Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Saturday: The Dear Hunter - Mr. Malum

     I hope your Saturday past was as chill as mine was (an afternoon movie and then an evening of boardgames) because I'm going a little less metal and a little more mellow for your Saturday song.

     I've written about Rhode Island prog-rock act The Dear Hunter before, but it's been a while and they've been popping up quite a bit on my shuffle lately. They might be a bit of a departure for some of you; their stuff spans a variety of genres and styles, but metal isn't really among them. Nevertheless, there's enough interesting musical ideas going on here to keep you going, I promise.

     Your Dear Hunter track for last Saturday is "Mr. Malum" from the 2011 Colour Spectrum series of EPs, a typically off-kilter showcase of multi-talented frontman Casey Crescenzo's ability to write weird little pop operas. Check this one out, and even if this one isn't your flavour, check out some other Dear Hunter, because he's put out enough cool stuff over the last few years that you're bound to find something that tickles your fancy.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Friday: From Autumn to Ashes - The After Dinner Payback

     Let's pretend that Christmas didn't fall on a Thursday this year, and we still get to do a Throwback Thursday song for last week, OK?

     Back when I was just starting my undergrad, my friends and I listened to a lot of emo/screamo-type stuff, stuff that would now politely be called post-hardcore. Although some of it was of course not so great, some of it was really pretty solid, like Long Island's From Autumn to Ashes. We listened to the shit out of their first couple of albums, but your 'Throwback' Friday song for last week was always one of our favourites.

     "The After Dinner Payback" off of From Autumn to Ashes' sophomore disc The Fiction We Live encapsulates the band's whole sound from those early records: harsh vocals juxtaposed with cleans, both atop some furious core riffage. Check it out if you want a window into my early university years.

Christmas Day: Christopher Lee - Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing

     I'm once again going for pure cheesy fun factor with this year's Christmas Song of the Day, so I hope you weren't holding your breath too hard for that earnest blackened deathgrind ode to Saint Nick.

     All of you out there in the know should be aware that Christopher Lee is Christopher Lee (sorry, very inside joke...), meaning that Christopher the veteran British actor and Christopher Lee the purveyor of medieval-tinged metal are one and the same. But are you also aware that he does Christmas songs?

     You should be, since last year's song was a Christopher Lee as well, but just in case the is news to you, I implore you to belatedly ring in the season with Lee's 2014 Christmas metal track "Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing". (Be forewarned, however, that the link I've provided is to a trailer that includes a clip of the song -- I couldn't find a full copy so you'll have to do some looking of your own. Bonne chance!)

Last Wednesday: Slipknot - Vendetta

     Another day, another couple of much belated songs. For your Wednesday Christmas Eve, you're getting some bread-and-butter straight-up heavy. Hope you don't already have it.

     "Vendetta" from 2008's All Hope is Gone (is that record really six years old already?) is, in my opinion, one of Slipknot's best heavy songs in years. If 2004's Vol. 3 showed Slipknot's diversity and ability to come up with some less abrasive material, All Hope is Gone reminded everybody that the band was still a metal band somewhere inside, and tracks like "Vendetta" are the reason why.

     The blast-beating, trem-picking opening along is reason enough to check this track, but the masked marauders will keep you around with a thrashy-sounding verse riff and a slow, grinding breakdown-turned-outro. Slipknot's latest offering might not be your cup of tea (I'm not especially stoked on it) but this one should serve as proof that Iowa wasn't the band's last really good heavy outing.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Last Tuesday: The Faceless - Legion of the Serpent

     Getting on to Tuesday now, and that means you could probably stand to hear a Tech Tuesday tune.

     The only news out of The Faceless HQ recently has been less than stellar, with the gist of things being that it's once again pretty much just the Michael Keene show. But then hasn't it always been that way? I for one don't really care if it's just Michael running the show or not, so long as I don't have to wait too much longer for some more tasty jams like this Tech Tuesday track.

     "Legion of the Serpent" might be an older cut, taken from the band's 2008 masterpiece Planetary Duality, but it was certainly a crowd favourite when I saw them The Faceless at Heavy TO back in 2012. It's had a special place in my heart since that show, so please enjoy "Legion of the Serpent" with my compliments.

Last Monday: Melechesh - Multiple Truths

     So last time out proved not to be the day of Catching Up, and then a little thing called Christmas got in my way over the last couple of days, but we're going to try and get all squared up in the next day or so, OK?

     Back to last Monday, then, and some middle eastern metal from Melechesh (see all that alliteration?). They've got a new Sumerian-themed album called Enki coming out in the spring (the ancient civilization, not the record label) and they recently put out a lyric video for a new track.

     "Multiple Truths" is pretty straight-forward metal, with a bit of a thrashy, deathy feel and an obvious middle eastern flavour. They're not going to win any tech awards any time soon with songs like this one, but they certainly could be nominated for crafting a 'crushing headbanger' kind of song.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Sunday: Straight Read the Line - Last Call

     For your Sunday song this week, it's another song from a band whose resurrection would be a really rad Christmas gift. I don't see it happening, but that wouldn't make it any less awesome.

     I've written about defunct Canadian post-hardcore band Straight Reads the Line before, but they're the kind of band I'm always keen to spread the word about, even if they are no more. It's too bad that the band only survived a single LP, but if you're going to burn out after just one record, there are worse records to do it after that Straight Reads the Line's The Author.

     If you've been a reader for a while you might have already seen a Song of the Day or two from The Author, but it's been a bit since I've done one so it's about time. That's why your Sunday song is "Last Call" from Straight Reads the Line's aforementioned single album The Author Listen to it and then clap your hands in the hopes that the band has something in common with Tinkerbell.

Saturday: The Helix Nebula - Sailing Stone

     Will tonight be the night I finally get caught up with the Real World calendar? Read on to find out!

     My boy Plini is all over the place these days. Not content to just finish up the third EP in his badass trilogy, he's also done some guest work recently, for Skyharbor's sophomore effort Guiding Lights as well as the EP Meridian by fellow Aussies The Helix Nebula.

     The song in question is "Sailing Stone", for which the guys in the band have recently released a playthrough video, and the solo Plini recorded is about a minute in. But you shouldn't just skip ahead; no, you should really stick around for the whole thing, because it's a six-plus-minute slice of proggy instrumental metal that keeps moving the whole time and never gets boring. The next release or two from The Helix Nebula could be especially tasty.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Friday: Marilyn Manson - Deep Six

     'Excited' is perhaps a bit too strong a word for the situation at hand, but your Friday song and the album it's taken from have me interested, at the very least. I've already posted about "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge" so it's time for some more new Marilyn Manson.

     Where the aforementioned "Third Day" was a bit more stripped back, "Deep Six" is a driving rocker with a simple but catchy main guitar hook. Manson still hasn't convinced me that the upcoming The Pale Emperor is a return to form, but these last couple of tracks certainly haven't hurt. Check it out and see if you too are at least interested in hearing some of what's next.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Thursday: Darkest Hour - Tranquil

     We'll get there, people, we'll get there... And in order to do so, this Throwback Thursday post will just be a quickie,  throwing 'er back about a decade to one of my favourite songs from one of my favourite albums by one of my favourite bands.

     Darkest Hour has had a central place in my musical world since I fell in love with 2003's Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation. It's one of those records that is not only awesome musically but also an important part of my musical history and my listening tastes at the time. I listened to the shit out of Hidden Hands.

     But pretty much equally important for me was Darkest Hour's follow-up two years later, 2005's classic Undoing Ruin. I listened to the shit out of this one too, becoming familiar with it back to front, inside and out. Pretty much every track on this album is a gem in its own way, but album closer "Tranquil" has always stood out as especially badass, from its furious riffage to the fact that it closes out the album with the same melody line that opened it. Pretty solid way to throw it back for this Thursday post if you ask me.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Wednesday: Rosetta - A Determinism of Reality

     So out here in real life, it's actually Friday already, but back in Loud Noises land, it's still Wednesday, so let's finally get this ship righted, shall we? We're going to start with a post-metal Hump Day song that'll carry you right through until it's actually Wednesday again.

     By this point, the closing days of 2014, you should probably be aware of rising post-metal stars Rosetta. This Philadelphia four-piece made some pretty big waves back in 2013 with their fourth record The Anaesthete, but they've got a whole catalogue of solid material to delve into, so let's get digging.

     Your Wednesday song is the epic, album-closing title track from Rosetta's 2010 LP A Determinism of Morality. At nearly eleven minutes in length, it's got everything you'd expect as a fan of the band, or the genre: slow builds, big climaxes, and a dense mix with a lot of layers. If this kind of thing appeals to you, Rosetta,will quickly become a regular on your playlist.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Tuesday: Arsis - Sightless Wisdom

     We're going back a couple of years for this week's only-a-little-bit-belated Tech Tuesday post, to the album that put one of my favourite technical death metal bands on my musical radar in the first place.

     The classic We Are the Nightmare isn't the first album by Virginia's Arsis, or even the second, but for me personally it has that resonance, and that high-water-mark quality, that give it the feel of a never-to-be-topped debut. James Malone and Company have certainly a kick-ass couple of LPs and an EP since We Are the Nightmare, but nothing's grabbed me quite as hard.

     One of the many reasons We Are the Nightmare refuses to relinquish its grip on me to this very day is your Tech Tuesday track. "Sightless Wisdom" is one of many tracks from Nightmare that demonstrates time and again Malone's gift for crafting fleet-fingered riffs that turn on a dime. Killer melo-tech abounds on this record, but for my money "Sightless Wisdom" is definitely a standout.

Monday: The Healing - Transcedence

     Your Monday song is another one of those Facebook feed finds, this time coming to me courtesy of the feed of The Room Colored Charlatan.

     Charlatan shared this one a week or two ago, but it's taken a bit to grow on me enough to become a Song of the Day. Part of the reason for such a slow burn might be that "Transcendence", the first video release from The Healing's debut EP of the same name, is pretty straight-forward, unrevolutionary melo-djent metalcore.

     Which isn't to say it isn't solid. "Transcendence" has some groove to it, and a big melodic chorus with head-sticking potential. Come to think of it, that's a big reason why the aforementioned slow burn of digging this song eventually became an actual flame: these guys sound like they have a bunch of potential.

     Assuming their style of "progressive metalcore" (often a byword for that onomatopoeic sound we all love) doesn't completely dry up before they get what they can out of it, I can see The Healing really being a name an album or two from now. If they can take their strong senses of rhythm and melody and break out of their djenre with them, "Transcendence" might just be the tip of an iceberg.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sunday: The Black Dahlia Murder - Den of the Picquerist

     Remember everything I said in "yesterday's" Saturday Torche song, about being relaxed and not wanting to be pummeled? Throw it out the window. This Sunday mini-post will snap that chill like a Slim Jim.

     The Black Dahlia Murder are known for thrashy melodeath at breakneck speeds, but "Den of the Picquerist" from the band's 2011 disc Ritual is a cut above. Its minute and a half of fast and furious face fucking has a 90's speed punk kind of feel to it. If the pace of your average Black Dahlia Murder song is a full run, this one's a flat out sprint. See if you can keep up.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Saturday: Torche - Minions

     Pretend it's actually Saturday evening for this next song, and you're relaxing out with a drink or two, in need of something kinda heavy but also kinda laid-back. You're not looking to be pummeled just now, and skilled sludge slingers Torche have got hypothetical you covered.

     Torche have a new album, Restarter, coming out early next year, and after some hyping and some teasing we've finally got a full song to chew on in the form of first single "Minions". It's a somewhat sludgy, predictably fuzzy jam that, as is par for the course Torche-wise, reminds of prog-less Mastodon or even something like Kyuss. It plods along with a crushing, marching kind of beat, but lacks the relentlessness of something full-on Metal.

     The stoney drone of "Minions" also sounds very old-school to me somehow, in a way I can't quite put my finger on, other than to say that I could see my high school self listening to it and approving. That's a pretty decent endorsement, because that guy's got good taste.

Friday: Unearth - Sanctity of Brothers

     It may take me all fucking week, but by the gods I'm going to get this Song of the Day train back on track. Don't believe me? Read on!

     If you know my musical tastes at all (which you should, if you've been keeping up with your homework) you know I likes me some metalcore. Look with scorn upon that if you will, but the genre represents a significant chapter of my musical history, so it's pretty much always going to have a spot on my playlist.

     There are still some bands out there making good, 'modern' metalcore (ERRA comes immediately to mind, or even Misery Signals) but usually when I want this kind of jam, I've got to go back a bit. For this very belated Friday song we're headed back eight years or so, to the third album from metalcore veterans Unearth.

     If you like metalcore and/or Unearth, III: In the Eyes of Fire has a bunch of solid tracks on it, but for my money one of the standouts is mid-album rager "Sanctity of Brothers". Like any good Unearth song, it's built on a couple of sweet riffs, in particular the main intro riff with its lengthy phrasing. It's not going to bend your brain, but it will bang your head, which is what any good Friday song should do.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Thursday: Alkaloid - Carbon Phrases

     The boulder is continuing to roll up the hill here at Loud Noises, and I've decided to go with something nice and meaty for your Thursday song to make up for the fact that I'm taking literally forever to get caught up this time. Hope you've got nine and a half minutes!

     Alkaloid is a death-prog supergroup that includes former members of some pretty obscura acts (see what I did there, Obscura fans?). Their debut LP The Malkuth Grimoire is both due out in 2015 and sure to be suitably metal based on that title alone. Case in point: album opener and first single "Carbon Phrases", the aforementioned nine-and-a-half-minute monster.

     "Carbon Phrases" is darkly melodic, but also packing plenty of heavy. In particular, there's a section just shy of the five-and-a-half minute mark that's pretty face melting. All in all, the death-prog bits (heavier on the death, lighter on the prog) have a flavour that's a little reminiscent of old-school Opeth, something which might well endear Alkaloid to fans for whom Opeth's more recent retro-folk-jazz-seasoned offerings have been less than pleasing. Check out The Malkuth Grimoire next year for something big and stompy.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Wednesday: Periphery - The Bad Thing

     Sisyphus here, reporting in from my current position behind this damnable boulder after another brief absence from the world of Loud Noises. Don't worry, things'll be back to normal in no time. But first: a Wednesday song.

     More specifically, a Wednesday song that's a little hard to listen to at the moment. Periphery's last tempting morsel for all of us was "The Scourge", a track from the upcoming Juggernaut: Alpha. I know it's only been a couple of weeks since I posted about that one, but since Juggernaut is a double album it's only fair that I give the latest single off it, taken from the latter Omega half, some time in the spotlight.

     The problem with listening to "The Bad Thing" depends on where you live. If you live in the States, you should still just be able to check it out via the stream on Sumerian's Youtube channel. But if, like me, you live in Canada, or somewhere similarly blacklisted when it comes to such things, the official video will be unavailable to you, and you'll have to go with a sketchier upload like this one. Wherever you reside, January's not too far off so you don't have much longer to wait for either half of Juggernaut.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Tuesday: July Talk - Gun + Ammunition

     Surprise! Looking around for your Monday girlfriend birthday song, I actually came up with a couple of contenders. So as a Tuesday bonus you're getting another interesting-but-not-metal tune. Enjoy!

     July Talk is a Canadian alternative/indie rock band based around a male/female dual vocal dynamic that's one part sweet and sunny and one part daily gargling with whiskey, Tom Waits-style. I'll let you take your best guess as to which part is which. July Talk shouldn't really appeal to me, and a lot of their stuff doesn't really, but they've got a couple of songs that just grab me, and this is one of them.

     I don't know if it's just the sound of male vocalist Peter Dreimanis' voice on this particular track, or the insistent, driving rhythm, or the minor and vaguely haunting key, but for whatever reason "Guns + Ammunition" has gotten stuck pretty deep in my head on more than one occasion. It might not be your thing, but variety is the spice of life so why not expand your auditory horizons? Happy Birthday again Pumpky!

Monday: Sam Roberts Band - We're All in This Together

     So Monday song...Monday song... hmmm... Well, since Monday was her birthday, I'm going with a fun rock number for my favourite pumpkinhead. Happy birthday!

     Sam Roberts and his eponymous band are, by this point in their collective careers together, becoming something of a Canadian institution. They've got five albums and a bunch of Juno awards (our Grammy, Yankees...) under their belt, and it's not all that hard to see why. Sure, it's not metal, but their poppy indie-rock has more going on than many of their contemporaries, and feels more genuine to boot.

     Take "We're All in This Together", the first single from the band's latest album Lo-Fantasy, as an example. It's catchy and bouncy, but with a little funkified flair. It's radio-friendly pop-rock, but there's horns and keyboards and other, not always mainstreamy, rock elements. Basically it is the kind of non-metal I like to advocate, namely non-metal that I think a metalhead of taste similar to mine could reasonably get into. Are you that metalhead? Listen to "We're All in This Together" and find out. Oh, and join me in shouting Happy Birthday on three...

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Sunday: Cloudkicker - Digital Lightning

     Man, Ben Sharp is a busy guy. Ben, better known as one man instrumental post-metal outfit Cloudkicker, not only toured with Intronaut as his backing band earlier this year, he released a live album with them back in November. But that's not enough for ol' Ben. He's just released a new record of solo Cloudkicker "studio" material too!

     "Digital Lightning" is both one of the longest of the tracks on Little Histories and one of the heaviest, although the heavy doesn't come in the usual form of double kick or guttural vocals. Indeed, bereft of any vocals at all, "Digital Lightning" instead trades on thick, fat guitars playing big chords for the first couple of minutes before transitioning to some noodly harmonized riffing and then ending off on some doomy droning.

     At only five tracks long (the first of which is very introductory) Little Histories is almost more of an EP than an LP, but whatever you want to call it it's another fitting entry in Cloudkicker's ever-expanding catalogue. If instrumental post-metal that covers a variety of ground is your thing at all, you need to know about Ben SHarp and his baby Cloudkicker.

Saturday: Opeth - Moon Above, Sun Below

     Hey there stranger, talk about being late on the Saturday draw too... As all three of you may have noticed, I took a bit of an impromptu and unannounced vacation from Loud Noises over the weekend. It was the girlfriend's birthday yesterday, with a whole plethora of festivities populating the preceding days, so I decided that rather than rush things here (or worse, abandon her for extended periods of metal consumption) I'd just get back to you guys once things settled down.

     We're both back to the grind today, and everything's pretty much back to normal around here, so that means it's everybody's favourite time: catch-up time. I've got a whole weekend to make up for, so let's get straight to a Saturday song to get things started.

     Opeth's latest album Pale Communion is one of their most divisive yet. If you're into the jazzy 60's/70's folk-prog that the band's been moving towards for the last couple of records, you're in luck, because Pale Communion is the furthest down this particular path that Opeth has gotten yet. If on the other hand you're more of a fan of the heavier metal elements that the band has largely been moving away from for the last couple of records, you're out of luck, because Pale Communion is yet essentially another dose of retro-flavoured prog-rock.

     Your Saturday song, "Moon Above, Sun Below", is one of the heavier songs on the album, and one of the songs that harkens back the most to albums like Watershed and Heritage. Don't get me wrong, there's still no death growls or anything, but it's still got a sinister metal-y vibe all the same. And any song with a running time of more than ten minutes is pretty metal, right? Have a listen to "Moon Above, Sun Below" and make the call for yourself.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Friday: Eidola - To Know What's Real

     I'm a little late on the Friday draw this morning, but I got home late last night to find the perfect Friday song plastered across the interwebz and I wanted to give it the proper listening attention that only some sleep could make possible.

     Remember a while back when I did a Twenty Questions e-mail interview with Andrew from Oregonian post-hardcore band Eidola? Remember how we talked a little bit about the band's upcoming sophomore album Degeneraterra? Well, Degeneraterra's release is almost upon us and this week the guys gave us a taste with first single "To Know What's Real".

     The track is about what you might have come to expect from Eidola if you're familiar with their first album The Great Glass Elephant, and I mean that in the best possible way. Everything you probably like about the first record is still around: layers of interwoven guitars, layers of variously melodic and aggressive vocals, some thought provoking lyrics and interesting turns of phrase. Here's hoping that "To Know What's Real" is only the tip of the Degeneraterra iceberg.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Mapmaker - Automation

     Remember yesterday when I said I wasn't trying to take up all your time with sweet, sweet metal? I guess I was lying, because tonight's relatively brief post is about a song that's anything but.

     Indianapolis' Mapmaker are on the brink of releasing their debut LP Automation, a collection of somewhat djenty flavoured prog. I know, I know, you're done with the d-word. Don't be, though. Don't let it deter you, because there's a take on it for ever palate. Mapmaker's take, as evidenced in the epic twenty-minute album-closing title track "Automation", is respectably proggy death djent.

     Sure, twenty minutes is a long time, and these ambitious young guns could perhaps have trimmed a little fat here and there and saved some running time. But that doesn't diminish what Mapmaker has done with "Automation", and by extension Automation. It may not be absolutely mind-blowing (yet -- there's a lot of potential alongside a lot of existing skill in this band) but it's also more than djust your average djent. See if perhaps it be your flavour of the d-word.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Ever Forthright - Dispose of Your Optimism

     Another mini-theme emerges all on its own tonight, as I post another song that's nearing the ten minute mark. I swear I'm not actually trying to take up all your time with metal, honestly.

     The djazzy djentlemen in Ever Forthright are in a bit of a quiet period, as sideprojects and things like Stimpy Lockjaw receive some attention, but that doesn't mean now isn't the time to revisit the band's self-titled debut. Even if you found that sentence hard to follow, you should still be amenable to some healthy doses of both groove and tech, yes?

     I'll take that as a yes. "Dispose of Your Optimism" is, like I said, a rather lengthy cut from the band's 2011 album Ever Forthright, but it's eight minutes of shifting ground and restless riffing; the song never settles down to the point of getting boring. Sure, it's djenty, but it's also deathy, a little grindy for a bit, placid and spacey towards the end, and just plain big by the time things finish. It's the kind of track to make a convert out of you, you godless heathen you.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Tuesday: Blotted Science - Activation Synthesis Theory

     Time for a quick little Tech Tuesday post to tuck you in tonight, and this evening I'm going with an older track from everybody's favourite tech-prog supergroup.

     Blotted Science are one of those slightly-beneath-the-radar bands that people don't know about but really should, especially given their membership. Guitarist Ron Jarzombek, bassist Alex Webster, and drummer Hannes Grossmann have a combined resume that includes some pretty storied metal and prog acts, so you could be forgiven for expecting big things from them.

     So far, they've delivered, especially with 2011's The Animation of Entomology, a brutally labyrinthine EP of insect-inspired instrumental prog-sanity. But news that the band is soon to start recording their third release had me revisiting to both entries in the back catalogue in anticipation of the madness to come.

     Your song this evening therefore comes from the band's first outing, 2007's The Machinations of Dementia. "Activation Synthesis Theory" is as good an example as you could ask for  of why everybody should know about Blotted Science. If off-the-wall instrumental tech is your thing, you may well have come to the right place tonight.

Monday: Anciients - Falling in Line

     Looked at your calendar lately? November went by faster than a two-minute speed-grind song, and it's now officially December, which means that it's also officially "End of the Year Best of" season. I'm not going to join the crowd just yet, but I thought it might be interesting to revisit at least a few of last year's picks over the next couple of weeks, starting with some classic-sounding proggy metal from today's band of Canucks.

     Anciients' masterpiece of a debut Heart of Oak appeared on my Ten Best list last year, in addition to spending a lot of time in my CD player. It mixes a menacing, old-school sound with some new-school technicality and musicianship, with the result being a heady wizard's brew of melody and heaviness that should satisfy fans of multiple genres of metal.

     Exhibit A is "Falling in Line", an epic eight-minute-plus bruiser of a song that comes complete with some badass lead guitar work. It's a bit of a slow burn at the start, but if you can handle the build-up in, say, an Opeth song, you'll be right at home with Anciients and "Falling in Line". Make some time in your schedule for this one.