Happy Headbanging Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day: a time of both extreme love and extreme hate, depending on your situation. Me, I see Valentine’s day as another excuse to make playlists. This year I’ve come up with a pair of metal playlists, one of which is more suitable for you depending on whether you’ve got a Valentine or not. So, either grab your Valentine and headbang for love, or gorge on some delicious Valentine’s Day candy–either way, have a very metal day from me to you. Happy Valentine’s!

You can see the complete list of songs in each playlist over the Tastemakers Magazine blog where I originally posted. Alternatively, you can just go to the iTunes playlists I made:
Metal anti-Valentine’s Day
Metal Valentine’s Day

Advertisements

Greber Wants You To Eat Shit

In all of my time as a music blogger/listener/journalist/obsesser, I’ve never come across a band quite like Greber. Normally, a statement like this is taken with a negative connotation, but in this case it is the exact opposite. The brainchild of Marc Bourgon (of Fuck The Facts) and Steve Vargas (of The Great Sabatini), Greber are about as bare-bones as it gets in terms of a lineup. There are two men in the band–a drummer and a bassist–but they make a sonic force worthy of a full band.

Hometown Heroin is the band’s debut release, and a mighty one at that. Clocking in at just under twenty-three minutes, it’s hard to understand how the band managed to fit such a huge amount of content in. Hometown Heroin is certainly not your typical album in any way, and Greber wants this to be known from the very beginning of the album. Starting off with a nice bass harmonic intro, you get the full-on dropkick to the balls that the album soon becomes and understand that Greber are in no way messing around.

At times the album borders on a very doom metal sound, but never becomes grounded there. Once your ear is starting to settle on the slow and sludgy doom sound, the Jacob Bannon-esque powerful barks come back in and the bass and drums kick the intensity up a notch. Frenetic rhythm changes and chaotic barks juxtaposed with relaxed bass grooves make up a large portion of the album, but somehow given only a few small elements the album is never predicable at any moment. Listening through it, it plays more like an extended jam session of one song or idea, expanded into multiple movements.

The thought of “Man, I’d really like some guitar there” does not cross one’s mind at any point during the album. The sonic force and intensity between the drums, vocals, and guitar are more than enough. Any space found on the album is a welcomed rest from the ear, and helps to created a great contrast to really show how massive of a sound Greber has found.

Be sure to check out Greber on MySpace and catch them on tour when they’re near you, as I’m sure their live show would pummel you into the ground. The album is a recommended listen for people who want something along the lines of Black Sheep Wall or Admiral Angry.

As the one-sheet reminds us: “We all need to eat shit sometimes and this band is a reminder to everyone.” So get to feasting on some feces!

Exploding In Sound

There are two types of people who are in the music industry: people who do it for themselves, and people who do it for the love of music. Dan Goldin, creator of Exploding In Sound, is in the latter category. I wish I could say I was exposed to his “brainchild” in a better manner, but I first discovered his website when I noticed it via Twitter, posts that mentioned “Heaviest Matter” and noticed he was spreading the love about Irepress by reposting my post about them.

Initially, I was a bit annoyed – I thought, “How dare he?” but soon realized that this was completely backwards, and completely conceited of me. After all, I really write this blog for the love of music, and other than potentially getting a job – I have no ulterior motives. I initially asked him to not post the article in its entirety, but I would gladly have settled for it simply being attributed to my name (I just want to be recognized for my work). Quickly he responded to my request, and now the article appears only partially, then links here.

Still, I can’t help but feel I handled this incorrectly.

In any case, what he and his team does over at Exploding In Sound is pure, and for the love of music, and I can’t help but feel wrong for impeding on him spreading the love for great music (and the people who are trying to put that music on the map). If you, like me, want a source for getting the scoop on great bands who love what they do – this is certainly one of the best destinations I’ve found. I encourage you all to give his site a look.

Consider this an apology for the error in my ways, I’ve shown exactly what is wrong with “journalists” these days in the blogging community. Next time you’re about to get upset over something so potentially trivial, think to yourself, “What exactly am I doing this for?” – it’s likely not worth ruining a potentially helpful relationship, or preventing the word getting out about a band you love.

Mushroomhead – Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children [Review]

Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children is the seventh studio album from Ohioan nu metal troop Mushroomhead. Released on the behemoth Megaforce Records on September 28, 2010.

mushroomhead beautiful stories for ugly children

Back when I was a wee lad in middle school, I was what you might call a “fan” of Nu Metal, which included bands like Mushroomhead, Korn, etc. As my tastes grew from Nu Metal, Mushroomhead was one of the few bands I would still put on from time to time. “Solitaire Unraveling” remains one of the coolest songs to come out of the nu metal era. Other songs, such as “Bwomp,” also had their own unique charm (though, may have featured some cliché rap vocals courtesy of J Mann). Come 2010, and Mushroomhead seem to have misplaced their “creative” and “interesting” genes, and have come out with a record that’s almost entirely devoid of life.

There are glimpses of things that made Mushroomhead an interesting band littered about Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children, but seemingly none of these ideas are explored to their full extent. Instead, these great ideas are pushed aside for the increasingly stale chug riffs and monotone shouts from Jeffrey Nothing. The swooning and creepy cadence in Jeffrey Nothing’s voice is all but gone. He certainly hits his notes, has decent power behind his voice, and has varied his vocal style a bit – all good things, but they don’t quite make up for the missing element from his older style.

The second element that’s really missing on Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children are guitar riffs and grooves. Even up through Savior Sorrow there was some solid guitar work from the Mushroomhead camp, at the very least, guitar work that could hold your attention. There’s a solo in “Your Demise” but it feels a bit forced and out of place. Right after that you get “Darker Days” which provides the first real look at a riff on the album – and it’s not a particularly promising one.

All in all, this album feels and sounds like a shell of what the band once was. While I often welcome evolution as a band, it’s hard to approve of it when it removes the most interesting parts of a band’s style. Die hard fans may still like this record, but for anyone with less than an obsessive love for the band should look elsewhere. It would be hard to believe that this album was worked on for the entire four years since Savior Sorrow was released.

Track picks: “Burn Bridges” and “Harvest the Garden”

Overall score: 3/10 guys in masks

The Heaviest Matter of the Week Vol. 2

Each Tuesday night I’ll be posting an installment of The Heaviest Matter of the Week. What is it you ask? Well, it’s a weekly audio feature in which I will preview a few tracks, tell you a little about them, and provide you with an audio sample. Each week the tracks will have a common theme among them, be it genre, album, artist, release date, track name, etc.

The Heaviest Matter of the Week, Vol. 2: September 28, 2010

This week’s theme is a surprise (it’s a game!) and features the bands At The Gates, Baroness, and Bloodsimple.

I’d give information about the songs or where you could get them, but that would ruin the surprise and game!

Rhapsody of Fire – The Frozen Tears of Angels [Review]

Rhapsody of Fire are a band who have not missed a beat since releasing their first album back in 1997, and The Frozen Tears of Angels is no different. Released April 30, 2010 via Nuclear Blast, it is the band’s eighth full-length album.

Rhapsody the Frozen Tears of Angels

Rhapsody of Fire have had an incredibly consistent and productive career over the last thirteen years, even still The Frozen Tears of Angels is certainly their best release in a decade. Technically the third installment of the The Dark Secret Saga (which started with Symphony of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret, which still doesn’t make sense to me). This time however, the album is fueled more by riffs than big orchestral parts, something a lot different than their two previous albums. It also once again features the legendary Christopher Lee doing narration, a welcome addition to any epic power metal album.

Where this album shines, however, is in the production and mastering. All of the guitar tones are incredible, and mesh really well with the orchestral parts. Though the orchestral parts are heavily compressed sometimes, it never becomes overwhelmingly so. I strongly prefer the production on this album to Triumph or Agony, as having the 70-piece chorus/orchestra play such a prominent role in the mix took away from the “metal” aspect of the album. Triumph or Agony was sometimes overly cluttered, but on The Frozen Tears of Angels everything has ample space to breathe in the mix (you can even clearly hear the bass lines in most songs).

And the riffs, dear God the riffs. They are wonderful. The guitar work on this album is the best that Rhapsody of Fire has ever featured on an album. They’ve made a transition from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra styled guitars from their early albums to more of a pure speed metal style similar to that of Blind Guardian. This is known almost immediately by the fierce beginning of the song “Sea of Fate” – as well as other instances on the album. There isn’t a single bad guitar part of the album, every riff and solo is good and they all fit really well in the grand scheme of things. Even in the song “Labyrinth of Madness” where it’s just guitar wankery for the entire four minutes, it’s still a wonderful closing note for the album.

Track picks: “Reign of Terror” and “Crystal Moonlight”

Overall score: 9 out of 10 wizard staffs