Tag: Metal

Trivium & Metallica

Speaking of sound systems, what I’m currently listening to is the pre-release stream of Trivium’s new album Shogun, via their MySpace page. Two songs in, it sounds a like they’ve mostly returned to a more heavy style, in line with their first two albums, as opposed to the much lighter, Metallica-like style of The Crusade, but we’ll see how the rest of it turns out.

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Speaking of Metallica, their new album, Death Magnetic, is pretty solid. A lot of people have been calling it a return to form, but that phrase gets thrown around a lot, and I’m not sure it makes sense in this case. What’s the form they’re returning to? To me, that would mean that the new album is a return to the Metallica of And Justice for All… and the albums previous to that. Their sound changed subtly after that to The Black Album, then drastically on Load and Re-Load, both of which I hated at first, but grew to appreciate a bit later. St. Anger was decent, and Death Magnetic is a pretty good follow-up, but it’s in that modern Metallica mode, not a true return to form. “Unforgiven III” and “The Day That Never Comes” are probably my two favorite tracks, but there’s plenty of other good stuff on there as well, and no songs I actively hate. I was especially glad to see them include an instrumental track again, as their instrumentals have always been some of my favorites (though this one is not in the league of “Orion” or “Call of Ktulu”).

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Protest Without Words

I’ve mentioned the band Protest the Hero here a few times, naming them as one of my favorite bands. Well, I just discovered something that makes me like them even more.

Their latest album, Fortress, came out in January of this year, and it was awesome. But I recently discovered that they’ve made it even more awesome—there is now available a version of the album that has all the regular tracks, plus instrumental versions of all of the tracks, and it’s still the same price as the regular album. (Of course, I paid double, since I bought the album when it originally came out, which did not have the instrumental tracks.) Or, I’m assuming this is new anyway—I bought the CD version of the album, and this double album version seems to only be available via iTunes [link (opens iTunes)], so it could have been there all along as an iTunes exclusive.

In any case, the instrumental version of the album is equally awesome, and speaks highly of just how intricately crafted their songs are. I’d imagine that you couldn’t strip away the vocals of just any song and still have a “complete” song—it would seem like it’s missing something. Having listened to the with-vocals version many times myself, it’s harder for me to judge the instrumental version of Fortress purely—at first, to me, it did sound a bit like there was something missing, but after having listened to the instrumental version a couple times, I have to say, I’m not sure that anyone who wasn’t familiar with the vocal version would ever think that, and the more I listen, the more I think they work beautifully without the lyrics.

If you like metal at all, or you just really dig fancy guitar-work, I’d highly recommend picking up the instrumental version of the album. I don’t think you can listen to whole instrumental tracks anywhere online, so if you want to try before you buy, I’d suggest buying “Sequoia Throne”—it’s probably their best song with or without vocals.

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Gratuitous Hoofbeats

You know, I would be totally okay with it if I never heard another metal song that included the sound of hoofbeats and/or the sound of clashing swords. I would also be okay with it if I never heard another one of those 30-45 second interludes consisting entirely of hoofbeats and/or clashing swords.

I’m just sayin’.

(Thankfully, since my iPod is my primary listening device, and I use playlists, I can just eliminate those interludes, and iTunes lets you alter the start time of a song, so if a track opens with gratuitous hoofbeats, I can make it start at the 25 second mark or whatever.)

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Maiden Heaven

I don’t know if you can still order it, but Kerrang Magazine recently released an Iron Maiden tribute CD featuring covers of IM tracks by a variety of metal bands, including Metallica, Trivium, Dream Theater, Coheed and Cambria, and DevilDriver, among others. I think these five tracks are the standouts, with the Metallica being the standout of the standouts. Now, I say this as someone who’s become disillusioned with Metallica and doesn’t necessarily expect them to knock everything out of the park as I once did. I have to say though, their cover of “Remember Tomorrow” kicks some serious ass. (Also, they recently did an awesome instrumental song called “Ecstasy of Gold” for an Ennio Morricone tribute album.) You can listen to “Remember Tomorrow” on Metallica’s MySpace page. You can listen to some of the other songs and learn more about the album at Kerrang’s “Maiden Heaven” mini-site.

Also, speaking of Metallica, their new album comes out Sept. 12. After hearing “Remember Tomorrow,” I’m really excited to see what they’ve done on this one.

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Metal Songs Based on Fantasy Novels

Random House’s Suvudu blog has a cool post on metal songs based on fantasy novels. Of course, I had to chime in with some additions in the comments, which I’ll duplicate here:

  • Amon Amarth–who are obviously named after Mount Doom, though they generally sing about Vikings–have a song called “Amon Amarth,” in which they reference Mount Doom, but they also mention Vikings, so I don’t know if it counts as being “based on” Tolkien.
  • Every song by Battlelore. I knew that they sang about swords-and-sorcery sort of topics, but wasn’t sure until I checked Wikipedia just now–apparently ALL of their lyrics are derived from Tolkien. Which is appropriate, because I always pictured the dueling vocalists as an orc and an elf singing. (Give them a listen and you’ll know why.)
  • A band called Jester’s Funeral adapted a bunch of John Shirley stories into songs for one of their albums (which they released online for free), called Fragments of an Exploded Heart.
  • If Dante’s The Divine Comedy counts as fantasy, then this counts for the list: Sepultura did an album based on that.
  • White Zombie’s “I am Legend” is based on I am Legend.

Can you think of any others not mentioned by me, or the original list?

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Scar Symmetry/Nuclear Blast All-Stars: "The Overshadowing"

In my recent post about music, I named Scar Symmetry as one of the top bands to debut in the last couple years. Their new album, Holographic Universe, just came out, and is, as expected, made of awesome. However, there’s a new song I’d like you to listen to that isn’t on that album, and in fact technically isn’t even one of theirs. It’s a “Nuclear Blast All-Stars” song (Nuclear Blast being a metal record label). To celebrate 20 years, Nuclear Blast put out this all-star complication. Basically, one guy wrote all the music and the instruments are played by the same crew, but the vocalist is different on each track. (For more details on the album, see the wiki.) This song, “The Overshadowing,” features Christian Alvestam from Scar Symmetry, and may actually be the best Scar Symmetry song–it sounds exactly like one, and really nails everything that they do well.



Note: For those of you who shy away from harsher metal vocals, this one’s probably not for you, though if you give the song a minute or so, you’ll see that the vocalist throws plenty of honest-to-god good singing in there as well.

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Edguy: "The Life and Times of a Bonus Track"

This song really amuses me, so I sought it out on YouTube to share it with you all. It’s really quite appropriate to do so, even though this clip is obviously an unauthorized version. Listen to the song and you’ll see why.

It’s a metal band, but this song isn’t really metal at all. Go ahead, try it. It’s by Edguy, and it’s called “The Life and Times of a Bonus Track.” As you might have guessed, it’s a bonus track on one of their albums. But what you probably wouldn’t guess is that it’s a first person account of the bonus track’s life. 


Now wasn’t that amusing?

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Turisas vs. Boney M.: "Rasputin" video

Here’s a video for the song “Rasputin” by the folk metal band Turisas. I saw them in concert a couple of weeks ago (with three other folk metal bands, on the “Pagan Fest” tour). They were awesome–in fact, the whole damn show was awesome, probably the best concert I’ve ever been to.

This song, “Rasputin,” was recently released as a single by the band, previously being something they only played live. Thing is, it’s a cover–of a disco song. I’d never heard of the disco version before, but it’s by an artist called Boney M. Here’s Turisas’s version:



Man, isn’t that violin player a bad-ass? Here’s the Boney M. version, in case you’re curious how it compares:



Not surprisingly, the Turisas version kicks a whole lot more ass, but I have to say–Boney M? Not bad.

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ELUVEITIE: "Inis Mona" video

I just discovered that the totally awesome band ELUVEITIE has several videos available on YouTube, including one for one of their best songs, “Inis Mona.”



You may recall me mentioning them earlier, when I said: “My favorite discovery included in this batch is a band called Eluveitie (pronounced El-way-tea). They’re Swiss, their name is a word in Etruscan, and some of their vocals are in Gaulish (the rest in English). They kind of sound to me like early In Flames, but with a bad-ass flute player. Seriously, this is the most metal a flute has ever been. They’re what you call “folk metal” or “pagan metal,” which blends the playing of traditional folk instruments (bagpipes, flute, hurdy-gurdy) with death metal.”

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Best New Bands

In a recent post on his blog, John Scalzi asked his readers to tell him what new music or artists they’re listening to these days, with the following rules:

For the purposes of this discussion, “new” is defined to mean:

1. The artist/band started publicly releasing music (or alternately made their major label debut) after January 2005;


2. The artist/band started publicly releasing music (or alternately made their major label debut) after January 2003, but you only heard about them in the last year.

I posted a long comment over there, but thought it was worthwhile posting here as well. So here it is:

I listen almost exclusively to metal, so I don’t have much in the way of recommendations outside of that sphere, but there’s a rock band called Priestess that I like a lot. Their first album, Hello Master, came out in 2006. It’s got some really nice guitar-driven stuff on it, which is not surprising given I discovered them via Guitar Hero.

Now, into metal:

My favorite discovery included in this batch is a band called Eluveitie (pronounced El-way-tea). They’re Swiss, their name is a word in Etruscan, and some of their vocals are in Gaulish (the rest in English). They kind of sound to me like early In Flames, but with a bad-ass flute player. Seriously, this is the most metal a flute has ever been. They’re what you call “folk metal” or “pagan metal,” which blends the playing of traditional folk instruments (bagpipes, flute, hurdy-gurdy) with death metal.

Another fine folk metal band is Korpiklaani (2006). Similar to Eluveitie, but a bit more inclined toward drinking song-type songs. Also, more accordion.

Draconian are deemed a “gothic/doom” metal band. They mix traditional doom/death vox with more traditional “clean” singing from a female vocalist. They’ve got albums going back to 2003, but I just discovered them this year, plus they probably still haven’t had what you’d call a “major” label debut.

Scar Symmetry, a melodic death metal band, with a single vocalist who does some of the best good cop/bad cop vocals I’ve ever heard. His death vox are about as brutal as the guy from Dethklok, but his clean vox qualify as actual good singing.

Two power metal bands I really dig (power metal basically being music with instrumentation similar in complexity to death metal, but with clean singing vocals, like Iron Maiden) are Dark Empire (2006) and Communic (2005). These two would probably be the most accessible (other than Priestess) to non-metal fans of all the bands I’ve mentioned.

Actually, I may have been hasty in proclaiming Eluveitie my favorite recent discovery–there’s also Protest the Hero (2006). They’re generally considered a “metalcore” band, though to me they really stand out from that pack, mainly due to the insane complexity of their guitarwork. Also, their first “major” album, Kezia, is a concept album which Wikipedia describes as “the elegy of a young woman after whom the album is titled. The story is chronicled in the perspective of three characters: The Prison Priest, The Prison Guard/Gunman, and Kezia herself. Each character is designated a section containing three songs, with a single retrospective finale concluding the album.” Their follow up to Kezia, Fortress, is equally awesome.

So, what new awesome bands do you guys like?

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