This Month In Metal: April 2010

Avantasia x 2, Periphery, The Ocean and more in this April edition of This Month In Metal!

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Avantasia - Angel of Babylon/The Wicked Symphony

Released: April 3 Genre: Power metal Label: Nuclear Blast

I absolutely despise double albums. They take twice as long to get through, plus the vast majority of them would be twice as good/acceptable should they lose the double-part. But no-one forced me to check out Tobias Sammet's latest creations, so I have no one to blame but myself.

Obviously this review will be a bit more general than most (again: double albums are bad) due to the two-or-so-hours of music we're treated to. Avantasia is basically Tobias Sammet's project and it's a veritable who's-who of power metal, as he chooses to work with guest vocalists, guitarists and so on, rather than sticking to the same four or five guys for everything. The formula isn't to fault, as sometimes it works beautifully and sometimes it is just plain boring. I've understood that you can buy these albums by themselves, or as a double album/boxed set. Thus I can tell you right away that you have two possible outcomes: you buy one (or two) good/very good albums, or you buy a good double album. Either way works and I guess the only factor is how much pseudo-symphonic power metal you want in your life.

Despite the great amount of musicians involved in the albums, they still sound like a) they belong together and b) they sound coherent. Obviously a) is helped by the fact that it's part 2 and 3 in the Scarecrow saga, and b) is especially thankful as otherwise it could've ended up as those horrendous cover albums where you get a dozen bands doing a dozen songs but you end up with fourteen awful yet mutually exclusive tones.

Angel of Babylon/The Wicked Symphony are fairly similar albums, the only difference is where they dip. Angel.. dips in the middle but pulls it together in the end, while Symphony... gets a bit dreary over the final 10-15 minutes. Structure-wise there's not much to distinguish them and both albums have a handful great tracks, complete with all the things that makes power metal great.

UG Review Rating: 8

Rhapsody Of Fire - The Frozen Tears of Angels

Released: April 30 Genre: Symphonic power metal Label: Nuclear Blast

Before Christopher Lee decided to release his own metal album, I was of the opinion that any album that featured Mr Lee's narrative voice was an automatic 10/10. OK, not really, but it at least made it a lot more entertaining. Now, I'm not so sure and it's somewhat sad to see Christopher Lee being less and less exclusive.

Jokes aside, it's been awhile since our favorite over-the-top power metal warriors from Italy released an album. After a lengthy legal battle with Joey DeMaio (which surely must've been epic) they finally got the green light to record the third part to The Dark Secret Saga. Is it over-the-top? Yes. Is the theme ridiculous? Absolutely. But it isn't all that bad, nor is it very good. It's not hilariously bad, as Nostradamus, but it's also about as eventful and exciting as tumbleweed in a western film.

The Frozen Tears of Angels sounds like an album that desperately wants to be like the Avantasia albums reviewed above, but for whatever reason it doesn't have the sonical depth nor the quality in the songs to pull it off.

Rating: 4

Periphery - Periphery

Released: April 20 Genre: Progressive/experimental metal Label: Sumerian

Periphery's self-titled debut is an album of extremes. Extremes in the sense that I am at times digging it like mad, and at times find it to be really, really bad. Have they got their chops down? Absolutely, and they're all immensely talented musicians. Do I still find it to be pretty generic? Yes, the -core portions of the album stand out in the bad way, much because of Spencer Sotelo's vocals. I am not familiar with Periphery pre-Sotelo, but the dude is a mediocre screamer who fortunately has some good pipes, as his clean style is pretty enjoyable. Sotelo isn't the problem, but his generic screaming accentuates it.

On the other hand, there're plenty of spots where Periphery is an incredibly pleasing album, where the guitars play off eachother beautifully and don't engage in breakdown-centric riffing. While I find everything about this album to be somewhat blown out of proportion, both the positive and the negative, I still end up with a feeling that this on the whole is pretty average due to the uneven quality of the sections.

UG Review Rating: 6.5

The Ocean - Heliocentric

Released: April 13 Genre: Post-rock/progressive/experimental metal Label: Metal Blade

Just like with my attempt at making a decent summary of the genres that make up The Ocean's sound, it takes quite awhile until you get to the metal when you listen to Heliocentric. The Ocean-fanboys will run amok if I get this wrong, but from what I've gathered, Heliocentric is one ambitious concept that covers a millennia of Christianity and from the heliocentric view up until Darwin. And then the next album, Anthropocentric, will apparently deal with modern creationism. Now that's a concept.

As lame as I may sound, this album and it's metal elements are just like the ocean. A good portion of the album is not unlike a wave, in the sense that you experience a huge mellow build-up before you reach the crushing metal section. I'll try to lay off the water-metaphors, but the core of Heliocentric depends heavily on the ebb and flow they manage to create. It's not the type of album where you cherry-pick tracks, but I'd still argue that the opening half has the strongest cuts. Would I have liked a heavier album? Yes. Is Heliocentric still a very good album? It most certainly is. Any band attempting such an ambitious scope should be applauded, and in large The Ocean manage to deliver a solid, enjoyable album with tons of depth and layers.

Rating: 8

News and tidbits from the past month:

  • Cradle of Filth have signed a deal with Peaceville Records and will release their new album All Hallows Eve, in October.

  • Bret Michaels of Poison recently suffered a brain hemorrhage and remains under intensive care.

  • Amorphis' first-ever live DVD has been pushed back to June.

  • Vanden Plas will release their new album, The Seraphic Clockwork in June.

  • Avenged Sevenfold has finished recording their new album, intended for Q4 2010 release.

  • Ozzy Osbourne's new album Scream will be released in June via Epic.

  • Accept have signed a deal with Nuclear Blast Records.

  • All That Remains are working with Adam D of Killswitch Engage on their new album.

  • Watain's new album Lawless Darkness will be released on June 7 via Season of Mist.

  • Darkest Hour have signed a deal with E1 Music.

  • Malevolent Creation's new album Invidious Dominion will be released in late August via Massacre.

  • And finally, Peter Steele of Type O Negative died of heart failure on April 14. Rest in peace.

    That's all for this month, thanks for reading and as always you can recommend/suggest albums for the coming months by dropping me a message.

  • 142 comments sorted by best / new / date

      duncang
      ProgJazzMath wrote: How did I make a huge "prat" of myself?
      Everyone and their dog has heard of Sikth
      ProgJazzMath
      How did I make a huge "prat" of myself? Periphery does have interesting vocal melodies and hooks. Spencer actually reminds me a little Mikee. Of course not as good, but still.
      multipleofone
      Sikth actually has hooks/ interesting vocal melodies. Wish I could say the same about Periphery...
      duncang
      ProgJazzMath wrote:I'm sure none of you have even heard of Sikth. Check em' out.
      Congratulations, you just made a huge prat of yourself!
      ProgJazzMath
      What the hell are you guys talking about? Periphery is FAR from generic-core. The thing you don't understand obviously is that Bulb (creator of Periphery) wrote all the songs on this self-titled album over a period of 4+ years. They are ahead of any band out there calling themselves "Djent". Therefore FAR from generic. Plus the only bands out there that sound similar to Periphery are Meshuggah and SIKTH. I'm sure none of you have even heard of Sikth. Check em' out. Personally, I can't think of another band that sounds even similar to Periphery other than SIKTH and Meshuggah therefore I can't seem to catch on to this 'generic' talk. Want to know why? They aren't ****ing generic.
      ACFCPatrick
      Unfortunately it seems like spencer sotelo is getting the shit end of the stick on all of this. all of the lyrics, melodies, and screamed vocal patterns were written by chris baretto. Spencer did his best to add his own flare to it and is definitely a better singer than Chris. (i.e. the metal injection vids with chris.) Find the itunes bonus song "Captain On" and that is a much better indication of what Spencer is capable of on his own. Now this album might not be the most impressive thing to ever happen to metal, but it is definitely one the most powerful debut's from any metal band.
      Reviewer Pete
      dbor45 wrote: What about the new coheed album?
      I love their first two albums, but I wouldn't call them a metal band.
      JD Close
      JD+Thrash=win wrote: Im curious.... Does reviewer Pete get paid to do these reviews, or is it just a spare time kind of thing??
      I'm not sure, but I do think that it's funny that I'm JD and I play thrash and your name is JD+Thrash=WIN.
      denfilade
      Periphery may not be anything new, but they do set the standard for songs like those.
      iH8CarAccidents
      Cambyses wrote: im here to complain you didn't rate my favorite band high enough because i have a knee jerk reaction to any criticism of anyhing they do please read this and fix the rating to reflect the inordinate amount of energy i spend defending them from other people's opinions thanks
      This. Also, the only doble album I think I've ever listened to was Showbread's Anorexia/Nervosa which I thought was actually brilliant and a great listen from start to finish. In fact I think it's better as a whole than each individual song. It's also a concept album with a booklet to read along with the songs. It's a great idea. I'd never seen anything like it before. Not exactly a metal album. A little more on the industrial side of things but great nonetheless.
      TJM2482
      man, I forgot how generic and corny metal albums are. another mediocre month for metal :\
      oxymoronicman
      ok, wtf. Frozen Tears of the Angels kicks a ton of arse. that review just put me in a bad mood
      Disturbdkornkid
      The Tak wrote: Periphery 6.5? lmao that album is waaaaay better I agree, this album should have been rated higher. True, some tracks aren't as strong as others but overall a very enjoyable album.
      Meh, I think that's a pretty fair rating for the album. I would personally say that it's a 5. A review is all about opinion, and this is clearly the reviewer's opinion since he's writing it. So it's pretty pointless for people to say 'ZOMG THAT ALBUM WUZ SO MUCH BETTER AAAAARGH!!!11!!!1!one' now don't you think? Anyway, I'm listening to The Ocean and I'm pretty impressed, gotta check out more of them.
      metalcoremax87
      Periphery is WAAAAAYYYY better than a 6.5 rating... that album deserves nothing less than an 8 rating.
      shuggy
      As much as I like Periphery's album. I much prefer older versions of the tracks (Demo versions of The Walk and Icarus Lives = so much better), and the instrumentals of others (Jetpacks Was Yes & All New Materials).
      psyo
      UG community rating system - "my favourite band needs at least 8". Fans rate albums highly, people who dont like it probably wont bother to rate it, so 8 becomes what a 5 or 6 should be doing.
      shamwow_ninja
      A Ghost Reverie wrote: holy shit. the people that review these albums are asses.
      A large percentage of the people who comment on these reviews are asses
      Andragon wrote: No death or black metal reviews?! The end of the world is nigh!
      Itll happen soon enough.
      anthrax1214 wrote: this month in metal , my ass...
      I have no words that describe your stupidity, lack of self control, or lack of creative insults. Also if you have an opinion... STFU noone cares about yours or mine for that matter. Good Talk.
      Cambyses
      4 is way to high for something as false as rhapsody of fire's new album
      Avedas
      The only one of these I've listened to is the Periphery record, since I've pretty much stopped following power metal. Sorry, Avantasia and Rhapsody. Still excellent, excellent bands that I'll always love. As has been said, Spencer Sotelo's vocals are... eh. I don't mind his cleans but his screams aren't all that great. Casey Sabol was definitely the right man for this band. Too bad he had to leave. The instrumentation is top ****ing notch, however. I freaking love Periphery. I don't particularly pay too much attention to number ratings for music, however.
      Echoplex
      Heliocentric looks like a candidate for top 10 albums of the year, according to the review.
      Echoplex
      marianoarnaiz wrote: im going to say it again the dude that writes this is just a deth metal fan and he does not listen or likes the rest... so he cant be a good judge of other kinds of metal
      Reviewer Pete has stated, multiple times, that his favorite metal bands are those that move the genre forward and produce material that stands out above the masses of releases. Just look at his choice of Traced In Air, a very un-heavy album, as best album of 2008. Just because someone doesn't agree with your fanboyism doesn't mean that that person is close-minded.
      Cambyses
      im here to complain you didn't rate my favorite band high enough because i have a knee jerk reaction to any criticism of anyhing they do please read this and fix the rating to reflect the inordinate amount of energy i spend defending them from other people's opinions thanks
      shamwow_ninja
      im here to complain you didn't rate my favorite band high enough because i have a knee jerk reaction to any criticism of anyhing they do please read this and fix the rating to reflect the inordinate amount of energy i spend defending them from other people's opinions thanks This + a sideways eight
      ProgJazzMath
      Really? That's something man. You obviously have a great taste in music my friend for I have met a few people who listened to them. If I'm not mistaken not many people listened to them in their prime, people just started finding out about them after the broke up. Either way, you never hear anyone talking about Sikth.
      tancanada
      duncang wrote: tancanada wrote: Periphery's the best djentcore band to come out in forever. Oh my What a quote
      You got a better genre to pidgeonhole them in?
      Reviewer Pete
      MustangMan311 wrote: I don't think the reviewer "understands" Periphery. They aren't to be looked at as a deathcore band, which he seems to be doing. If he doesn't like the album, I can understand that, but I don't think he realizes the difference between Periphery and the rest of the Sumerian line-up.
      Enlighten me if you're so sure.
      tancanada
      MustangMan311 wrote: I don't think the reviewer "understands" Periphery. They aren't to be looked at as a deathcore band, which he seems to be doing. If he doesn't like the album, I can understand that, but I don't think he realizes the difference between Periphery and the rest of the Sumerian line-up.
      This. Periphery's the best djentcore band to come out in forever. How about you rate it compared to other bands in their genre next time
      duncang
      tancanada wrote: Periphery's the best djentcore band to come out in forever.
      Oh my What a quote
      TheJudasKiss
      duncang wrote: ProgJazzMath wrote: How did I make a huge "prat" of myself? Everyone and their dog has heard of Sikth
      Oh really? I Haven't heard of them until I read his comment. I'll ask my dog if he's heard of them. Nope, he hasn't heard of them either.
      Kwonnie
      Periphery is one of those bands that open up after repeated listens. People argue far too much that bands try to sound like Meshuggah. It's annoying. There a TON of bands influenced by Meshuggah. But Periphery, if none others, have Meshuggah as just that; an influence. They're not just another ripoff like everyone makes them out to be. There's absolutely nothing generic about them, may it be guitarwork or vocals. One thing that has yet to stand out to me is the drumming. But it's rare to find a band that writes anything like Periphery. Quite frankly, I find them to be djent at its finest. And this is coming from someone who only listens to the band casually. Clean vocals? Get over yourself. Singing doesn't just make a band core. Not to mention the lack of breakdowns on this particular album. Besides, even if they had such an obvious metalcore influence, the delivery is still far from generic. And sure; the vocal style's a bit rough, but you do have to realize that none of the melodies or lyrics were written by their current vocalist. And even then, I find it to be rather impressive myself. With that said, I can't rate Periphery's debut album fairly as, like I said, it's one of those albums that open up only after repeated listens. I think the mix is the poorest aspect of the album even though Misha's a master at it otherwise. The vocals don't really blend, the guitars are a bit messy-sounding, and the bass tone's a little fuzzy. This could contribute to my slow taking to the tracks at hand, but I still think Periphery is one of the better albums I've heard in a long time.
      illuminatiano
      jesus christ, let it be. Periphery shouldn't had been included in this column to begin with, let alone all you twats humping misha's anal beads. The reviewer gave his opinion, and isn't going to change it because of you lot rating this column a 1 out of 10 and whining about it.
      RandomJahLove
      Reviewer Pete wrote: the_white_bunny wrote: how about as i lay dying s new album is coming out? The announcement predates April, thus not being reported in this month's installment.
      But you're reviewing it in next month's installment, right? *bats eyelashes* lol
      MustangMan311
      I don't think the reviewer "understands" Periphery. They aren't to be looked at as a deathcore band, which he seems to be doing. If he doesn't like the album, I can understand that, but I don't think he realizes the difference between Periphery and the rest of the Sumerian line-up.
      Magero
      tancanada wrote: duncang wrote: tancanada wrote: Periphery's the best djentcore band to come out in forever. Oh my What a quote You got a better genre to pidgeonhole them in?
      Yeah, lose the "core" at the end ffs. Last thing we need is for the metalheads to start seeing us using "djentcore" and have all their hatred of random genre names with "core" at the end, be confirmed.
      Kevguy47
      Excuse me but where the heck is [id] on this list? That album is good, and by a well known band unlike this stuff.
      ProgJazzMath
      I don't care about opinion. But the fact of the matter is, you guys are putting bands in categories that they shouldn't be in. It's ridiculous and you have no idea what you are talking about. Periphery being called generic is crazy, because when you think generic... you think of basic chord structures, overused, regurgitated music that everyone seems to be doing. Periphery is doing something different and to say their vocalist sucks because he is "whiney" or "emo" is nuts. The guy can sing, although I feel his talent should be used in a different band, I can still say he does them justice. It's all about the live show with these guys and they don't disappoint. I started some arguments on here, and I realize that. Whatever though, learn more about a band before you go and make assumptions about them. Listen to everything they have to offer.
      Kikuta
      Long story short: you're all scrubs, stop squealing at eachother over what the hell you want to call the music. Fact of the matter is, Periphery ****ed up hard with this release. Spencer is absolutely awful and detracts from the music in every way possible; the mix has taken a dive since their pre-release tracks; they still used programmed drums for a full album release; and the lyrical concepts are worse than cancer. On the plus side however, the music is thoroughly enjoyable if you can tune out Spencer's whiney mouth-noise. Songs like Zyglrox, Racecar and Icarus Lives! are top notch material. tl;dr - 6.5 is too forgiving for this album. 5.5 at most - get rid of vocalist Spencer and replace him with someone that suits the music and it'd be 8.5/10
      FallenSaint
      Reviewer Pete wrote: I'm terribly sorry that I for once stopped being so damn serious and endulged in a light-hearted moment for a minute or two.
      Sure fooled me.
      I don't dislike them by default. I dislike them because of the track record of the format. Bands rarely pull them off and I do not enjoy sitting through bloated albums. Creating a good album is hard as it is, a double-album is, grossly generalised, twice as hard. The Wall? One of the most overrated albums of all time. SDIOIT? Filler-rama.
      Where I agree making a good album is difficult enough and some double albums released weren't an artists magnum opus, it shouldn't be an excuse be so dismissive and categorize all double albums as bloated and boring. The exact opposite can be debated about a band releasing an EP. Why should a band release something with a couple of tracks if they could of release an LP. I can go around saying EP's are garbage because it's an half-assed effort for a band to put something out with alot of filler. But that is also not the case. As far as The Wall being overrated, please... when a band makes an album with compositions of that caliber with which is mind bogging successful, influences countless and several incredibility successive musicians and artists (progressive or not) and all while the band did not compromise their style for a pop-er approach, I failed to see how something doesn't deserve the praise it gets. I agree that it overshadows some of there other work popularity wise (by the mainstream and average joes who aren't as musically intuitive as you, me and most of the guitar online forums)but it doesn't come without reason my column writing friend. I do respect your opinion.