Posts Tagged ‘black-sabbath’

Dream Theater – The Astonishing

While here at Heavy Blog we usually err on the “for its own merit” side of the album/career debate, choosing to focus on an album’s singular traits rather than its place within a band’s discography, this would be a mistake here. While  The Astonishing , one of the most anticipated albums of the year, is certainly a departure from everything  Dream Theater has been giving us in the past few years, it’s also a return to several key sounds from the beginning and middle period of their career. Even that departure requires an understanding of the bigger picture of their trajectory; to depart from something, you need to understand something. And so, the first thing that is immediately apparent when the first real track (that is, not the intro) of  The Astonishing begins to play is: this is a rock opera. When the second track begins to play, something else becomes immediately apparent: the main touchstone for this album within the extensive Dream Theater discography is  Six Degrees of Inner  Turbulence . That spring in the step, that hopeful and cheery outlook, screams of that intricate album, the closest the band have come to a rock opera in the past. Yes, OK, but is it  a good album ? That’s what we’re all here to find out. In two words: yes and no. In more than that,  The Astonishing  contains some amazing tracks, possibly the best the band have produced since the lukewarm  Octavarium  trickled into our ears. When the tracks are playing, it’s impossible to resist how downright energetic this album is. At these moments, the cheesiness is perfectly balanced with that old-school  Rush  feel that Dream Theater have always been famous for and things work. They work really well in several points: on “Lord Nafaryus” for example, LaBrie delivers the intricate villain role with brilliant precision, doing things with his voice that he never has, as far as register and delivery goes. The artificial strings blend perfectly with the over the top piano, accentuated by signature guitar bridges from Petrucci. This cohesion is perhaps one of the best marks of a good Dream Theater album: when they work together, instead of playing against each other, they sound best. The slightest, cheesy touch from Petrucci near the end really closes the deal, making this one of the best tracks on both albums. This track is followed by two more excellent iterations of this new-fangled sound: “A Saviour in the Square” is epic to the exact degree needed, with a splash of horns to spice things up. LaBrie returns to more conventional grounds and reminds us that, regardless of personal taste, he is one of the most consistently excellent singers in the industry. Personal note time: when “When Your Times Has Come” kicks in, the next track down the line, I get teary eyed. This song is cheese to the maximum degree, but Rudess has chosen old school synth effects, with a wink to Kevin Moore perhaps, and LaBrie executes beautifully. This is “Hollow Years” territory: you know it’s cheesy rock but it just touches something within you and it works. Which brings us to the major defect with the album. Honestly, what band can expect to release 33 tracks and get that perfect balance between emotional propensity and technical achievement? Even Dream Theater, one of the most veteran and influential bands operating today, can’t pull it off.  The Astonishing  is replete with filler tracks, songs that really have no right existing other than an obscure parts they play in this (rather underwhelming) story that the album attempts to tell. And that’s not enough: cliche guitar parts mix with over-sweetness in LaBrie’s voice and bounce off the most cliche lines that Rudess can make from his keyboards. And they’re repetitive as well. There’s no reason for “Act of Faythe”, one of the cheesiest songs ever made by Dream Theater, to exist when a track like “The Answer” exists as well. There’s supposedly a common theme being iterated upon here but it’s not interesting enough to carry the tracks forward. Nor are the ways in which the band iterate upon it interesting in anyway: they include shifting the mood just a bit to give it a lighter or darker spin and nothing else. All of these flaws extend to the second “CD” as well, and then some. “A Life Left Behind” for example is a track which could have come right out of  Awake but it’s successor, “Ravenskill” is completely pointless, taking too much time with its intro and failing to deliver when the main theme is introduced. Since the flow between the tracks, a famous trope of progressive records, has been completely abandoned here in favor of the “track by track” structure of rock operas, the second CD is hard to pin down and connect to the first. By the time you’ve reached it, so many filler tracks have gone by without a clear approach to thematization that the thread is almost impossible to grasp. The narrative has been completely lost and every track, even the good ones, start to sound the same. That’s no accident: even the good tricks utilized on this album are the  same old tricks  that we know from this album itself and from past entries in the Dream Theater discography. While the overall style of the album is new, in that it taps into tropes that were only lightly present in their careers so far, the track progression is the same tried and true method. OK, we’ve saved the best (worst) for last. Sharp-eyed readers might have noticed that we haven’t mentioned two current members of the band. The first, John Myung, might not surprise anybody; his absence, both in sound and words, from the band is a thing of legend by now. On  The Astonishing , or at least on the copy that we of the press received, he is almost 100% missing. Whether in the mixing or in the recording, the bass was completely swallowed by the other instruments and is completely absent from the final product. However, now we come, here at the end, to the most egregious and unexplainable flaw in this record: Mike Mangini. Throughout the album, Magini displays an almost impressive amount of disinterest in what’s going on around him. The drums line are not only performed in a lackluster way, they also sound as if zero effort was put into their writing. We  know  Mangini is a talented drummer but that talent is nowhere to be found here: obvious fill after obvious fill churn out under paper thin cymbals and pointless kick drums, ultimately amounting to nothing much. There’s literally no moments on the albums that are worth mentioning for their drums and this infuriatingly frustrating, given what we know of  his obvious ability. At the end of the day, when you put all of the above together, you get a disappointing album. If this had just been a bad album, we could have chalked it down to age, momentum and being out of touch. That’s impossible though, since when the album is good, it’s really quite good. If only it had been cut to about ten tracks and purged of the incessant repetitions, it might have been the best Dream Theater album in years. Instead, it’s a puerile attempt at a grand gesture that ultimately falls on its face, caught too close to the sun with wax spilling over, giving all its features the same, bland, indecipherable structure. ? Dream Theater – The Astonishing gets… 3/5

Trivium – Silence In The Snow

Every Trivium release after Ascendancy has initially been met with some backlash by fans of the band. Pretty much every band by the album is solid, but every album is a departure from the previous one, so getting fixated on certain aspects of the sound of the band always leads to disappointment. That’s not to say that all criticism of their work is invalid, but there is always a yearning for older elements of the band’s sound from some. Yet, despite this, Trivium keep pushing forward, and with every album they change the shell around the core of their sound. Sometimes it works better than others, as the intricate and progressive Shogun was an absolute masterpiece, In Waves was their most diverse album, and while Vengeance Falls was met with some degree of negativity, its second half had some of the best songs they’ve ever written. Silence in the Snow  is the Florida quartet’s seventh album, and it sees them taking a different direction yet again, with a heavy bent towards traditional metal and the complete eschewing of screaming (which works out surprisingly well), and bringing back the elements of the fabled Shogun sound. And while the end result works more often than not, it’s a bit flawed. It’s hard to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of Silence in the Snow against each other, as they’re mostly disparate. The songs have structure issues, but the actual riffs that are in there are pretty great. Perhaps the easiest way to sort this out is to just lay the issues out there and let everyone sort them out for themselves. There is really one prime problem with this album, and everything else stems out from it. That problem is the reliance on choruses, or more specifically, song structures that emphasize choruses. Pretty much every song has a verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus structure. Some of the best aspects of Trivium songs are “the riffs in between”, things that lead verses into choruses, interludes, pre-solo sections, et cetera. The band not having any screaming on this album is really no issue, as there aren’t any riffs that make one go “I wish there was some screaming here”, but that’s actually the root of the issue here. It’s not that the band are no longer doing harsh vocals, it’s that they’re not writing riffs that they normally play when they’re doing harsh vocals. And while the screaming isn’t really missed, the riffing is. Further exacerbating this issue is the fact that the choruses area repeated a lot, which makes the songs feel rather simplistic and repetitive. It’s also a problem when a lot of the songs have their verses start with the “guitar plays a note or two then stops, and Matt sings over a bassline” bit, which gets old even faster. While those issues sound a bit grave, when the album works, it really works. It has some of the best lines they’ve ever written. The riffing isn’t really the focus on most of the songs, the vocals are, and the riffing just provides a backdrop for the singing. While Matt Heafy isn’t the best singer out there, he’s better than he ever was (and he doesn’t rely heavily on pitch correction either, as live videos make very evident) and he pulls off a singing-driven album well. And while the complaints about choruses being too prevalent stands, they’re damn good choruses. It’s so easy to sing-along to everything in the album, and it’s all ridiculously catchy and memorable. The heavy metal influence is prevalent mostly on a few songs, whereas the rest are Shogun-era Trivium songs with the screaming bits cut out and the choruses emphasized. That album has been the holy grail for the band’s fanbase since its release, and this album brings back pretty much every aspect of that sound minus the heavier parts. The lack of more intense riffing probably partly due to the fact that the singing is a lot more difficult than what the band has done before, and Matt has to focus on his voice, which forces him to just play basic rhythms. The band mostly cover that up with great song writing, proving their claim they’ve been making for years that it’s not about how hard the riff you play is, but how good the riff sounds. And for guitar enthusiasts, the band still have neat riffs in some of the songs, and their solos, which every song has, are some of their best. Really, how much one enjoys this album will come down to what they’ve come to expect from Trivium over the years. If their image of the band was that of a metalcore band with screaming and melodeath-esque riffing, they will probably be disappointed. But if they liked Trivium for their melodies, Matt’s singing and the memorable lines, this album contains more of those than ever. They’ve brought back some of their best songwriting elements, and while the implementation is a bit flawed due to the simplistic structure of the songs, the end result is really good and is full of stupidly catchy riffs and choruses. In ways, Silence in the Snow is the “Black Album” of Trivium’s career, as it reflects a position in their musical progression similar to how that album was situated for Metallica . And while this might (rightfully) alienate some longtime fans, it’s just a different direction and not really a bad one. The aspects that are lacking are undeniable, but what’s here is also compelling in its own right. ? Trivium –  Silence In The Snow gets… 3.5/5 -NT

The Infernal Sea-Call of the Augur

Self-Release/Independent 2012 Debut-releases can be hit or miss to begin with, but when you’re talking about black metal/death metal bands? Well, that’s a whole different game you’re talking about. It always seems to me as if they’re really good or really awful. And, more often then not, when it comes to black metal self-releases, well, let’s just say I’ve heard some stuff that no one, not even you’re worse enemy, should be forced to endure. Let’s all bless the creatures of the night that this 4-piece UK not only know what they’re doing, but they do it well. The band was formed in 2009 with it’s members (vocals-Dean Lettice, guitar- Jonathan Egmore, bass- Geoff Taha and drums- James Burke) having come from UK acts like The Argent Dawn, Raise the Dead and Middenhelm. from various. Not only did these four come from other successful OK acts (hence the skill-level here), the group has shared the stage with the likes of Napalm Death, Anaal Nathrakh, 1349, Vreid, Martyr Defiled, Romeo Must Die, Gorath and Annotations of an Autopsy .? Not too shabby at all. Interestingly enough, this very evening (February 27th, 2013), the band is set to release their new EP, “The Crypt Sessions”, digitally. A very limited run of cassettes will be available for that one (30!) and, by the time this goes to print, I wouldn’t be all that surprised to find them sold-out! I’ve review that EP in a day or two (time allowing), but for now let’s turn our attention back to the band’s debut-album. Rumor has it that this release is already on its second print run which, again, comes as no real surprise considering how solid The Infernal Sea is. What I like best about these 7 tracks is that while it’s blackened death metal there’s elements of melodic death and even some doom to be found here. I’m not suggesting this is “slow me down black metal as I’m falling madly in love with Black Sabbath” style doom/death. Nope. It’s more this feeling of overall doom you get as you struggle to come to gripes with the fact that misery can sound so mature and melodic, and yet decidedly and old-school, from a band less then a decade old! Whether these guys make it or break it depends on exposure as black/death metal, like metalcore in years past, is flooded with imitators and wannabes. My curiosity is peaked now for their new EP so it looks like I’ll have to clear my schedule some for this UK 4-piece ! ? http://theinfernalsea.bandcamp.com/album/call-of-the-augur

Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain Addresses Slayer + Black Sabbath Drummer Conflicts

Iron Maiden ‘s Nicko McBrain has the experience of surviving in a popular metal band for decades, and he took a moment during a recent interview with the Broward-Palm Beach New Times to share his hopes that Slayer  and Black Sabbath can work out their issues with their respective drummers — Dave Lombardo and Bill Ward .

Casting Call: Who Should Play Black Sabbath in a Movie?

Chris Walter/WireImage Bringing the story of Black Sabbath to the big screen is no easy task. If ever the film gods decide to make a movie about the Godfathers of Heavy Metal, they’d have a tough task ahead of them. Whether it be the band’s iconic singer Ozzy Osbourne or legendary guitarist Tony Iommi, the actors portraying them have to be just right for the role. We’ve assembled a list of four actors who we think would do the band proud if ever a Black Sabbath biopic went into production. Check out our choices to play the original members of Black Sabbath below: Ozzy Osbourne Played by Colin Farrell Chris Walter, WireImage / Vittorio Zunino Celotto, Getty Images As the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne is one of most notorious figures in heavy metal history. To capture Ozzy’s wild side, you need an actor who has a bad-boy reputation — and who better to take on the role than Colin Farrell ? While he may not be a dead ringer for Ozzy, the Irish actor does possess a few of the rock icon’s facial features. However, in this case, the selection of Farrell is more about personality than looks, and we feel he’s got the full package to portray Osbourne in a movie. ? Tony Iommi Played by Christian Bale Chris Walter, WireImage / Jason Merritt, Getty Images Tony Iommi is often credited as the inventor of heavy metal. His guitar riffs revolutionized music and set in motion a whole new genre of music. That said, you need an accomplished actor to portray Iommi, and our pick is the Dark Knight himself, British actor Christian Bale . Again, not a striking resemblance, but Bale has been known to transform into his characters, so we see no problem with him taking on the role of a heavy metal genius. ? Geezer Butler Played by James McAvoy Chris Walter, WireImage / Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images As the chief lyricist in Black Sabbath, bassist Geezer Butler needs to be played by an intellectual type. We nominate James McAvoy of such films as ‘Atonement,’ ‘Wanted’ and ‘X-Men: First Class.’ Not only does the Scottish thespian seem like a smart dude, he also looks remarkably like the young Geezer Butler. With a few bass lessons and a few books on the occult, McAvoy should be well on his way to taking on the role of Butler. ? Bill Ward Played by Tom Hardy Chris Walter, WireImage / Gareth Cattermole, Getty Images For heavy-hitting drummer Bill Ward , we need a powerful actor who can pound the skins with authority. While casting the guy who played ‘Dark Knight Rises’ villain Bane might stir up trouble with Christian Bale’s portrayal of Tony Iommi, we think Tom Hardy fits the ‘Bill’ extremely well. The British actor has shown his versatility as a boxer in ‘Warrior’ and a romantic spy in ‘This Means War,’ so he should have no problem rockin’ the role of Bill Ward if a Sabbath movie ever gets made. Who do you think should play the members of Black Sabbath in a movie? Do you like our choices? Any other suggestions? Let us know in the comments section below: [button href=”http://loudwire.com/casting-call-nirvana/” title=”Next Casiting Call: Nirvana” align=”center”]

Universal Sells Former Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden + Megadeth Label Sanctuary to BMG

Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com (2) / Karl Walter, Getty Images The ever-evolving music industry endured another shift recently when Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group agreed to sell Sanctuary Records, the onetime label of metal giants Black Sabbath , Iron Maiden and Megadeth , to BMG Rights Management. The Los Angeles Times reports that the deal was part of divestitures required by European Commission regulators. Sanctuary Records was among the assets requested by European regulators and sources report the label was sold for $62 million. In addition to Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Megadeth, Sanctuary released albums from Motorhead , The Kinks and more. Sanctuary is the second label sold off by Universal Music this month, with Parlophone recently being sold to Warner Music Group. Parlophone had the rights to past releases from  Coldplay , Pet Shop Boys and Tina Turner. Universal has yet to sell off two additional assets — Co-op, a British independent marketing and sales company and EMI’s European stake in the ‘NOW!’ musical venture. [button href=”http://loudwire.com/best-megadeth-songs/” title=”Next: 10 Best Megadeth Songs” align=”center”]

Metallica’s Kirk Hammett + James Hetfield Hang With Vans Pros Nathan Fletcher + Steve Caballero

Kevin Winter, Getty Images As part of the cross-promotion for the new Metallica -created shoe line with Vans, each of the band’s members have been meeting with some of Vans-backed sports athletes for new video features. Robert Trujillo’s clip went up first, with the bassist meeting with Vans team skater Tony Trujillo. Incidentally, both Trujillos, along with Tony’s wife Ashley, have formed the Trujillo Trio and they have tracks that can be downloaded for free  here . On the heels of Trujillo’s video comes new featurettes pairing James Hetfield with pro skateboarder Steve Caballero and guitarist Kirk Hammett with pro surfer Nathan Fletcher. In Hetfield’s video, Caballero is treated to a tour of the frontman’s vintage car collection as well as the Metallica HQ studio. Once inside, the skateboarder visits the band’s “jam room,” which is covered with the fan banners they collected over the years. There’s also the inspiration hallway, filled with photos of iconic acts like the Sex Pistols , Kiss and Black Sabbath , and what Hetfield calls “the frustration zone,” where the members can work out their anger on punching bags. Hammett, meanwhile, reminisces with Fletcher about one of their standout performances, playing alongside Van Halen in the late ’80s. The guitarist also uses the clip to discuss his new Vans shoe. He explained, “The inspiration comes from the fact that I like wearing black and I like the fact that this is a Vans shoe that is completely black. Inside you have a little guitar pick shape stamped in there and what you see is a version of a Ouija board on the guitar pick and the inspiration from that came from one of my guitars.” As for the target audience, he adds, “It’s very subtle. It’s made to cater to those individuals out there who like it none more black.” Watch James Hetfield Give Skater Steve Caballero a Tour of Metallica HQ video platform video management video solutions video player Watch Kirk Hammett + Pro Surfer Nathan Fletcher Catching Some Waves + Licks video platform video management video solutions video player [button href=”http://loudwire.com/casting-call-metallica/” title=”Next: Casting Call – Metallica” align=”center”]

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