Showing posts with label thrash metal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thrash metal. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

video review: 'order in decline' by sum 41

So yeah, this was a nice pleasant surprise here, good stuff.

Anyway, next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN, but what to be next... stay tuned!

Monday, July 22, 2019

album review: 'order in decline' by sum 41

I think a lot of Canadians have a weird relationship to Sum 41.

Hell, given this is the first time I'm talking about the band... I think pretty much ever, mostly because I'd describe myself as a casual fan at best, Sum 41 is one of those breakthrough punk acts in the early 2000s that might have notched a few singles in the U.S. but were damn near ubiquitous in Canada, to the point when I went through an old greatest hits compilation I was stunned how many songs I knew from memory. But that was the rub with Sum 41: for me they've always been more of a singles band who drilled into insanely catchy hooks and infectious energy more than consistent refinement, especially lyrically. And hey, a blunt wallop can be fine for a shot of adrenaline on the radio, or even for a surprisingly raucous crossover metal song, but Sum 41 also had a tendency to overreach into ballads of questionable quality or political subject matter that where the writing occasionally had more heart than focus. So when even Canadian audiences lost track of them... I'll be honest, I didn't even notice they were gone.

But by 2016, with the band now on an indie label and long out of an obligation to court radio play - plus the return of their original lead guitarist to make them a five piece act - the band regained some critical attention on their album 13 Voices that year, which signaled a slow shift to a darker, more melodic hardcore and alternative metal-leaning sound that wasn't precisely great but was more likable than I expected. And when I heard the group was getting even darker, heavier, and more political on their newest album... look, it's always a little weird to see Canadian punks write about American politics, but apparently they weren't going to snub some of the toxicity leaking in up here, so hell yeah I was interested, especially given how the band didn't seem interested at all on coasting on nostalgia. So okay, I'm intrigued and a little stunned that I'm doing this, but what did we get from Sum 41 on Order In Decline?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

video review: 'firepower' by judas priest

So this was a lot of fun - not especially as heavy as the last one, but sometimes it doesn't need to be, definitely worth checking out!

Next up, let's knock something equally as fun off the list that's a little older - stay tuned!

album review: 'firepower' by judas priest

You know, I don't even I've ever mentioned my opinion on Judas Priest in any of my reviews before now. And for a band that's one of the foundational groups in the creation of heavy metal, it surprises even me that I haven't really weighed in on them... although if I'm being very honest, I can't really say my opinion is all that controversial this time. Even despite the fact that I'm not the biggest fan of straightforward thrash, revisiting the entire Judas Priest discography before this review reminded me why I still really like these guys. Granted, I am one of those fans that will call Stained Class as his favourite record from Judas Priest and will admit he's not quite as crazy about their synth-infused mainstream breakthrough in the 80s in comparison to their 70s work - although Painkiller was a pretty damn great return to form - but that's more because some of the glitzier 80s production choices haven't quite aged as well, especially around the drums and vocals, less about some pretty great compositions themselves. As for the 90s and 2000s records... look, are were very few if any bands that are consistent twenty or thirty years in, especially given the massive upheavals in metal around that time, and it's not like Judas Priest always had the most consistent discography even in their glory years.

So fast-forward to 2014, and despite having lost one of their founding guitarists K.K. Downing, Judas Priest releases Redeemer Of Souls, and for many it's cited as a big return to form, thanks to a welcome shot of energy from newcomer Richie Faulkner and Rob Halford remaining a powerhouse in front of the microphone. Granted, Judas Priest records have felt increasingly overlong in recent years and that project was no exception, but Firepower looked to be calling back to the past, slimming down under an hour and even bringing on their old producer Tom Allom to assist, along with Andy Sneap to add some modern touches. And like with when I covered Deep Purple's inFinite last year, I was preparing myself for this to be Judas Priest's last: Glenn Tipton had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and couldn't tour anymore, and as much as Rob Halford could still deliver, the band's debut came out in 1974, forty-four years ago - so okay, what did we get with Firepower?

Monday, November 21, 2016

video review: 'hardwired... to self-destruct' by metallica

Oh man... I have no idea how this is ultimately going to be received, but man, I wish I had liked this as much as I liked their 80s material. Eh, it happens, I guess... but moving on from that, we've got Billboard BREAKDOWN and the first round of voting, which starts tonight - stay tuned!

album review: 'hardwired... to self destruct' by metallica

They are a name that is in the public consciousness synonymous with metal. Of the big four in thrash, they are the one that probably leaps to mind the most. The most recognizable, arguably one of the most successful, and one that I've never really talked about in great detail... mostly because the band has not released a lot of quality throughout my entire lifetime.

Yeah, we're talking about Metallica, the second of the big four that I've covered this year. And even though I'm no big fan of thrash metal - which probably didn't help that Megadeth review, I do tend to take a more forgiving picture of Metallica. For one, on a pure compositional and writing level I found them a more consistent and enjoyable group for a longer period of time than Megadeth. And even though I do have some individual issues with their 80s output, I can definitely hold up records like Ride The Lightning, Master Of Puppets, and ...And Justice For All as iconic in the genre, with Ride The Lightning probably being my favourite.

But here's the unfortunate truth of it: those were all in the 80s. I don't have the aversion to The Black Album that some Metallica fans do, but it really was a sign of the records to come. On some level I appreciated Metallica venturing out of thrash for Load and Reload, but they seemed to lose a lot of the interesting virtuoso musicianship and melodic chops that helped their 80s work stand out. And St. Anger was even worse - plagued with production issues, sloppy writing, and no solos, it just hit a really sour note with me. Death Magnetic was a return to form on some level in 2008 - there were still production issues, courtesy of an abuse of compression, which did nothing to highlight the melodies, but it was a Metallica sound I could get behind. But they followed that by working with Lou Reed on Lulu... and really, that album is a video in and of itself, but let me say this: it's not a good record, at all, but especially lyrically it's the sort of fascinating failure that's extremely entertaining to dissect. But the broader point of all of this is that since I was born in 1990, the vast majority of music Metallica has released has been decent at best, and that's dispiriting going into a new record. And really, I had no clue what to expect: Metallica has been all over the map throughout their career, and given they had now put together a double album of material with no songwriting contributions from Kirk Hammett - and I hadn't heard any new singles - I figured this would be my big chance to dig in deep - so what did we get?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

video review: 'the stage' by avenged sevenfold

Well, this happened. Wow, did not expect to find anything to like here, but hey, it happens.

Next up... look, I'd like to say that new "solo" album from The Game is worth talking about, but I really want to knock something out of my backlog first... so stay tuned!

album review: 'the stage' by avenged sevenfold

Oh, I am the wrong person to be covering this record.

See, I think I've gone on record that I never really had an 'angry white boy' phase, and since I was such a massive nerd growing up, when I did start getting into metal in the mid-2000s, I kind of skipped hard rock radio entirely and dove straight into fantasy-inspired symphonic and power metal. Sure, I heard some of it in passing if it ever crossed over to pop radio, but my musical evolution was taking me in precisely the opposite direction of rock radio: I was listening to progressive rock and metal and later the more anthemic strains of hair metal and thrash, or getting into punk and post-punk that would drag me into experimental and noise rock, all of which would culminate in my continuing exploration of even more abrasive genres like black metal which continues to this day.

But going back to relisten to some of that mid-2000s material now... wow, I can't tell you how lucky I feel about this. I avoided the dregs of nu-metal, the post-grunge imitators, so much of the meat-headed metalcore scene... look, I doubted I would have gotten into this when I was a teenager anyway, but it's very telling that going back to this now how badly so much of it has aged. That's what makes a look back at Avenged Sevenfold kind of fascinating to me, a band that gets dumped on by metal fans for not being heavier and the sort of theatrics that they've rarely if ever been able to pull off convincingly. Yeah, okay, the guitar work and solos did have a certain charm on City Of Evil, but the band followed it with a self-titled release in 2007 that tried to add elements of symphonic rock and fell ridiculously flat. And yes, for the most part I'm going to blame frontman M. Shadows for this - his songwriting has always been hilariously overwrought and his more nasal delivery has never had swell or impact for me. 

Now granted, things have improved: after the unfortunate passing of their drummer The Rev, they pivoted into heavier material like their 2010 album Nightmare, which was a decent if unremarkable slice of heavy metal. But by the time they released Hail To The King in 2013, it became apparent that even if Avenged Sevenfold had started to evolve past adolescent whinging, I was struggling to find anything fresh or interesting about their material. I get making a tribute to the past, but when the influences are so blatant without fresher content, I can lose interest. And it looks like Avenged Sevenfold have reportedly taken that to heart: without warning they released their longest album to date, apparently drawing on progressive metal, thrash, and even hints of their metalcore sound they left behind years ago. Now I still wasn't a fan of this band, but this looked to potentially be their most experimental work to date, one of their more 'conceptual' and perhaps even their heaviest, and that looked interesting at least, so I dug into The Stage. Did Avenged Sevenfold redeem themselves?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

video review: 'dystopia' by megadeth

Oh, I can imagine this review will go over so well...

Eh, whatever. Either way, probably Bloc Party next, then Dream Theater (unless, for some reason, I can find a high quality version of that Rihanna leak). Stay tuned!

album review: 'dystopia' by megadeth

There's no easy way for me to handle this review. Mostly because, as I've said in the past, it's hard to talk about bands that have defined their genre and who have decades of material. And thus it should be without question when I say that I respect how Megadeth were influential in metal and instrumental to defining thrash.

All of that being said, now having revisited the entire Megadeth catalog... Well, it's mixed, to put it lightly. Yes, Countdown To Extinction and Youthanasia are good, even great records, but they are not a group that I find all that interesting or consistent. Sure, the late 90s slump happened when they went towards alternative rock that honestly wasn't all that bad, but I'm not entirely wild about their early records either, which often felt the victim of some great musicians not exactly having strong consistent songs behind them. And frontman Dave Mustaine hasn't helped - he might have power and personality but inconsistent mixing early meant he was never sounding as good as he could... and yet when moved closer to the front, his more nasal howls have always kind of rubbed me the wrong way, and it's only gotten worse on recent records. And that's even before we get to the songwriting which was never particularly clever or nuanced, or the mid-2000s where the lineup started changing with every other album that would only begin to regain some form of form with Endgame in 2009... only for most of that form to be promptly pissed away on Super Collider in 2013, a stab at more commercial hard rock that just ended up feeling formless and pretty generic - I liked Risk more than this.

Anyway, when I heard that Dystopia was reportedly going back for a rougher, more riff-intensive sound - plus another lineup change - I didn't know what to expect. Not really considering myself a hardcore Megadeth fan, I really wasn't invested enough to hope for quality, but I had also heard that the hard right political bent was creeping into his lyrics. And considering that Megadeth has never been a band defined by lyrical nuance - and having heard some of Mustaine's antics over the Obama administration - I hoped this would turn out better than I had reason to expect. Was I right?