Archive for December, 2014

VENOM To Release New Album In January

VENOM , the hugely influential British heavy metal trio, widely revered for driving and shaping many aspects of the music industry, including black and thrash metal as well as for their instinctive blending of metallic power and punk spirit, have confirmed the release of their new studio album, From the Very Depths . It will be released January 27 via Spinefarm Records.

Machine Head – Bloodstone & Diamonds

It’s been a turbulent three years in the metal world since Machine Head released Unto the Locust to much critical praise. We’ve seen the continued rise of djent and it’s bastardizations, deathcore’s leanings into more progressive territories, progressive metal’s leanings into softer and more introspective territories, black metal through the eyes of shoegazers, and the return of a few old school death metal bands. The late nineties saw the band conform to the sound of the times, adopting the nu-metal style introduced by bands like Rage Against the Machine , Korn , and Limp Bizkit in years prior. Luckily, the current musical climate has had no impact on Machine Head, who have chosen to pound the flag they’ve been flying since their triumphant return to form with 2004’s Through the Ashes of Empires deeper into the ground, resulting in Bloodstone & Diamonds , their latest gem and first release for Nuclear Blast . Whereas Machine Head merely flirted with orchestral arrangements in the past, opening track ‘Now We Die’ starts off with a full on string section, setting the tone for the prodigious journey that lay ahead. The return of producer Colin Richardson is immediately apparent once things kick in: buzzsaw quad-layered guitars, drums punchier than Mike Tyson, and distorted bass sitting perfectly in the mix to complement the guitars. The sonics of Unto the Locust were perfectly appropriate for most metal albums of its caliber, but Richardson’s return makes it apparent that there is an intangible magic when the two work together. This is also the first album to feature new bassist Jared MacEachern after the well publicized fallout with original bassist Adam Duce , leaving Flynn as the sole original member. The band has been fraught with lineup changes over the years, but the heart of Machine Head has always been with Flynn. By the time second track, ‘Killers and Kings,’ bulldozes it’s way through the speakers, any apprehension is completely removed. Drummer Dave McClain ’s tasteful and simple ride bell play during the choruses carries the song masterfully, and his performance throughout the album is a testament to powerful modern metal drumming. Bloodstone & Diamonds does not wear any masks, exuding an honesty lost on much of today’s metal. In Machine Head’s case, perhaps it is a continued rebellion against their “experimental” period from 1999’s The Burning Red to 2001’s Supercharger . Despite this, the band have retained the best parts of said period while keeping the foundation they built in the beginning with Burn My Eyes , and also venturing into new territory. ‘Eyes of the Dead’ is the most representative track of their career by far, and perhaps the strongest track on the album. The intro reeks of early Megadeth with the ascending tapping lick over the pulsing drums, calling to mind ‘The Conjuring’ from the classic Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? . The verses thrash about in the melodeath way the band adopted on Through the Ashes of Empires , with a deadly infectious chorus with Flynn chanting “Murder! Murder!” and a follow-up hook worthy of the best melodic moments from The Burning Red . Add a whammy bar breakdown groove in the mid-section worthy of 1997’s The More Things Change and you have a massive recipe for success, all while not sounding the least bit derivative. From a performance aspect, this album marks some of Robb Flynn ’s most impassioned and versatile singing in years. The airy falsetto of the verses on ‘Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones’ are simultaneously sensuous and foreboding, counteracting perfectly with the bendy groove that follows. Without a doubt the biggest surprise found here is the brooding and eerie ‘Sail Into The Black’. Parts of this song reek of Ulver ’s dark ambient masterpiece Shadows Of The Sun , which is absolutely not a bad thing. Whether this is mere coincidence remains to be seen, but the drone of the baritone choir, thick and enveloping vocal harmonies, and subtle orchestral elements call the album to mind. It’s not until around the halfway mark when the trademark chainsaw guitars, distorted bass, and pounding drums kick in do we have any inkling that we’re still listening to Machine Head. While past tracks like ‘Violate’ and ‘Down to None’ extracted the sludgiest roots of the band, they have dug even deeper into the muck with the swampy ‘Beneath the Silt’. The track opens like an audio engineer’s dream, with the drums pounding out a gigantic fill that highlights the perfectly roomy mix. This is followed by possibly the lowest tuning the band have used to date, with a simple, bluesy, and filthy riff flinging gunk all over the precious and pretty melodic moments delivered on the previous six tracks. The song is not lost on melody however, with Flynn’s hypnotic falsetto covering the chuggy verse like an opiate laced wine basted over a stuffed pig. ‘Game Over’ smacks of bitterness and regret lyrically, quite obviously being an elegy to the friendship between Flynn and Duce. As Flynn cries “Another time, when music’s all we had, bonded by anger and addictions, so glad, always together, but no words are spoken, this is the sound of a friendship broken”, it’s hard to imagine it being anything but. Flynn also took to the mic in the past to deal with former guitarist Logan Mader ’s departure with the Sabbath infused ‘Devil With the King’s Card’ from The Burning Red , so this comes as no surprise. The only downside to this album is the sprinkled on patriotism of ‘In Comes the Flood’. The majority of the music is superb, with the use of orchestra in the beginning and the cascading classical melodies on the tail of the main riff. The problem is the uninspired populist ranting over the top of everything, especially the tired sounding “Wake up, America!” over a riff that drags harder than Ru Paul. Leaving this track off the album would have eschewed a perfect score. Despite this setback, Machine Head have delivered yet another classic addition to their catalog to rival and revel in the most triumphant moments of their career. ? Machine Head’s Bloodstone & Diamonds gets… 4.5/5 -DW

Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen

In a time when the world remains under the omnipresent threat of a new Nickelback album, news of Irish-Celtic folk-laden black metal masters Primordial releasing their eighth full-length come to comfort the weary misanthropic modern metalhead. Despite having been around for more than twenty years, the wise men in Primordial have never really chosen to be in the limelight, instead opting for a rewarding career where fans with three digit IQs can digest their music and appreciate its subtleties over multiple listens. On this new record, entitled Where Greater Men Have Fallen , the layering of sound is as meticulous as ever with nary a catchy segment in sight; which is a good thing. Primordial’s modus operandi is based on the construction of an immense wall of sound rife with subtle nuances only available to the discerning ear. The guitars complement each other with various drawn-out chord arrangements while the drums and bass do most of the muscle work in the background. In the infrequent instances where they opt to add some lead guitar work, it’s never in the flashy sense of a guitar solo; instead it’s a more measured line where one guitar shines without eclipsing the rest of the band. Frontman Alan Averill (aka Nemtheanga) on the other hand uses this wall of sound as a platform for his ever so theatrical vocal delivery. Song lengths are usually upwards of six minutes which allows the band to take its time with build-ups and allows Alan to dramatically orate his haunting stories. The album kicks off with the patiently plodding title-track as Alan revisits the themes of nations oppressed and abused under hollow promises. The powerful start is not capitalized upon though in spite of some noteworthy lead guitar work because ‘Babel’s Tower’ and ‘Come the Flood’ drag on just a little, but ‘The Seed of Tyrants’ comes as a swift return to form. Alan screams ‘TRAITOR!’ and then a furious blast explodes for almost three minutes, compounding a feeling of unease. The guitars shriek and wail in despair while the drums thunder forward and then suddenly…it’s all over. Alan steals the show again on ‘Born to Night’ where he sounds like an inspiring leader for the downcast and the downtrodden; the one people should have listened to before everything went awry. This is also the case on ‘Wield Lightning to Split the Sun’ as the anguish in his voice couples wonderfully with the choice of chords to create a bleak and dreary image that is simply sublime. Where Greater Men Have Fallen is another fine example of what Primordial is capable of as a band yet it honestly fails to re-create the glory of their 2007 effort To the Nameless Dead . The album starts and ends on a very high note but these peaks are not maintained throughout the album’s fifty-eight minute span. A couple of slow pieces do in fact weigh the album down but there’s still a lot to feast upon for the die-hard fans. There are lots of emotional and evocative moments on this record and they are done with class but it’s the album’s compositional inconsistencies that keep it from shining brightly on the current scene. ? Primordial’s Where Greater Men Have Fallen gets… 3.5/5 -AHEN

Farewell 2014: Your Top 25 Albums So Far (Voting Remains Open)

A week ago we opened up the voting to ask you, our readers to choose the Top 25 albums of 2014. Balloting remains open for another week but we see who is in the lead after the jump. To give you an idea about what an amazing year 2014 has been in our kind of music is that in just a week of voting, we’ve had 66 different records submitted as the Album of the Year. But when we ran the numbers, here’s the Top 25 for the year so far. Before you complain that your favorite album isn’t on the listm, remember, you can change it with your vote.  See the link below the list. Heavy Blog is Heavy Readers Top 25 of 2014 Halfway Through the Votes. 1. Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails 2. Archspire – The Lucid Collective 3. The Contortionist – Language 4. Skyharbor – Guiding Lights 5. Ne Obliviscaris – Citadel 6. Animals as Leaders – The Joy of Motion 7. Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage Of Stars 8. Job For A Cowboy – Sun Eater 9. Beyond Creation – Earthborn Evolution 10. YOB – Clearing the Path to Ascend 11. Devin Townsend Project – Z2 12. Intervals – A Voice Within 13. Behemoth – The Satanist 14. Inferi – The Path of Apotheosis 15. Son of Aurelius – Under a Western Sun 16. Rings of Saturn – Lugal Ki En 17. Allegaeon – Elements of the Infinite 18. Destrage – Are You Kidding Me? No 19. Panopticon – Roads to the North 20. Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation 21. Architects – Lost Forever // Lost Together 22. Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain 23. Monuments – The Amaneunsis 24. Gridlink – Longhena 25. Code Orange – I Am King Vote for Your Top 25 Metal (or Any Other) Releases of 2014. Click Here to Fill Out the Form You’re also welcome to post your lists in comments or on Facebook but only lists submitted through the form count towards our Final Reader’s List. –BS

PHOTOS: Death To All, Obituary, Massacre—November 25th, 2014 @ Metro, Chicago, IL

As time passes on and more music being produced each and every year, it’s easy to forget what an influence that Chuck Schuldiner and Death had on the bands we enjoy today and even our very listening habits. From 1987’s Scream Bloody Gore to 1998’s The Sound of Perseverance , the 11-year span that had Chuck writing music was one of the most important and pioneering times that graced the metal that we know today. Thankfully, Death To All (otherwise known as DTA ) keeps the legacy alive by featuring members who had the privilege of playing with Chuck all those years ago. This time around, bassist Steve DiGiorgio was joined by the one and only Gene Hoglan on drums and Bobby Koelble on guitar, while Max Phelps proceeded to play the part of Chuck himself. On tour as well were death metal titans Obituary and Massacre , as well as Rivers of Nihil (who were unfortunately missed thanks to Chicago traffic). Please enjoy the photos from the night of November 25th, 2014! Massacre Obituary Death To All For more from this photographer, visit Kyle Gaddo on Flickr. -KG

Stream the New Cretin Album Right Now!

Grincer connaisseurs  Cretin  recently popped their heads up when they were on the Decibel Magazine Tour last year, but other than that, they’ve been relatively quiet for quite some time. Eight years, to be exact, because that’s when they released their debut album,  Freakery . These guys have been long overdue for a new album, and now we finally get our wish: Cretin’s sophomore album,  Stranger , will be released next week, and the band is streaming it in full! Check out more info after the jump. Our pals over at No Clean Singing have the premiere, and it would behoove you to listen to it right this instant. If you’ve never heard Cretin but consider yourself a fan of grindcore and death metal, than man, have you been missing out. Cretin play a savage hybrid of death and grind a la  Repulsion  and  Napalm Death,  and they are fantastic. I consider  Freakery  to be a modern classic of the genre, and  Stranger  is a more than worthy continuation. It’s filled to the brim with blast beats, indecipherable vocals and razor-sharp grooves; what more could you ask of a grind record? Strangers  will be released next week on Dec. 9. It could very well be a late contender for year-end lists, so listen to it, get that list finalized and then share it with us here ! -AL

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