Heritage

Opeth – Sorceress Review

Opeth – Sorceress Review

“It’s funny to think about how long it has been since the golden age of Swedish metal. In the mid-to-late ’90s and early aughts, Swedish bands were atop the world. Now venerable legends were young, hungry and novel. 1995 saw the release of Slaughter of the SoulThe Gallery and Orchid, while the following year graced us with Morningrise and The Jester Race. And when I got into Opeth in 1998 I was swimming in a veritable ocean of amazing Swedish records. Despite my love of the band, I would have laughed if someone had suggested that Opeth—the guys who couldn’t write a song shorter than 10 minutes—would be the most successful of the bunch in 20 years. Maybe it’s obvious in retrospect. Opeth was the band with the broadest opportunities for evolution. They have shown that consistently in their long career. Record after record they evolve; sometimes for the better and sometimes not. But they have always been forward thinking and—given their recent moves into merch and their own imprint—clever.” But is the new album good?

Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour Review

Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour Review

The Ninth Hour marks Sonata Arctica‘s fourth full length since Unia. In 2016, that means that half the band’s career is post-Unia and since that monumental album Sonata Arctica has gone through a tense relationship with its history and—if the comments on this blog are anything to go by—their fanbase. This has led to these veterans of Europower reintroducing wolf shirt and their old logo. But for me it’s The Days of Grays—an album distinctly lacking in both—that remains the band’s best since 2007.” So after all this time has Sonata Arctica produced a worthy successor to The Days of Grays?

Opeth – Deliverance [Bruce Soord Vinyl Remix] – Review

Opeth – Deliverance [Bruce Soord Vinyl Remix] – Review

Deliverance has the honor of being my least favorite Opeth album prior to the release of Watershed. At the time, I was still seeing the band frequently on the road and enjoyed the records well enough, but I have to admit that I was much more a fan of Damnation than Deliverance. Early on I suggested that this may be due to the fact that the majority of the band’s best acoustic material was saved for the acoustic record. But as the years went on, I think realized that I always felt like the songwriting was choppier on Deliverance, a critique I later made of both Watershed and Heritage. After buying the remixes of Damnation and Deliverance released at the end of 2015 and reading Mikael Åkerfeldt’s liner notes, I have to say that I feel mollified.

Spiritual Beggars – Earth Blues Review

Spiritual Beggars – Earth Blues Review

“One of our readers recently commented that we convinced him the only independent bands were stoner/doom bands. That sentiment is surely understandable given the enormous volume of the stuff cropping up these days. It’s not limited to independent bands either, as Spiritual Beggars clearly demonstrates again on album number eight, Earth Blues. Since Michael Amott’s (Arch Enemy, Carcass) long-lived stoner/retro-rock project clearly isn’t going away, you might as well put on the obnoxiously colorful tie-dye shirt (the theme this time appears to be radioactive orange) and enjoy the homage to all things late 60s/early 70s.” Set the lava lamps to “wake and bake” and get settled into your bean bag chairs, the Spiritual Beggars are back to shake your VW van! Steel Druhm shook off his contact high to tell you if this is worth your free love.

New Keepers of the Water Towers – Cosmic Child Review

New Keepers of the Water Towers – Cosmic Child Review

Cosmic Child came through a little thin on the promo information (and in fact prior to listening to it for the first time, I didn’t even know the name of the album – so much for embedded album info) at any rate, I figured alright, close your eyes, hit play and go from there – how bad can it be right? The band name conjured up images of something with a Finntroll flavor – tell me a band name like New Keepers of the Water Towers doesn’t sound even remotely folky and troll-like right? It actually ended up being absofuckinglutely nothing like Finntroll, go figure!” But…if it isn’t like Fintroll, what the hell is it like??? Calm down. Madam X will now answer your questions.

Things You Might Have Missed 2011: Graveworm – Fragments of Death

Things You Might Have Missed 2011: Graveworm – Fragments of Death

Fragments of Death was my first encounter with Graveworm. Even though I shouldn’t have, I was surprised before listening to the album that they were from Italy and I wasn’t really expecting an album that would impress me. Call me a metal bigot but metal isn’t really something that the Italians would proudly add to their plethora of cultural influences for the rest of the world to enjoy [Bigot! There are some great Italian death metal bands, not to mention Rhapsody! – AMG]. Having confessed my prejudice, Italy has already stunned me this year with the new Fleshgod Apocalypse album which definitely improved the scene’s name and now Graveworm release Fragments of Death to add to what their fellow countrymen did a few months earlier.

Opeth – Heritage Review

Opeth – Heritage Review

Disclaimer: Knowing how to review this record has been very difficult for me because I’m a big fan of the band and I have no desire to try make my opinion seem bigger than the band’s work. I understand my subjective position as a reviewer very well. But this record suffers from pretty major issues that it make it very difficult for me to enjoy and that show off the weakness of the band in its current incarnation. I am aware that there will be a good amount of whining and gnashing of teeth over this review, and you’re welcome to it. Just remember that I 1) am not invested in Opeth playing death metal; 2) like plenty of bands that have changed their sounds; and 3) enjoy progressive and abstract music of all stripes very much.