Friday, 31 January 2014

2013 Round-up: Loud Noises Ten Best of 2013

     Well, it's finally time to sit down and look back on the year that was and celebrate the fact that 2013 was a very strong year for heavy music of every stripe. My belief that we shouldn't judge a year until it's actually done, coupled with my very gradual (read: glacial) working pace over Christmas, has put me several weeks behind where I originally intended to be on this, but now that 2013 exists only in our memories, and I've got all my ducks in a row, I'm ready to jump on the bandwagon of musical criticism (every other metal website out there has of course had their "Top X of 2013" lists up for, like, two months now).

     Now, before you read the following list and then explode with rage at my selections, let's establish right now that these are my personal favourites from last year, the albums that I would say I spent the most time listening to and enjoying. I am in no way saying that these are definitively or objectively the ten "best" albums from 2013. Yes, the words "Ten Best" do appear in the title of this post, but in the context of being the Loud Noises Ten Best, not the Ten Best. So there. I refuse to take any responsibility for any butthurt you might incur from the omission of your favourite band or album.

     So, without further ado, and in no particular order, please enjoy the Loud Noises Ten Best albums of 2013.

- Tesseract - Altered State
     Tesseract's first LP One left me such a fanboy that I probably would have lapped up new material like a cartoon cat with a saucer of milk regardless of its quality. What good fortune then that follow-up full-legnth Altered State is so goddamned awesome. Call it metal, call it prog, call it djent if you feel you must, but whatever label you choose to apply to Tesseract, you can't deny their infectious groove and rhythmic power. More than perhaps any other band represented on this list, Tesseract are a band you can put on for your non-metal head friends and still reasonably expect them to enjoy it. Yeah, you read that right: Tesseract are an accessible metal or "heavy" band, but in a way that renders "accessibility" a good quality instead of a dirty word.

- The Ocean - Pelagial
     If you'll pardon the nautical pun, Pelagial is album with a very deep concept. The idea, if I understand things correctly, is that the sonic journey of the album from start to finish is supposed to represent or replicate the experience of descending into the depths of the ocean. Of course, Pelagial doesn't adhere to this template rigidly, but rather does so just enough to sketch out the concept's bones. The prettier, prog-rockier early parts of the record, replete with piano parts, give way to denser, more prog-metally parts, and things get doomier mood-wise as we get further down. Interestingly, Pelagial is also one of several albums I've come across lately (another being Tesseract's Altered State from above) that come with both a regular version of the album and an instrumental one. Regular readers will know I'm a fan of instrumental music, but it's a true testament to The Ocean's songwriting and musicianship that Pelagial is just as enthralling without any vocals at all.

- Revocation - Revocation
     Thrash is dead! Long live thrash! I've heard the whole movement of which Revocation can be considered part called retro-thrash, or re-thrash, but there's nothing retro about the Boston band's badass sound. What Revocation plays is decidedly modern thrash, an evolutionary leap forward from the kind of metal bands like Metallica used to play back in their heyday. And yet, Revocation has a classic feel too, like it would be at home alongside any era of fast and furious metal. Revocation is also one of those albums that satisfies with its own awesomeness at the same time that it whets the appetite for more awesomeness to come. Songs like "The Hive", "Archfiend", and "Invidious", to name just a few, make me very excited to hear what Revocation will come up with next time out.

- letlive. - The Blackest Beautiful
     Yet another year has gone by without a major new release from post-hardcore legends Glassjaw, making them the genre's equivalent of Tool in terms of productivity. An album like The Blackest Beautiful, however, is enough to make you say "go ahead and take your time, Glassjaw". I don't know that everybody would agree with me on this one, but I really feel that letlive has the vibe of a "spiritual successor" to Glassjaw, especially with The Blackest Beautiful. They've got the same blend of energy, aggression, and pop sensibilities and vocal stylings. Glassjaw's Worship and Tribute is still a classic, but letlive might have crafted the modern equivalent in The Blackest Beautiful. And if they haven't done it here, their next album is going to slay.

- Misery Signals - Absent Light
     This one is a little like Tesseract's Altered State, in the sense that I've been a Misery Signals fan for a long time and would probably have been satisfied with just about whatever Misery Signals came up with. I don't know if it's possible to re-bottle the lightning of earlier Misery Signals albums (2008's Controller is still my favourite) but Absent Light is still a rock solid balance between the dense technicality of Misery Signals' more recent work and the earnest aggression of their early stuff. As a supporter of the band's Indiegogo campaign, I for one am fully satisfied with the album that the band came up with, and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

- East of the Wall - Redaction Artifacts
     A word I often like to use about the sound and style of the band above, Misery Signals, is "dense". This is a word that could also be applied to East of the Wall's latest, Redaction Artifacts. "Dense" in the sense that there's so much going on. If you read even the occasional post around here, you'll know I like to try and compare bands to other bands, to help all of you get a bit better handle on things before you press play. East of the Wall had me stumped, and in the best possible way. Redaction Artifacts is unorthodox, but not inaccessible, technical, but not overly so, disharmonious, but not amelodic... I could keep pulling juxtapositions out of my ass all day, but a better use of your time would be to just go on Youtube and find out for yourself exactly why East of the Wall and Redaction Artifacts resist my attempts at classification and description.

- Anciients - Heart of Oak
     As I've made clear in an Anciients Song of the Day, Heart of Oak is a hard album to pin down. It's a well-forged alloy of Mastodony post-metal, Opethian prog, straight-up death metal, and healthy helpings of classic metal and rock. Sprinkle in some impressive drum work, some vocal variety, and some truly tasty guitar leads, and you've got a delicious brew that is, incredibly, only the debut LP from this Vancouver band. I can only imagine what a little maturity will do for a band that's already this technically sophisticated.

- Plini - Other Things
     I don't know if it's cheating a little or not to include an EP on my list of ten best "albums" of last year, but I don't really care. Plini is an incredibly talented guy, and he's put out some incredibly rad music in the past year, but his first EP Other Things was how I initially discovered his work, and of all his releases so far it's the one that's spent the most time coming out of my speakers since I got it. More than almost any other act on this list, I can't wait to hear what's next from this rising star, and that's saying something. It'll be absolutely criminal if Plini doesn't eventually get huge.

- Protest the Hero - Volition
     Another longtime favourite of mine, Protest the Hero could almost do no wrong on this one. Me and thousands of other Indiegogo contributors basically said (or gambled) as much when we threw scads of money into a Protest-shaped hole in the internet. News of drummer Moe Carlson's departure disheartened as much as word of his session replacement Chris Adler excited. In the end, we needn't have worried about a thing: Protest's technicalilty is still top notch, and while the prog is dialed down, the songwriting is dialed way up. These are some of the best songs -- not collections of cool riffs and parts strung together -- of the band's career.

- Circles - Infinitas
     The debut LP from Australia's prog-djent darlings Circles demonstrated that not only can the band craft riffs but songs as well. That was the thing about the band's 2011 EP The Compass: it was full to the brim with tasty riffs and bits, but the songs weren't always cohesive wholes so much as these riffs and bits strung together serviceably (sound familiar? *cough* Protest the Hero *cough*). Don't get me wrong, I really really dig The Compass, but for the most part you can't really build any kind of a career with just a good collection of riffs. You need some solid songs. Circles seems to think so too, as they brought an album's worth of solid material to the party with Infinitas. With initial outings as strong as The Compass and now Infinitas, this is yet another case of me being well stoked to hear a sophomore LP.

     Aaaaannnnd there you have it. Not exactly ringing in the new year punctually, but as they say, better late than never. Right? Right?!

Derek Sherinian - Sons of Anu

     I feel that today's song requires a bit of a walk to get to -- you should, after all, make the same journey I did -- but don't worry, it'll be worth it.

     So one of the many bands I follow on Facebook is Texas-based studio prog band Haji's Kitchen (who, by the way, are rad should be checked out) and the other day a video post from the band came up in my news feed. More specifically, it was a video post from one Derek Blakley, the band's supremely talented bass player.

     I've previously posted a video from Derek, namely a playthrough vid of his badass bass solo from the Haji's Kitchen song "Sidhartha", but this video the other day was Derek's attempt at playing an Al Di Meola solo from a song called "Sons of Anu" off a 2003 album called Black Utopia by keyboardist Derek Sherinian. Got all that?

     Your song this evening, after all that, is "Sons of Anu" by Derek Sherinian. The first round of guitar soloing is handled by none other than Yngwie Malmsteen, but for our purposes the more important bit of lead work belongs to Al Di Meola and starts around the 4:15 mark of this epic, seven-minute, three-movement track.  

     That, my soon-to-be-impressed friends, is the solo in question undertaken by Mr. Derek Blakley on bass. Let that sink in for a minute - Al's blazing acoustic solo, shredded out on a bass -- then have a listen to both Dereks, and then proceed to pick your jaws up off the floor. Happy Friday everybody.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Killitorous - It's Not Stanley, It's Stan Lee

     It's been a bit of a long day, and it isn't quite done yet, so I'm in the mood for something heavy as shit. Consider yourself warned.

     Today's band Killitorous, a fast and furious tech death band from right here in Canada, comes recommended by none other than The Black Dahlia Murder's Facebook page, which can and should be taken as a ringing endorsement. If you like blast beats, trem picking, competing shrieks and growls, all topped off with obligatory heavy metal long hair windmilling, then you should know that Killitorous do NOT fuck around.

     Take a listen to "It's not Stanley, It's Stan Lee" from the bands forthcoming debut LP Party, Grind if you don't believe me. It's got all of the above*, and put together in such a way that after four minutes you're still hungry for more.  Only multiple plays will satisfy. Once again, you've been warned.

*OK, the hair windmilling is only in the mix if you're watching the video, but even if you're not,

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Aeolist - III

     I've written about British instrumental band Aeolist before, but they've recently a drum playthrough video for a sweet track from their tasty, self-titled 2013 EP, which makes them a prime candidate for another look.

     "III", not surprisingly the third of the EP's four tracks, checks off a lot of boxes on the Quality Instrumental Metal checklist. Some hella heavy parts, including some blast beats? Check. Plenty of fleet-fingered riffing, ranging from thrashy bits to bits proggier? Double check. A smattering of tasteful leadwork? Checkity check. Six minutes of instrumental music that stays interesting the whole time? Check, check, and check!

     Can you tell I'm digging "III" this evening? Why don't you click on play so you can dig it too?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Rosetta - Oku/The Secrets

     Today's band cropped up on a few year-end lists that I saw, and likely more that slipped past my vigilant gaze. Even I've recommended them to you before, but it's been a while, so it's once again Rosetta's time to shine.

     Rosetta's sludgy, vaguely Mastodony post-metal certainly isn't about instant gratification; several songs on last year's The Anaesthete clock in at six minutes or longer, and the album as a whole is chock full of ebbing and flowing. Rosetta are definitely a band who've mastered the art of the build and release.

     Today's song, however, starts out with the release and works backwards. "Oku/The Secrets" opens with some hammering guitars and drums, and then levels out into some rolling thunder riffing for the groove that carries the latter portion of the song. Some volume is a must for this one.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Ever Forthright - Riot: Part 1

     The djentlemen in Ever Forthright are hard at work on their second LP, but even though it's still a work in progress the band has been kind enough to give us a taste of the new material in "Riot: Part 1".

     Opening up bludgeoning and dissonant, "Riot: Part 1" covers a good deal of angular Meshuggah-type ground before bringing in some big jazzy chords and leadwork near the end that succeed in softening the song's edges only slightly. There's also some decent clean vocals to be had, and some growls that are at times very reminiscent of Randy from Lamb of God. Could be an interesting sophomore disc, don'tchathink?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sunday: Monuments - Doxa

     Whether or not you think djent is something that's played out, or whether or not it was something you really dug to begin with, I don't think you can deny the fact that when it's done well it can be some tasty stuff. Rhythmic riffage with lots of low end can be a well-utilized tool or an over-employed crutch.

     In the hands of the British craftsmen in Monuments it's definitely the former, a tool for the forging of cool djenty grooves that stand out from the rest of the downtuned crowd. Album number two is apparently in the works, but for now we'll have to content ourselves with debut LP Gnosis and tracks like "Doxa". This is the kind of thing I could see being on the radio (in a good way), if this kind of music got on the radio.

Saturday: Junius - Battle in the Sky

     Do you like your post-metal to be, above all else, big and huge-sounding? It looks like Boston band Junius will have you covered with their forthcoming EP Days of the Fallen Sun. Thanks guys! Have a listen and see what I mean.

     The latest pre-release teaser song from Days of the Fallen Sun, "Battle in the Sky", has more sound packed into its three and a half minutes than your computer's speakers can handle. It's not that "Battle in the Sky" is super fast, or super heavy in the conventional sense, there's just something about it that sounds massive. Turn your speakers waaaayyy up and learn the definition of epic.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Friday: Marty Friedman - Steroidhead

     If you're into metal -- and there's a good chance you are, why else would you be here? -- then you likely have at least heard the name of former Megadeth guitarist and also around shredmaster Marty Friedman. I know I've mentioned him at least once before, in the context of his guest solo on a Skyharbor track.

     Well now Keshav and Anup from Skyharbor have returned the favour, appearing on what has turned out to be the first single off of Marty's new album Inferno. It's not necessarily the most memorable or exciting song in the world, but it is a nice thrashy slice of guitar-driven instrumental topped off with some buttery Friedman leads. Have a listen and discover why the Japanese shouldn't be the only people interested in this guy.

Thursday: Childish Gambino - Sweatpants

     Every once in a while I put something in front of you that's pretty far afield from what I normally listen to and write about. Today (or yesterday) is (or was) going to be that day.

     Anybody out there like Community? Yeah, I know, the last season or so couldn't hold a candle to the first couple, but I'm hoping that season five can redeem things, and maybe even end the show on a high note. Anyways, if you're a fan of the show, chances are you're also a fan of the character Troy and are maybe less than ecstatic about Donald Glover's decision to leave the show.

     But what if you're also a fan of Donald's other main gig right now, where he crafts rhymes and beats under the rapping nom de guerre Childish Gambino? In that case, who knows, you might now be in for an increase in musical output owing to Gambino's increased free time.

     Wait, what's that? You didn't know about Donald's moonlighting as Childish Gambino? Well then I implore you, if you like Community (I do) and/or a little rap now and again, to check out one of the songs, "Sweatpants", from Gambino's 2013 album Because the Internet.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

CHON - Knot

     I've considered featuring today's band before, but for whatever reason I've never gotten around to giving them their day of song. Tonight I intend to rectify this glaring oversight.

     Jazzy tech band CHON come recommended from varied corners of the interwebs, from Heavyblogisheavy to Plini himself. Everybody seems to dig this proggy outfit from San Diego, and with good reason: their stuff is intricate and complex while still being replete with laid-back grooves.

     What better time to finally make good on my intentions to let you know about CHON than now, given the upcoming release of the band's EP Woohoo early in February? That's why tonight's song is "Knot" the first song released off of Woohoo. It's a quick, jazzy look at the kind of thing CHON is all about.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Silverstein - Bleeds No More

     In yesterday's post I mentioned a Canadian post-hardcore band that it now occurs to me might not be familiar to everyone out there. So this evening we're taking a trip down the 401 to Burlington to feature a song by Silverstein.

     I won't make any bones about the fact that Silverstein are in many ways a band that could be derogatorily labeled "emo", but I also won't make any bones about the fact that I used to really dig bands like this, and the fact that bands like this helped get me into the kind of music I listen to today.

     So chart the evolution of my musical tastes and get some insight into what the fuck I was on about even mentioning Silverstein in the same breath as The Arusha Accord. Two pigs with one bird! Here's "Bleeds No More" from Silverstein's 2003 debut LP When Broken is Easily Fixed.

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Arusha Accord - Last Rise of the Fallen King

     Whether or not it's a bad word in your household, the "metalcore" umbrella can cover so much ground, can't it? Case in point: when first hearing British band The Arusha Accord, my initial thought was "OK, some tasty strain of metalcore then..."

     But there's so much more going on with The Arusha Accord than some chugga chuggas and some screamed vocals. They're techy, proggy, and even mathy -- think a little Dillinger-esque, maybe some The Safety Fire, or some early Architects -- but they've also got some cleans and harmonies in there that leather-clad metal purists might deride as "emo" -- a heavy, techy, Silverstein comes to mind.

     It's a well balanced mix of tech and melody that makes The Echo Verses an interesting listen from start to finish. That finish is where we're stopping today, with album closer "Last Rise of the Fallen King". It opens with a very Toolish guitar and bass part, and it only gets better from there.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sunday: Baroness - Jake Leg

     Today's band is one that isn't working on new material, as far as I know, but oh how I would like them to be.

     Indeed, Baroness are likely still in the midst of getting a pair of new members acclimated to the world and way of life that is Baroness, and as such new material might not even be on the horizon for Baizley and the boys. While we debate which colour album will be next, I guess we'll just have to be content with the colour spectrum we've already got.

     "Jake Leg", a driving and relentless number, is one of my favourite tracks from 2009's Blue Record, so let's listen to it while we pray to the metal gods that new, heavy Baroness material is closer than we think.

Saturday: 7 Horns 7 Eyes - The Hill Difficulty

     I've featured today's band before, but I feel they're kinda under a lot of people's radar and could use another day in the spotlight.

     7 Horns 7 Eyes came out of nowhere a little bit with their 2012 debut Throes of Absolution, a record that slayed royally and delivered a heaping helping of guitar-drive "melodeath" in the truest sense of the word: doomy deathy goodness that's still melodically strong. Facebook tells me the guys are working on a couple of releases for 2014, and that's exciting news, but for the time being we'll all just have to settle for something off the rock-solid Throes of Absolution.

     "The Hill Difficulty" is a bit slower and less shreddy than some of the other stuff on Throes but it nevertheless retains the quality of being heavy as fuck. Dig it and I practically guarantee you'll like 7 Horns 7 Eyes.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday: Chimp Spanner - Mobius, Pt. 1

     We're staying on the Basick Record train today. Although today's song is from something a little older rather than something I just picked up after Christmas, you know I never really need a reason to feature badass instrumental music.

     Your song today is "Mobius, Pt. 1" from Chimp Spanner's 2012 EP All Roads Lead Here, the first piece of an epic three-part exploration of the awesomeness of British guitarist Paul Antonio Ortiz. If you have an ear for some djenty jazz-fusion from a guy with some pretty monstrous guitar chops, you owe it to yourself to check out what Mr Ortiz is up to.

Thursday: The Algorithm - trojans

     For a long time I was kinda reluctant to really give The Algorithm's Polymorphic Code a chance. I'd heard of the band before, and heard a few snippets here and there, but felt no interest in picking up a copy of the album or even giving it a full listen-through because electronic/techno-type music has never been my thing.

     But, as you may or may not know (or care), I got a few things super cheap during the Basick Records Boxing Day fire sale and one of those purchases was a copy of Polymorphic Code so I could finally give it a shot. And while it's not my favourite record ever or anything, I am enjoying it more than I though I would.

     Tracks like today's song "Trojans" are more than the sum of their electro-metal parts. The formula's not that complicated: there are some heavy elements, like the guitars and some of the drums, that are a little djenty, and there are a lot more electronic elements, blooping and stuttering frenetically away atop the electro-dance beats. Everything combines to form something tasty and groovy, something that's got a lot more going on than simple genre-mashing.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Periphery - Pale Aura

     Periphery's interesting new EP project Clear -- a release for which each member of the band penned one song -- is a couple of weeks away from seeing actual release, but that doesn't mean you couldn't potentially be cranking the whole thing right now thanks to a Youtube stream from the band's label Sumerian Records.

     There's some really good stuff on this EP, but at the moment the song I'm digging on most is "Pale Aura", a track that solidifies Periphery's status as masters of modern metal. Even if anything "djent" is verboten to a metal "purist" like yourself, you can't deny that "Pale Aura" is fully loaded: strong melodies and chord progressions, funky ass riffs, tight-as-fuck blast beats and drum-guitar interplay... It's heavy in a way that I could almost see being on the radio, but not in the usual radio way of being poser heavy. If Periphery's next full length sounded anything like this one, I'd be dead chuffed.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Architects - Naysayer

     I've come to the conclusion that sometimes it's better to be just a casual fan of a band. Be the devoted fan, checking Twitter for album updates and reading every single spot you can find anywhere, and you'll only end up disappointed when some mastering error or shipping mishap delays the release of a long-awaited album.

     Best the casual fan, however, getting distracted by a myriad of other things and checking in with a band only occasionally or not at all, and you'll simply be pleasantly surprised every time they come out of the studio with fresh material and you happen to stumble upon it.

     Such is the case with British post-hardcore metalcore band Architects. I've been a fan since the band's first album, but the last several have caught me by surprise, and I think I've enjoyed them more because of it. So I'm pleased to have found "Naysayer" kicking around Facebook today. If its initial blast beats are anything to judge by, the forthcoming  Lost Forever // Lost Together should be plenty heavy.

Monday, 13 January 2014

BEAR - Aconite

     I once again took advantage of Basick Records' annual boxing week fire sale to pick up a few Basick titles I don't already have. It's gotten to the point where I probably have most of the label's catalogue on my shelf, but there were a few things missing from the collection, like a copy of Noumenon by Belgium's BEAR.

     Released last year, Noumenon is by and large a djenty album, but one with wry little flashes of electronica, punky/corey stuff, and some interesting melodies like those found in today's song. Check out "Aconite" before you hit the hay tonight.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Sunday: Deafheaven - Dream House

     Got nine minutes or so and nothing to listen to? I've got just the ticket!

     I read a little bit about Deafheaven last year once or twice, but never got around to checking out their latest disc Sunbather until this week. The production values are a little lo-fi if you ask me, but then that's part of the charm, right? Blast beats and furious riffing abound if, as I alluded to above, you've got nine minutes to spare checking out "Dream House" from the aforementioned Sunbather. I won't guarantee it's the heaviest thing you'll hear all day, but I will nominate it for gnarliest.

Saturday: Pantera - Floods

     All the ice and snow we've had here in the past couple of weeks have now combined with a weekend of mild weather to produce a great deal of water, on the roads, in the ditches... just about everywhere, really. So far it's just kinda wet out, nothing serious, but that doesn't mean the subject of today's song is super far from anyone's mind.

     One of the most badass solos Dimebag ever recorded was "Floods" from 1996's The Great Southern Trendkill, and it's part of the reason "Floods" is one of my favourite Pantera songs. The sludgy verses with Phil's watery vocals over top, the punishing choruses crashing like relentless waves -- the whole thing really does have an aquatic feel to it. If you know "Floods" you know what I mean, and if you don't, you should get to know it right now. Even if you're not a fan of the song, you can't deny it's classic Dime.

Friday, 10 January 2014

A Sense of Gravity - Stormborn

     It's still super early in the year, but I think today's band might be taking up a lot of my listening time over the next twelve months, or ten months, or however much is left of 2014 after Travail comes out in February.

     I've seen A Sense of Gravity compared to Between the Buried and Me, but personally I hear more Protest the Hero meets death metal in the combination of riffage and vocal style. But any way you slice it, I'm intrigued by A Sense of Gravity's first outing "Stormborn" and I look forward to hearing more when Travail drops.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

East of the Wall - Obfuscator Dye

     Speaking (as I was yesterday) of bands and albums that cropped on some end of the year lists, I think today's band flew under a lot of people's radars until the release of their latest album last October. I know I'd never heard of East of the Wall before I read about Redaction Artifacts, but I sure as shit know about them now.

     Intricate and layered guitar work is front and center here, combined with fresh, complex drumming and a bucket-load of interesting melodic choices, result in a record that maintains a certain off-kilter beauty while still sounding, at times, truly menacing. Have a listen to the five-minute groove-fest that is "Obfuscator Dye" for a taste of the barely digestible immensity that is Redaction Artifacts.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Anciients - Faith and Oath

     Today's song comes from an album that's appeared on more than a few end of the year Best of 2013 lists, and with good reason. Combining rock, metal, and prog in a way that is both virtuosic and truly tasteful is no mean feat, but Anciients handles it with aplomb.

     Anciients' debut LP Heart of Oak is hard to pin down, but I'll do my best: think Mastodon or Baroness, if those bands veered in a more death metally direction, or Opeth with less acoustic and folkiness and more straight ahead classic rock/metalness. Am I making any sense at all? Those of your who've already heard Anciients probably get me (I hope). Those of you who haven't hopefully will.

     To further that understanding of my point of view, have a listen to "Faith and Oath" from the aforementioned Heart of Oak. Even if you don't agree with my comparisons at all, you'll have to agree that Anciients are pretty rad.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Ongoing Concept - Failures & Fakes

     Here's some of that new stuff I've been looking for for the new year. Kind of.

     I've written about The Ongoing Concept and their album Saloon before, back when I featured their song "Cover Girl". Well, I've just seen today that they've got a new video out for yet another energetic track from Saloon and I'm taking it as a sign from the gods that The Ongoing Concept are due for another minute or two in the spotlight.

     So have a listen to "Failures & Fakes", check the new video for same, and see if The Ongoing Concept's raucous post-hardcore kinda thing gets your money maker movin'.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Mastodon - Aqua Dementia

     I keep trying to think of something ultra-modern to use today to sorta kick off the first full week of the new year, but my mind keeps wandering back to things not so super modern.

     Today's song, "Aqua Dementia", is from Mastodon's seminal Leviathan, a record that's ten years old this year. But despite their age, both the song and the album stand up to anything that's come out recently. In fact, I would argue that Leviathan may well be the apex of Mastodon's creative powers, the high water mark that they'll never best. What do you think?

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Pit Report: Headstones

     Remember how we went to see Headstones here in Kingston last Saturday night? Here's the story of that fabled evening.

     The opening act was a local one, Kingston's The Glorious Sons, a blues-rocky/classic rocky kinda band that's been getting a fair amount of local radio airplay lately. They weren't bad, and their singer has a decent set of rock pipes on him, but they don't yet quite have the chops required to captivate an audience that perhaps they think they do. Emblematic of the kind of thing I'm talking about was the aforementioned singer's repeated exhortations that the audience should sing along, as they knew the words.

     I know I'm probably just being picky, and that's probably just some stage banter, but I don't think anyone should expect an audience to eat out of the palm of their hand, so to speak, just because they've gotten up on a stage in front of said audience. Stage presence doesn't just happen, it has to be earned.

     Which brings me nicely to the evening's main event, the Headstones, whose frontman Hugh Dillon could give classes on commanding a stage. Not one but two roadies spent the majority of the set chasing Dillon's mic cord or stand around as Hugh alternated between ranging from one end of the stage to the other and hurling the stand between verses. Of course, it likely didn't hurt Dillon's energy or persona any that Headstones too are a Kingston band, and have had the status of local legends for more than twenty years.

     That's a long time in rock and roll, and that's a deep catalogue too, even taking into account Headstones' lengthy hiatus in the early 2000's. Dillon and company mined that catalogue well, striking a balance between tracks off their latest, Love + Fury, and classic tracks from throughout their career. "Smile and Wave", "Cubically Contained", "Tweeter and the Monkey Man"... Headstones covered all their classic Headstones bases.

     If alternative rock with a punky edge sounds at all appealing to you, you should check out Headstones. And if you're already a fan of the band, you should make the effort to catch them if they head back on the road at all. After all this time, Headstones have still got what The Glorious Sons are only just forging: the ability to thoroughly rock a crowd. Take some notes, boys. Professor Dillon's class is in session.

Sunday Night Mega Post Fun Time

     This certainly does seem to be a shit time of year as far as my keeping on track with Loud Noises goes, doesn't it? But rather than spinning some yarns about the tag team of work life and personal life conspiring against me to prevent other shit getting done, let's just knuckle down and get caught up, shall we?

     First off, a song for Friday. We're going to go with something a little under the radar, a little less well-known perhaps than some of the stuff I post about, but something that's still tasty all the same. I've posted about British band Visions before, but their techy 2011 disc Home is too cool to only acknowledge just once. They've had a couple of hurdles thrown at them, including their current search for a new drummer, but I'm hoping that their chops and a little bit of perseverance and elbow grease can see them through. Check out "Machines" for some idea of the kind of chops I'm talking about.

     Next is Saturday. We're going deathier for Saturday with a track by one of my favourites, The Black Dahlia Murder. Sometimes, immediately after the release of a band's new record, you can't wait for their next album because the new one didn't impress, and sometimes you can't wait for that next album because this new one kicked so much ass you're still thirsty for more. The Black Dahlia Murder definitely fall into the latter category, and their last couple of records (Deflorate, Ritual, Everblack) have kicked ass and left me thinking "why couldn't this be a double album or something?" Listen to "Necropolis" from 2009's Deflorate and see if you get the same feeling.

     Finally, it's Sunday song time, and for today we're going with the spastic energy of Exotic Animal Petting Zoo. The song is "A) Translations" from the band's 2008 debut LP I Have Made My Bed in Darkness. They too leave me wanting more, even though their second LP Tree of Tongues only came out in 2012. Just like with Visions above, I hope line-up changes don't wreck Exotic Animal Petting Zoo's momentum.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Northlane - Masquerade

     For our last catch-up song, the one for the second of January, we're going something more modern than the last couple of days. First 1998, then 2009, and now 2013.

     Your song for today is Northlane's "Masquerade" from last year's Singularity. They're not reinventing the djent wheel, but they are managing to craft some cool tunes with both good djenty grooves and some interesting texture. If you're a fan of that sort of thing, Singularity and "Masquerades" are above average examples of the genre.

New Year's Day: Darkest Hour - Blessed Infection

     Next up we have a song to start the year off with a bang, even if it is a belated one.

     Your New Year's Day song is "Blessed Infection" from 2009's The Eternal Return by Darkest Hour. Period posts appearing in my Facebook feed would have me believe that new Darkest Hour material is in the works, and if this is indeed the case, this longtime fan would be one happy camper.

     Hopefully 2014 will bring us some new Darkest Hour, but for now we'll have to settle for this quick blast of "Blessed Infection".

New Year's Eve: The Mayfield Four - 12/31

     Oh hey, 2014. You're here already? I didn't see you come in... Time to catch up a couple of days, starting with New Year's Eve.

     Your song for the last day of 2013 is/was the appropriately titled "12/31" from the 1998 debut LP Fallout by a band called The Mayfield Four. Never heard of them? I'm not surprised. The band has been defunct for a while now, and they were never as big as they deserved to be, but you might have heard of singer Myles Kennedy's more recent project Alter Bridge, which sees him singing with the Scott Stapp-less former members of Creed. But don't hold that against Kennedy and The Mayfield Four.

     "12/31" is a powerful song that isn't heavy in the traditional sense of the word but that still carries a lot of weight with its earnest and impressive vocal performance. The Mayfield Four is a solid, turn-of-the-millenium alternative rock band that you really should be aware of, so check out "12/31" already.