After the big explosion of Folk Metal hitting the metal realm a handful of years ago a deluge of bands trying to cash in on the wave hit the scene, some are good, some not so good. All in all, I’m happy that explosion hit because I think that folk metal is one of the most fun and unique sub-genres in metal, and well, the more the merrier. Now that the scenes height of popularity has passed and the survivors are continuing to make a name for themselves as pioneers in the genre, it’s nice to know that there are still some quality folk metal bands popping up here and there nowadays making folk metal for their own reasons instead of trying to cash in on a fad. The Czech Republic’s Cruadalach is one of those bands and their album Lead-Not Follow is a Celtic Folk Metal delight.
How to describe this record, hmm. OK, Trioscapes, a band made up 3 insanely talented musician (Dan Briggs of BTBAM on bass, Walter Fancourt on saxophone and flute, and Matt Lynch on drums and electronics) that play a fun and crazy form of psychedelic jazz fusion progressive metal on their debut record Separate Realities. The record sounds like if you were to take Frank Zappa, Rush, late 70’s early 80’s era King Crimson, some famous jazz fusion artist I don’t know, BTBAM, and Primus and put them in a blender with a ton of happy pills. The results come out something quite unique and very refreshing. From front to back there is never a dull moment in the time melding assaults and groove laden jazz freakouts. If you’re looking for something upbeat and different to listen to, I have a feeling you will be loving this record, especially if you are a prog fan.
I first found out about The Sword the old-fashioned way(well, old-fashioned for me). I was flipping through the channels on the t.v. and noticed that the only redeeming thing on MTV was on, Headbangers Ball. So, like a good little metalhead, I sat and watched some metal videos. Unfortunately, that evening they were showing a bunch of crap and I was about to give up and change the channel. Then, a video starts with the words “THE SWORD” flying from the screen with a snowy forest backdrop and a sludgy intro riff. What ensued after was 4 minutes of kick ass, no-frills, old-fashioned metal. From that moment I was complete sold. The next day I went out and pick up their masterpiece album “Age of Winters”. That was back in 2003.
One of my favorite things a band can do to make me really pay attention to their music is incorporate other styles other than brutality piled upon brutality. Don’t get me wrong, I like some good kick in the teeth metal as much as the next guy, but the stuff I really get into tends to push the metal envelope. Portugal’s Skypho described themselves to me as a band that combined tribal beats with metal in unique and characteristic ways. I thought as I was about to spin the album that I was going to be listening to something along the lines of Max-era Sepultura/Soulfly, but I found that I was wrong and was pleasantly surprised by their debut L.P. Same Old Sin as it turned out to be a much more melodic affair than I had expected.
A great warrior is standing at the gates of a castle that is about to be stormed looking to the sky as a bead of sweat drops down his nervous brow. This grand swordsman wipes the sweat from his brow and hides all of his nervous inhibitions so he does not lose the courage of the army standing behind him. He know he must be brave and strong for the people at this castle have oppressed him and his people and land for far too long. To muster up his courage and of his men he unsheathes his great iron broadsword made by his brother, the blacksmith. Light reflects off snow landing and melting on the edge of his blade as he raises high into the air. This light calls the attention of his men along with the thundering battle cry that come pouring from lungs. “We have come, and we will take back what you have forcefully taken from us!” And then turning to the castle, the swordsman thunders, “Prepare to return to where you have come from. Our blades, our spears, and our arrows are thirsty, and today, they will sated!!!” The army bellows in agreement and then the epic battle ensues.
Hammers of Misfortune are a band that came out of nowhere and caught me completely off guard. I was browsing the internet and came across a link that led to the official full album stream of their upcoming album 17th Street, so I figured why the hell not and clicked and started giving it a listen. I was immediately drawn in by the sludge metal intro that was peppered with prog leads and some commanding and interesting vocals (which sound reminiscent of Keith Caputo of Life of Agony). Then about one minute into the second track’s crushing and trashy riffs and rhythms and serpentine leads I knew that this was going to be one album I would have to stick with to the end. I did, and 17th Street didn’t disappoint.