Queen

Wake – Devouring Ruin Review

Wake – Devouring Ruin Review

“Finding catharsis in the midst of chaos is the name of the game these days. It’s why every tenth article in your COVID co-opted news avalanche feed is about a bunny who adopted stray kittens. It’s why last Saturday I watched a live stream of a drag queen disinfecting every surface in her kitchen while performing Queen‘s “I Want to Break Free.” As the world around us is brought to its knees by the weight of uncertainty, we instinctively seek out and appreciate these small pressure release valves. Bands who ply their trade in chaotic styles should pay attention. Chaos plus time equals background noise, but there are two options to keep an audience engaged. The first is brevity. This is why hardcore punk albums are traditionally 25-30 mins long. The second is the thoughtful placement of sonic perches to rest upon.” Choose wisely.

Them – Manor of the Se7en Gables [Things You Might Have Missed 2018]

Them – Manor of the Se7en Gables [Things You Might Have Missed 2018]

“I have fond memories of poring over classic spooky stories like Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” or “The Tell-Tale Heart” at my grandmother’s house and being repulsed and fascinated with the characters, settings, and actions. I got hooked and read Poe’s short stories over and over. Metal is too gore-obsessed to reliably deliver the classic spooks, save for King Diamond… but he hasn’t put anything out since 2007. Who will deliver good old-fashioned spooky stories through the medium of metal?!” BOO(urns)!

Corrosion of Conformity – No Cross No Crown Review

Corrosion of Conformity – No Cross No Crown Review

Corrosion of Conformity has a convoluted history, to say the least. Beginning as a hardcore trio in the early ’80s, the band eventually became a five-piece metal band, before promoting guitarist Pepper Keenan to lead vocalist for the landmark Deliverance album in 1994. In recent years, the original three-piece had reconvened without Keenan, starting off strong but eventually running out of steam with 2014’s lackluster IX. By popular demand, No Cross No Crown features Keenan’s return to the fold and is the first album in 18 years to include both him and original drummer Reed Mullin. Can these guys recapture whatever it is that made Deliverance and its follow-up Wiseblood so compelling?” Corrosion will continue until conformity declines.

Delain – Moonbathers Review

Delain – Moonbathers Review

“Metal bands sure like to take baths in a wide variety of places, be it in the sun, in blood, in ghosts, in wombs, in entrails, or in whatever “slaughtb” is. Me, I’m more of a shower guy. A nice cold shower helps you think, and tons of great ideas come to be in there, but sometimes you get this introductory bit. It seems that the Dutchmen and Dutchwomen in Delain have suggested a new place for our metallic hygienic niche to take place on their fifth album: the moon.” Delain got a tongue lashing from AMG for being normcore back in 2012. Will DiM be nicer than he was?

Oliva – Raise the Curtain Review

Oliva – Raise the Curtain Review

“I’ve been following Jon Oliva’s career since I was a wee metal lad. I loved the classic Savatage albums like The Dungeons are Calling and Hall of the Mountain King and while I didn’t enjoy their eventual metamorphosis into a Broadway-like, show tuney act on later albums like Gutter Ballet and Handful of Rain, I always had a soft spot for Oliva’s singing. I also enjoyed a lot of the Jon Oliva’s Pain material even though it could be inconsistent. It was somewhat of a surprise to see him appear with this new eponymous act, but apparently Mr. Oliva felt the new moniker was more appropriate since this features music written by his deceased brother and former Savatage bandmate Criss Oliva.” A tribute album to a fallen brother is about as metal as it gets and Jon Oliva sure knows his metal. Join Steel Druhm for the red carpet review.

Holy Grail – Ride the Void Review

Holy Grail – Ride the Void Review

Holy Grail is one of these new-wave, big-named bands that got picked up by Nuclear Blast in the last couple of years that I had never really bothered to check out. Mostly my apathy can be blamed on crankiness ’cause I’m old. But their specific brand of nod-to-the-old-school power metal with a modern edge seems to perfectly encapsulate a lot of what’s going on in the metal scene these days, and their 2010 release Crisis in Utopia was met with generally positive responses. Still, I somehow managed to ignore these guys when they dropped their first record and given all the chatter I figured I’d make up for that by giving Ride the Void a go.

Blind Guardian – At the Edge of Time Review

Blind Guardian – At the Edge of Time Review

Blind Guardian is easily one of the most unique bands that modern metal has ever encountered. I really do think that they are one of the most original acts to ever come out of any scene, sub-genre or crevace within the greater history of metal. Combining bay area thrash influence with a German power/thrash legacy and sprinkling liberally with Queen, this German act has been at the forefront of power metal and progressive metal since Imaginations from the Other Side (for sure, and probably even before that). Few bands in metal command the kind of insane loyalty from their fanbase and few bands ever deserve that kind of loyalty, frankly. Even for me, personally, Blind Guardian was one of the bands that really got me exploring modern power metal. I picked up Nightfall in Middle-Earth and my life was forever changed. That record still ranks in my top 10 of all time, easily.