Classical

Dismal – Via Entis Review

Dismal – Via Entis Review

“Gothic and symphonic metal, as with all metal, are sub-genres beset with mediocrity. Nowhere more so than Italy, a country known for  painfully-earnest musical excess and silliness. A few years ago, Italy’s Dismal unveiled a record which was, kindly, shit. Quinta Essentia tried to pull together classical and metal sounds into a moody gothic atmosphere but it roundly failed to do so, principally due to jarring songwriting and half-baked production. Now in 2023 Via Entis is their next effort.” Truth in advertising.

Nick Vasallo – Apophany Review

Nick Vasallo – Apophany Review

Nick Vasallo has been making music in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. He is best known as the guitarist and vocalist of deathcore legends Antagony, as well as tech death outfit Oblivion. Perhaps less well known, at least in metal circles, is his interest in musical theory and composition, which he studied extensively, ultimately being awarded a doctorate in 2011. He now teaches at college level. This brief bio perhaps gives some context for Apophany, a hybrid metal-classical album and the follow up to 2012’s Monuments Emerge. Smart-tech.

Dismal – Quinta Essentia Review

Dismal – Quinta Essentia Review

“It’s very satisfying that in a location where I’ve worked for over 6 years I can still enjoy new experiences. Italy’s Dismal and their new record called Quinta Essentia (Quintessence) represents a number of firsts for me. First time hearing this band; first dual review with a n00b; first album where different resources conflicted as to label; first album where different resources conflicted as to number of releases by the band; first album where my first listen resulted in 3 reviews’ worth of notes. It was all very intriguing to me, least of all the music produced here. The greatest challenge was narrowing my thoughts into a reasonable article. Where to begin?” First rodeos.

Raphael Weinroth-Browne – Worlds Within Review

Raphael Weinroth-Browne – Worlds Within Review

“And he now works with Leprous as a dedicated cellist, while he also participates in neo-folk troupe Musk Ox and classical duo Kamancello. Across these projects, he has exhibited a flair for flexible use of his instrument, the cello, and I was therefore excited to observe a release called Worlds Within under his own name, solely composed by himself. How does his music fare when divested from the creative control of others’ grubby hands?” Cello again.

A New World – Intimate Music from Final Fantasy Review

A New World – Intimate Music from Final Fantasy Review

I’ve written elsewhere that metal isn’t always just about the use of heavy drums or distorted guitars. I suspect most metalheads would agree that Wagner is straight up metal. When I reviewed Pale Communion recently, I was struck by how “metal” some of the structures of the record were—despite lacking these trappings. In that same review, I jokingly referenced Anathema’s Weather Systems, where I declared “You can take the dirty hippy out of metal, but you can’t take the metal out of the dirty hippy!” That record, in all its post-Pink Floyd glory is a testament to the fact that often times the trappings of that which is metal is more about being epic, layered, and intense. Intimate Music from Final Fantasy also falls into this category: things that are metal, but not metal.

Sigh – Scenes From Hell Review

Sigh – Scenes From Hell Review

Let me start with the a territory that isn’t very comfortable for many in heavy metal: orchestrations. Heavy metal has seen many variations on the classical orchestration in many different subgenres. Neo-classical metal, like the wanky stuff with Yngwe or Symphony X, has long bragged about the influence of baroque and classical music. Bands like Rhapsody of Fire and Epica do things that sound like they should be straight out of a movie score and black metal even has a symphonic sub-genre, most notably filled by Dimmu Borgir, whose symphonics have gone over the top in the last few years with the addition of Mustis (though we’ll see what happens now that he’s gone). Never before in my tenure of heavy metal listening have I heard orchestrations used in a black metal record to such effect as they have been used on Sigh’s new record Scenes from Hell.