Barren Earth

Angry Metal Guy’s Top 10(ish) of 2015

Angry Metal Guy’s Top 10(ish) of 2015

Twenty-fifteen has been a hell of a ride. It’s been one of my favorite years for music in quite a long time, and I’ve been struggling to prune this list down to 10(ish) records that I really love. But in some ways, the top 5 has never been easier for me to choose. What I find most fascinating about this list is how completely out of step I feel with what I see as being touted as the coolest parts of the underground. I seem to be pretty far afield while everyone else seems to be fawning over the latest ’70s retro doom phenomenon, hope drones, or the latest example of black metal kids missing that intensity not 15 minute songs was the cool part of black metal. This is what it feels like to have been left behind by a scene; to have lived long enough to be that old guy shaking his fist at new trends in metal.

Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud Review

Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud Review

Under the Red Cloud  marks the 12th studio album from Finland’s grandfathers of extreme metal, the band’s sixth LP with Tomi Joutsen as vocalist and his 10th year in the band. The string of Tomi’s six records started with 2006’s Eclipse and had an absolutely epic beginning. EclipseSilent Waters and Skyforger  showed the band’s new found drive and energy, reclaiming some of their death metal heritage, while veering further into what Nuclear Blast has fittingly labeled ‘melancholy rock.’ Unfortunately, Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™ is a fickle mistress, and The Beginning of Times and Circle were both records that were good, but lacked the urgency of that initial trilogy.” Angry Metal Guy is back reviewing Amorphis, and do you kids know what that means? It means he’s probably not doing his actual job! Now read the damned review!

Record(s) o’ the Month – March 2015

Record(s) o’ the Month – March 2015

Ok, this is getting fucking ridiculous. It’s actually kind of ironic that this has taken as long as it has taken to get me to the place where I’m putting up the Record(s) o’ the Month for March at the very end of April, because March 2015 is probably the best month for music that I can think of in ages. The quality of records released in March of 2015 could practically produce half of my Top 10(ish) of 2015, and that’s not even a joke. Going even further, this is one of the most difficult choices that I have had to make for Record(s) o’ the Month, because the best albums of the month are really close. And while indecision is not the reason this took so long—you can blame my job which is too much for a single person—it certainly played a minor role. But without further ado, I present to you the Record o’ the Month for March, 2015.

Barren Earth – On Lonely Towers Review

Barren Earth – On Lonely Towers Review

Barren Earth may be the only band I ever forgive for not giving me an audition to be their vocalist. After it was announced that Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun) was leaving the band and that they were publicly searching for a singer, I screwed up my courage and dropped them an email with some songs. Being that I am “the standard by which all should be judged” (which is why I started a blog), I was duly shocked, dismayed and offended that they never even sent me a kind rejection letter.” Bitter and jilted, can Angry Metal Guy ever forgive this Finnish super group their taste in singers!?

Kuolemanlaakso – Tulijoutsen Review

Kuolemanlaakso – Tulijoutsen Review

“The majesty and grandeur of the Finnish wilderness has been source material for a veritable fuckload of metal bands over the years, with Amorphis and Korpiklaani, being the better known examples. Those untamed forests and pristine lakes apparently beckoned to the folks in Kuolemanlaakso as well, since their sophomore album is a loose conceptual piece focused on the Finnish countryside and the national folklore that featured it so prominently.” Nature-themed doom death from Finland seems like an easy sell. Are you buying?

Things You Might have Missed 2013: Kuolemanlaakso – Musta Aurinko Nousee

Things You Might have Missed 2013: Kuolemanlaakso – Musta Aurinko Nousee

“Since all my “Things You Might Have Missed” this year came from the doom genre, I thought I’d shake things up with… some doom/death! Yes I know, not a very big shake up, but worthwhile metal is worthwhile. Anywho, Kuolemanlaakso is a Finnish doom/death act with an insanely complicated name, composed of members from Swallow the Sun and Chaosweaver and they rock a rather simple, but very effective style of death/doom that somehow remains accessible.” This is a release Steel Druhm was supposed to review last month, but he was too overworked (he’s essentially an indentured servant with an iPod and a keyboard). Since he liked this quite a bit, he wanted to be sure you didn’t miss it and feel remorse later. You can thank him with beer.

In Vain – Ænigma Review

In Vain – Ænigma Review

In Vain hails from Norway, famous for its black metal, its fjords, its oil, its social democracy, but certainly not its progressive death metal. It’s actually a little strange that the land that brought us BorknagarEnslaved, Ulver, and Solefald has never really produced its own Opeth or In Mourning, instead outsourcing that to its less affluent and pampered neighbor to the east (that’d be Sweden for the geographically challenged). Without getting too much into regional politics, it’s safe to say that given how high on the hog these Norwegians live—exploiting their Swedish workers and guzzling crude oil at the state’s expense—it’s surprising that none of them have wandered into the melodic, progressive death metal genre. They certainly have access to enough subsidies for the arts to do so if they wanted to.

Swallow the Sun – Emerald Forest and the Black Bird Review

Swallow the Sun – Emerald Forest and the Black Bird Review

Finnish doom sensations Swallow the Sun are back. The morose Finns (that’s redundant) have returned in 2012 with their fifth full length record and most gargantuan release to date. Indeed, having discovered that all their music is put out on compact disc, Swallow the Sun has embarked on a quest to fill the whole damn thing with their plodding, thick doom metal. Unwilling to edit themselves, they instead have produced 67 minutes worth of new doom for the consumption of their adoring fanbase. This massive work, entitled Emerald Forest and the Black Bird has spent a long time in my Review Gestation Chamber™ due to being so much music that I have been incapable of listening to it in a single go.

Omnium Gatherum – New World Shadows Review

Omnium Gatherum – New World Shadows Review

There was a time when melodic death metal was every breath I took. While it’s been a long time since that was the case, I certainly can say that I spent the late 90s and early 00s listening to my fair share of melodic Swedish death metal and loving it. But since then melodic death metal has kinda fallen off a cliff. This is partially due to the dawning of metalcore and the co-opting of Swedish thrash and death metal by hardcore kids, but I think it’s mainly because just like every scene after a while you start growing tired of the sound. Every new album that gets released gets a “Yeah, well, I’ve heard this before.” While there have been some notable melodic death metal records in the last couple of years, Barren Earth and Be’lakor come to mind, only the former has really stuck out as truly remarkable. That is until I checked out New World Shadows from Omnium Gatherum.