For how much metal delves into histories of their nations I’ve always been rather disappointed that the Native Americans are so poorly represented. Sure, there are songs about the Native Americans and even bands that capture the atmosphere of the spiritual aspects of Native American culture, but until now nothing I’ve heard has been full on Native American; capturing the history, the nature, and the spiritualism. Having a large part of my heritage being Native American (I’m of Seneca descent and grew up in NJ, a Lenni-Lenape region) I’ve always had interest in Native American culture, in particular the music. Naturally there’s always been a desire to want to hear the traditional music and tales blended with my favorite form of music, heavy metal (obviously). So you can imagine my glee when I saw that our very own Irmelnis had posted on her Facebook wall a link to an album preview for Heart of Akamon by Nechochwen, a full on Native American metal band. Not only did they come from a label I’m really starting to come to admire quite a bit (Bindrune Records) who hosts some amazing artist like Panopticon and Falls of Rauros but also integrate Lenape and other Eastern Woodlands Native American history and lore into their music. Damn straight I went right to the Metal State inbox to see if we had gotten a promo of the record. And oh yes we did, and oh yes am I more than content and have bought the entire discography already. Where has this band been my whole life? Read the rest of this entry →
For as much as I love doom metal one sect of the genre I’ve never really been able to get into is funeral doom, bar an exception or two. It’s just a style that has to be particularly fresh and engaging for me to be able to sit through at attention as 10 plus minute long songs plod along. So forgive me for remaining ignorant to the thunderous majesty know as Ahab for over a decade. Self-proclaimed as nautical doom metal these Germans stay true to their Melville-ian namesake and produce dirges which require patience and a hearty pair of sea legs to really appreciate the payoff of a gorgeous, well-crafted world. Slow and sludgy Ahab’s new album, The Boats of Glen Carrig, looks to be the bands most accomplished record to date. Going back and checking out their earlier releases as reference points (Holy Shit! The Call of the Wretched Sea is a beast!) it also sounds as if the band is pushing their sound into uncharted territory. That may or may not be a good thing depending on how slow you like your doom metal.
Ever so rarely an album comes by that encapsulates the soul band. From a group’s particular style to even their namesake, these albums showcase all that is and has propelled them into the leaders of their genres. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son from Iron Maiden, Pelagial by The Ocean, and Panopticon by Isis are some examples of records that lay in this very small group with both fan and critical praise being forever lauded upon them. But the big daddy of them all belongs to Scenes from a Memory by Dream Theater. It is of my opinion that no other album sums up a band as perfectly as that record does. The music connected to the narrative, the ‘dream’, which is played out through the album, the ‘theater’, is executed so perfectly and passionately I had never thought no other album could ever achieve the multitude of musical accomplishments as deftly as it has done. That is until Between the Buried and Me unleashed their latest record, Coma Ecliptic, unto the masses for me to listen, absorb, and consume ravenously.
Right off the bat, the most striking thing about Vattnet Viskar’s sophomore album would be its bright and happy cover art. If you didn’t know any better you could imagine that an album of cheery electronic music lies within it. However, Vattnet Viskar is a post-metal band and that photo isn’t as cheery as you may think it is. If you are from my generation (the 80s) or earlier you surely remember the Challenger mission. Things didn’t go very well and spaceships exploded and lives were lost. The photo in the cover art is inspired by a photo of Christa McAuliffe while she was on a ‘Vomit Comet’ training simulation about a year prior to being tragically lost in the Challenger launch disaster. It’s a quite a surreal and contrasting pic. So happy and at a peak in life only to have it all soon violently ripped away from her. But, still kind of life-affirming in a way. Now, does that cover art look a bit more metal to you?
Release Date: 7 April 2015
Length: 54 minutes
Genre: Progressive Folk Metal
Studio Albums: Olden Tales & Deathly Trails (2012)
Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 6 March 2015
Length: 54 minutes
Genre: Extreme prog/Viking/black metal
Studio Albums: 11 previous
Location: Bergen, Norway
A couple of years past one of our readers suggested I give a listen to C.V.I. by Royal Thunder and pretty much right after the first spin I was absolutely in love with it. It is unlike anything I had heard. It encompasses the attitude of metal, the psychedelic tendencies of prog, the soul of blues rock, and the heart of Americana folk. Yet, if one were to pin it to one or a mix of those genres, it just wouldn’t fit in too well. It just sits there on its own doing its own thing. Now the Georgian quartet are here with a sophomore release to one of my favorite modern records and it does not disappoint. In fact, it quite surpasses any expectations I had.
As with C.V.I., a big driving force throughout the entirety of Crooked Doors lies within the singular voice of Mlny Parsonz. Exuding soul, emotion, and gravitas on every single note her bluesy vocals float effortlessly through whatever color or mood her band mates throw at her. Whether the personifying that snarl of grunge on ‘Time Machine’ or channeling her inner-Billie Holiday on ‘The Bear’ Americana suite, she will find a way tug at your heartstrings in some shape or form. And her lyrics just amplify the passion put into the singing.
Royal Thunder is a band and not the Mlny Parsonz show however, and with such a notable voice like hers, you better believe the rest of the crew are no slouches. There’s no superfluous solos, crushing rhythms, or show stealing riffs going on the record. What the real talent here is how all four member work together to lift the other up and create interesting and concise songs. On ‘Ear on the Fool’ a bright sounding ominous riff weaves through a serpentine rhythm creating this delightfully dizzying effect while the vocals keep the twisty turbulence in check. On ‘Forget You’ the doom metal riffing feels right at home with rock and roll vocals and on ‘The Line’ the fuzzy guitar tone melds perfectly with the Mars Volta-like passages of proggy psychedelia. There’s even a rather unique take on the ballad with ‘The Line’ delivering a grungy/country concoction. The record is filled with endless moments of one complimenting the other, and not only is it engaging but also makes repeat listens that much more enjoyable. This is a band that really feeds off of each other and it’s a pleasure to listen to.
Starting with a bang and ending on a solemn and uplifting note, Crooked Doors is a complete package. Whether you’re a fan of metal, rock, blues, prog, folktechbabbledethsludge-coorz, if you dig on simply damn great music this is a must listen. Not wanting depreciate their outstanding debut, this album is the outcome of hard work and honing a craft. There wasn’t a single moment I found my attention meandering from the music which is a testament to the strong songwriting and performances throughout its hour-long run time. The highest of recommendations. Peace love and metal!!! 5/5
A few years ago during one of my forays into ‘that’ part of the internet I stumbled on a blog called Blood and Banjos. It was basically about a guy, let’s call him Mike, who was kicking around the idea of making a record that combined his love of bluegrass music with its polar opposite, black metal. He had a couple of audio clips and ideas posted up, and needless to say, as a lover of any original idea in the realm of metal, I was instantly intrigued and started following the blog regularly. Over time Mike’s vision started to take shape and the idea of an album began to come to fruition. He called upon friends and fellow musicians from all over the US and even Europe to offer their skills on his ideas and offer their own. Then there was a successful Kickstarter campaign which allowed Mike and friends to realize all their ideas, demos, and musings on a full-fledged, professionally recorded album. Needless to say there was a huge amount of passion and time invested in creating this record, and holy hell does it show!
Label: Pelagic Records
Release Date: Sept. 15th, 2014
Studio Albums: Exit Eden (2011), Iron Chest (2012)
Location: Berlin, Germany
Album: Black Hole Gods
Release Date: August 5th, 2014
Length: 1 hour
Studio Albums: Another Holy Trinity (2013),
Location: CA, USA