into a song, it’s what drives to keep you engaged, it’s what determines the phrasing of a good solo or breakdown. So, needlessly saying, a fine riff will often lead to a great song. Some bands excel at creating bold and brazen riffs (eg. doom metal, death metal, groove metal) and others may use a more mellow, low-key riff to build atmospheres for the other instruments to build a dynamic off of (eg. black metal, post-metal). But whatever the approach is, the power of the riff compels us!
Some riffs have gone down in metal history as the greatest groups of music ever created. Upon hearing the first few notes of the riff, you can identify the song in no time flat and chances are that the riff has spent extended time stuck in your brain more than once. Here’s a list of what I consider the best riffs of heavy metal. To show fairness to the newer bands out there, they’ll get inclusions also, so if you see a track you don’t know here, give it a listen, I guarantee there will be a damn sick riff contained within. But on the flipside, I also feel that the real signifier of a solid and memorable riff is the test of time. If over 20 years after hearing it the effect it has on me is still the same and my enjoyment of the song is still immense, then that sir, is a f’n killer riff. To not turn this into a list of best Black Sabbath, Pantera, or ‘Tallica riffs, I’m limiting myself to one song per band, so if you dig a riff more than one not included in the list, make sure to give it a shout out in the comments. And also, this is just scratching the surface of the best riffs in metal/hard rock, so be prepared for part deuce. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!
Mere months after the release of The Afterman Pt. I: Ascension NY prog rockers Coheed and Cambria have the 2nd part to the album all primed for release tomorrow. And as much as I loved Pt. I, based on the 2 spins I’ve given this record so far, I’m feeling Pt. II is the superior of the pair. Tracks like the mindblowingly awesome “Sentry the Defiant” and “The Hard Sell” simply rock to Valhalla and tunes like “Dark Side of Me” and “Number City” really highlight how damn good CoCa are at writing some of the most catchy and accessible songs out there while still maintaining depth and interjecting some neat experimentation into the music. Front to back a completely solid effort and you should check it out. Click the link here or the album cover above to go to the stream and enjoy till your heart’s content. Let us know what you though. Peace Love and Metal!!!!!