Welcome yet again, to a bit of 'Metal Forum Recommends', usually we'd start off with a joke, but I feel it would be inappropriate with the passing of No no, the Dodo. I understand you are all still rolling in utter disgust at the untimely and positively repulsive death of No no, so I shant be leaving you in bitter regret any longer. Shall we begin, Hugh?
Bio: Nightbringer are an atmospheric black metal band from Chicago that was formed in 1999 from members of Temple of Not and Serpentinam. Their lyrical content and message is frequently closely aligned with occultism. Mixing fantastic production with great guitar work, Nightbringer's Apocalypse Sun is a superb listen.
Sounds Like: Picture a slower less complex Deathspell Omega with hints of Teratism and Incursus, evil tremolo riffs and an unreal atmosphere packed with great hypnotizing vocals.
Why Listen? They're a band with a fresh new sound which is half the time very welcome in the black metal world, and this band hits gold.
Bio: Do you like Black Sabbath? Of course you do. How about chewing on broken glass and punching f--k out of anyone who looks at you the wrong way? Probably not. However, judging from the material spawned during their five year run, Iron Monkey loved the shit out of both those things. Forming in Nottingham in 1994, Iron Monkey set about establishing themselves as the musical successors to the sludge monarchy held by the likes of Eyehategod and Grief, with the intention to "to irritate as many people as possible". They quickly gained a reputation as a fearsome live act, with chaos usually ensuing whenever they played, yet only a year after releasing their second album, 1998's Our Problem on Earache Records, Iron Monkey decided to call it quits. It's members went their seperate ways, with drummer Justin Greaves going on to play in bands such as Teeth of The Lions Rule the Divine (with SunnO))) members Stephen O' Malley and Greg Anderson, as well as Cathedral's Lee Dorian) and stoner titans Electric Wizard, as well establishing post-rock supergroup Crippled Black Phoenix. Sadly vocalist Johnny Morrow died of heart failure in 2002. Rumour has it Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo was listening to Iron Monkey's self-titled debut when he famously overdosed on heroin; homeboy upstairs may or may not have made the wrong choice there.
Sounds Like: Aforementioned Black Sabbath worship, except Ozzy Osbourne is an escaped mental patient who chowed down on an empty bottle of Jack Daniels, with the stereotypical crusty sludge edge. Morrow spits out his lyrics with venom, whilst the downtuned Sabbathian riffage perfectly complements the exceptional drumming skills of Greaves. When the band decide to pick up the tempo the riffs take on an altogether more aggresive edge, reminiscent of Discharge [i]et al[/i], whilst Greaves manages to make the most stereotypical punk beats sound like you've never heard them before.
Why Listen: Johnny Morrow is maybe the best extreme metal vocalist of all time. I do not exaggerate here. Every syllable he unleashes oozes with pure misanthropy, every tortured scream tells the story of a lifetime spent in shite places doing shite things living a shite life. Plus, those drums. Ooooft. When you're feeling like Fred Durst must do everytime he looks in the mirror, put some Iron Monkey on, turn it up to eleven and punch your wall. You know you want to.
Bio: Fester are an anomaly, a gone and more or less forgotten outfit from Askim, Norway. Releasing two full lengths in the early 1990s before splitting, vocalist and guitarist Bjrn Mathisen has recently resurrected the band's presence with a series of remixes, remasters and reissues, as well as a demo compilation entitled The Commitments That Shattered. However, we are unlikely to see the band itself reunite after the death of bassist Jrgen Skjolden in 2000.
Sounds Like: Nothing you have ever heard before...and everything you have ever heard before. 1994's Silence is a surreal journey that relies not on psychedelic production, expansive structures, or quirky instrumentation, but on the hypnotic effect that a simple metal riff can have. The band works only within its own parameters, and it is learnt with time that trying to summarise the style is a futile exercise. You've heard (and probably written) a lot of these riffs before, yet they take on a whole new meaning in the world of Fester.
Why Listen?Because if you don't, you are unlikely to hear anything like it in your life.
Hammers of Misfortune
Bio: Originally formed by John Cobbett as Unholy Cadaver, Hammers of Misfortune changed their name to their current moniker and switched styles from death/black metal to progressive heavy metal with some folky tinges. Their first album, The Bastard, was well-received, but it was their subsequent releases, 2003's The August Engine and 2006's The Locust Years that put the spotlight on them. Following a major lineup change which saw vocalist Mike Scalzi leave to focus on his main band (Slough Feg), the bands released the double album Fields/Church of Broken Glass. In 2010, they were signed by Metal Blade Records, who reissued all of their material; they have announced plans for a new album in 2011.
Sounds Like: Progressively-styled traditional heavy metal with some folky bits. Fields/Church of Broken Glass has a bit more of a 70's prog vibe. A mix of male and female vocals are used, and to better effect than is typical.
Why Listen? Because you need to learn what prog metal with riffs sounds like. You need to learn that prog metal does not need Dream Theater-esque technical wizardy to be awesome; in fact, 99% of the time it's better off without it. You need to learn the difference between regular prog metal and prog metal with balls, and these guys are a great first step.
Terrible, terrible loss. I'd still be mourning if my name wasn't Noon. I hope thoughts of the previous cheery bands have raised your spirits, and I'm sorry to have to cut this short, howev-
Bio: Formed in 2001 under the name Silver Sunshine, the San Diego based band released an album and an EP before founding member and drummer Iain Sclater left the band in 2006. He was soon replaced by drummer/multi-instrumentalist David Hurley. Not long after this the band changed their name to Astra, to reflect the way the bands sound and direction had grown and changed. The band signed to Rise Above records in June 2008, and released their dbut album entitled The Weirding in May 2009.
Sounds Like: A time machine taking you to the heyday of Prog Rock. Listening to The Weirding, the only clue as to it being a modern album is the quality of recording, everything else about it sounds like it could have come from the 60's/70's. The album has all the elements a good prog rock band should have, long instrumental sections, wonderfully composed music, technical ability, but without it sounding like they are trying too hard, and some of the most glorious synth sounds in recent years.
Why Listen? A must for fans of Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Caravan, Yes, ELP and just about any prog rock band you care to mention. It could be argued that in fact by harking back to past musical glories they are more regressive than they are progressive, but to be honest, I think that's the beauty of them. There are very few of those classic bands still together, and even few putting out new and exciting music. Astra fill that void. And yet, despite having such a familiar sound, they never loose their identity, they always sound like Astra.
WHAT WAS THAT?! DID IT JUST CUT ME OFF?
ABSOLUTE BOLLOCKS. (See you next week, metuhl \m/)