Monday, 30 June 2014

Sunday: Baroness - Take My Bones Away

     In an effort to catch up after the last couple of days of lagging behind I'm taking inspiration from wherever it comes, so please forgive the following tenuous reasoning for featuring what really is a cool tune.

     We went to a local rib festival yesterday to sample a variety of barbecued meats, which immediately suggest to me a song with a meaty riff. But meaty riffs are pretty plentiful if you look for them, so we need a different rib-related them. How about bones?

     By the magic of that explanation, I present to you your Sunday song, "Take My Bones Away", from the Yellow disc of Baroness' 2012 double album, which has the benefit of being both a "boney" and having some meaty riffage. As new album news rolls in from one band or another, I can't help but hope John Baizley and company are close to being in a place where they can record again after their very scary August 2012 bus crash.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Saturday: Darkest Hour - These Fevered Times

     More good news for metal fans with taste similar to mine (in addition to Dan rejoining Tesseract, of course) is the announcement of a release date for the latest from Darkest Hour.

     Based on all the promo stuff up on the band's Facebook page and the like, the record seems to be called Fuck Waiting Around to Die, and it's due out on the fifth of August, which really isn't that far away when you consider just how fast June has flown by. Based on the little teaser the band's posted, it sounds pretty much like you'd expect Darkest Hour to sound, but we'll all have to wait a bit longer to hear something more substantial.

     In the meantime let's celebrate the good news with a blast from the band's past. "These Fevered Times" is a relatively brief salvo of tasty metalcore and one of my favourite tracks from 2005's Undoing Ruin. It has all the Darkest Hour hallmarks -- good riffs, some shreddy leadwork, the trademarked DH drumbeat, acerbic John Henry vocals -- and it is, in this author's humble opinion, perfectly place on what is all around a classic album. Give it a spin.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Friday: Tesseract - Lament

     As I seem to say all the time, regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of the work of Dan Tompkins, original Tesseract vocalist and current Skyharbor pipesman. I am, however, also a fan of the vocalist on Tesseract's second LP Altered State, Ashe O'Hara, so yesterday's news that Ashe is leaving the band and Dan's back in is somewhat bittersweet.

     Who knows what this might mean for the band's longterm future, or for the future of Dan's other big project Skyharbor, who just finished a successful crowdfunding campaign for their second LP? The only thing that looks certain at this point is that album number three, and its subsequent touring cycle, will see Dan with the band once more.

     As I said, I really dug Ashe's work on Altered State, but being such a fan of Dan's I'm excited to see where he'll take things for Tesseract 3.0. For the time being, let's have something from One so the latecomers to the Tesseract party will know what I'm on about with this Dan Tompkins guy. Here's One album opener "Lament".

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Kindred - A Grand Debate

     Just in case the last couple of days of tech death have left you a little drained, I've decided to ease off the throttle a bit tonight. But don't worry -- things'll still be a little proggy.

     Ottawa band The Kindred are no strangers to the heavy music seen, having been formerly built a bit of a following under the moniker Today I Caught the Plague, but they've only released their debut LP under the new name earlier this year. Nevertheless, all that experience shows: Life in Lucidity doesn't have any debut album jitters or timidity, instead coming across as the work of a band that's confident in its sound.

     "A Grand Debate" is a good example of this, combining some energetic, intricate-but-not-too-intricate guitar work with the dynamic performance of vocalist David Journeaux, who reminds me a bit of Rody from Protest if Rody had a little less range and a lot more raw, unpolished edges. At times The Kindred are musically vaguely reminiscent of Protest the Hero as a band as well, but not at all in a way or to a degree that should prevent you from giving "A Grand Debate" a listen right now. So do it. Go on. Right now.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Archspire - Lucid Collective Somnambulation

     Yesterday's Inanimate Existence song was both techy and heavy, but I'm going to turn it up a notch today with a track from Vancouver's Archspire.

     "Lucid Collective Somnambulation" is just as much of a musical earful to hear as it is a mouthful to say. All the riffing is dextrous and super tight, and boy are there some riffs. Throw in a handful of tech death staples (your blast beats and such, all masterfully handled) and some shreddy lead work that comes complete with tasty tapped arpeggios (also masterfully handled) and you've got tech death at its finest. I love it when I find out a band like this is Canadian. Check 'em out.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Inanimate Existence - The Rune of Destruction

     Buckle up, kids, because tonight I've got some tasty tech death for you from Santa Cruz's Inanimate Existence.

     "The Rune of Destruction" from the band's new album A Never-Ending Cycle of Atonement is a good example of the band's fusion of melody and brutality, with blast beats and trem picking sitting comfortably alongside some brooding ambience and a mid-track melodic interlude, all of it tied together with some intricate, menacing-sounding riffs and a couple of cool grooves. This is the kind of technical death metal I can get behind, and it's the kind you should be getting behind. This is your daily dose of heavy right here.

Album of the Week: Glassjaw - Worship and Tribute

     We're going back a bit for this week's album, to the sophomore effort more than a decade ago of one of post-hardcore's most under-appreciated bands. Regular readers will surely be familiar with my love for this record, but now you're all going to get the opportunity to find out why.

     Worship and Tribute came out in 2002, but to me it still feels fresh and immediate. Glassjaw's mixture of hardcore, funk, electronic-sounding instrumentation, and even some energetic international flavours yields a combination that's tremendously well balanced. Heavy and aggression underlie jagged dissonance as well as polished melody, and all of it is tied together with Daryl Palumbo's distinctive vocal acrobatics.

     Unfortunately for all of us Glassjaw fans, the band is about as productive as Tool is, meaning that Glassjaw hasn't released an LP since Worship and Tribute and doesn't look like they'll be doing so any time soon. A few scattered tracks and an EP have trickled out, but it's been a case of too few and too far between to fill the huge shoes of Worship and Tribute, a true classic of the genre. Get acquainted this week if you're not already.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Monday: SERDCE - Unique Path

     Are you the  kind of person who likes the jazzed-out fusion of a band like Cynic best when the proggy bits are spacey and ethereal? You are? Well let's start your week off right then, shall we? (Sorry everybody else. In future, be more like these space prog people, OK?)

     Your song this evening is "Unique Path", from the fourth album Timelessness by Belarussian band SERDCE, a track that definitely harkens back to late Death/early Cynic with its meandering melodies and intricate bass work. "Unique Path" could easily be a lost Cynic tune, but it's not just a clone. Have a listen and discover SERDCE's brand of progressive death metal for yourself.

Sunday: Plini - Tarred & Feathered

     In addition to marking the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of Russia during the second World War, June 22nd also marks my birthday. More importantly, however, at least as far as you're probably concerned, yesterday also the marked the date of birth of Australia's one man prog army Plini.

     That makes it the perfect occasion for a Plini song, no? I've already featured most of Plini's catalogue here at Loud Noises at one time or another (like I've said before, hurry up and release an LP already!) but there's a couple of tracks I've heretofore glossed over, and since Plini doesn't write a bad song, there's still enough material for me to pick "Tarred & Feathered" from last year's Sweet Nothings EP as yesterday's birthday song.

     Ever wondered what Plini would be capable of if his virtuosic jazz fusion were to be unleashed upon an acoustic guitar? Wonder no more, because "Tarred & Feathered" will give you exactly that kind of slice of fried gold.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Saturday: Sloan - Money City Maniacs

     Day two of Nineties mini-weekend, and today we're going with another Canadian classic that used to come out virtually every time my friends and I got together to jam in high school.

     Your Saturday song is Sloan's "Money City Maniacs" from the 1998 album Navy Blues, a fun, rocking number that'll have you doing the siren noises from the start of the song with your mouth by about your third playthrough. Take care though that you don't end up covered in Coke fizz.

Friday: I Mother Earth - One More Astronaut

     It's my birthday this weekend, and since we're having a few similarly-aged people over this evening I figure I'll hit you with a couple of alt-rock classics from my youth for today and yesterday, both of which happen to be by Canadian bands. Why just today and yesterday, and not all weekend? I've got plans for tomorrow, friend. Oh yes. Plans.

     But first thing's first: yesterday. To kick off this birthday weekend we're going with what is arguably I Mother Earth's biggest song, "One More Astronaut from the band's 1996 sophomore disc Scenery and Fish. I Mother Earth is still kicking, even after some hiatus time over the past decade and a half, but for my money the "Edwin Years" are the best ones, from which songs like this one still play regularly on alt-rock radio.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Fall of the Albatross - Like a Good Tornado

     Respite from things mindbending and sojourn in simpler climes: over! Alas, tonight's song will once again demand something of your brain. Up for the challenge.

     New York fusion outfit Fall of the Albatross are pretty hard to pin down, so I'm not even going to try. I'm just going to let their fingers do the talking by pointing you in the direction of "Like a Good Tornado" from the band's forthcoming Enormous Cloud LP. It's a little schizophrenic, a little all over the place, but it's certainly never boring. Check it out if mathy prog doesn't intimidate you.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

In Search of Sun - The World is Yours

     Between some seriously heavy stuff and some seriously proggy stuff, some among you might have found the last couple of days' worth of songs a little mentally taxing. For you, I've got something nice and straightforward this evening.

     "The World is Yours" by the Brits in In Search of Sun is a pretty catchy little number, but it's still got a soupcon of substance to it. Some cool guitar work, including a couple of super catchy riffs, lead the way here, making for a "radio friendly" metal song that's sharp and punchy. It makes me think of Bullet for My Valentine, if Bullet weren't quite so radio, quite so overproduced. Or maybe Killswitch Engage, if Killswitch were a little more radio. I don't know.

     It's not necessarily my usual cup of tea, or yours either, but "The World is Yours" is a fun song with a fun lyric video, so why not take a break from the extreme this evening and settle in for three minutes of good time.

Album of the Week: Tesseract - Altered State

     The weather's been a little proggy around here lately, so I'm going to keep it going with this week's pick for Album of the Week. Chances are good you know these guys already, and reasonable that you like them too, but I dig them so much that I try to convert people whenever I can. Your album this week, therefore, is Tesseract's latest, Altered State.

     I honestly have a hard time telling you which Tesseract record you should check out first. Both their debut album One  and their sophomore effort Altered State are masterpieces, and among my favourite records of the last five years. One has the benefit of featuring the band's first singer Dan Tompkins, currently lending his pipes to another favourite of mine, Skyharbor.

     But being a progressive band means Tesseract's sound is in a different place now than it used to be, so I think it would be best to get you into their latest album first, so you can get a handle on where Tesseract is at now. Whether you then go back to their back catalogue (LP One and EP Perspective) or look forward to their next effort is up to you. Either way, Altered State is beautifully crafted piece of modern prog that deserves to be experience as a single, complete piece of music, so

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Animals as Leaders - Lippincott

     The Joy of Motion, the latest disc from the instrumental guitar proggers in Animals as Leaders, is chock full of good grooves and riffs, and since the animals themselves recently saw fit to demonstrate some of said riff and grooves for a podcast from the Guitar Center in Holywood, I think it's the perfect time to put one of their tunes before you once again.

     "Lippincott" has a very Meshuggah feel to me, with lots jagged edges and angular riffs. But Animals as Leaders tend to rise above their djenty peers by throwing their own twists and turns into the standard Meshuggah formula, twists like some sweet two-handed tapping and even a little finger picking. We all know Tosin and Javier are incredible guitarists, but seeing some of these techniques, especially the finger picking, used in new and interesting ways in a genre like metal is what sets Animals as Leaders apart.

     Unless of course you think I'm out to lunch. Do you find Animals as Leaders too mainstream? If I really want to hear some new and interesting uses of this technique or that technique, should I be listening to band X, Y or Z? Leave it in a comment!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Killitorous - Godking

     It's time to start another week, which means it's time to rock your faces off with something nice and heavy for Metal Monday.

     I've featured Canadian tech-death band Killitorous a couple of times before, but I feel they deserve another chance to show you that they are, in fact, the real deal. The blast beats are machine precise, the riffs sound evil, and the vocals are delivered with appropriate vitriol. Throw in the twisted sense of humour the band seems to have, and you've got the Canadian equivalent of The Black Dahlia Murder.

     But don't let all those wordy things be what convinces you of the awesomeness of Killitorous. Let "Godking" from the recently released Party, Grind do the talking instead. If this one doesn't fire you up to face the week, nothing will.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

CHON - Puddle

     When I said yesterday that things were going to get proggy, I meant it. I'm going to chill your Sunday song out a bit though, and go with something from San Diego (mostly) instrumental act CHON.

     I could really go with anything from CHON's catalogue here and be relatively sure I was pointing you towards something cool, but since the boys recently did a session at the Audiotree studios I think it would be only fitting to wow you with an example of their virtuosic performance in a live setting.

     What better place to start, then, than the start? "Puddle" is a track originally from the band's 2013 EP Newborn Sun, but here it's the phenomenal opening salvo to a truly impressive set. Nimble-fingered, serpentine guitar lines and high-energy drumming are vaguely reminiscent of The Fall of Troy, and yet technically transcend even the lofty heights set by that  seminal post-hardcore outfit.

     All that technical prowess is mixed with laid-back grooves and a very chill feel to produce something that's not pretentious in its musicianship. This is another occasion where I'll say that if you're at all into instrumental music, you owe it to yourself to discover CHON. I guarantee you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Leprous - Forced Entry

     Better not have anything important going on for the next ten minutes or so, because you're going to want to give today's song your undivided attention. Sure, yesterday's Damian Murdoch Trio song wasn't exactly straightforward, but today things are about to get a whole lot proggier.

     Norwegian band Leprous knows a thing or two about peddling prog, having been doing it for more than a decade now. I only heard about them upon the release of their latest disc, 2013's Coal, but I've been sampling their back catalogue too, and I can tell you that there's some tasty stuff.

     Tasty stuff like today's song, "Forced Entry", a ten-minute epic from 2011's Bilateral. This one runs the gamut, packing big, arena-y metal choruses, heavier prog parts, and even heavier death and black metal-type parts into its six hundred and twenty seconds. Clear your schedule and spin it.

Friday: Damian Murdoch Trio - Jump Rope with Electric Wires

     I may have missed the Friday the 13th boat by a few hours, but that doesn't mean I forgot what day it is today. I even had the perfect song lined up -- equal parts evil sounding and totally badass -- so you're going to hear it one way or another.

     Guitarist Damian Murdoch is a recent addition to international metal collective The Ocean, but he's a busy guy, and has his own creatively-named power trio the Damian Murdoch Trio. Instrumental prog-rock lite with marked blues and classic heavy metal influences, Damian's music also has some funky grooves, some shreddy bits... some everything, really. Dude can play the guitar.

     Due to the date, however, there's only one song of Damian's with just the right vibe, and that's a song called "Jump Rope with Electric Wires" from the Trio's debut album Electric Tentacles. It's a sinister sounding little number that's the perfect thing to ward off all the  more malignant evils of Friday the 13th. Crank it up and have some sweet dreams.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Skyharbor - Evolution

     I'm very excited to be able to recommend tonight's song to you, especially because I got to hear it a couple of days ago. Feast your ears, dear reader, on the first track from Skyharbor's as yet untitled second album.

     "Evolution" has a lot going for it -- good grooves, some techy/noodly lead work, more great Dan Tompkins vocal work -- and it perfectly straddles the line between growth and experimentation on the one hand and refinement of your existing sound on the other.

     I'm the kind of Skyharbor fan how would have been happy if Blinding White Noise had been a triple album, so the fact that "Evolution" doesn't stray too far from what I know and love is welcome news. But since it also doesn't sound like the boys have simply been resting on their laurels, Skyharbor's sophomore disc has the potential to be a monster. Go throw some money at them to help them finishing recording already.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Within Ruins - Gods Amongst Men

     Tonight's tasty riffage comes courtesy of Westfield, MA's Within Ruins from their latest disc, the forthcoming Phenomena.

     "Gods Amongst Men" is hardly reinventing the wheel: the riffing is vaguely (but inoffensively) djenty, the drumming is pretty -core, and the vocalist sounds like a bunch of different guys a bunch of different times. But this one's definitely a case of being greater than the sum of its constituent parts.

     I'm not the hugest fan of the super-compressed guitar tone, but other than that this could be a great As I Lay Dying song that never was, if AILD had the occasional bit of bloopiness. If nothing else, "Gods Among Men" is proof that there are still bands making metalcore out there, and at least some it is worth listening to.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Tuesday: Origin - Absurdity of What I Am

     Sometimes when I post about something non-metal, like yesterday's Closure in Moscow song, there's this small part of me that feels like I'm neglecting the metal crowd. It's the reason why I like to follow something non-metal with something all the more crushing, and it's the reason why I've got some straight up death metal for you today.

     "Absurdity of What I Am", the latest track from the forthcoming LP Omnipresent by Origins, is a beast of a song from front to back. Blast beats and trem picking abound, but the lock for me is the riff that starts around 1:20 -- such a groove! I normally like things to be a little proggier, a little more varied than "Absurdity", but sometimes there's something to be said for sheer relentlessness. Following some funked out art rock just happens to be one of those times.

Monday: Closure in Moscow - Neoprene Byzantine

     My long-awaited pre-order copy of Closure in Moscow's latest, Pink Lemonade, has finally emerged from the land down under and landed in my mailbox. Fans looking for more in the vein of debut LP First Temple might be a little disappointed, but fans just looking for something fun and different may just have their record for the summer.

     While the latter (ie: First Temple) was a well-crafted slice of melodic post-hardcore/post-rock with some proggy twists and turns here and there, the former (the new Pink Lemonade) is an altogether funkier beast, melding energetic space rock with pornolicious grooves that would be at home in a 70's skin flick.

     It doesn't hurt that vocalist Christopher de Cinque can a) boast a range and tone not unlike Cedric from The Mars Volta, and b) turn a phrase or two. Take today's song: "Neoprene Byzantine" is just a fun pair of words to say, even when not married to some seriously funky rock. Check it out and marvel at how far these guys have come.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Album of the Week: Trioscapes - Separate Realities

     The other day I featured the latest from Scale the Summit's Chris Letchford, and it got me thinking about instrumental music generally, and instrumental jazz in particular, and, for my money, any conversation about modern instrumental jazz has to include the titans in Trioscapes.

     Drums, bass, and saxophone might sound like a somewhat limited palette, but it's more than enough for the boys in Trioscapes (among whom is Dan Briggs, bassist from Between the Buried and Me, for those of you who need a metal connection to justify some jazz). Exemplifying the term "power trio", Trioscapes weave funky, labyrinthine grooves that can't help but appeal to the riff-oriented mind of this metalhead.

     I've said before, and will no doubt say again, that Trioscapes are a great equalizer. Put them on in a roomful of different musical tastes and watch as everyone miraculously becomes a jazz convert. OK, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not much; I most definitely have put Trioscapes' debut Separate Realities on for friends of mine who don't normally share my musical tastes and discovered that lo, we have come ground after all. So why don't you spend some time with Separate Realities this week and see if you too have a little jazz in you.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Cyborg Octopus - Pukefeast Inc.

     Yesterday I went with something smooth and jazzy as the soundtrack for your Saturday night chillings, but today I've decided you could use something a little heavier to cap off your weekend and get you set up right for the week to come.

     The name of today's band says it all: Cyborg Octopus. If a band with a name like that isn't capable of some awesomeness, then I think we're all pretty much doomed. Lucky for us the band's debut EP Primordial does indeed feature some quality death metal, with some acoustic guitars, some jazzy bits, and a couple of other pinches of various flavours throw in for shits and/or giggles. It might not be the best melange of this kind you've ever heard, but it's still pretty rad, and pretty promising coming from a young band too.

     Better still, they're a metal band with a bit of a social conscience, a la Cattle Decapitation or even Gojira. Your song today, "Pukefeast Inc.", is an attack on agribusiness, GMO's, and the general evils of the modern food industry, and it's a tasty slab of what I would label deathcore in the truest sense -- death metal with a little hardcore gravy on top. Don't feel bad about ingesting this particular octopus.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Chris Letchford - The Star Boys

     Time for a little something light and jazzy for your Saturday evening courtesy of Chris Lecthford, whose work I'm sure you're familiar with even if you can't quite place his name.

     Chris's guitar work with instrumental prog-heads Scale the Summit already has a decidedly jazzy bent to it, so it should come as no surprise that his forthcoming solo LP Lightbox is shaping up to be a pretty solid instrumental jazz record. He's even had the good fortune to get Evan Brewer (bassist extraordinaire, lately of The Faceless), Mark Michell (bassist from Scale the Summit), Steven Padin (drummer to the stars in The Reign of Kindo) and Danny Pizarro (pianist/keyboardist, also from Kindo) to combine their powers as his backing band. So basically, this record has had bucketloads of talent thrown at it.

     Lead single "The Star Boys" is a little all over the place, but in a good way. Chris changes direction just enough to keep you guessing, but not so much as to leave you disoriented. Well, you might be disoriented, but it'll be by the intricacy and complexity of the musicianship rather than the meandering course of the song. Instrumental fans and jazz freaks alike should take notice of this one.

Mandroid Echostar - Ancient Arrows

     The boys in Mandroid Echostar have put out another guitar playthrough vid for one of their tasty tunes; what more reason do I need to give them another go in the spotlight?

     The playthrough of "Ancient Arrows", from last year's Citadels EP, is instrumental only, but it'll still give you a good sense of their proggy, noodly, vaguely Protest the Hero-y sound, and hopefully whet your appetite to the point that you'll want to go check out the real thing. Mandroid's first two EPs have been so solid that I can't wait to hear what they put together for a debut full-length. Maybe after today you'll join me on the Mandroid bandwagon?

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Algorithm - Octopus4

     Last night's epic number by nearly nameless band ██████ may well have left you a little drained, especially if you had the good sense to turn it up loud and stick it out for the whole thing. To that end, I have a bit of a change of pace for you tonight.

     I've written about electro-instrumental outfit The Algorithm before, when I got into their first LP Polymorphic Code, but it's time to feature the work of Remi Gallego once again, this time to commemorate the recent release of sophomore disc Octopus4.

     The sound is familiar this time out -- bloopy, glitchy, replete with and peppered with wub -- but with less focus on big, djenty riffs and more on ambiance and variety. A perfect example is tonight's song, title track "Octopus4", which rolls merrily along its techno-metal path for most of its nine-minute duration before taking an abrupt turn down mellow jazz keyboard avenue for the last couple of minutes.

     It's a jarring transition, rather than being a fluidly unnoticeable one, but I still dig the fact that Remi is branching out, if only a little. If electronic music of any stripe is your thing, and even if it isn't, you should at least see what The Algorithm is all about. Some of the beats alone are worth the price of admission.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

██████ - V

     Better clear about fifteen minutes out of your busy schedule, because you're going to want to let tonight's epic slow-burn run its course.

     ██████, a band whose name/logo defies pronunciation (hence the band sometimes being referred to as "nic") has recently done a split with Old Soul, and while I was previously unfamiliar with either of them, a pretty massive quarter of an hour has convinced me I need to get familiar with at least one of these acts.

     ██████'s song "V" takes blackened elements like trem-picked riffs and builds with them a monolithic slab of post-metal dirge that still retains the "ebb and flow" feel that you'd expect from post-anything. I know it's a pretty good chunk of time to commit to a single song by a band you've never heard of that uses a black bar for its name, but if epic metal with some black, doom, and death flavours tossed in is at all your cup of tea, "V" will provide you a whole pot to savour.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Gojira - To Sirius

     The latest Godzilla movie came out a couple of weeks ago, and by all the accounts I've heard is actually pretty entertaining -- not going to win any Oscars or anything, but a fun flick nonetheless. But you know what would be more fun than a Japanese monster destroying all in its path? A French monster destroying all in its path!

     Yes, I'm using the new Godzilla as an excuse to put some Gojira in front of you (as if an excuse was required). For some big, stompy heaviness, put on "To Sirius" from the band's 2005 record From Mars to Sirius. That main verse riff is enough to make anybody want to demolish some buildings, so crank it up and unleash your inner kaiju.

Album of the Week: Mastodon - Leviathan

     Mastodon have released another song from their forthcoming album Once More Round the Sun, but rather than feature it today (it hasn't been all that long since I recommended "High Road", after all) I figured I'd do you one better and advocate you spend the week with some classic Mastodon.

     Mastodon has such a strong back catalogue that I have a plethora of options for your Album of the Week, but if we're talking classic Mastodon, there's really only once choice: 2004's Leviathan. It's got it all: great riffs and songs, stellar drumming, a multiple-vocalist assault, a lofty concept based on Melville's Moby Dick, and even some kick-ass artwork. There's no denying Mastodon is among the biggest bands in modern metal, and this is the record that put them on the throne.

     Now, if you already dig Mastodon, chances are you know how good this album is, and you should need no further prompting from me to want to revisit it. But if you're somehow unfamiliar with the band, or you're only cozy with their newer material, you owe it to yourself to check Leviathan out. Their newer stuff is, of course, good (Crack the Skye being beyond "good" and into the realm of "fucking awesome") but there's nevertheless something special about Mastodon's great white whale.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Opeth - Cusp of Eternity

     It's a good day to be an Opeth fan. Their new album Pale Communion might not be due out until August, but we finally got a taste of what to expect today with the release of the record's first single, "Cusp of Eternity".

     If "Cusp" is any indication of the overall sound of Pale Communion, fans who've been digging the reinvention of Opeth as a 70's prog rock band will be well pleased. There's nary a death metal riff or growl to be heard, but there's not necessarily anything wrong with that. The song's still got a good groove, and a pretty rad guitar solo too.

     I'm definitely looking forward to hearing the rest of the album, and unlike what seems to be a good portion of Opeth's fanbase, I'm going to wait until I do hear the whole thing before decrying or lauding the band's latest step in their current musical direction. Even if you didn't especially dig Heritage or whatever, have a listen and keep an open mind.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Sunday: The Beastie Boys - Intergalactic

     Just a quick post this evening to celebrate the fact that summer-ish weather my finally be here for the duration, heralding a couple of months of maxing, relaxing, and general chilling of all sorts.

     Your almost-summmertime jam for this evening is "Intergalactic" from the Beastie Boys' 1998 classic Hello Nasty. Grab yourself a bottle or glass of your favourite bevvy, go out on the back deck/porch/balcony, put this one on, and let your head fill up with campy scenes of robots and kaiju making sweet, sweet fight with each other.

Saturday: Dead Letter Circus - Killing in the Name

     One of the magical properties of the Internet is that it gives us music fans access to so much more music than would otherwise be possible, access that is truly unprecedented in human history. This access can turn up so many wild and wonderful things, and every so often one of those things is radically re-imagined cover version of a well-known song.

     Most cover version are not radical re-imaginings, but rather fairly faithful renditions that may reflect only a little of the covering artists' style, or none at all. Some cover versions are even note-perfect tributes, often performed in bars by "tribute artists", a.k.a. cover bands that look the part. But some covers are an altogether different animal.

     Biffy Clyro's version of Weezer's "Buddy Holly" always comes to mind as my favourite example of this strange new beast -- a cover version of a song that bears so little resemblance to the original that it almost stands on its own as an entirely new piece of art. There is, however, a new contender for this crown: the Dead Letter Circus version of "Killing in the Name" that's been making the rounds online over the last couple of days.

     "Killing in the Name " covers aren't that uncommon, but ones like this are. Aside from the familiar lyrics, you'd never know that this was a cover if you weren't told as much ahead of time. Dead Letter Circus just do that good a job of putting their own spin on things. (Incidentally, Biffy Clyro also does a pretty unique cover of "Killing in the Name", but what is this, a Biffy Clyro post?)

     Some among you might argue that perhaps a song shouldn't be called a "cover" unless it bears enough of a resemblance to the original, and I can see you point. But, on the other hand, it's certainly refreshing to hear a cover that heads in some new creative directions and doesn't just sound exactly like the original. Have a listen to the Dead Letter Circus version of "Killing in the Name" and see which camp you fall in.