2016 Best of Metal List #14

Black Crown Initiate-Selves We Cannot Forgive

Technical death metal is a very acquired taste.  I’m sure the first time you tried coffee or beer you just couldn’t understand the appeal at all.  This style of death metal is hyper-aggressive in style.  Usually played on 7 or 8 string guitars, it gets really heavy and it is normally super fast.  Reading, Pennsylvania’s Black Crown Initiate are among a group of newer bands specializing in this type of metal. The new album, released on July 22, is their sophomore release and shows a bit more emotional depth than their debut album, The Wreckage of Stars.  A unique characteristic of this band is the dueling vocals.  Lead vocalist James Dorton handles the death growls and lead guitarist, Andy Thomas, provides some downright angelic clean vocals.  The dichotomy provides interesting textures over the brutal aspect of the underlying music.  Seeing them perform live is somewhat of a trip because Thomas looks like a mountain man/werewolf/sasquatch hybrid and hearing such a beautiful singing voice coming out of him is a little jolting.

Here is a sample song to give you a taste.  Remember:  the more of this stuff you listen to; the more it starts to make sense.  Eventually you will begin to crave it.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

16.  Death Angel-The Evil Divide

15.  John Wesley-a way you’ll never be

14.  Black Crown Initiate-Selves We Cannot Forgive

2016 Best of Metal List #15

John Wesley-a way you’ll never be

This isn’t the most metal album in the world, but, WOW, that album cover sure is!  This is the first full prog album to be included on the list.  John Wesley is a guitarist/vocalist who is mainly known for his work with other artists.  I first became aware of him because he was a mainstay touring musician for the prog great, Porcupine Tree.  Any dude who has the chops to hang with Steven Wilson is worthy of checking out.  I was completely unfamiliar with Wesley’s solo material, but when this album was released on October 7 and it started received fairly positive press, I decided to give it a listen.  Very guitar driven prog rock.  Just a solid and enjoyable listen all the way through.  These are the under-the-radar album releases that really make my year.  I had no idea this was coming out this year and it ends up being one of my favorite albums to come out.

The attached song is one of the better songs you will hear this year.  I just don’t understand why stuff like this doesn’t make it on to rock radio stations.  But, there’s a lot of shit I just don’t understand.  You’ll see a running theme going forward.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

16.  Death Angel-The Evil Divide

15.  John Wesley-a way you’ll never be

2016 Best of Metal List #16

Death Angel-The Evil Divide

May 27, 2016 saw the long-running Bay Area thrashers release The Evil Divide.  Consistent is the word of the day for these guys.  They broke up after 1990’s Act III album, but came back together in 2008.  It has been all guns blazing ever since they have come back.  5 albums into their resurgence and they have emerged as one of the most consistent bands going.  The new album doesn’t really break any new ground, but it is just a slab of professionally produced thrash metal.  Rob Cavestany is a guitarist and songwriter that really should be more well-known by now.  His aggressive riffs will absolutely grow hair on your chest.

Give a listen to the attached track and enjoy this lesson in Metal done correctly.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

16.  Death Angel-The Evil Divide

Omnium Gatherum at Grizzly Hall, December 12, 2016

If you were teaching a class in Metal 101 and you wanted to provide your class with what the prototypical Metal band should look like on stage, you would have a hard time finding a more Metal example of a band than Finland’s Omnium Gatherum.  These guys have been crafting professional melodic death metal for many a year now.  If you’ve had a stumbling block getting into death metal, OG is a really good introductory band.  Their sound is just your classic Iron Maiden-inspired metal with a death growl master on the mic instead of Bruce Dickinson’s air raid siren vocals.

The show on Monday night was their first show in our fine city.  Their 45 minute set consisted mainly of songs from their latest two albums with a nice setlist finisher of older classic, New World Shadows.  Impressively, even though there were probably only 50 people in attendance, Omnium gave a set that was full of energy.

New Dynamic

The Unknowing

 

2016 Best of Metal List #17

Abbath-Abbath

Ah, the man who inspired a 1,000 memes.  After much internal strife between he and Demonaz, January 22, 2016, finally saw Abbath make his split from Immortal complete.  Let’s face it.  This was the new Immortal album.  This new slab is a rollicking blackened good time.  Abbath’s take on black metal has always been a little more fun than your normal Scandinavian black metal brood.  It’s black metal with a groove.  It’s black metal you can dance to.  The songs are less in the vein of “Satan this”, “Satan that”, “Satan is my friend.”  It’s more “We come from the North”, “We run around in the woods in the snow in our battle gear”, “If you’re not Scandinavian, you are weak and will not survive” “Look at the size of my battle axe” “It’s really fucking cold here” all conveyed in a raspy, demonic gargle.

This is another band to check out live.  Not only do they bring the musical chops, but the man just embraces the character that he has become.  Goofy stage banter in broken English and various awesome stage poses are in full effect.  I saw them at Emo’s earlier this year and really couldn’t get a stupid grin off my face the entire show.

Here’s a sample song to give you a taste of what to expect on this raging album.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

17.  Abbath-Abbath

Image result for abbath memes

2016 Best of Metal List #18

Anciients-Voice of the Void

Anciients (not a typo…spelled with two “i”s) is a Canadian band who burst on the scene back in 2013 with a scorching debut album entitled, “Heart of Oak”.  They got a great deal of good press and landed some prime opening spots with some well-known headliners.  Sadly, they weren’t able to completely capitalize on the momentum due to some personal and family issues that intervened over the past few years and were only able to release their sophomore effort on October 14 of this year.  Luckily, the new album picks up right where the last album left off.  If you are a fan of older era Mastodon, give these guys a listen.  Aggressive riffs, spacey song writing and a mixture of growling and clean vocals.  Hopefully they will be able to move forward and get the band back to the position they were in prior to their hiatus.

Also, these guys win best Album Cover this year.  Goats!

Attached is a sample song from the new album.  I hope you enjoy.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance

18.  Anciients-Voice of the Void

2016 Best of Metal List #19

Russian Circles-Guidance

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My girlfriend is a punk rocker.  We have endless discussions (arguments?) regarding which genre is mightier: Metal or punk rock?  Russian Circles is one of the rare bands in which she and I find common ground.  She went as far as to say the other day that this release might be her favorite to come out this year.  I don’t have it that high on my list, but it is still worthy of inclusion on the best of list.

I dig instrumental bands.  I dig that some bands just say, “Fuck it.  We don’t need the headache of dealing with a diva with a set of lungs fronting the band.”  It just goes against the grain of the traditional format for popular music.  To have the chops to compose a song that still has enough heft to connect with the listener on an emotional level without the use of words is an impressive feat.  Russian Circles has been nothing but consistent throughout their career and are, by far, one of the best instrumental bands in the metal field.  The latest album, Guidance, was released on August 5th.  This album is a melodic ride through melancholy terrain.  It’s a great album to have while taking a long road trip because it just adds a nice soundtrack to watching the landscape go speeding by.

We were lucky to get to see them perform the new album in full when they stopped by to play at Barracuda earlier this year.  These guys are all business.  Not only are there no vocals in their songs, but during the show, their is no cutesy in between song banter.  They come out.  They start playing.  They leave the stage.

Attached is a sample song from the album.  It should go without saying that if you like an album that I post on here, go out and buy it.  Support the artists you enjoy.  They aren’t doing this shit for free.

The list so far:

20(a).  Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

20.  The Dillinger Escape Plan-Dissociation

19.  Russian Circles-Guidance