Saturday, 28 February 2015

Friday: The Room Colored Charlatan - Introspection

      Last year's Primitives from The Room Colored Charlatan flew a bit under the radar.I saw it mentioned every once in a while on one site or another, but not as much as it maybe should have been. But now that the band's got a new single out, perhaps they've got another kick at the can, so to speak.

     "Introspection" sounds like a refinement of what was already good about The Room Colored Charlatan on Primitives: tasty grooves, a little dreamscape atmosphere here and there, even a few flashes of tasteful technicality. Turn those things up a couple of notches, and you've got a decent idea of the current state of the band's sound. No word on when further new material will come out, so for now you'll just have to chew on "Introspection".

Friday, 27 February 2015

Thursday: As I Lay Dying - Through Struggle

     I'm going to throw it back for a belated Thursday post, because this afternoon my brother reminded me that, whatever you may think now of Tim Lambesis, As I Lay Dying write some solid riffs back in the day. Like this one.

     "Through Struggle" from 2005's Shadows Are Security was always a favourite among my friends and I, and for good reason. That opening riff will get your head going. You can't help it. Like most of this album, it's nothing flashy, but it is catchy, and while not everything on this record has aged very well, this one's still fun if you ask me.

     If, like me, you used to listen to a lot of metalcore, you're probably already right there with me on this one for a Throwback Thor's Day. If you didn't, or you're not, why not try to be for a few minutes?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Opeth - I Feel the Dark

     I've decided to go with something a little lighter than the past couple of days' songs for your Humpday Wednesday, but still something that, despite being fairly chill, still has some proggy meat on its bones. So, that pretty much screams Opeth, right?

     Things had been getting less death metal and more prog for Opeth for a couple of record's, but the 2011 album Heritage marks the the beginning of the shift from prog with some remaining metal sprinklings to full-on 70's vibe. Many old-school Opeth fans lament this transformation, but I've never had a problem with it, and today's song is a good example of why that is.

     "I Feel the Dark" has a little bit of heaviness in its menacing middle section, but otherwise it's a study in acoustic-driven mellow groove, made a little more dreaming and ethereal by Per's keyboard work. It's the kind of track that really shows off the synthesis of styles that Opeth has pretty much perfected by this point. Heritage may not be everybody's favourite Opeth record, but "I Feel the Dark" is proof that it definitely still has some good stuff on it. Chill out and put this one on.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

2014 Round-Up: 2015 Top Prospects

      Since we're already almost a sixth of the way through 2015, it's about goddamn time I got part 2 of my 2014 round-up posted, right? Lucky for me, none of the records I anticipate below have come out yet, but there's one or two that are right around the corner, so you'd better get reading!

Tool - ??? (???)
     I thought I'd get this one over and done with right off the bat. Everybody and their mother's dog knows that Tool operates on a much longer album cycle than virtually anybody else on the planet, but since it's been almost nine years now since the release of 10,000 Days even Maynard and company are getting to be about due for some new material. The last year or so has seen a number of rumours and vaguely enticing social media posts that seem to suggest work on a new record is ongoing, perhaps even nearing completion, but just when we might get to hear any of this new material is anybody's guess. I'll believe this one's coming when I'm holding a copy in my hand.

Uneven Structure - La Partition (summer)
     It's been nearly four years since France's Uneven Structure blew me and a lot of other listeners away with their so-much-more-than-just-djent debut LP Februus, but the band is finally putting the finishing touches on the follow-up to this masterwork of dense groove and atmosphere. The internet buzz seems to think that this one will be out by the summer, and I for one hope the internet is right for once. La Partition could well be a monster, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

Chimp Spanner - ??? (???)
     Regular readers will know that I'm a fan of progressive instrumental music, so the prospect of new material from everybody's favourite one manimal army Chimp Spanner is something I'm 100% onboard with. 2014 saw a new track called "Aurora" unleashed upon the interwebz in demo and playthrough form, but Mr. Ortiz was otherwise largely silent, studio-wise, instead spending the year playing shows and festivals around England and across Europe. That's all well and good, but Chimp Spanner fans elsewhere in the world (read: me) are due for their own dose of Paul Ortiz, and a new record would be the perfect way for us to get it.

Blotted Science - ??? (???)
     Speaking of instrumental prog, tech supertrio Blotted Science also seem to be working on some new jams. Their 2011 EP The Animation of Entomology was an absolute beast, a labyrinthine slice of technicality and compositional virtuosity -- guitarist Ron Jarzombek utilized a "Twelve Tones in Fragmeneted Rows" system of his own design to cook up all the weird and wonderful riffs and chord progressions on the EP  (ask your music-nerd friends to explain it to you). Of course, you don't have to have a graduate degree in music theory to appreciate the madness contained on this EP, or to be excited about the prospect of further experiments from the Blotted Science laboratory.

Dance Gavin Dance - Instant Gratification (April 14th)
     By any standard of modern music you'd care to name, Sacramento post-hardcore act Dance Gavin Dance have had a pretty prolific run so far. Five studio albums, an EP, and a live record in the last eight years or so would be a good track record for any band in any genre, but for band that writes stuff that's a little heavier, a little more technical, it's downright impressive (even if DGD aren't the heaviest or the most technical band in the world...). DGD has undergone several line-up changes over the years, particularly in the vocalist department, so it's always good to get the news that the guys are back at it again with new material.

Coheed and Cambria - ??? (spring/summer 2015)
     Times flies when you're having fun, doesn't it? It seems like Coheed's stellar (pun sorta intended) double album The Afterman came out just yesterday, but second installment Descension is already two years old. Seen in this light, I guess it shouldn't surprise me that Claudio and company are gearing up for another record. Coheed and Cambria's catalogue has its ups and downs, but The Afterman was a bit of a return to form, so the prognosis (pun kind intended yet again) for album number eight looks good.

The Fall of Troy - ??? (???)
     Like Dance Gavin Dance, this is another one of those bands that tr00 metalheads might look down their nose at a little bit, but I've been a Fall of Troy fan a long time. As such, the news that they were getting back together definitely piqued my interest. The subsequent news that they might be working on new material hooked me even more. There's not a whole lot of word on what form new material might take, or when we might hear it, but the fact that singer/guitarist Thomas Erak has left his gig with Chiodos seems to bode well for a return to full-time TFOT recording and touring. The stars fell out of alignment for me a few years back when I had tickets to one of their farewell shows and the couldn't attend, so here's hoping that I'll get another shot to catch them on the road, preferably supporting a new record.

Deftones - ??? (???)
     A new Deftones record is always something to get interested in, if not excited about, and this one should be no exception. The chances of this one being the "lost" album Eros, the last recording the band did with late bassist Chi Cheng, may be slim to none, but the fact remains that Chino and Company have been pretty strong on their last couple of outings. Assuming that the band's next effort is more Koi No Yokan or Diamond Eyes than Saturday Night Wrist -- which might be a pretty big assumption, who knows -- new Deftones material could kick a surprising amount of ass.

Mandroid Echostar - ??? (???)
     As is the case with so many of the entries on this list, there's not much information to go on here -- no title, no release date, no single, nada -- but Facebook tells me that the actual recording process is indeed complete and the band has moved on to the mixing stage. These guys are not only "friends of the blog" (oh how I love being able to say that, even if it's only very loosely true), they're also stupidly good at crafting catchy, shredtastic pop-prog. Keep doing Canada proud, boys.

letlive. - ??? (???)
     I got into The Blackest Beautiful in a big way. Chief among the reasons for this is definitely the fact that, as I've said umpteen bazillion times before, letlive. feels like the successor band to perennial tease Glassjaw, and boy do I loves me some Glassjaw, especially Worship and Tribute. That album's got such a vibe, such an energy, and letlive. manages to tap into that same kind of vibe and energy in spades. I've have no idea what direction the follow-up to The Blackest Beautiful will take, nor do I even know what direction I want it to take, but I can't wait to hear it.

Tesseract - ??? (???)
     A new Tesseract record. With Dan Tompkins back in the mix. Need this Tesseract-loving, Dan Tompkins fanboy say more? No word on when this one's dropping, but in my opinion it can't be soon enough. For now I'll just have to content myself with waiting for the live album/DVD Scala/Odyssesy that's still, at the time of this writing, "coming soon".

The Ocean - ??? (???)
     I may be a bit of a latecomer to the 'The Ocean' party, but I got into the band's last record Pelagial pretty hard. Progressive post-metal with a veritable fuck-tonne of groove, and a high concept to boot? Sign me up. The guys in The Ocean have some pretty deep shoes to fill (see what I did there?) with a follow-up to Pelagial, but if they can pull it off, it would very likely be an Album of the Year contender.

Plini - The End of Everything (March 11)
     Last but most certainly not least is another "friend of the blog", namely Australian guitarist Plini, whose third EP The End of Everything will be coming out in just a couple of weeks' time. Since Plini's previous work is some of the most badass-yet-chill songwriting I've ever heard, the culmination of his trilogy of EP's is definitely something I'm looking forward to -- I've got my preorder in and everything. If guitar-based instrumental jams in which songwriting doesn't take a back seat to technicality but is rather served by it are your thing, The End of Everything should be perfect for scratching your itch. Now all Plini needs to do is stop going to school and traveling around helping people long enough to write an LP already.

     And there you have it: a small selection of upcoming and possibly upcoming albums that I'm looking forward to this year. I'm sure I've probably missed scads of records-in-progress by scads of great bands, but these are some that I've read about, or at least heard rumours about, that have got me stoked up for the next ten months or so.
     Now, you may have noticed a trend in the entries above, namely the profusion of question marks sitting in for actual album titles and release dates. You may also wonder why this profusion is so...well, profuse. In a nutshell, it's because that's the sum total of the information I have about these records. Contrary to what you might think, I have very little insider information about any of the above (read: none).
     But rather than just write about the few albums I do have solid title-and-date information for, I thought it'd be more fun to give you a cross section of some of the stuff I'm looking forward to, or just hoping for, in 2015. If even half of the aforementioned new material ends up coming out this year, 2015 is going to be nice and heavy.

Brought By Pain - Guided By Fear

     It's been less than a week since we learned that phenomenal Canadian tech-death-prog band Beyond Creation have parted ways with their monster of a bassist Dominic Lapointe, but we're already getting some news that should cheer us up: Dominic's replacement has already been lined up.

     Now, before you go saying that whoever steps in to handle Beyond Creation's low end has some stupidly big shoes to fill, I urge you to check out today's song. I've even picked a playthrough video version of it, just so you can marvel both aurally and visually at the fleet-fingered bass work of one Hugo Doyon-Karout, bassist for another Montreal tech-death band, Brought By Pain.

     "Guided By Fear" comes from the band's 2011 album The Dreamer's Will, and it's a concise little slice of everything you might want in your technically proficient death metal: fast and furious riffing, sphincter-tight drumming, and nightmare-inducing vocals. Most importantly, at least as far as this discussion of bass duties in Beyond Creation is concerned, it fully demonstrates just how in command of his instrument Hugo is. Domonic set a pretty high bar for Beyond Creation bass work, but it sounds like things are going to be in very capable hands going forward.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Abiotic - Cast Into the Depths

     It's Monday again, and if you're a regular reader of Loud Noises, you know what that means. Yes, it's time for another alliterative post! And what 'M' word am I going with today? Motherfucking 'Metal', that's what. Nothing too fancy, nothing too clever, just straight up heavy.

     So it's to be a Metal Monday, then. In particular, it's going to be a techy, vaguely proggy, death Metal Monday, courtesy of the latest from Miami's Abiotic. "Cast Into the Depths", taken from the band's forthcoming Casuistry, is a relatively brief blast, at less than four minutes long, but that just means that nothing overstays its welcome. There's some solid riffing, at least one really cool groove, and even a touch of the jazziness that permeates a lot of modern tech/death/prog.

     I've read quite a few complaints about the production on this one, especially concerning the somewhat thin-sounding bass drum, but I'll just shut up and let you be the judge of that. Crank this one and see what you think.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Great Airport Mystery - Eris

     Space and science fiction are rich sources of inspiration for many metal bands, but the actual application or execution of such themes can be a little hit or miss. Sometimes you get something suitably epic and badass (The Faceless' Planetary Duality comes to mind), but sometimes you just get something silly and B-movie. Today's song, and the EP whence it comes, is anything but silly and B-movie.

     The EP in question is Voyager, the latest from self-described space metal band The Great Airport Mystery and a continuation of the interstellar concept begun on their debut LP The Great Spaceport Mystery. Voyager consists of only three tracks, but there's a lot packed in there: appropriately spacey atmospherics; big, sometimes djenty grooves; equally big vocals that remind me more than a little of Perry from Circles. There's even some sci-fi lyrics going on that don't sound terribly corny and cheesy. Bonus!

     The net result of all of the above is that Voyager does indeed succeed as a proggy little slice of space metal, so much so that it's got me interested both in checking out the band's previous The Great Spaceport Mystery and in keeping an eye out for whatever these guys do next. If you think you might be in the same boat (spaceship?) start with EP opener "Eris" and go from there.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

And So I Watch You From Afar - Run Home

     Three weeks or so ago I wrote a post about Irish four-piece And So I Watch You From Afar in which I mentioned their forthcoming new album Heirs, due out in May. Since then, about two weeks or so ago, the record's first single hit the interwebs. Now, today, we're going to sit down and listen to it. Sound good? Smashing.

     "Run Home" is a high-energy, almost-instrumental track built on a foundation of a couple of noodly harmonized guitar riffs and some gang-vocalized "yo's" and "run home's". Clocking in at less than three minutes long, it blazes by at such a breakneck pace that you'll probably have to listen to it a couple of times to get the full effect. Better still, you'll probably want to.

Friday: 3 - Crazy Eyes

     You may or may not know this, but last year difficult-to-categorize prog-rock band 3 undertook a pretty ambitious project: to record and release a new song each and every month. Pretty ballsy, right?

     For a number of reasons both professional and personal, which I won't go into here (but which you can check out the band's Facebook page to find out more about if you're so inclined), that grand plan went off the rails a little bit. But that doesn't mean it got scrapped entirely, and Joey and company have recently released the latest in this ongoing series of singles.

     It seems as though "Crazy Eyes" was originally slated to see the light of day last fall, until some of the aforementioned life stuff got in the way. Listening to the end result, which finally came out last week, I for one am fine with the delay, considering the work of beauty that we ended up with. "Crazy Eyes" is relatively simple (compared to some 3 songs) and relatively mellow, musically speaking, and yet it's got a haunting quality that makes it arguably heavy as shit. If you can spin it once or twice and not feel something, whatever your emotional reaction might be, then you're a much better (or worse?) person than I am.

     Sound like a challenge you want to take? Click on or around this area and find out.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Dance Gavin Dance - On the Run

     Sometimes I know about a band's new record well in advance, because of pre-orders or studio diaries or whatever, and I anticipate accordingly. Other times, as the music blogger in me is almost ashamed to admit, I'm caught completely off guard when hearing the news of an imminent album release by a band I dig. This post stems from one of those latter, vaguely embarrassing times.

     OK, so I'm not actually embarrassed when I learn that a band was in the studio and I didn't even have the slightest inkling about it -- I might be kicking myself for not being as thorough as I could be, but 'embarrassed' is too strong a word. Whatever the feeling, I get over it pretty quick and move on to being pleasantly surprised, and then excited, by the idea of new music coming out of the blue at me.

     Thus it was that, upon learning of the impending release of the new Dance Gavin Dance record Instant Gratification in April, I stopped for a second and thought, "Wait; there's new DGD afoot? Say what?!" Sure, the metalheads among you who look down on bands like Dance Gavin Dance don't give a shit about this news, and Instant Gratification's lead single "On the Run" is likely to further cement your not giving a shit, but anyone out there who digs DGD or other bands in their poppy-screamo little corner of the post-hardcore world should enjoy it. If that's you, give it a listen and get yourself some instant gratification.

     See what I did there?

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Dzyen (feat. Ashe O'Hara) - As One

     With all the excitement among Tesseract fans at having Dan back in the band (and, more recently, the hints and rumours of an upcoming Tesseract live album...) it might be easy enough to forget that previous singer Ashe O'Hara is also a ridiculously talented vocalist in his own right. Want to know what Ashe has been up to lately?

     Doing a guest spot on the upcoming LP It's Pronounced 'Zen' from British progressive metal band Dzyen, for a start. Dzyen have recently released the first video from It's Pronounced 'Zen' (a record that'll feature a whole mess of skilled singers, including another familiar face mentioned above) and wouldn't you know it, Ashes kills it.

     "As One" may not blow you away with how incomprehensibly prog or tech it is, but it's got some good groove, a catchy melody or two (and not catchy in that way that makes you want to remove that earworm from your brain with an icepick), and there's even a tastefully shreddy guitar solo tucked in there just for good measure. Oh, and there's some guy named Ashe, too. Check it out.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

CHON - Story

     You like guitar-driven instrumental pop-prog, right? Of course you do! So sit tight, because CHON and I have got you covered.

     The San Diego-based band with the name that's all in caps recently let the cat out of the bag regarding the release of their debut LP on Sumerian. Grow will be hitting stores and streaming services towards the end of March, but you don't have to wait that long to see if you might dig any of the new material because there's already a song and video out to accompany all that tasty pre-order goodness.

      "Story" is, to my hear, pretty standard CHON fare -- in the best possible way. Interweaving guitar lines eschew empty wankery in favour of intricate melodies, and some tight drumming just adds that much more to the already decidedly jazzy flavour. If "Story" is any indication, Grow could be the feel-good prog record of the year. Check it out.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Agent Fresco - Dark Water

     Even though it's a holiday Monday in most of Canada today, it's still a Monday, and you know how Garfield feels about Mondays. But take heart, because I've got a really cool little song to show you today that should provide just the right distraction.

     Iceland's Agent Fresco is a tough act to try and describe. They've got some pretty catchy material (like today's song) that at times can be the furthest thing from "heavy", but they've also got material (again, like today's song) that's got the kind of interesting grooves and chord progressions that permeate a bunch of different styles of metal and heavy music. I could spend all day trying to come up with the most succinct sub-sub-genre label for whatever it is that Agent Fresco do.

     But forget that noise, who's got time to spend all day dreaming up some pithy descriptor that's going to be forgotten as soon as you hear Agent Fresco's most recent single "Dark Water"? Better for me to save my breath (so to speak...) and let the song's quirky beauty and energy speak for itself. I pretty much guarantee you'll listen to this one a couple of times back to back; it's that good.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Alice in Chains - Over Now

     Well, it's over now. Today's the last day of the first Loud Noises Unplugged week, a week of acoustic versions of some songs by some bands I dig, some well-known and others not so much, and I would probably be remiss if I didn't include a cut from one of MTV's classic Unplugged concerts back in the day.

     But rather than go with the obvious (and, in my opinion, somewhat overrated) choice of a Nirvana track, I'm taking the "metalhead elitist" route and picking a song by what we all know was the better band, musically speaking at least. Nirvana fans may direct their defensive vitriol at the comments section below.

     While they're busy doing that, the rest of you get to listen to "Over Now" by Alice in Chains, originally recorded for the band's 1995 self-titled third LP but heard here as recorded for the 1996 MTV Unplugged live album. "Over Now" has long been one of my favourite cuts from the Unplugged record, it's a haunting coda to Layne's time with the band, and it's a thematically fitting end to a week of acoustic-flavoured posts. If you can think of a song I should have chosen instead, I'd love to hear it.

Saturday: Deftones - Change (In the House of Flies)

     Notwithstanding a twenty-four hour delay in getting you a Saturday song, Unplugged week here at Loud Noises is winding down. On Monday we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming, but for now I've still got a couple of acoustic tracks to share with you, starting with this unplugged version of a classic.

     Any long-time Deftones fan will hopefully tell you that the band's 2000 record White Pony is among the best of their career for a whole slew of reasons. The first couple of Deftones records are, of course, still solid, but White Pony was the first to really demonstrate the band's capacity for crafting songs that exist outside of genre limitations, song that are, above all else, Deftones songs.

     Five years later, the band released the B-Sides and Rarities collection, which gathered together a diverse array of covers and, most important for our purposes today, a couple of acoustic versions of now-well-known Deftones numbers. Perhaps the most successful of these is the band's acoustic version of hit White Pony single "Change (In the House of Flies)". The original is heavy, but chock full of moody atmosphere and still relatively simple structure-wise, so it transitions quite nicely to a dialed-back acoustic version. Ask any Deftones fan who's ever sat around a campfire with an acoustic guitar and I'm sure they'd agree.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Thrice - Stare at the Sun

     Happy Friday the 13th everybody. I've got yet another cool acoustic version of an already cool song to chase away your superstitious blues, so throw that salt over your left shoulder and watch out for that black cat walking under that ladder made of broken mirrors.

     I've been a fan of Thrice for more than ten years, following their musical journey as its taken them from punk-metal to post-hardcore to something that now draws from a number of genres and influences all at once. I'm certainly not one of those who dislikes the directions taken by the band's newer material, but at the same time I definitely have a soft spot for the old stuff.

     So when I decided that I was going to do a week of acoustic-themed posts, Thrice's acoustic rendition of "Stare at the Sun", originally from their 2003 classic The Artist in The Ambulance but heard here on their 2005 mini-retrospective If We Could Only See Us Now, was basically a no-brainer inclusion. Take a song that's always resonated with me and pretty it up a bunch? Yes please.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Sevendust - Denial

     Unplugged week continues apace here at Loud Noises, and tonight we're getting in the wayback machine for a bit of a blast from the past.

     Last year saw nostalgic favourite of mine Sevendust release an acoustic album that's equal parts old and new material, and while Time Travelers and Bonfires may not have made my end of the year Ten Best list, that doesn't mean it's not a great record. Both the new songs and the re-imagined versions of classic Sevendust numbers are well done and worthy of inclusion in an acoustic theme week, but for my money we're going to have to go with one of my old favourites.

     Have a listen to the acoustified take on "Denial", originally from Sevendust's 1999 album Home, and marvel at how this piece of my musical youth can be at once familiar and unfamiliar in nearly equal measure. If you don't want to revisit some more Sevendust by the end of it, then you sir are a terrible, terrible monster. There, I said it.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Tesseract - Origin

     It's day three of Unplugged week, and today I've got a song for you from an acoustic EP by one of my favourite modern bands. Give you three guess who...

     Those of you keeping track at home will no doubt have it on your scorecard that the British prog-djentlemen in Tesseract are now onto singer number four, who also happens to be singer number one. But if your memory is as good as your note-taking, you should also remember that in between debut LP One and sophomore effort Altered State the band put out an EP of acoustic re-imaginings of some material from One with singer number two, Elliot Coleman. Confused? Don't be. All that matters right now as far as you're concerned is that tonight's acoustic interpretation of "Origin" comes from the Perspective EP, and that it's pretty sweet. Everything else is just details.

     Incidentally, show of hands, who thinks another acoustified Tesseract EP would be a pretty swell idea, this time featuring stuff from Altered State? I thought you might. Get to work guys!

(For the sake of comparison, and the other Dan fanboys out there [Danboys?], why not also have a listen to an acoustic version of "Origin" the band did with Dan before Elliot even came along?)

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Hail the Sun - Falling on Deaf Ears

     It's day two of Loud Noises Unplugged week, and the themeyness (sure, that's a word...) continues in more ways than one! One way, of course, is the acoustic nature of today's post, but another is the fact that today's song comes from another band that graced my recent Ten Best of 2014 list.

     Hail the Sun put together a pretty solid slice of energetic and poppy post-hardcore in Wake, but back in December they took a little trip into the studio to lay down acoustic versions of a couple of songs from Wake. This evening, I'm pointing you in the direction of one of them.

     "Falling on Deaf Ears" is already a bit "laid back", at least when compared to some of Wake's other tracks, but lose the drums and bass and swap those electric axes for some acoustic ones and you've got another feel entirely. Check it out and then check back in tomorrow for Unplugged day three.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Destrage - Where the Things Have No Colour

     I think it's time for another theme week, don't you? It hasn't been that long since the last one -- the second cover week was just before Christmas -- but they're a fun challenge for me to write and I hope a fun change of pace for you to read. But, I hear you ask, you're not just going to yet another week of covers, are you? Well, no, not exactly. But sorta?

     What I'm going to do amounts to a week of bands covering themselves, so to speak. Yes, dear reader, today is the first day of a week of Loud Noises Unplugged, a week of bands I dig offering up acoustic versions of some of their stuff. Note, however, that these aren't going to be the occasional acoustic songs that lots of otherwise heavy bands have sprinkled in over the years. No, these are going to be songs that were originally recorded as full on "plugged in" songs that have since been stripped back to more acoustic proportions.

     So who's first on the chopping block? Think back, way back, to the end of last week, when I posted my Ten Best of 2014 list. Remember Destrage, that band of Italian stallions I was raving about? They've recently put out a video for an acoustic performance of "Where the Things Have No Colour" from Are You Kidding Me? No., a song that has moments so big you might begin to wonder how it could possibly be successfully reined in. Trust me when I say that yes, Destrage can rein it in.

     Check out the acoustic version of "Where the Things Have No Colour", and I'll see you back here tomorrow for more of Lound Noises Unplugged.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Nightrage - Kiss of a Sycophant

     OK, tough guy, riddle me this: what's your stance on Swedish melodeath? If your answer is anything approaching positive or affirmative, I've got a little morsel of goodness for your Sunday afternoon.

     As is the case with a number of bands I've written about in the last little bit, it's a pretty safe bet that Greco-Swedish melodeath band Nightrage aren't out to reinvent the wheel or redraw the metal map. Far from it, Gothenburg melodeath with an old-school feel is more or less Nightrage's bread and butter. Case in point: Nightrage's latest single and video "Kiss of a Sycophant" from their upcoming new record The Puritan, a song that sounds like it could have come out any time in the last twenty years or so.

     Sometimes that kind of new-old vibe can be a bad thing, but if anything with a bit of melodeath flavour tickles your fancy, Nightrage might well be an act worth your time to check out.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

This Will Destroy You - New Topia

     Earlier I gave you a heavy Friday song to kick off your weekend with a bang. Now I've got a bit of instrumental post-rock to dial things back to a much more relaxed level of weekend chillitude.

     Despite what I've read about This Will Destroy You not much caring for the label "post-rock", a listen to pretty much anything from the band's catalogue confirms that at least some aspects of the label stick. Epic, slow-burn builds, ebbing and flowing musical journeys, and dense mixes of layered instrumentation are all key elements both of This Will Destroy You's sound and the "post-rock" sound as a whole.

     But let's forget genres and labels for just a second and focus on one of those building musical journeys. This Will Destroy You have recently released a video for "New Topia", the opening track from last year's Another Language. The song starts out sparse before gradually adding layer upon layer of melody and instrumentation and finally exploding into a dense wall of sound and energy. It's a pretty moving track on its own, but it doesn't hurt that the video is a dynamic, almost psychedelic journey through spiritual and religious symbolism. Give this one a few minutes of undivided attention -- you'll be glad you did.

Friday: The Voynich Code - Antithesis

     I often suggest a more mellow song for a Friday to help wind your week down into something more relaxed and chill for the weekend. Not so this week. No, heavy is the order of the day for this week's Friday song.

     Portugal's The Voynich Code won't necessarily blow your mind or drop your jaw, genre-wise, but they do bring one tremendously important thing to the table: headbang-worthy heaviness. Their latest release Ignotum contains a lot of elements common to modern metal, including some of the big riffs and scattered synths that characterize melo-djent. But Ignotum blends it all together into something tastier than the sum of its parts.

     For a sample of what I mean, have a listen to "Antithesis", the opening track from Ignotum. I'm a firm believer in the importance of album's first songs, and this one sets the tone perfectly. Turn it on, turn it up, and bang your head.

Friday, 6 February 2015

2014 Round-up: Loud Noises Ten Best of 2014

     Well wouldn't you know it, 2015 is quickly slipping away from us, which means it's time I'd better get my shit together and get on with the Loud Noises 2014 Round-Up. And only a month or so late! As usual, we're going to start things off with a few of my favourite albums from the year that was 2014 (let's say around ten or so...), presented in no particular order.

- Job for a Cowboy - Sun Eater
     This one not only warrants a spot on this list of ten great albums from 2014, it's also a front-runner for Biggest Surprise of the Year. You see, I never used to think much of Job for a Cowboy. I don't know what it was about their first couple of albums, but I wasn't really a fan and more or less wrote the band off in my head. I really only checked out Sun Eater on the strength of the first couple of tracks Job for a Cowboy released from it, but I've been pleasantly and thoroughly surprised to discover that Job for a Cowboy has become a pretty badass death metal band with just the right amount of technicality and even some proggy highlights applied here and there. Sun Eater slays, and it should be enough to convince anyone sitting on the Job for a Cowboy fence which side they should come down on.

- Destrage - Are You Kidding Me? No.
     Given metal's traditional, even stereotypical, popularity in places like Scandinavia and northern Europe, I guess I shouldn't be surprised in 2015 that there are so many kickass bands doing their thing in so many different places around the world. Maybe someday the novelty of learning metal isn't a strictly North American phenomenon will wear off, but for the time being I still find myself  perhaps unduly excited every time I learn about a band somewhere else doing something just as awesome as what's going on right here at home. Case in point: Italy's Destrage, an incredibly talented band that doesn't let its high energy, frenetic riffing get in the way of its songwriting. Think a somewhat more metal Protest the Hero with the vein of spastic madness turned up to levels closer to Dillinger Escape Plan and you'll be approaching the right track. Are You Kidding Me? No. is a masterpiece, and I can't wait to hear whatever's next from Destrage.

- Killitorous - Party, Grind
     If you've been following along for any length of time now, you've likely picked up on the fact that my tastes, while pretty diverse, tend towards the proggier end of the spectrum. But I do so loves me some death metal, especially when it's fast and techy, which is why Killitorous' Party, Grind hit such a sweet spot for me. I crowdfunded this one on a whim and the strength of one single, and boy was I gratified when my copy came in the mail and fucking killed. Party, Grind is fast and ferocious from start to finish, with enough trem picking, arpeggio sweeping, and blast beating to satisfy any tech-death aficionado. That Killitorous are Canadian is just gravy. A sophomore disc from these guys will be something to watch out for.

- Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails
     Going into 2014, it was a pretty safe bet that big things were in store for San Francisco's Fallujah. They weren't exactly newcomers to the scene, but they were getting a newcomer kind of buzz for their 2013 EP Nomadic. Then when The Flesh Prevails dropped, the johnny-come-latelies like me all learned that the buzz was well deserved. In The Flesh Prevails Fallujah served up a major slab of dense and atmospheric progressive post-death metal. They managed to take what is clearly some incredible musicianship and make a record that translates all of it into intensity and none of it into showy excess. There's a lot here to digest, but the dedicated listener is most definitely rewarded with a modern classic.

- Closure in Moscow - Pink Lemonade
     As much as I got into Pink Lemonade in 2014 (which was a lot), it's definitely a grower and not a shower, if you take my meaning. Fans of Closure in Moscow expecting the band's next disc to sound more or less like First Temple kicked up a notch or two are likely to have been a little turned off by the spaced-out prog rock that is Pink Lemonade, at least initially. The open-minded listener, however, was rewarded with a Mars Voltian jazz funk adventure that spans a whole fistful of genres. Post-hardcore, post-rock -- Pink Lemonade is post-whatever you can think of. Metal purists should think twice before they look down their nose at this one.

- Raiju - Haunt
     I've posted about songs from this album a couple of times in the last little bit, so you should already have an idea why these guys have a spot on this list. Just in case you don't: take the punk-metal-influenced shreddy riffing of Protest the Hero, mix in the proggy, groovy low end of Periphery, add a dash of slick pop-prog from somebody like Coheed and Cambria, and you've got yourself a rough sketch of Raiju. Comparisons between Raiju and bands like those I just mentioned are especially appropriate given vocalist Scott Wagner's impressive vocal range. Raiju is another one of those bands whose sophomore should be absolutely epic if their freshman effort is any indication.

- Wake - Hail the Sun
     When I was younger, we might well have called Wake and their debut LP Hail the Sun emo or screamo or something like that, earnestly at first and then perhaps derogatorily a little later on once we'd grown into our more metal listening habits. These days the catch-all term "post-hardcore" might be employed in polite company (although screamo is probably still the denigrating term of choice among genre naysayers). Whatever way you want to slice things, label-wise, Hail the Sun is an energetic, varied, vaguely poppy, vaguely techy record in the vein of bands like Dance Gavin Dance. More than that, though, I'd call it one of the best examples of "screamo" to come out in years (Dance Gavin Dance included).

- Opeth - Pale Communion
     The last couple of Opeth records have been pretty polarizing for longtime fans of the band. Some have embraced the band's shift away from its death metal roots, while others have wholeheartedly rejected it. Luckily for me, I've been in the former camp since the electric/acoustic yin-yang of the Deliverance/Damnation double album, and I've listened to each new Opeth record fully expecting and accepting that we're not getting another Blackwater Park -- and that that's perfectly OK. If you're willing to concede that point and go into Pale Communion with that in mind, you'll discover a straight-up rock-solid prog record. Watershed is still my favourite of Opeth's less-metal offerings, but Pale Communion is definitely the strongest of their last couple.

- Archspire - The Lucid Collective
     Technical death metal is in a good place at the opening of 2015, and there were a number of really solid albums in this genre last year that could arguably warrant a spot on my list of favourite albums from 2014. I've already mentioned one of them in Killitorous' killer debut LP Party, Grind and awesomely enough my next selection is also an act from the Great White North. Vancouver's Archspire adorn their merch with the slogan "Stay Tech", and a listen or two to their 2014 disc The Lucid Collective should demonstrate that they've got the chops to back it up. Machine gun-quick vocals, fretboard acrobatics, and light-speed drumming all line up just right on this one. Fans of the genre would be greatly remiss if they didn't check this one out.

- Beyond Creation - Earthborn Evolution
     Last bust most certainly not least, I'm rounding out my list of 2014 favourites with another phenomenal album of technically proficient, compositionally progressive death metal from yet another badass Canadian band. I might, of course, be just a little bit biased, but I don't think you need to be to recognize the towering mountain of proggy death metal that Montreal's Beyond Creation have crafted for us in Earthborn Evolution. Dominic Lapointe's absolutely ridiculous bass work is worth the price of admission all by itself, to say nothing of the laser-precise performances of all involved. There's maybe a shade less sheer speed here than, say, Archspire or Killitorous, but the musicianship is so top-notch that it's hard to be anything but bewildered by this one.

     And there you have it: another year, another ten kickass albums. As usual, narrowing the crowded field of good records from last year down to ten of my favourites wasn't easy, but I hope my making the tough calls means that, when deciding what to put on next, you won't have to.
     I've got another couple of 2014 Round-Up posts planned, which hopefully won't take until spring to finish up, so stay tuned.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Outrun the Sunlight - Where Every Word Spoken, Speaks

     I've written about Chicago prog outfit Outrun the Sunlight before, but it was in the long, long ago of last summer. Back then, the band's second LP Terrapin was still under construction and the song I was writing about (a track called "Spirit") was just an early look at the then-unreleased final record.

     Fast forward to around nowishly, and Terrapin has been out since December, kicking ass and taking names instrumental style. Factor in the recent playthrough video posted by guitarist Austin Peters, and you've got the perfect excuse to check out some more Outrun the Sunlight in the form of "When Every Word Speaks, Spoken". 

     The band's basic formula for heavy is still essentially the same as it was on "Spirit" -- downtuned groove meets interesting chord choices meets melodic tap tap tapping -- but that doesn't make the formula any less tasty, or any less well conceived and executed. Have a listen and see what you think.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

James Norbert Ivanyi - Thumb Trick

     Time for something weird for your Wednesday song. Not necessarily weird enough to warrant calling it Weird Wednesday or anything, but definitely something with an interesting, and somewhat sinister sounding, vibe.

     Picture, if you will, the following: a progressive metal/heavy rock band reminiscent of Opeth, but sans Mikael's dreamy croon (ie: instrumental) and with the jazzy feel turned up to eleven. Now take the whole thing and warp it ever so slightly, just to the point that it starts getting twisted and evil-sounding around the edges.

     What you end up with is an approximation of the work of Australian one man army James Norbert Ivanyi (hey, I wonder if he knows Plini...), whose sophomore album of instrumental coolness The Matter Circumvention was unleashed back in January. The whole record is a beautifully cohesive piece, but to get a taste like the one I've just tried to describe, I'm going to recommend you start with "Thumb Trick", which should have enough brooding menace and proggy groove to whet your appetite for the rest of the record. I know it's early in the year yet, but I smell some 'Best of 2015' accolades in The Matter Circumvention's future.

Tuesday: Beyond Creation - Theatrical Delirium

     Tech Tuesday might be a little late, but don't you worry, I've got a doozy for you courtesy of one of 2014's best progressive death metal records (hint hint...). Oh, and bass players, prepare to feel inadequate.

     I've featured Montreal's Beyond Creation before, but last year's Earthborn Evolution is so solid that I can't help but give them another day in the sun. Now, a bunch of tracks on that record have a bunch of shit going for them, but "Theatrical Delirium" gets the nod today (or yesterday...) for basically one reason: Dominic Lapointe's basswork. You want a masterclass on how bass playing in modern progressive metal should be done? Pull up a chair, some headphones, and something to conceal your impending shredding-induced erection, because you're going to want all three.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Unearth - Unstoppable

     It's time for another Metalcore Monday, and to go along with it, I've got a riddle of sorts for you: can you guess which Unearth album might be my favourite?

     If you've been paying attention, this should be no problem, since most of the Unearth songs I've featured over the years have been drawn from it. Unearth's third album, 2006's III: In the Eyes of Fire, is just the right confluence of riffs, solo and breakdowns for me. They've done some cool tunes since, but everything was just so carefully considered on III, the fat so nicely trimmed. Sure, it's "just" metalcore, but In the Eyes of Fire is an example of just how good at metalcore Unearth can be. Check out "Unstoppable" for yet another taste of why I still through this record on every once in a while. Riffing never gets old.

Sunday: My Chemical Romance - The Ghost of You

     I've made it no secret around here that metal isn't the only kind of music I'm into. More specifically, I've made it no secret around here that I still enjoy the occasional act that one might (perhaps uncharitably) classify as "emo". Methinks metalheads would certainly label your Sunday band as such, and while I've never been a huge fan of theirs, I've always dug this one song at least.

     I can't really put my finger on why, but My Chemical Romance's "The Ghost of You" from their 2004 sophomore record Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge has long been the only song by them I've ever gotten really into. I don't know if it's the big budget, Saving Private Ryan-style music video, the haunting loss depicted in the lyrics, or maybe just some of the melodic choices made by singer Gerard Way, but something about "The Ghost of You" keeps it a consistent "guilty pleasure" of mine. Check your too-cool-for-school hate at the door and give this one a shot.

Saturday: Visions - Machines

     I hope you all didn't miss me too much over the course of my impromptu weekend off. I'm back today, and you can rest assured that I've got some things up my sleeve for you. But first, to the obligatory catching up.

     First off, a bit of mathy metalcore for your Saturday past. British band Visions seem to be nearing completion of the writing process for their next album (if Facebook is to be believed) but for the time being we still all have to sit tight with their older material a little while longer. With that in mind, may I suggest "Machines" from Visions' 2011 debut LP Home? It should be sufficient to get you at least mildly intrigued about the prospect of a new Visions record, especially if you imagine it cranked a couple of notches, second album-style.