It’s that time of year again for arbitrary lists of really great albums that were released since the last time I did one of these things. Contributing to my absolute burnout of writing about kick ass metal bands, I can not think of another year where there were just so damn many stellar records released. I simply had to say fuck it, step back, and enjoy the great stuff I already had. Sure, I missed out on some great stuff, but on the other hand, all killer no filler. To try to make up for the insane amount of great albums this year I’ve expanded my usual 10 to 15 and will have an honorable mentions post sometime in the near future. I hope you find yourself something cool to listen to with this list or at least nod in agreement with some of my picks. Thanks for reading, sticking with AMSOM, and being awesome and stuff. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Thirty minutes. That’s all it took for Castle to come in, make their siege, and completely conquer anything else I had planned on listening to for the past week. In thirty minutes, Castle delivers one of the most concise, beefy, and enjoyable records I have heard this year. And due to its quick run time and incredibly catchy songs it makes for a record that I just want to listen to over and over again. The clichèd saying ‘all killer; no filler’ rings incredibly true here.
Following up 2012’s outstanding Blacklands (which landed on my list of favorite albums of 2012), Castle have taken their doom metal laden hard rock style to the grinding wheel and polished out one hell of a diamond. Infusing a bit more of a traditional heavy metal feel with their groovy and slightly quirky riffs and an even better sounding vocal performance by Liz Blackwell each track on this record is so well done any of them could easily work as a lead single.
Throughout the record you will hear some heavy influence to classic metal bands like Black Sabbath, Manilla Road, Candlemass, and Iron Maiden, yet through some great songwriting and top-notch production nothing feels verbatim nor just another retro band that can’t stop worshiping the bands of days yore. Songs like the opener ‘Distant Attack’ deliver a direct assault of galloped riffing and barrages of solos as the unique and sultry voice of Ms. Blackwell is constantly delivering catchy vocal hook over catchy vocal hook. And then you have tracks like ‘Pyramid Lake’ and ‘Powersigns’ where mood and direction is always in flux while never meandering away from their intended purpose of rocking your fucking socks off.
I really have to commend the massive step in lyric writing on this offering. While not incredibly poetic, each track excels in the story-telling department. The words really add a nice punch to the music as they work in tandem to create some detailed and moody settings. This especially rings true on what is easily my favorite track on the album, ‘Labyrinth of Death’. Here the strut of the rhythm section, the winding of the guitars, and the lyrics about, well… a labyrinth of death, really work to suck you into an inevitable bout with the Minotaur. And it all comes to a culmination as the mood takes a darker turn as the chase nears its end.
I can not speak highly enough of this record nor stop listening to it. Concise, catchy, outstanding performances, incredible songwriting, and overall a damn good feel; what else more could one ask for. Go grab this album now, you can thank me later. 5/5
You can stream Under Siege here courtesy of Terrorizer.
Lately I’ve found myself rather infatuated with this style of music that I’ve seen go by many names. From Vest Metal to non-cheesy chick vocalist bands to simply Psychedelic Rock it has found a bevy of tags, all work fine, but I prefer to tag it as Occult Metal/Rock in my organization of my music. The theme of the occult, witchcraft, the Devil (note: I am nothing close to a Satanist, heck, I don’t even believe in ‘God’, so his counterpart is null and void. I just really like the mysticism and style of the music), and all that wonderful stuff are the points that tie all these bands together besides a very retro sound highly inspired by the psychedelic rock of the Woodstock generation. Since really taking the dive into Occult Metal over the summer I’ve found myself with a good amount of great bands I’d love to share with you all. If you find yourself a fan of classic rock from bands like Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Coven, and Jefferson Airplane and also have a taste for prog and doom metal/rock, this should be right up your alley. Enjoy and if you know any other bands that would fit into this category, please let me know, this is an area of my collection I’d love to expand further. Peace Love and Metal!!!
I know every year I say that this was one of the best years in metal, but its true, and 2012 was no different. I guess that says a lot about the state of modern heavy metal. The genre has grown into something that was unfathomable at its inception. In no other genre will you find such a diverse set of different acts all boasting such pure passion for what they do. I was also exposed much more music than usual this year since Metal State kinda took off with a spike in readers (thank you!!!) and we started receiving promos from labels and bands looking for exposure (don’t worry, we won’t tell you about the crappy stuff or skew our opinions because a label hooked us up with some free music or a t-shirt). So, when I think about 2012 in metal I can’t help but to return to reflecting on how diverse the genre has become. You will see in my toplist that no single sub-genre really dominates (well I guess you can tell I am a fan a prog metal and was big into the female fronted doom metal bands this year) and there are some amazing albums all across the board in metal this year. There were also a ton I left out which I will post about in the coming days in a quick honorable mentions post. So enough dilly dallying, let’s get it on! Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
By far my favorite newer metal band at the moment Revocation play a style of thrash metal that is impossible to ignore. While having a good amount of seriousness in their sound, they do not shy away for a second from having some good ol’ fun with their music, and now in their videos. The video for “The Grip Tightens” is by far the best performance footage video ever released. Props to the makeup artist for his work in making the guys in Revocation into old men. My eyes are still tearing and sides are still ripping from laughing so hard. Comedy gold. Check out the video and don’t forget you can get the E.P., Tetrogenesis, that this song is from for FREE (Click Here), so don’t forget to do that. It’s really damn great. Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!!
More great videos after the jump!
Call it a fad, a trend, hype, or whatever, but this recent explosion of female fronted doom metal is sweet candy to my ears. Big fat Sabbath-ian riffing, mysterious and occult themes, groovy rhythms, and a good ol’ rock and roll feel just get my blood pumping and head banging and the clean female vocals are a great break from all gruff angry guy vocals I spend the rest of the day listening to. Now, when a big deluge of bands rush in during a sub-genres hype and some real quality bands tend to get lost in the mix (see the metalcore debacle). One band I’d really hate to see get lost in the wave of oncoming bands is Castle. Their second album, Blacklands, is chock full of all the previously mentioned things that I love about this new ‘fad’ plus the record features a nice diverse set of tunes that really make great use doom metal sound.
In all of their infinite wisdom, heavy metal comedy site, MetalSucks.net, decided to deem the next big trend to take over in metal after djent runs it course to be ‘vest metal’. They called it annoying and a fad and the article (article here) itself was kinda half assed written, not the usually standard I’ve come to know from the site. Anyway, what I ended up taking away from the piece is that ‘vest metal’ is pretty much a bunch of old school sounding, riff based doom/hard rock bands who are big fans of Black Sabbath, often with a female vocalist. Well, being as picky as I am with my doom metal, this is exactly the kind I love and is more akin to bands like Ghost and The Sword instead of St. Vitus or SunnO)))), whom I can find pretty boring most of the time. So, with the amount of songs and videos they posted as examples I walked away with a dearth of new bands to check out and with open arms welcome this new trend and hope it’s here to stay.
The one band I ended up digging above all the others is a San Fransisco band called Castle. Big fat riffs, great solos, very Sabbath-y grooves, and their haunting vocalist really give their music a great old-school sound. And in some good news the band was just picked up by Prosthetic Records who will be re-releasing their album Blacklands worldwide in September (the album was just released with a small German label a couple of months ago, but it is a bit overpriced when you factor in the insane shipping costs the distributor charges, and worse for those living in the States, where the band is from). I am totally looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this record, and going by the press it’s getting so far, it’s a doozy. Check out the tune and let us know what you think of Castle and ‘vest metal’. Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!
Here’s another ‘vest metal’ band that I have taken a quick liking to called Christian Mistress. Unlike Castle above, they have a more upbeat, NWOBHM feel to them. But in the end, it kicks as much ass all the same. They have an album out called Possession, more on that soon, but an early preview of the review, go get it, it’s great!