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Album of the Month - April
  • Horizons
    Horizons
    by Anubis Gate
Video of the Month - April
  • Led Zeppelin - Good Times, Bad Times
    Led Zeppelin - Good Times, Bad Times
    starring Led Zeppelin
Good Reading
  • The Art of Metal: Five Decades of Heavy Metal Album Covers, Posters, T-Shirts, and More
    The Art of Metal: Five Decades of Heavy Metal Album Covers, Posters, T-Shirts, and More
    Voyageur Press
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CD of the Month
  • Mudvayne
    Mudvayne
    by Mudvayne
Inspiration
  • Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
    Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
    by Michael Moynihan, Didrik Soderlind
  • Retribution
    Retribution
    by Shadows Fall
  • Brutal Legend
    Brutal Legend
    Electronic Arts
Thursday
Apr032014

Anette Olzon - Shine

After having worked on it in the last few years since leaving Nightwish, Anette Olzon's debut album, Shine, is finally here.Though there's been much contention over the details of Anette Olzon's leaving Nightwish back in 2012, there's never been any doubt in most people's minds that the woman's got a great voice. And on her debut album, Shine, she puts that asset at the forefront of her sound.

This is truly a solo album, in that there are no big name guest artists or musical pyrotechnics from virtuosos in the field. Instead are ten starkly non-metal songs that showcase Anette's clear and powerful voice. That's not to say there's no good music to be found here, just not necessarily what Nightwish fans - or those who like metal with a female lead singer - may be looking for. The closest we get to anything with a heavy beat is the title track, which has more of a nu-metal feel and evokes early Evanescense on more than one occasion.

Still, there's plenty of good, listenable moments on this debut and, with any luck, Olzon can explore a heavier side of her talent with her follow up maybe? Here's hoping so.

The Bottom Line: Anette Olzon fans will likely be happy with this mature debut, but Nightwish fans may want to go back to their catalogs and enjoy those tunes while Anette indulges her catharsis.


- Genghis was really hoping for some powerful Lacuna Coil-esque jamming here...

Monday
Mar312014

Pet Slimmers of the Year - Fragments of Uniforms

Band names are usually a little odd, but this one is reaching for the title. What's a Pet Slimmer?Say what you want about their name, but Pet Slimmers of the Year are making a reputation for themselves in the underground music circles as an up and comer in the stoner/doom metal continuum. Starting out by building a buzz with two well-received EPs, they've hit it big by blending the chimey, textured, reverby guitars of alternative music of the late 20th century with a metal grunge and atmospheric noise to make a truly otherworldly sound.

Their full-length debut Fragments of Uniforms presents you with eight songs, averaging six and a half minutes in length each, and it makes for a pretty great moody soundtrack to a weekend driving excursion, with the windows rolled down, a certain burning smell in the air, and a cool breeze on your face. Typical of this kind of music the vocals are sparse, serving only to accent the melodies over the rhythms that plod along like elephants in a caravan. So while it's heavy, it never really breaks through that threshold into headbanging territory, instead percolating steadily giving a sense of impending release that doesn't quite come.

The Bottom Line: If you dig stuff like East Of The Wall but want it a little more reigned in with a little bit of a 90s Brit-pop feel, Pet Slimmers of the Year may be your new jam. No foolin'.

- Genghis really dug this a lot...

Thursday
Mar272014

The Oath (self-titled)

You'd be forgiven for thinking this is an all girl band. And for just staring at the cover for a while...One of the earmarks of a thing becoming bigger than just being a thing is when it starts having its own variations. As with the retro thing going around, you're starting to see some subdivision within the normal makeup, which keeps an otherwise boring pattern from becoming monotony.

In this case, I'm speaking of The Oath and their self-titled debut album featuring their version of that wonderful, warm 70s vibe (with occult overtones, in this case) that's spread like friggin' gangbusters all over Northern Europe. The brainchild of Johanna Sadonis and Linnéa Olsson, The Oath have a rock solid foundation of thick, meaty riffs and whiskey-soaked vocals that sound like what should be playing under the Taarakian segment of a new Heavy Metal movie. This is music with old school balls of steel, baby, which is delightfully ironic coming from two beautiful, leather-clad blondes. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised to find hair on their chests - nor would I mind.

All jokes aside, The Oath is a really great album in part because it pays homage to the great elements of the best of an era's music rather than merely imitating the sound. There's some great production on the album as well with just enough distortion and a touch of vocal reverb (note, ladies: not all female singers need to scream like they're in labor in order to make a song rock), keeping it all simple while evoking the spartan setups of bands of metal yore - unlike the highly processed, multi-layered opuses many modern bands attempt today. Really nice work here.

The Bottom Line: The Oath may be "another one of those damned retro bands", but this one's really got the goods; great riffs, killer style, sexy vocals, and enough leathered up charisma to make for a rocking good time.

Tracks That Might Cause You To Spontaneously Develop Tattoos: Night Child, Black Rainbow, and Silver and Dust

- Genghis may have just fallen in love with yet another female guitarist (sigh)...

Thursday
Mar272014

Anubis Gate - Horizons

Damn, this is some good progmetal. Something is awesome in the state of Denmark.Danish proggers Anubis Gate have released their sixth studio album, Horizons, their first without vocalist Jacob Hansen (though he does have co-producer credit) and I have to tell you this is a great time to check them out if you haven't already. This is some stellar shit.

Anubis Gate brings a little something extra to the table when it comes to traditional progressive metal, and that's a terrific pop flavor in terms of melody and vocals. If pressed, I would liken them to a cross between Rabin-era Yes and Vanden Plas with a little Opeth-y acoustic work for depth.

I love how the vocal harmonies are smooth as silk, giving it that Vanden Plas-esque richness while the heavy distortion keeps things chugging beneath it. This is sonic layering at its finest, folks, where no one instrument gets lost in the mix, just the way it ought to be. What an album.

The Bottom Line: Even trimming down to a quartet hasn't diminished Anubis Gate's ability to rock the shit out of some great progressive metal, and the heavier melodic overtones freshen up the sound quite a bit from the frenetic, instrumental pissing contest to which the genre often falls victim.

Tracks That Prove Everything's Better With Pinch Harmonics: Destined To Remember, Airways, and Mindlessness

- Genghis does a mean air pinch harmonic...

Thursday
Mar202014

The Graviators - Motherload

Sweden is clearly leading the world in producing great doom/stoner metal bands these days. And just look at this bad-ass album cover!Swedish rockers, The Graviators have released their third full length album, Motherload, and if you dig that analog trip but like a little shred thrown in for good measure, this is very likely your new jam. Goodness knows there's no shortage of retro bands around - a new one seems to crop up every week - but the sweet spot for me is when you take an old school 70s vibe and update it with a modern sensibility in terms of the guitar work and rhythm structure. This is why I'm a big fan of progressive stoner metal, where all of my favorite ingredients come together for a delicious sonic dish.

While The Graviators may not be progressive necessarily (though they do make use of some progressive elements), they do get that being analog doesn't mean you have to sacrifice complexity for authenticity; it's a vibe, not a law set in stone, right? And tracks like Corpauthority illustrate that idea well, with its Sabbathy main riff, multi-layered rhythmic passages, and guitarist Martin Fairbanks' killer solo adding some nice color in the form of restrained neo-classical sweep picking nestled amongst the bluesy flurries. Great stuff.

The Bottom Line: Like their kinsmen Witchcraft, The Graviators are riding the wave of doom/stoner metal on the back of a sea dragon, laying waste to all in their path with the swipe of a Gibson SG. If you like your old school metal with a modern sense of the past, check these dudes out.

Tracks To Make You Replace All Of Your Lightbulbs With Black Lights: Narrow Minded Bastards, Tigress Of Sibiria, and Corpauthority

- Genghis digs the doom/stoner metal thing just fine, but let's hope it's tapering off...