Pain of Salvation

Black Sites – In Monochrome Review

Black Sites – In Monochrome Review

“Like the Trials album which preceded it, however, In Monochrome is unapologetically modern, but it has two feet firmly planted in the feel(s) of yesteryear. And it is the feeling of being a traditional metal album—without being remotely derivative—which makes In Monochrome an excellent album.” I mean, what more do you want for an endorsement than that!?

Pain of Salvation – In the Passing Light of Day Review

Pain of Salvation – In the Passing Light of Day Review

“I rarely engage with music based on how it “feels” or, for example, bands whose lyrics hit me right in “the feels.” But Pain of Salvation, particularly Road Salt pt. 1, did just that to me in 2010. It sucker punched me right in the feels. In the Passing Light of Day strikes that same chord for me, but in a way that I think will keep me coming back for a long time.” AMG vs. the Feels.

Need – Hegaiamas​: ​A Song for Freedom Review

Need – Hegaiamas​: ​A Song for Freedom Review

“Every genre has its tropes. Power metal’s unhealthy obsession with dragons and unicorns, for example. Thrashers shower but twice a year. Did you know that most black metal musicians are allergic to both colors and happiness? All true facts! Progressive metal is no exception.” Unicorns are the new white meat.

Oddland – Origin Review

Oddland – Origin Review

“Popular music has had a shadow looming over it for years: talent shows, where thousands of contenders come to have their hopes and dreams shattered, burned and the ashes spread to the winds. Apparently the practice has also come to unpopular music; in 2011, Century Media crowned proggers Oddland the winners of the Suomi Metal Star contest. Those last three words make me gag, but at least Oddland got a record deal out of it, with Dan “The Man” Swanö as their mix and mastering bonus.” It’s not every day you get to win a Swanö.

Year of the Goat – The Unspeakable Review

Year of the Goat – The Unspeakable Review

“It wasn’t very long into Year of the Goat’s sophomore effort, The Unspeakable that I was asking myself, “self, is this the second coming of Ghost?” The answer is no, since that happens next month and it’ll be their third coming (or two and a half since I didn’t care much for Infestissumam), but this here platter certainly has a lot of similarities to the goods provided by those mysterious masked ghouls.” Boo!

Soen – Tellurian Review

Soen – Tellurian Review

Soen’s Cognitive, which was released in 2012, was the band’s debut and it bore a striking resemblance to the work of Tool and, to be fair, A Perfect Circle. Despite this undeniable likeness, the record was chock full of fat grooves, great writing, beautiful vocal performances from vocalist Eklöf and amazing performances from all the musicians—but especially metal’s best bassist (Steve Digiorgio if there’s any doubt) and one of metal’s best drummers (Martin Lopez). I’ve often felt a bit guilty for labeling Cognitive as too derivative, because despite the sound it has been a regular on my playlist since then—and I would hate to be responsible for pigeonholing a band before they had time to develop; great debuts are few and far between.” But the operative question is: can Soen step through Tool’s shadow and come out the other side?

Amaranthe – The Nexus Review

Amaranthe – The Nexus Review

As a young boy I learned a really important lesson at the hands of one of my favorite bands, Europe. Sure, you laugh, but I was and it was the ’80s, so I was well within my rights to listen to Europe. In 1984, Sweden’s very own, very popular foray into glam rock released a record called Wings of Tomorrow. The album cover was simple. An armored bird of prey, in profile against a red planet cradled in a vast blanket of stars, ready to attack an unseen foe. Five-year-old me was in awe. My unconstrained imagination transported me into space with this mighty, ironclad hawk, to fight futuristic wars. This set the stage for a magical listening experience and the record is still one of my favorites. When I finally got around to The Final Countdown something important had changed: the cover was five poofy haired dudes in space. No suspension of disbelief, no imagination, just Swedish glam rockers in space. And the record? Well, it had one great song… and in retrospect a lot of stinkers. At that moment, an important seed of distrust of bands with their own pictures on the cover of a record was instilled in me. If a band isn’t creative enough to come up with a cool record cover, that band probably isn’t creative enough to write really good music.

Things You Might Have Missed 2011: Loch Vostok – Dystopium

Things You Might Have Missed 2011: Loch Vostok – Dystopium

Loch Vostok (ViciSolum Productions) is a Swedish progressive metal band from Uppsala, Sweden. This was enough for me to take a look at it [Tjena grannar!] because, well, there aren’t a ton of metal bands from Uppsala, really. Not that they don’t exist or anything, but they’re just few and far between and most of them aren’t playing progressive metal. Apparently these guys, who I’ve never heard before mind you, formed in 2001 and Dystopium is their fourth record. And yeah, for fans of progressive metal, Swedish death metal and more modern sounding metal might really dig this disc.