Jethro Tull

Gazpacho – March of Ghosts Review

Gazpacho – March of Ghosts Review

Gazpacho has to be the worst name for a band ever. The soup itself is frankly a little on the unexciting side as it is, being a vegetable soup served cold. It’s actually Spanish or Portuguese, isn’t it? Being Norwegian, couldn’t they have chosen say, lefse or something? Not only is it tastier (Mmm, a bit of sugar and butter and I’m a Happy Metal Guy! NOMNOMNOM!), but it’s Norwegian! Like the band! Get it!? Well, anyway, needless to say I was less than stoked to actually dig my ear-fingers into this record. How could a band that can’t come up with a decent band name come up with good music? I mean, this is an existential question… really.

Hammers of Misfortune – 17th Street Review

Hammers of Misfortune – 17th Street Review

Few obscure, under-ground bands find the level of respect and reverence that San Francisco’s Hammers of Misfortune has. These avaunt-garde weirdos have been doing things their way since 2001 and slowly building appreciation and acclaim along the way. Deftly defying genre tags and easy (lazy) categorization by reviewers like myself, they’ve churned out a uniquely progressive amalgam of NWOBHM, folk, doom and ’70s rock. So unusual is their sound, the only truly comparable band is sister/brother act Slough Feg, with which they’ve swapped influences and members over the years. It’s a pretty safe bet if you like the Feg, you’ll dig what the Hammers are cooking too. Of the two, the Hammers were and are the weirder, more experimental outfit and under the leadership of guitarist/vocalist John Cobbett (ex-Slough Feg, ex-Ludicra), they’ve traveled some strange roads but always packed truckloads of melody and quirky charm. After an overly long wait since 2008’s Fields/Church of Broken Glass, we’re finally treated to their fifth album 17th Street and its a reassuring blast of sonic strangeness, musical eccentricity and refreshing innovation. Although not crushingly heavy or shockingly aggressive, its plenty metal, hugely melodic, catchy and most importantly, original! If that doesn’t sound good to you, go read my diatribe about black metal.

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.

Retro-spective Review: Camel – Music Inspired by the Snow Goose

Retro-spective Review: Camel – Music Inspired by the Snow Goose

So, during this time of burnout, one thing doesn’t seem to be changing: the will to critique things and to tell people how important my opinion is how cool some music just really is. One of the things that happens to me when I get burned out on metal is that I go back and start researching other shit like, for example, the guy who wrote Meat Loaf’s music (Jim Steinman) or in this case, 70s prog. The ’70s were an era when music was musical and the production didn’t suck fucking ass and there was no douchebag screaming about how tough he was into a microphone to try to make you realize just how extreme his music is (unless of course you count KISS, but I don’t, ’cause they suck and they weren’t screaming, they were just douching it up).

Slough Feg – The Animal Spirits Review

Slough Feg – The Animal Spirits Review

Slough Feg (formerly The Lord Weird Slough Feg) have always existed in their own little musical bubble (technically called a “sloubble”). Inside their little sloubble, they remain happily oblivious to musical styles, trends and changing tastes in metal. To them it’s always sometime between 1978 and 1983, where their odd amalgam of NWOBHM, Thin Lizzy and Celtic folk/pub rock would seem timely and current. Here on album eight The Animal Spirits, the sloubble remains intact as Slough Feg churns out more of their unique, oddball proto-metal for a small but loyal cult following. If you’ve followed this San Francisco based unit, you know what to expect. If not, well, it’s strange but fun and truly a love or hate type proposition.

Barren Earth – Curse of the Red River Review

Barren Earth – Curse of the Red River Review

Barren Earth took me completely by surprise. As a rule I do not post reviews of records from labels that do not send me promos of them. I think it’s a disincentive for them to do so and generally bands don’t deserve the promotion. However, sometimes bands come onto the radar that I can’t ignore, as is what happened when I picked up this new Barren Earth record on a total whim. In fact, I didn’t even know that this band had ex-members from Amorphis, the drummer from Moonsorrow, the guitarist from Kreator or the vocalist from Swallow the Sun involved, or that it was mixed by Dan Swano. I guess I should have expected that this would be a great record…