Progressive Metal

Nevermore – The Obsidian Conspiracy Review

Nevermore – The Obsidian Conspiracy Review

Nevermore has always held a special place in the metal community with both fans and other bands alike looking up to and respecting them. It isn’t hard to see why they command this level of respect, with world-class guitarist Jeff Loomis and vocalist extraordinaire Warrel Dane both calling Nevermore home. Because of this high profile and superb talent, a lot is expected from Nevermore and for the most part, album to album, Nevermore have consistently delivered the goods. Therefore, the arrival of a new slab of metal from these guys is always a pretty big deal and after waiting five years since The Godless Endeavor, we finally get The Obsidian Conspiracy.

Wuthering Heights – Salt Review

Wuthering Heights – Salt Review

Well shiver me timbers, it’s a pirate metal concept album! Sure, Running Wild has been doing that since 1987 but can you ever really have enough pirate metal? Yarr, I think not me mateys! So it is with open arms I welcome Salt, the new album by Denmark’s Wuthering Heights. Salt is the band’s fifth release and although they began life in 1997 as a power metal unit, I am not exactly sure how to classify them now. They still have many elements of traditional power metal (fast, galloping rhythms, speedy yet melodic guitar work) but they have evolved into a far more progressive and unorthodox entity over time. So much so in fact, that yours truly couldn’t get into their past two releases because they were just too schizophrenic, scattered and disjointed. I will admit that after my initial few listens to Salt, I had exactly the same problem and was prepared to send this album down to Davey Jones’s Locker with a vicious cannonade along the lines of “ARRRRRR, she blows!!!!” Then slowly, the album’s buccaneer charm began to seep into my head and I started liking it (although at first I only liked parts of it and prepared to say it possessed merely “pieces of great, pieces of great”). However, after two days of soaking in the Salt, I have signed on for this expedition and am ready to pillage and quaff ale right along with Wuthering Heights.

Cynic – Re-Traced Review

Cynic – Re-Traced Review

I make no bones about it, I have a total love affair with Cynic. Long have I been a sucker for good progressive metal and Cynic is about as good as progressive metal gets. While I was a bit young to really have appreciated Focus when it came out, I re-discovered it later and fell in love with it. When Traced in Air came out in 2008 I pretty much fell over myself with joy. That record has maintained a constant place on my playlists since it was released and ranks among my top 10 albums of the last decade. So when I heard that they were going to re-do some of the tracks in different styles as an EP I was justifiably excited, but skeptical at the same time. I grew up in the age of the Nine Inch Nails re-mix album: I know what happens when jackasses mess around with an already winning formula. Nothing good.

Bison B.C. – Dark Ages Review

Bison B.C. – Dark Ages Review

Another record from Metal Blade’s Canadian installation and the third record from Canadian 70s-metal-meets-hardcore band Bison BC. This record took me totally by surprise, as I’d never heard of this band before and wasn’t really sure of what to expect. Honestly, all I had to go with was the look of the record and it looked very 70s. That fact alone hasn’t been very reassuring, while there are some bands out there trying to push the sound a bit, it just feels like another nostalgia movement that isn’t going anywhere to me so I tend to be pretty skeptical of such records.

Kobi Farhi Interview

Kobi Farhi Interview

For anyone who has regularly read my site, it is pretty obvious that I am a big Orphaned Land fan. So it is no exaggeration to say I was pretty stoked to do an interview with the band’s vocalist, lyricist and gigantic personality, Kobi Farhi. We had a chance to talk about several different things, ranging from the cultural approach to metal in Orphaned Land to working with Steven Wilson (from Porcupine Tree). For the first time I am going to offer the audio of this interview edited down with some clips from the record, as well as typing out the “transcript” as it were. The transcript, of course, will have the full text and the audio is a bit more edited down so as to cut out the BS.

Rage – Strings to a Web Review

Rage – Strings to a Web Review

When I was in my big power metal phase, which I guess would’ve probably been around 2000/2001, I stumbled upon a Rage CD in a great used CD store that I used to go into all the time (those were the days). I thought for sure it was going to be great just from looking at it. Turns out… not so much. I don’t recall hating a record more than that one. I thought it was a major pile of shit. I’m pretty sure it was the record XIII, but I can’t be sure as it was sold away a long time ago. Needless to say I wasn’t even a little bit excited when I received this record. I was fully expecting this record to be totally crap.

Interview with Mary Zimmer from Luna Mortis

Interview with Mary Zimmer from Luna Mortis

One of the most promising bands that I’ve ever encountered in my time in the underground has been Luna Mortis. Within the scene that they were surrounded by, it was basically taken for granted that if someone from the scene was going to take off it would be them (at the time called The Ottoman Empire). To no one’s surprise they got bigger, got better management, got a better band together and continued developing. To no one’s surprise they started getting good press and good reviews and making contacts. To, I think, a lot of people’s surprise they ended up getting signed by Century Media. Not that they didn’t deserve it, but just to think that a group of local kids were getting picked up by the label that had shepherded so many of us into the extreme metal scene was pretty astounding.

Aspera – Ripples Review

Aspera – Ripples Review

Progressive metal isn’t an easy place to be. Let’s face it, much of the world of progressive metal is a tussle between an old guard of old fans (the Neanderthals of Metal) who really like bands that sound like Dream Theater, Queensryche, and so forth, and then there’s kind of everyone else. It’s disparate, difficult to define and often pretentious as hell with little logic as to what is in fashion with which group. This is the natural outcome of genrefication, in my opinion, and part of that is a question of where a band can actually progress to. You’re either not heavy enough or you’re too heavy and you never please anyone. Few bands ever really manage to fall outside of these well-worn ruts in the road, but there are some fantastic bands in those ruts, Aspera is one of those bands.

Ihsahn – After Review

Ihsahn – After Review

Easily one of the most anticipated records of 2010 for me has been Ihsahn’s new offering. While I was a passing Emperor fan, really just a fan of In the Nightside Eclipse and Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk-era, I was taken by Ihsahn’s solo stuff. The Adversary felt fresh, progressive enough, a step away from the later Emperor material of which I wasn’t a fan, and it captured the sonic styles and textures that he was never quite allowed to explore while in Emperor. The record didn’t stick with me as I had hoped, while I listened to it occasionally it didn’t hold a steadfast position in my discography. On the other hand, angL blew me away. Probably the finest record of 2008, angL has maintained a steady place in the rotation and is a record that I’ve showed to dozens of people. Perfectly produced, perfectly composed and smartly written, angL contained everything that I wanted out of a new progressive metal record. So, of course, when I heard that Ihsahn would be releasing a new record in 2010, I became justifiably excited.