Welcome to this, the first column attempting to cover the past month in metal. In here you'll find news, random amusing tidbits and of course some brief reviews on albums released in the past month. Enjoy!
Neaera - Armamentarium
Release Date: August 27thLabel: Metal Blade RecordsGenres: Melodic death/thrash
The German quintet's third album in three years is, bluntly put, more of the same. The band burst onto the scene a few years ago with the promising The Rising Tide of Oblivion, mixing death, thrash and the Gothenburg-sound as if they were their own creation, and they did so well. However, as their second album, this is more or less a rehash of that formula.
In terms of production, arrangements and execution, it's a job damn well done. Sadly, the core material isn't as strong as the group's potential. Despite that, it's not to say the album doesn't have any good tracks. Spearheading the Spawn and Armamentarium will without a doubt create massive moshpits on the band's upcoming German tour, running from mid-October to early November.
However - the bottom line is that this band with their potential needs to trim the fat and start moving forward, not standing still with the same sound.
As I Lay Dying - An Ocean Between Us
Release Date: August 21Label: Metal Blade RecordsGenres: Metal/hardcore
An Ocean Between Us definetely has a darker and more metal vibe than their previous releases. The mainriff to Nothing Left echoes Metallica's Blackened and if you look at just riffs, this album offers them in abundance. At the core, you have solid slabs of metal, with some catchy, almost pop-like choruses.
Luckily, the album is predominantly metal with a good dose of speed added for good measure. AILD manage to balance the screaming with the (raspy) singing without coming off overly cheap and/or trying to appeal to two crowds at the same time.
Despite that this album represents growth for AILD, it does not do much to carry the sound of the modern American metal scene forward. While being a competent release, it is not by any means the genre-defining record for this scene.
Still Remains - The Serpent
Release Date: August 7Label: Roadrunner RecordsGenres: Hard rock/metal
Everytime a scene makes it big, there bands that end up tagging along as stragglers, echoing the creators. This album comes off exactly like one of those. This is cute, poppy, bottom-of-the-creative-barrel pop-metal/rock.
Cue all the predictable elements: poppy choruses, screams, start-stop breakdowns, emotional lyrics. The album in itself is well produced, and the playing is good. There're hooks thrown in at the right places.
We have heard this countless time and at best, this band comes off as a third-rate Killswitch Engage copy.
Vital Remains - Evil Death Live (CD)
Release Date: August 7thLabel: Century Media RecordsGenres: Death metal
On paper, this should be one of the best live releases of the year. Though, for a few reasons it manages to disappoint somewhat. The biggest reason of course being that Glen Benton doesn't provide the vocals on this, but instead Damien Boynton handles the growling. Damien is a good albeit not very special growler. Put him up against one of the best in the genre, and I'm afraid it alone makes this release a bit disappointing. The tracks on this release are also all from the Benton-era.
Despite this - it's a live album from one of the prominent acts in death metal, and it will probably break bones in your body one way or another. Hell, it features great versions of Dechristianize (the intro is as awesome as on the album), Icons Of Evil and Devoured Elysium. Now had it only been with Benton
Heaven And Hell - Live At Radio City Music Hall
Release Date: August 28Genres: Heavy metalLabel: Rhino Records
Probably the biggest reunion of the year, and a quite succesful one at that. With this live album, the magic of the Dio/Butler/Iommi/Appice lineup in their live setting is captured. The performance is excellent - these guys are pushing retirement, but they can still dish out a liveshow that rivals bands a third their age. The setlist is filled to the brim with classics, and despite the fact that the albums are a good 25 years old, Dio can still do it despite his age. The scream at the beginning of Mob Rules is killer, and then we're treated to blistering performances of The Sign of the Southern Cross, Heaven And Hell, Children of the Seaand then some!
Bottom line - this is one of the best live albums in recent years and if you're a fan of classic metal, you must own this.
News And Tidbits From The Past Month
Norwegian avant-garde metallers Green Carnation, whose 2001 release Light of Day, Day of Darkness generated some serious praise from the critics, decided to split up after, according to the band, getting ripped off by their label on their recent tour of the US.
In Flames will enter the studio shortly to begin recording the follow-up to their 2006 effort, Come Clarity. The band is aiming for a spring 2008 release.
Opeth have announced that they will release their The Roundhouse Tapes CD and later DVD, on October 22 via Peaceville.
Laugh of the month goes to the recent uproar amongst My Chemical Romance fans against Machine Head winning the Best Album award at the Kerrang Awards the other week. Machine Head themselves have commented on the matter on their website:
"Wrought with dismay, polished fingernails the world over lashed out at the band and metal as a whole with diatribes the likes of MCR really should have won!!! I'm mad now!!!!, "what a load of shit, who the fuck listens to them?" and "Stupid Machine Head!!", at times stooping so low as to say the competition was fixed, and often gravely endangering the integrity of their carefully sideswept hair with posts like "I H8 METAL, I H8 METAL"
The moral of the story? Music is not a competition.