Posted by Reggie
First, I am going to try not to use the word “epic” to describe the myriad of sounds emanating from Suncrown’s latest album, You Are Not Alone. There is a lot going on here that the eight-piece band brings to the table beyond symphonic melodies, folk infusions, and power metal elements like that of German pioneers Helloween. Let’s not forget dual male/female vocals suggestive of another popular Dutch band that has the word “epic” in their title. But, I am trying not to use that word…epic. All of these elements combined could easily be described as epic, but for the sake of not using epic let’s try using “larger-than-life” as a more fitting description.
In the realm of heavy metal album reviews the word ‘epic’ gets abused more than a nubile young girl on the set of the latest Rocco Sifreddi flick. It gets poked in every possible angle and more than often gets stuck where it doesn’t belong. By definition the word should solely be used to describe something of or relating to a literary epic poem, or the poem itself (eg. The Iliad or Beowulf). It’s in there, in the music reviewer mind we oft confuse and misuse the word for something that sounds heroic (Ensiferum), huge or gargantuan (Moonsorrow), or fantastical (pick nearly any power metal band). My favorite misuse of the word is when I wish to describe a feeling of a Herculean musical journey that would make the Fellowship of the Ring jealous.
And why the hell am I talking about the word ‘epic’ in an album review? Well because the band Crimson Dawn have self-proclaimed Epic Doom Metal as their genre, and quite honestly, it genuinely fits with what is contained on their debut album, In Strange Aeons… As a whole, all of their elements fit with every misuse and correct use of the word. Throughout the course of the record you will go on a long journey crossing fantastical soundscapes encountering heroic riffs, towering song structures, and massive grooves. All with this hint of flair that will bring to mind some of those ancient epic poems that
you I love so much. Epic is really the only word I can find that simply describes the whole of Crimson Dawn’s sound, so I will use and abuse it.
Posted by Irmelinis
Introduced to me by a friend a while ago, this band surprised me greatly. How did they elude me for so long? This is doom mixed with symphonic power metal, with lots of keyboards and a fantastic singer. It’s gorgeous music that isn’t your typical slow and droning doomy doom; While Heaven Wept makes very diverse, melodic and epic music. The song ‘Soulsadness’ is just beautiful.
Over at Metalsucks.net they are running a vote for the best beard of all time in metal. Being a fan of the face pubes this vote is right up my alley and I’m getting a damn good laugh reading all the comments. The contest is split into brackets with 32 combatants. Each voting of 4 seeds lasts 3 days until the next seeds go in for battle. I’ll be rooting for Clutch’s Neil Fallon for the championship. His beard, while not the longest or bushiest, is the best groomed, most fitting for his face and the bands music, and is just downright intimidating. Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth is a very close second for me. Click here to go vote. Have fun! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Here’s how I voted today: ZAKK WYLDE VS. PETER JOSEPH: Zakk gets the vote from me. A big beard is cool, but keeping it groomed is one hell of a challenge. Zakk has also done many cool styles with his beard. Diversity is always appreciated.
JUSTIN FOLEY VS. BILL ROBINSON: Killswitch Engage’s Justin Foley gets my vote. While lacking good grooming you can’t deny the epicness of a beard that rivals Aries, the god of war.
KIRK WINDSTEIN VS. SEAN Z.: Crowbar/Down’s Kirk Windstein wins my vote with his well groomed and conditioned grey face locks. Sean Z.’s beard is also epic, but that happy Santa Clause look won me over.
NEIL FALLON VS. LIAM WILSON: Neil Fallon, no contest. Great quote from Metalsucks, ‘Fallon’s [beard] is so damned dark and intimidating, it moved to Norway and started a black metal band!
Here’s a song about Neils beard (I think ;) )
Posted by Mark/Angel
Following on from the first post in the series dealing with concept albums, I thought I’d add my two cents about a couple of albums I think emulate what I enjoy most about records with stories: the interplay between plot and music. The best ones can be akin to the bards of old, strumming on a lyre or a harp whilst extolling the adventures and virtues of some hero or another. While the stories have obviously changed and adapted since then, some of that element is still present, particularly in some metal albums. One of the two albums I’m going to describe here is very much lauded at A Metal State Of Mind, the other perhaps a bit more unsung, both on this site and in general.
Ok, I’m feeling nerdy today. I’m back to reading fantasy novels with dragons, elves, and all that stuff. And since the book I’m reading at the moment is mainly about dragons(the final book in The Inheritance Cycle, aka the Eragon books….), I’ve been enjoying some tunes about said fire breathing majestic beasts. Instead of deluging the entire Rhapsody discography for the song of the day, I’ve decided to take the cheese-free route. Here is my favorite song written about a dragon. Check out “Deathbringer from the Sky” by Ensiferum off the album Victory Songs. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Since we’re on the topic of Ensiferum check out this awesome tune. Be warned, it’s highly contagious, the melody may infect you brain and as of now there is no cure to get it out. Enjoy “Smoking Ruins”!!
A great warrior is standing at the gates of a castle that is about to be stormed looking to the sky as a bead of sweat drops down his nervous brow. This grand swordsman wipes the sweat from his brow and hides all of his nervous inhibitions so he does not lose the courage of the army standing behind him. He know he must be brave and strong for the people at this castle have oppressed him and his people and land for far too long. To muster up his courage and of his men he unsheathes his great iron broadsword made by his brother, the blacksmith. Light reflects off snow landing and melting on the edge of his blade as he raises high into the air. This light calls the attention of his men along with the thundering battle cry that come pouring from lungs. “We have come, and we will take back what you have forcefully taken from us!” And then turning to the castle, the swordsman thunders, “Prepare to return to where you have come from. Our blades, our spears, and our arrows are thirsty, and today, they will sated!!!” The army bellows in agreement and then the epic battle ensues.
For this weeks Song of the Week, I bring to you, what is in my opinion, an example of perfect writing, perfect production, and perfect everything. The song that just bleeds with perfection is called “Jumalten kaupunki/Tuhatvuotinen perintö” which is Finnish for “City of the Gods/Legacy of a Thousand Years” by the band Moonsorrow and comes from the album Kivenkantaja(Stonebearer).
For those that are not familiar with the band Moonsorrw, allow me to give you a bit of background on them. The band was started back in 1995 in Finland by Ville Sorvali and his cousin Henri Sorvali(who is also a main writer and recording member of folk metal stars Finntroll and was also a session member of Ensiferum on their earlier albums, he is pretty much one of the founding members of the modern folk metal scene). They started Moonsorrow taking heavy inspiration from later Bathory, in which there was the classic black metal sound but drifted away from themes like satanism and all that other evil stuff and shifted to themes of vikings, paganism(not the goat sacrificing kinda paganism, but more the love of nature and respect for all the gods that had created the world around them), and added a bit more melodic sound to black metals tremolo filled thunderings. As they grew musically stronger elements of the traditional folk music and instruments of their homeland of Finland started to find their way into the music and the duo of Moonsorrow eventually found some people to flesh out the band for live shows(whom are still the same members as of today, but on the early recordings Henri and Ville played all the instruments) and recorded a demo named Tämä ikuinen talvi (This Eternal Winter) and after much success with the demo recorded their first album Suden uni(Wolf’s Dream). And from there they took off flying striking big in the underground metal scene in Finland. They are still active today having recently released the masterpeice Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa (As shadows we walk in the land of the dead).
What’s left of the dim moonlight futilely dances around the blackened night sky attempting to reflect off the mist of precipitation but it is sent back to darkness by the ash that is mixed with. A single, hair thin beam of light somehow pursues through the gauntlet of grey ash and darkness and meets its end upon meeting what was once a great tree of spruce. When the determined ray of light lands on the anemic and ravaged tree his once majestic branch gives way and crumbles to the ground covering the men resting below it in a shower of dust and charcoal. Wiping the darkness from his brow one of the men looks down at his feet and says to his companion, “Well, at least we’re lucky enough to have found this river so we can clean some of this soot off. Or we could just leave it, the dark can camouflage us from some of the more desperate ones out there. What ya think buddy?”
The man turns to the other, who is sitting silently close the river and says to him, “Look at that river, as a child I used to swim and play in here. Now it’s filled with nothing but the poison of the dead and the rust of the technology which ruined us, where did we go wrong?”
He steps closer to the other man and looks at him and look at him endearingly. “Well, we’re still alive somehow and have each other to keep ourselves from loosing our minds and our heads, eh. So, what do you think, should we risk washing up in this here river, or leave the soot?”
His friend makes no response, “Buddy, you listening?” The man places his hand on his friends shoulder and gives him a little shake. Under the light weight of the mans hand the silent, sitting man drops to the ground like a sack of potatoes landing on his back, his empty eyes glaring back at his friend. The man drops to his knees pulling the other man into his arms. He lifts his head back and releases all his fear, sorrow, and rage into a chilling, desperate howl. The roaming predators were sure to hear him and will soon arrive.
Life on a ravaged earth is a horrible thing to think about. Nothing good can come of it and as humans we should be doing what we can do to prevent it. Some people plant trees, some aid others in war torn countries, others speak out against war, and some tell warnings of what may come. We all have our on personal ways of doing what we can for our home planet, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough. But the main point is that you should be doing all that is in your power to protect it. Finnish metal band Moonsorrow uses the influence of song and music to give humanity a grim warning of what may happen if we destroy our home with their latest album “Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa”(“As Shadows We Wander In The Land Of The Dead”), which tells the story of a world after an apocalypse.