Friday, February 25, 2011

The Beatles. Still an influence...

Post #130 [Poll Winner: Who do you prefer, The Beatles of The Rolling Stones?]
Heavy Metal is an ever-changing genre of rock-n-roll. The diversity of artists that can be included in 'metal' music is enormous. When, exactly, did bands stop calling their music 'Rock N' Roll' in favor of 'Heavy Metal'? The 80's? The 70's? The 60's? If you ask 5 different fans, you may get 5 different answers. Myself, I generally align with the opinion that credits Dave Davies of the Kinks as the progenitor of heavy rock and what would grow to become known as heavy metal when he slit the speaker cone of his amp to achieve the sound they displayed on their first hit single "You Really Got Me" in 1964.

What else was going on in 1964? Why, The British Invasion of course! In this past December's reader's poll, I pitted the 2 biggest bands from this era, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, against each other and asked you to choose a favorite. The result was a bit more lop-sided than I anticipated, as The Beatles took the poll comfortably by a vote of 12 to 2 over their old contemporaries.

Don't doubt for a second that the Fab Four are still a relevant influence on today's heavy metal artists. Several big-time bands have covered their songs, but even more obvious is how many headbangers still cite The Beatles as a major influence in their decision to pursue a career in music.

As my recommended picks from The Beatles, who have such a prolific catalog to choose from, I'll simply share one of my favorite compilations of theirs: The Beatles 1.
-Love Me Do
-From Me To You
-She Loves You
-I Want to Hold Your Hand
-Can't Buy Me Love
-A Hard Day's Night
-I Feel Fine
-Eight Days a Week
-Ticket to Ride
-Day Tripper
-We Can Work It Out
-Paperback Writer
-Yellow Submarine
-Eleanor Rigby
-Penny Lane
-All You Need is Love
-Hello, Goodbye
-Lady Madonna
-Hey Jude
-Get Back
-Ballad of John and Yoko
-Come Together
-Let It Be
-The Long and Winding Road

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hemoptysis-Misanthropic Slaughter

Post #129
From the desolate plains of the Arizona desert come Hemoptysis, an independent death/thrash metal band with their full-length debut, 'Misanthropic Slaughter'. In early reviews they've been described as a fusion of death, thrash, and black metal, but if you ask them they simply call their style of metal 'Desertcore'. After hearing thier debut album, front to back, I might add 'melodic-death metal' or even 'Classic British metal' to the list of elements contained in their music. Either way, this band is poised to break down some walls between sub-genres of metal music.

The band's line-up for their debut: Masaki Murashita (rhythm and lead guitars & vocals), Ryan Miller (lead guitars, electric sitar), Travis Thune (drums), and Sunao Arai (bass guitar). Oh, and of course Vitis, the Demon of Corruption, or 'Temptor of the Holy', who graces the album cover as mascot.

Though I've honestly been hesitant to get into the 'death'-sub-genres of heavy metal, I must admit that Hemoptysis offer enough of a new take on it that I keep playing their CD in spite of my initial reservations. The vocal style is where Hemoptysis have people calling them 'death' (although their name & cover art probably help!), however it is the guitar-work that keeps me coming back for more; a furious hybrid of thrash-riffs and melodic, shredding guitar solos are present in almost every song. On top of the technical brilliance they display on guitar, drums & bass are black-metal style vocals that are more shrieked than growled. Maybe like Children of Bodom if you're looking for a comparisson, at least vocal-wise. Keep in mind, I'm not a regular listener of this sub-genre...

Misanthropic Slaughter is an album I would primarily categorize as thrash metal. The drumming is fast and technical, the guitar riffs are very heavy and construct strong melodies. The tempo varies from song-to-song, but is quite fast on the majority of the tracks. The guitar leads can shred pretty fast, but also display melodic passages up and down the fretboard, much like early metal pioneers like Iron Maiden. There are even a couple instances of clean guitars that set a meloncholic tone when implemented.

Overall, as I said before, it is the technically acomplished and diverse thrash guitar-work that I find raises this album's quality above the status-quo for a death-thrash crossover effort. It's also where I find satisfaction in the listening experience. But for those of you out there who genuinely appreciate death-metal, and appreciate when it incorporates melody & classic heavy metal, then you need to hear this band!

My personal recommendations from Misanthropic Slaughter:
-Misanthropic Slaughter (The title track kicks off this album with apt ferocity. Lyrics depicting graphic, and morbid varieties of murder & mayhem)
-Hopeless (Bass intro, great riffs, a clean guitar break-down segment that leads into a volley of guitar soloing between guitarists Ryan Miller & Masaki Murashita, capitulating with a barrage of blast-beat drumming, this song has a bit of everything!)
-M.O.D. (Lead guitar intro is classic shred! Reminds me a little of Iron Maiden's 'Wasted Years'. Then it turns into a total thrasher!)
-Impending Doom (Another classic-sounding riff that conjures recollections of Megadeth.)
-Shadow of Death (Another death/thrasher, with a bit of political themed lyrics. This song originally appeared on their EP, 'Who Needs a Shepherd', but is remixed here. They also have a video for it:
-Hadephobia (Clean intro gives this tune an ominous tone... before describing the nightmarish threat of being sent to Hades...)
-End of Sorrow (My absolute favorite song on this album! Again, features a clean-guitar intro, but more intricate than most of the other songs. Some keyboards can be heard in the background, and of course, killer guitar solos that exhibit masterful melodic themes.)

Misanthropic Slaughter is set to be released on March 8th, 2011.
You can pre-order the CD on the band's official website. Check it out for more info, merchandise, upcoming shows, etc...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Smash Corps-No Peace Until Tomorrow

Post #128
Smash Corps are an independent thrash/hardcore metal band from the Chicago area. No Peace Until Tomorrow is their 2nd full-length album, and 3rd release overall. If you're a fan of Disturbed, Pantera, or classic-80's thrash metal, then this band is worth checking out. Now for a closer look at No Peace Until Tomorrow...

This album starts off with 'Darkside of Truth', a good, heavy song with lyrics that show some social commentary on cynicism. The album just gets better from here on! Smash Corps tear into some heavy grooves that truely remind me of one of my all-time favorite bands: PANTERA. They are more about 'heavy' than 'speed' in their formula. They also know when to change things up a bit, as most songs feature good guitar solos and melodic break-downs.

No Peace Until Tomorrow offers you plenty of fist-pumping, headbanging, hardcore/thrash songs. Their influence from bands like Black Sabbath to Metallica, Pantera to Iron Maiden is clearly evident throughout. Vocalist Tim Smith has a voice that reminds me of Tool's Maynard James Keenan, but the delivery is more strict in the thrash/hardcore/groove-metal genre. Their strongest talent is probably their ability to deliver heavy-yet-melodic, infectiouos riffs.

Here are my annotated, personal recommendations from No Peace Until Tomorrow:
-Darkside of Truth (a slow, grinding thrasher, lyrics with a bit of social criticism, good guitar solos)
-Otherside (More of a straight-up groove-metal number. Headbanging required!)
-Face Your Demons (Another heavy tune, built upon infectious riffs. Cuts to an elegant, melodic breakdown at about two & a half minutes in, with a great melodic guitar solo... perhaps my top pick!)
-New Soul/Just Wait (Another slow-grinder, also with breakdown segment and talented soloing.)
-Left in a Ditch (One of the faster tracks on the album. More great riffage!)
-No Peace Until Tomorrow (On the title track, you find more heavy riffs galore, yet the song retains a strong sense of melody, while still keeping it heavy.)

Check out these songs and more at Smash Corps' myspace page below!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

KOPEK touring in the US, opening for HINDER!!!

Post #127
Hot new rockers, KOPEK, embark on first US tour in support of Hinder- ON TOUR NOW!!!

Hinder's current tour supporting their new album, All American Nightmare, is in progress now. They are hitting several major US cities throughout January & February. Special guests on this tour include Saving Abel, My Darkest Days, and KOPEK!!!

For tour dates, shows & venues, please check out any of the bands' websites:
Saving Abel:
My Darkest Days: