First off, this is an anniversary of some sort. It's not precisely, but more or less a year since the first installment of This Month In Metal. I hope you've had fun reading it, found some new bands and had a good time. I sure have, here's to another year!
Dragonforce - Ultra Beatdown
Release date: August 28 Genres: Extreme Power Metal Label: Roadrunner
Few bands divide metal fans into "lovers" and "haters" so well like Dragonforce. It seems everyone has an opinion on them, their music, their liveshow, how their bassplayer can rip so much on guitar or their drinking. So, what's "Ultra Beatdown" like? Color me surprised, they're sticking to their guns this time around as well. Completely ridiculous lyrics about freedom, fire, flames and heroes? Check. Over-the-top vocals about aforementioned topics? Check. Double bass drumming, crazy nintendo tricks on guitar, more shred than at the butcher shop? Check.
"Ultra Beatdown" brings precious new to the table. DF have their formula, their own sound and the label are most certainly pleased with that. But on an artistic, creative level, releasing rehashed music like this is plain and simple suicide. Dragonforce have always come off as a fun band, best taken with a truckload of salt and in small doses... eerily similar to Manowar in that regard. Sure, they're entertaining in parts, the guitar chops of Sam and Herman are quite jawdropping at times and the whole thing is well produced. But it also lacks recognizable riffs and melodies capable to carry and define a song. Add to that 8 songs coming off as same-y clocking in at an average of over 7 minutes, and you most definitely do not have a winner. Maybe a beer coaster, if you still insist on purcashing it.
Into Eternity - The Incurable Tragedy
Release date: August 25 Genres: Melodic/Progressive/Extreme Metal Label: Century Media
Into Eternity have managed to craft themselves a nice little sound that in theory should appeal to a lot of people, without for that matter being something you could or should dismiss as commercial. A good dose of classic/traditional metal with thrash, progressive and a touch of modern screaming/growling makes for an interesting melting pot of styles. There's of course a good dose of guitar acrobatics involved, but also softer and more gentle moments, such as "The Incurable Tragedy I" that for some reason sounds eerily similar to another household name for progressive fans; Shadow Gallery. As is the case with the albums of the aforementioned band, there's a story of some sort going on here, but due to the short time I have to get familiar with this release, I'll have to pass on doing a deeper analysis of the lyrics and storyline.
So, is it any good? Why yes of course, it's definitely worth giving a few spins. The vocals are perhaps a bit of an aquired taste, but musically it's very solid. Well-crafted melodies, some catchy riffing and several unexpected twists and turns coupled with a solid, albeit uneventful production. 38 minutes split onto 12 tracks also helps the case, as "The Incurable Tragedy" hardly outstays its welcome and makes for a refreshing change compared to the 'fill-it-up'-mentality that most bands tend to abide by these days.
"The Incurable Tragedy" gets a lot of things right and doesn't necessarily make any huge mistakes, but it also struggles to reach any real heights. It's a good, solid modern progmetal album. Nothing more, nothing less and well worth checking out if that's your thing.
Slipknot - All Hope Is Gone
Release date: August 26 Genres: Modern Metal Label: Roadrunner
One of the more anticipated releases of the year (which apparently hit #1 after a recount. Is Billboard located in Florida?) has dropped, and as expected the ball is rolling quite well for this outfit.
What can be said about "All Hope Is Gone?" Well, it's nothing new under the sun. The production is perhaps a bit slicker than on previous releases, but Corey Taylor's trademark snarl and catchy lyrics are still present. Slipknot have their sound, or perhaps I should say had, because either there are more bands sounding like them, or they are starting to conform and turn into a more pedestrian act. There're certainly catchy tunes at hand -- the title track, 'Gematria' and a handful more tunes showcase the 'knots ability to pen tracks that'll get kids into the pit. But then again, how many bands out there can't thump their chests and say 'we can do that too'? While having a bunch of tracks that can rock the sport-bra off the girl next to you in the pit, the album also has some tracks that are decidedly uneventful, a few ballad-y numbers that would be better off on a Stone Sour album and it all adds up to a padded release clocking in at almost an hour.
I don't care what Rolling Stone's writers say about 'Slipknot the metal phenomenon' -- there have always been metal bands capable doing what Slipknot are putting out. Bottom line is that "All Hope Is Gone" is just another metal album by just another metal band that happens to have been in the right place at the right time. Average and harmless.
News And Tidbits From The Past Month
Four members of now-defunct Swedish death/thrashers The Crown have once again joined forces in a new project entitled Dobermann. Andreas Bergh of Deathstars will handle vocal duties on an as of yet untitled release.
Drummer Dariusz "Daray" Brzozowski and guitarist Maurycy "Mauser" Stefanowicz have left the legendary Polish death metal band Vader. Daray will join Dimmu Borgir, while Mauser will focus on his own project, Unsun. Official details regarding replacements are as of now not available.
Yngwie Malmsteen's new album "Perpetual Flame" will be released on October 14.
"Get Thrashed: The Story Of Thrash Metal" be will be released on DVD in the US and Japan on September 16, 2008, in the UK on October 20 and in the rest of Europe on September 26.
Sweden's Katatonia have begun working on new material.
Both Killswitch Engage and Lamb Of God will enter studios in October to work on new releases. Both albums are scheduled for Q1 2009 releases.
Napalm Death have set "Time Waits For No Slave" as the title for their new album, tentatively due before the end of the year.
Behemoth will release their first live album, "At The Arena Ov Aion - Live Apostasy", in October.
Drummer Jeff Singer has left UK doomsters Paradise Lost and decided to hang up his sticks.
Agalloch has recently released 'The Demonstration Archive', a retrospective full-length album documenting their unsigned years, plus some bonus tracks.