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Tales from Bandcamp: Shovel Knight Soundtrack by Jake Kaufman


a3801413220_10Ok, something completely different for y’all with this one.  As many of you know, I have love for video games just as big as my love for metal, with a special soft spot for the NES/SNES heyday of gaming glory.  I have an even softer spot for Mega Man.  Between the rock solid running, jumping, and shooting, beautiful art style and character design, and outstanding music, the only old school series that I herald higher than Mega Man is The Legend of Zelda.  So, ya, I love me some Mega Man.  Unfortunately, those bastards at Capcom teased me with a full on retro Mega Man revival with the kick ass Mega Man 9 and 10 they released some years ago and then pulled out from making more since they are bastards (the games sold wonderfully too, don’t know wtf they were thinking). 

Anyhoo, before I get ahead of myself, a couple of months ago a game called Shovel Knight was released on PC, 3DS, and WiiU.  It’s basically an homage to the glory days of retro-gaming with a lot of modern twists and pulls a lot of inspiration from the Mega Man series, especially in character design, graphical aesthetic, and above all the music.  Mega Man pretty much has some of the best tunes of any game out there with their chip tune power metal punch.  So, given the love Shovel Knight for the Mega Man series, to be a respectable homage to the Blue Bomber, the dev. team would have to find someone to craft one hell of a soundtrack.  They found Jake Kaufman, and let me tell you he went above and beyond the call of duty.  When a chip tune soundtrack is just as good out of game than in, you got yourself something special.  This soundtrack ranks up there with the all time greats including The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, and Super Mario Bros.  Tons of catchy melodies, driving rhythms, and cheesy 8-bit goodness.

If you happen to be one of the few other people out there that actually enjoy some good chip tune music, this is a must have record.  Even cooler, Jake did a second record with reinterpretations of the scores that is just as good.  So, go play Shovel Knight (which is riding high as my Game of the Year so far) and download the soundtrack and reinterpretation album.  Both are pay what you want, but tossing the artist the change between your cushions for their work instead of taking the record for free would be a cool thing to do.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Album Review: Kings Among Men by Crimson Shadows


PromoImageThere are a few metal sub-genres that I’m pickier than a toddler at the dinner table with.  Of the ones I am most picky with, Power Metal would probably take the cake.  In my opinion, good Power Metal needs to have something I call the cheese factor (superfluousness, theatrics, high-flying-ness, not taking things too serious-ness, etc)  balanced in the right place.  Not enough cheese you end up with one of those sad solo Timo Tolkki records, too much and the band is just a parody of itself (Rhapsody of Fire excluded).  Get it in the right and you end up with some of the greats like Helloween and Stratovarius.  Now, to add to my pickiness, since I can go pop one of the already Ch-balanced records in any time I want, a new Power Metal band really has to do something unique and original to grab me by the shorty hairs and get me to pay attention.  That’s the hard part and probably why I haven’t fallen for a new Power Metal band in quite some time now.  Enter Canada’s Crimson Shadows and their major label debut and sophomore record Kings Among Men.

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Free Tunes!!!!: Billow by Moab


Ill_Clinton_12JktI know I’ve said this before, but a car company releasing free albums and EPs for metal and hard rock bands (they do indie and hip-hop as well)!??!?  Well, if anything, over the past couple years Scion has been doing this they have released some really quality stuff like Revocation, Immolation, Enslaved, and Corrosion of Conformity.  They have also introduced me to some cool bands as well.

Their latest band they’re promoting is a neat little grungy, stonerish hard rock band called Moab.  With some chunky riffs, groovin’ low-ends, and a really unique alto vocalist this 70s inspired rock is well worth a listen to.  Even more so since their sophomore record, Billow, is absolutely free.  Listening to the album I got a Stone Temple Pilots meets early Soundgarden meets Black Sabbath vibe from it.  You can download Billow here at no charge or strings attached and check out the video for “Whittled Away” below.  Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!

Tales from Bandcamp: Corned Beef Colossus by Steak


a3233518088_10Things that are great about being a vegetarian:

  • Overall healthier lifestyle
  • More excuses to eat lots of beans and avocados
  • You enjoy The Black Metal Vegan Chef even more and actually make the recipes
  • You’re not obliged to take part in this bacon cult/fad
  • Not having to kill cute, little animals

Things that suck about being a vegetarian:

  • Feeling guilty for totally inhaling these A-1 slathered meaty riffs and grooves with reckless abandon

 

Hailing from the U.K. the appropriately named Steak deliver Kyuss-ian riffs and fuzz packed with attitude and a smattering of Worcestershire.  Their second E.P. is a quick little appetizer to what is sure to be a beefy debut album (which will be released in Sept. through Napalm Records, be on the lookout for some words about that one.  Also check out their new video from that record below as well).  If you happen to be in the mood for nice bluesy stoner rock, do yourself a goodun’ and click that play button.  As always, if you dig on what you hear, be a chap and toss the artists a few bucks and grab a copy of the record for yourself.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Tales from Bandcamp: Undertaker by Disemballerina


a3172459771_10If you were to jump onto Google and search for articles pertaining to the similarities between metal and classical music you’ll find more than enough to fill your head with bombastic glee.  However, one thing I’ve noticed about all these articles is how they really don’t seem to focus on the finer points of the genres.  You’ll read about similarities in composition, bombast, and themes.  You’ll also see Beethoven and Vivaldi name dropped more than Black Sabbath on an poorly written doom metal review.  You’ll also see plenty of links to metal bands that more or less lift direct compositions from said artist and rarely an artist that is doing something modern with the classical composition style in metal (cough.. Harlequin Forest by Opeth.. cough).  But what about what I consider the most alluring aspect of each of the genres?  The emotional impact.

Well, maybe the grandiose of the huge orchestras classical music makes it a tad difficult to really translate and compare to the more personal aspects of metal.  How about we talk about the Baroque period and Chamber Music (which if you are unfamiliar, was music played more intimately with a minimum amount of performers).  As famed composer Van Goethe puts it, chamber music is like “four rational people conversing.”  Now, doesn’t that sound a lot more like most modern metal bands?  Well, sometimes not always rational :P

In my experience, a small gathering and conversation is always a lot more enlightening and personal than when gathered with a large group of people.  Which in turn really works to tune into the finer details of whatever the intricacies of the conversation are.  Just like in music for me.  Of course I love the rush of huge metal compositions, but when it comes to grabbing me emotionally, the more laid-back approach taps into me more.  Which, in turn, brings me to today’s album recommendation.

Playing music more akin to traditional Chamber Music than metal, Disemballerina really nail melancholic, emotional side of metal with perfection and present it in an very unique way.  You won’t find any distorted guitars or thundering riffs on their record Undertaker, but you will find beautiful conversations and memories of souls and memories that have passed on.  You will find sadness as well as hope; joy as well as depression.  You will find emotion as well as passion.  And above all, you will find something intimate.

To give you an example of how personal this album is, here is some of the notes taken from the info page of the record:

The breathing on this was the death rattle of a friend of mine recorded into a cellphone the last night she was alive. At the time this song was coalescing, I was working graveyard shift doing hospice care as a nurse assistant. “Sundowning” is a form of dementia unique to Alzheimer’s sufferers during the later hours of the night. I saw a lot of it on the job. This song is dedicated to all the elderly people I’ve cared for over the years who have passed on from this world. I’m tremendously lucky to have known all of you. -Myles

Ya, try to listen to that track and not shed a tear, especially if you’ve ever been close to a person with Alzheimer’s.  And like I said, the record does has counter-balance, so odes to the Carpathian Forest (the place, not the band with the chubby Satanist guy) and Ozma of Oz help lighten the mood.

So, even without embracing the traditions of metal, Undertaker is one of the most metal records I’ve heard this year and I highly recommend popping some headphones on and giving this a spin when you happen to be in a pensive mood.  As always, if you like what you hear, grab yourself a copy of the record and support the musicians.  Let me know what you think of the music down in the comments.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Roundtable Review: Black Hole Gods by Cardinal Wyrm


a1120500621_10Album: Black Hole Gods

Label: Independent

Release Date: August 5th, 2014

Songs: 8

Length: 1 hour

Genre: Doom

Studio Albums: Another Holy Trinity (2013),

Location: CA, USA

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Videos of the Week: Code Orange and Tomahawk


Well, I’m a bit late with this post, but better late than never :)

First up check out the new video from Code Orange (previously known as Code Orange Kids).  What really gets me about this video is besides the unsettling themes and even more disquieting grungy doom metal accompanying is the choice to use a washed out, Super 8 VHS aesthetic.  It really blends well with the music and makes the video much more freaky.  Going by the released singles and this video, Code Orange’s upcoming record, I am King (out Sept. 2nd, 2014 via Deathwish Records), is sounding to be a smashing and very unique record.  We’ll have more on that for you in the near future :)

 

And to counterbalance that bit of disturbing art, here’s Mike Patton as a Crank Yankers puppet.  Need I say more why this is awesome?  South Paw comes off Tomahawk’s 2013 record Oddfellows.  Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Tales from Bandcamp: The Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood by Falls of Rauros


a4030008080_10While The Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood has been out for some time, yet I only stumbled upon it not to long ago after catching a recommendation of it from Panopticon’s FB page.  I guess I got to get that first feeling of amazement that went through many long time fans of the band when this record first dropped in 2011.  This record is one hell of a shattering work of art.  Needless to say, 2 tracks into my first listen, it was an insta-buy.

A huge canvas gets covered with moods, imagery, and  colors that would come from Bob Ross if he happened to be a black metal fan.  Well pronounced melodies collide with goosebumps-inducing atmospheres and well thought out songwriting guarantees that you will be hooked into the music as it takes you on a journey through verdant mountain ranges and shimmering lakes.  And while the misanthropic lyrics work to warn what our incessant negativity and lack of respect for nature will do to humanity, there is genuine love and optimism tucked away in them.

Lucky for me, Falls of Rauros have a new album releasing shortly this year, so expect for me to drool all over that the moment I get my hands on it.  I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out and when you can get it in the near future.  Until then, if you fancy yourself a fan of bands like Agalloch, Panopticon, Windir, and Saor, do yourself a huge biggun’ and give this record a spin.  This linked remaster is the version I bought and while I can’t speak for the original master, the quality of the sound and production is out standing as it pours from my headphones.  Enjoy!!! And as always, if you like what you hear be a chap and toss the artist a few shells and give the record a download.  Peace Love and Metal!!!!!

Roundtable Review: Vacant Face by Take Over and Destroy


PromoImageAlbum: Take Over and Destroy – Vacant Face

Label: Comfort Point

Release Date: August 19th, 2014

Songs: 11

Length: 47 minutes

Genre: Death ‘n Roll/Sludge

Studio Albums: Endless Night (2013), Rotten Tide (2011)

Location: AZ, USA

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