I recently learned of a new online music store called eMusic, which offers a 14 day trial period, during which you can download 20 free songs. I checked it out pretty thoroughly during my trial period. Got 20 free songs out of it, so I was pretty happy with that, though they had quite a limited selection.
But I did discover at least one good band out of it: Gunmetal Grey. I’m really digging their album I downloaded from there. And holy crap, I just googled them to link to their website, and see on their MySpace page that they’re unsigned! Could have fooled me. This is good stuff. It’s firmly in the metalcore camp, with a mix of true hardcore growls with really clean melodic bits in the choruses. Somebody give these guys a record contract!
Which reminds me of a conversation I had with one of the guys manning a memorabilia table at the Viking museum exhibit. I was wearing my Killswitch Engage shirt, which he commented on, so we started talking about metal. I asked him if he liked Trivium, because they’re one of my favorite bands. He said he used to, but doesn’t like their new direction. That’s perfectly valid; I’m not entirely sure I approve of their new direction–I really loved what they did on their demo and first two albums–but I’ve heard three songs off the new album, and I have to say they all kick ass. It’s a very different sound; vocalist Matt Heafy has left behind the death vox screams in favor of a James Hetfield-esque growl; and like before, Heafy continues to contrast the harsher vocals with some clean melodic singing (which seems much improved since the last album). The instruments are as proficient as ever, and really freakishly so, considering these guys are all in their early twenties. (Of course, perhaps the most astonishing thing about them is that their demo, which is better than most professional produced albums, must have been recorded when Heafy was 15 or 16–and he not only provides the vocals; he also plays a blistering guitar.) But anyway–the thing that the guy at the Viking museum said that kind of stuck in my craw was that he disparaged Trivium’s melodic choruses, as if that were a bad thing. And this guy is certainly not alone in that opinion; I’ve seen a lot of other metalheads on online forums complain about that, not just with Trivium, but with any band that does that. This is not an opinion I share, and frankly don’t understand. To me, when a band shifts from a harsher riff to a melodic chorus, that contrast just makes the harder parts of the song seem all the more brutal. A non-stop barrage, with no melodic breaks, can feel like an attack; I don’t mind being bludgeoned by my music, but damn, give me a chance to take a breath once and a while.
Anyway–back to eMusic. Most of the other stuff I grabbed wasn’t that great. I got Darkest Hour‘s first album, which I think is just a demo; it’s not terrible, but I don’t particularly like it. Certainly not good like their other stuff. I’m still trying to find a way to buy their other recent albums on the cheap since iTunes still doesn’t have them for whatever reason. The WalMart Music store (which is cheap and has a great selection) has them, but I can’t play WMAs on my iPod. The thing is, I should be able to just buy them, then burn them to a CD, then I could re-rip the CD, and boom: DRM disabled. But my goddamn CD-R isn’t working for some reason. It just turns CDs into coasters.
I also got Days of Eulogy by Unearth, which is like b-sides or older stuff from demos or something. I never wanted to pay money for it because I didn’t particularly like their first album (and I expected Eulogy would be more of the same), though I loved their second (The Oncoming Storm), and the new one III: In the Eyes of Fire is equally kick ass. Eulogy is about on par with the first album, so I didn’t dig it too much. The other thing I got was most of Wolverine Blues by Entombed (didn’t have enough free tracks left to get the whole thing). It’s good, but I have a limited attention span for Entombed, and Wolverine Blues isn’t as good as the album before that, though it gets cool points for referencing everyone’s favorite mutant.
Some other music I’m really digging, which I might as well tell you about since I’m on a roll here, is the debut album by Mercenary, The Hours That Remain. If you click over to their MySpace page, you can listen to “Soul Decision,” the song that hooked me. This band is a bit unusual for me in that they feature clean vocals most of the time, with only occasional digressions into extreme vox (and the singer does both extraordinarily well). And as much as I like “Soul Decision,” there are songs on the album that are even better, and the rest are at least on par with it. So if you like that one, you’ll almost certainly dig the entire album.
Another band I’m very high on at the moment is Herod. Check out “That Green Feeling” and “Assimilation” for a good sampling of their stuff. And “Lies & Betrayal” is pretty awesome too, though it’s entirely clean singing (almost Iron Maiden-ish vocals), if that sort of thing bothers you.
And finally there’s Compos Mentis, a band who randomly friended me on MySpace, but damn, they’re pretty good. Thus endeth my seemingly quarterly music post.