Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Last Wednesday: Motorhead - Ace of Spades

     There's some more sad if not exactly shocking news making its way around the music world today, so even though I'm going to be guilty of doing a bit of time traveling by doing so I'm going with a Motorhead song in honour of legendary late frontman Lemmy.

     Yes, as you've likely heard by now, Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister was finally killed by death (that's a Motorhead song, for the uninitiated, not just me being flippant) at the age of 70. Lemmy rocked and lived notoriously hard, and unfortunately was one of those guys (*cough* Keith Richards *cough*) that honestly makes you wonder how they make it as long as they do. But rather than simply marvel at their resilience, let's remember to thank the gods that we get as much time with these characters as we do.

     Since I have somehow made it this far into Loud Noises without featuring a Motorhead song (hopefully my guitar teacher growing up isn't reading this!) your much belated Wednesday song, and Lemmy tribute, is Motorhead classic "Ace of Spades", the driving title track from the band's 1980 album. Raise a pint to this one, if your current situation permits. The metal world has lost a great one.

Last Tuesday: Between the Buried and Me - Melting City

     Whenever I'm looking for something technically proficient for a Tuesday post, I've got a couple of go-to sources that never let me down. One such well I visit frequently is the catalogue of Virginia's Arsis, but this time around I'm going south a state for a cut from North Carolina's Between the Buried and Me.

     Dazzling technicality is all over Between the Buried and Me's catalogue, but for last Tuesday I'm going with the epic "Melting City" from 2012's The Parallax II: Future Sequence. This one starts off with proggy fury, and even though things mellow out and get a little jazzier for a couple of stretches over the course of the ten-minute running time of "Melting City", there's never a lull in the top-notch musicianship. It's a bit of a time investment, but get to the end and I think you'll find it was all worth it. Go on. Click the link and find out if I'm right. I'll wait.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Monday: BEAR - The Falling Line

     Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays everyone! It's been a slow week or so blog-wise over here at Loud Noises HQ, what with the friends and the family and all the whatnot happening because of the time of year. But as always, we're going to get you caught up just as soon as possible, starting with a post for last Monday.

     I don't know if I can somehow get away with an alliterative angle for your super belated Monday song, so I'll just call it a djenty mathcorey kind of Monday courtesy of Belgian band BEAR. If your Christmas has left you in need of some pummeling heaviness, "The Falling Line" should do the trick nicely. And even better, the band released a drum playthrough for this one back in November, so you get something to watch to go along with those meaty, off-kilter grooves. Hit the volume, hit the link, and then settle in for the ride.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Sunday: Sylosis - Servitude

     I'm going to let alliteration be my guide as I try and dig out from the figurative snow that's built up here at Loud Noises as the holidays have sidelined me over the last couple of days -- figurative because much of eastern Canada is in for a very green (or greenish-brown), very mild Christmas. First up is a Sunday post from an old favourite's newest record, and conveniently it's doubly alliterative.

     "Servitude" is a spooky, doomy, mostly down-tempo number from this year's Dormant Heart by British band Sylosis that shifts gears in the middle for a thrashy solo section. Regular readers should by now be well aware of both my love for Sylosis and the justifiability of that love in the face of Sylosis' general awesomeness, but any of you who might be new to the Loud Noises party need to get on board, especially if you're not familiar with Sylosis yet. And hey, a Sylosis record would make a sure-fire last-minute Christmas gift for the metalhead on your list.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Saturday: Pomegranate Tiger - Stomp the Haunted Crown

     Are you a musician? Want to feel jealous? Pomegranate Tiger's latest album Boundless can help.

     This time around, multi-instrumentalist Martin Andres decided to keep Pomegranate Tiger a solo project -- literally. There's some guest bass work, and a string quartet, but everything else is Marting: drums, guitars, piano, the works. It's enough to make any metal-minded musician wish they could switch between instruments so easily. (Like our friend AJ from back in The Day could. We all hated that about AJ. It did make him a great jam partner though.)

     Anyways, Boundless is a solid slice of groovy progressive instrumental metal any way you look at it, but throw in the solo nature of the project and it becomes downright impressive. Have a listen to "Stomp the Haunted Crown" and be impressed.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Friday: Protest the Hero - Cold Water

     I hate to feature something as a Song of the Day that you can't necessarily go out a listen to readily without paying something out of pocket, but the guys in Protest the Hero have recently released the latest installment in the Pacific Myth song-a-month EP and I can't help myself. Sorry.

     Despite being brand-spanking new, "Cold Water" has a lot of classic Protest stuff going on -- high energy, shreddy riffing,  acrobatic vocals -- but it's also very much reflective of the focus on songwriting instead of riff-grafting that's characterized the band's last couple of albums. And just in case anybody still had any doubts about new-ish bassist Cameron McLellan, there's a mid-song section with a little tasty slappity slap slap going on, and there's some solid bass work throughout (and it's sitting in a pretty good spot in the mix, too).

     As I said above, this one's part of the Pacific Myth subscription service, so you'll have to shell out a bit of change if you want access to it as well as the preceding two tracks, but this Protest the Hero fan would like you to know that Pacific Myth has been worth the price of admission so far. Get in here and see what you're missing, OK?

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Rage Against the Machine - Year of Tha Boomerang

     Sure, it might be the season for sharing, camaraderie, and joy, but that doesn't mean things will go peachy keen for you all the time. If any aspect of your life is grinding your gears on this Throwback Thursday, might I suggest a healthy, victimless target for your ire in the form of The Machine?

     Yes, that Machine, the one we all used to rage against in our misspent youths. We're all a little older now, and maybe our anger has burned low over the years, but if ever there was a time when the world needed a band to speak out against the status quo, the tail end of 2015 is it. So as another year winds down, and you settle into your holiday routine of merry-making, put on "Year of Tha Boomerang" from 1996's classic Evil Empire, raise your fist once more, and remember that rage can be productive if it's pointed in the right direction. Use that fuel and make 2016 your best goddamn year ever. Class dismissed.

Wednesday: Opeth - Hessian Peel

     Speaking as I was a day or two ago about bands I haven't featured here in a while, let's talk about everybody's favourite Swedish death-cum-folk prog act, Opeth. Last year's 70's-syle opus Pale Communion was pretty solid, but I'm still of the opinion that Mikael and the gang will be hard pressed to ever top the fusion of melody and metal that is 2008's Watershed.

     Like I've said before, I think Watershed represents the perfect proportional mix of Opeth's older death metal influences and its more recent forays into folk, prog, and 70's rock. Watershed is definitely a "start to finish" kind of album for me, meaning if I have my druthers I'd prefer to listen to the whole thing in one go, rather than cherry picking just a few songs from it.

     If, however, I'm forced to pick just one track from Watershed, which in a sense I am, this time around I'm going with epic late-album number "Hessian Peel". This eleven-and-a-half minute monster is a microcosm of what makes Watershed great: moody and mellow acousticness gives way to crushing heavy about six minutes in. If you want the best of both Opeth worlds, "Hessian Peel" should be one of your first stops.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Tuesday: Arsis - Martyred or Mourning

     It's been a while since I've gone back to make favourite Tech Tuesday well, so let's all pull up a bucket and quench our thirst for technical death metal with a cut from one of the genre's current greats. New album in 2016 maybe? Fingers crossed!

     I've been an Arsis fan since 2008's We Are the Nightmare shredded its way into my heart and showed me that fast and ferocious death metal could still be super heavy on melody and *gasp* hooks. It may sound like an oxymoron, but if ever there was a "radio friendly" tech-death band, it's Arsis.

     I don't know if I'd put today's song "Martyred or Mourning", from 2013's Unwelcome, on the radio playlist; I'll leave that up to you to decide. I will, however, say that this one's a great example of how tight and precise Arsis' riffing can be -- rhythm or lead, doesn't matter, James and the guys are always on point. I have no insider information regarding a new Arsis record (do I ever have insider information?) but with a 2-3 year cycle for the last couple of albums, even I can do the math and figure out it's been long enough since Unwelcome. Like I said, fingers crossed.

Monday: Watercolor Ghosts - Despondent

     Longtime readers will likely by now have picked up on the fact that I'm Canadian, and if I haven't here before I will now go on the record as saying I'm both very proud and very lucky to live in this wonderful country of ours. But based on my musical tastes over the last couple of years, perhaps I should have been born an Aussie instead?

     A week doesn't seem to go by anymore where I'm not hearing about some great band from down under, or passing that information along to you. Today is no different, so why don't you go ahead and meet Watercolor Ghosts, a five-piece from Perth that's a little more proggy and post-rocky/metaly than what might usually appear here for a Metal Monday. Don't get too down, though: tracks like "Despondent" from Watercolor Ghosts' recently released self-titled LP have a decent amount of heavy to go around. It doesn't hurt that vocalist Drew James Griffiths gives me some major Tool/Maynard James Keenan vibes (coincidental same middle name? maybe not...) and even better, he doesn't just sound like he's doing an MJK impression (believe me, I've heard/seen enough local bands with MJK-wannabe singers...) Check out Watercolor Ghosts and see what you think.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Sunday: A Swarm of the Sun - Deliver Us From Our Dreams

     Your Sunday post for this week is for those fans of post-metal's big buildups who don't always have time for a massive slice of epic slow-burn. Post-metal fans can still have shit to do, right?

     Sweden's A Swarm of the Sun feel your time-crunched pain, or at least they do with their latest single. Previously unreleased B-side "Deliver Us From Our Dreams" packs a whole heap of post-metal buildup into a mere three and a half minutes. If the Soundcloud for this one is to be believed, and this song did in fact begin life as a ten-minute instrumental number, that would answer the question of how A Swarm of the Sun managed to make "Deliver Us From Our Dreams" sound so damn big while at the same time raising the question of how they managed to condense ten minutes of bigness into the succinct three-and-a-half that we're left with. That's some fucking magic, right there. Have a listen or two and try to figure out how the guys did it.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Mandroid Echostar - Iron Hands

     A little over a month ago, we got our first taste of the forthcoming debut LP from Mandroid Echostar. Now we've got another track to mull over, as well as some preorder packages for Mandroid's Coral Throne and a release date that feels like it's practically on top of us already.

     The actual date in question is January 15th, so it's really more than a month away, but the impending holidays and end of the calendar year here in the western world makes it feel like mid-January is right around the corner. New Mandroid song "Iron Hands" should help get you through the last couple of long weeks that in reality remain between now and the release date for Coral Throne. "Iron Hands" is essentially more of what Mandroid Echostar is good at: slick-sounding pop-metal with just the right amount of technicality. Between this one and the previously released "Paladin", it seems like Mandroid Echostar might just be set to open 2016 with a contender for one of the year's best.

Friday: Killswitch Engage - Strength of the Mind

     Your Friday song this week is one of those songs that just kind of fell into our laps. We all knew it was about time for these guys to be working on some new material, and we may even have heard that some writing was going on, but I for one was taken pretty much by surprise when I heard about the new Killswitch Engage single on Thursday.

    Spoiler alert: "Strength of the Mind" does nothing to reinvent Killswitch's sound. If you were hoping that the guys would go all proggy on your next time out or something, I'm afraid you'll be pretty disappointed. If, however, you're looking for some classic Killswitch, look no further: "Strength of the Mind" combines some familiar-sounding-if-still-badass meaty metalcore riffing with the kind of positive message that Jesse (and Howard, really) has always espoused. A big chunk of Killswitch's catalogue could be classified as "self-help metal" without any sarcasm or derision. This one is for anyone who needs a little self-actualizing boost this morning. Crank it.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Thursday: Funeral for a Friend - Juneau

     I've been talking about "core" type stuff for the last couple of posts, including a mention or two of things sounding like stuff I used to listen to lo those many years ago. So I thought why not just feature something along those lines with an actual selection from my own screamo days gone by? Happy Throwback Thursday!

     I've talked about Welsh band Funeral for a Friend before, so all I'll really say about them this time out is that if you're at all a fan of this kind of stuff, these guys are a band you really should know about. This particular album, 2003's Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation, is one that received a lot of play with us when it came out, and your song today will still come out every once in a while when any of us are sitting around with guitars. "Juneau" first appeared on one of Funeral's early EPs, but the full-on, reworked version you're getting today was one of the singles from Casually Dressed. Put this one on and feel young again.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Wednesday: Piano - Expire

     It looks like Tesseract are back in the UK after their North American tour, so what better time to shift gears to another of Dan Tompkins' musical endeavours, international slice of awesome Piano. Last year's Salvage Architecture was another great record under the post-something umbrella, and silly me, I haven't featured a song from it since it came out. Oversight: corrected.

     "Expire" is a high-energy slice of melodic post-hardcore that's imbued with buckets of heart by Dan's vocals and the harmonies and back-ups of his Piano bandmates. There's even hints and flashes of technicality to the frenetic riffing-and-chording that really reminds me of the great screamo-type stuff I listened to in years gone by. I swear, I WILL convince each and every one of you that all those blank-core labels don't have to be dirty words.

(Bonus, Jonas: the link above includes intro-type prelude "Inspire" too -- if you just want "Expire", head to about 2:30 or so and enjoy!)

Tuesday: Hail the Sun - Mourning Sickness

     The entity that is Facebook (precursor to Skynet, of course) tells me that Hail the Sun are in the process of writing and demoing new material, which hopefully means that a new record is in the cards for 2016. In the meantime, remember how much I liked their 2014 LP Wake?

     Hint: it was one of my ten favourite albums of the year (go on, have a look if you don't believe me, I'll wait). So I'm pleased to hear that the latest demo sounds pretty tasty indeed. Rather than picking the new stuff apart too much before it's fully cooked, however, why don't we revisit Wake for one more look at why you should care about these guys in the first place.

     "Mourning Sickness" is textbook Hail the Sun, so to speak: high-energy, high-melody post-hardcore with a vocalist that sounds very reminiscent of Circa Survive (which isn't a bad thing!). The guys have apparently recently made the switch from Blue Swan Records to Equal Vision, so let's all hope they're in a hurry to get a new record out on their new label, OK?

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Monday: Dave Brubeck - Blue Rondo a la Turk

     The more jazzy-minded among you (ie: anyone who looks at the title for this post and goes "yeah, I know who that is") will likely already have heard of the passing of legendary pianist Dave Brubeck last week, just a day shy of his 92nd birthday. The jazz virgins need know only that the world has lost a musical great.

     I've previously featured my own favourite Dave Brubeck song here at Loud Noises before, the iconic "Take Five". But even if you're not a jazz aficionado, there's a whole bunch of standards penned by Brubeck with which you might be familiar, even if you don't know it's one of his. "Blue Rondo a la Turk", originally recorded for 1959's Time Out, is one such classic, an experiment in varied time signatures that's instantly recognizable once you know it. Have a listen and get a taste of Brubeck's 'mainstream' jazz appeal.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Sunday: Baroness - Morningstar

     We're only a couple of weeks away now from the release date for the latest colour-coded album Purple from Baroness (what, you thought I was going to talk about something else that comes out in just a couple of weeks?) and the guys aren't letting up in terms of marketing and hype generation. "Shock Me" started streaming less than a month ago, and now we're getting what will presumably be one last appetizer before the main course drops on the 18th.

     As much as I really dug "Shock Me", especially after a few listens, the new track "Morningstar" is probably going to strike Baroness fans as the closest thing to older Baroness that we've yet heard from Purple. Meaty riffs and driving drums are the order of day here, with a buttery, effects-drenched solo that would sound right at home just about anywhere in the Baroness catalogue. An album full of songs like this one and "Shock Me" will be a tasty early Christmas present indeed.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Periphery - Pyschosphere

     It's been quite a while since I featured a Periphery song here at Loud Noises, so it's a good thing Misha and the guys have done me the favour of putting out a new music video for a track from their Juggernaut double album... right?

     The latest track to get a visual treatment is Alpha closer "Psychosphere". One the one hand, it is just another "live" playthough video, which means it's basically just Periphery playing the song in a room somewhere for six minutes or so. On the other hand, it's one continuous shot that's super-duper HD quality. Of course, Matt Halpern's over-the-top facial expressions are also pretty much worth the price of admission all on their own. I could watch Matt and his V-Neck play the drums all day -- the guy's a beast. Don't believe me? Check out "Pyschosphere", and then just Youtube some videos of Matt jamming and messing around. There's some good stuff out there.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Stone Temple Pilots - Down

     By this point in your Friday afternoon, most of you have likely heard the bad news that's going around the interwebz, but on the off chance that I am somehow your primary outlet for music news, here it is again: Scott Weiland, singer for seminal 90's band Stone Temple Pilots (and some other acts that, while enjoyable, weren't Stone Temple Pilots), has died at the age of 48.

     For anyone familiar with Weiland's history of substance abuse and his struggles to get clean, this news can hardly be shocking, but that doesn't make it any less sad that we've lost a talented musician and an important part of all of our collective musical histories. Listening to a variety of Stone Temple Pilots stuff today has reminded me of just how central STP was to my own musical experience growing up. I've since delved into some pretty wild and woolly areas of the world of heavy music, but even I can't deny that Stone Temple Pilots have an impressive body of work. I could probably name a dozen songs right now, from throughout the band's career, that I still dig just as much as when I first heard them.

     So let's pick just one of those songs to say goodbye to Scott. It's a tough call, I know, to pick just one, but I think I've settled on "Down", the opening track from 1999's No. 4. It's got a good heavy riff, a great guitar solo, a brooding atmosphere, and of course, plenty of Scott Weiland goodness. I feel like No. 4 doesn't necessarily always get the same love as the first couple of Stone Temple Pilots records, but the combination of the record's overall sound and the timing of its release (I was in high school at the time) has solidified No. 4's spot in the hole in my paper heart. You will be missed, Scott.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Thrice - Anthology

     Your Throwback Thursday song this week is, in a sense, more about throwing back (and a little forward...all will be clear in a second) to a band rather than to a song. You see, while the album Major/Minor from which your song today hails is only about four years old now, the band that wrote the song and album has doesn't much since, besides a few festivals and other isolated shows.

     But with the recent news that Thrice will indeed be releasing new material sometime next year, there's no better time than now to throw it back the measly couple of years to 2011's Major/Minor for the rocking late-album track "Anthology". This particular cut definitely does sound more at home among Thrice's more recent stuff than its older stuff (like classic The Artist in the Ambulance, for example) but if you're a Thrice fan, you've been following the band's evolution all along and are probably already on board with this one. I for one can't wait to hear what they put together next.
(Bonus, Jonas: the video linked above is a swell live performance from a Red Bull Studio Session the guys did back in 2011 -- enjoy!)

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

At The Drive-In - Enfilade

     It's been a long decade and a half since since post-hardcore legends At The Drive-In called it quits. It's also been about three years since the band last played live, in 2012. But it seems the guys will be getting back together for at least one more live outing, next May's Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, Ohio.

     Now, there is of course no current indication that this is anything other than a one-shot kind of thing, getting the band back together for a big festival. There isn't really even any reason to dream wild dreams of reunion and new material, especially since Omar had always been more or less of the opinion that At The Drive-In had run its natural course, creatively speaking, by the time of the 2001 dissolution.

     We can, however, still hope against hope, right? I feel like this might be one of those situations where fans' expectations are so high that anything would be a disappointment, but that's not going to stop this writer's wishful thinking. While I await the corresponding first flight of pigs to pass by overhead, have a listen to "Enfilade" from the absolutely classic Relationship of Command, if for no other reason than Iggy Pop's menacing ransom call at the start.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Scale the Summit - Oort Cloud

     Most of the time, the "tech" in my "Tech Tuesday" posts is shorthand for "technical metal", usually of the "technical death metal" variety. But we all know that technical proficiency doesn't have to be all 200bpm blast beats and sweeps, right? Sometimes, just sometimes, stuff other than straight-up metal can have chops for days.

     OK, so maybe when you're the guys in Scale the Summit "sometimes" is more like "all the time" but I think you get where I'm going with this. Scale the Summit isn't always "heavy" in a traditional metal sense, but they do always bring their instrumental A-game, and when you're looking for something a little less crushing that'll still impress, they should be near the top of your list.

     Even better, Chris and the guys seem to be cranking it out like clockwork the last couple of years, with a pretty stable two-year release schedule going all the way back to their self-released 2007 debut record Monument. The band's latest and fifth album V presents yet another collection of soaring and proggy adventure metal, but for your Tech Tuesday song this week I'm going with intricate affair "Oort Cloud" -- that little bass solo starting about three minutes in should be enough to get you through even the longest journey through space all by itself.

Monday: The Gabriel Construct - Ranting Prophet

     My usual Monday alliteration doesn't really work this week, as your song today isn't exactly metal per se. So, how does Monday Madness grab you? Because that's what you're getting in today's track by The Gabriel Construct.

     Sure, there's some moments of profound heavyness to be found on debut Gabriel Construct LP Interior City, but the truly epic, multi-instrument arrangements crafted by TGC's driving force Gabriel Lucas Riccio would probably be better described as experimental prog. There's a whole shitload of things going on here, with layers and layers of lush, dense, musical weirdness that runs a gamut of styles and moods. I don't know if this one's for everybody, but keep an open mind and you might just wrap your head around it. To help you along, here's one of the more straight-forward (not to mention shorter!) tracks, "Ranting Prophet". Headphones are recommended.