Hellfest 2014 December | 2011 |

Archive for 12/22/2011

Interview with Josh Gilbert of As I Lay Dying

 

Josh Gilbert of As I Lay Dying

I had the great pleasure of FINALLY seeing As I Lay Dying last Wednesday when they played up at The Venue of Scottsdale. Over the last ten years, these guys have situated themselves at the forefront of the American metalcore scene. Their latest album, Decas, came out about a month ago on Metal Blade, and includes covers of Slayer, The Descendents, and Judas Preist, some remixes, and a few new songs. During their stop here, I had the chance to chat with Josh Gilbert, bassist of the band about Decas, their plans for a new full-length, and his favorite albums this year. Check it out below.

By the way, if you live in Phoenix and you’ve never been to a show at The Venue of Scottsdale… you gotta go. That place is by far the most unique music venue anywhere. It looks like a small village on the inside, complete with little fake storefronts. Phil Manansala, the lead singer of Of Mice & Men, said he thought it looked like an Olive Garden during their set on Wednesday. It’s a pretty strange & neat place to have metal shows.

 

 

Here’s their video for their cover of Electric Eye’ by Judas Priest:

Ashley’s Top 10 albums of 2011

1. Darkestrah- Khagan EP 9.24.2011 Label: Osmose Productions (Kyrgyzstan)

Darkestrah is a female fronted Shamanic Pagan Black Metal band from Kyrgyzstan that has put out some really great music. However their newest release Khagan, won me over instantly, which doesn’t happen very often… Even though it’s only three tracks it is simply amazing. The songs have a really nice atmospheric black metal ambiance to them and I can’t listen to it enough. I will be anxiously waiting for their next ingenious creation.

 

2. Enslaved – Thorn EP 8.27.2011 Label:Soulseller Records (Norway)

Enslaved’s Thorn is another EP that has won my approval. The atmosphere of the two tracks are raw and bring back hints of old school Norwegian black metal that is just a delight to listen to.

 

3. Obscura- Omnivium 3.29.2011 Label: Relapse Records (Germany)

Obscura is a league of their own. I am not too into technical death metal (although I do have quite the random taste in music) however, Obscura is definitely an exception for me. Omnivium is their third album and I was very pleased with it. I really like the jazz-fusion and prog influences that they incorporate, it gives the music tons of depth.

 

4. Moonsorrow-Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa2.21.2011 Label: Spinefarm Records (Finland)

Finnish folk-black metallers Moonsorrow have created another impressive album. Like their previous work, Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa invokes many feelings while listening, creating a dramatic flow from a calm doom like feeling then escalating into layers of shredding melodies.

 

5. Septic Flesh- The Great Mass 4.18.2011 Label: Season of Mist (Greece)

The Great Mass has a powerful presence about it that blew me away with its symphonic elements. It has a very nice balance of powerful riffs and majestic passages that interweave from the classical aspects.

 

6. Thulcandra- Under a Frozen Sun 9.30.2011 Napalm Records (Germany)

Thulcandra is a project of Obscura’s Steffen Kummerer so no doubt that it is a great masterpiece. Under a Frozen Sun is a great album that follows their tribute to Dissection and reignites that 90’s Swedish black metal sound. I am a huge fan of Dissection and don’t find this at all to be a rip off, I really love that Thulcandra is morphing and reinventing Dissections signature sound into their own interpretation.

 

7. Vader- Welcome to the Morbid Reich 8.12.2011 Label: Nuclear Blast (Poland)

I was very pleased with Vader’s newest release and found  it to have a very strong consistent flow. I find Welcome to the Morbid Reich to be some of their best work to come through one of there albums in awhile.

 

8. Devin Townsend- Deconstruction 6.20.2011 Label:HevyDevy Records/InsideOut Music (Canada)

Deconstruction bounces around a bit but overall, this album was pretty spectacular for me. It features an array of musicians creating many different layers within the album. Devin Townsend is brilliant and I’ve really come to enjoy his work, the more I listen to it the more it grows on me.

 

9. Nader Sadek- In the Flesh 5.16.2011 Label: Season of Mist (United States)

Nader Sadek is a metal super group that consists ex-members of Morbid Angel, Mayhem, Vader, Cryptopsy, Zyklon…and In The Flesh carries some mean heavy riffs that make it a solid death metal album. I would have expected something more like this on the most recent Morbid Angel album.

 

10. Warbringer- Worlds Torn Asunder 9.26.2011 Label: Century Media Records(United States)

This album packs plenty of speed and maintains a high level of energy. It’s a balanced modern day thrash album think Warbringer has really amped up the thrash scene and have truly revitalized the genre.

 

Miguel’s Top 15 albums of 2011

# 15  Nemesea – The Quiet Resistance

Nemesea’s third full length album was a surprise for me, the band had change so much and the level of their music has grown so much as well, and I am very happy for that. The Quiet Resistance is full of new directions and influences, that can be found on tracks like Caught On The Middle, Afterlife or my favorite Whenever. The voice of Manda is more powerful than ever, and the rest of the band sounds amazing. A great album by a constant growing band.

 

# 14  Midnattsol – The Metamorphosis Of Melody

Midnattsol came back this year with The Metamorphosis Melody a more progressive album, than it’s predecessor Nordly’s but keeping their roots on folk metal. the album presents us with songs like Korg Valemons Kamp, Spellbound, My re-creation and Forlorn. Many of the lyrics are based on love, personal experiences and norwegian tales thanks to the influence of Carmen Espenæs the singer of the band. The Metamorphosis Of Melody is a great album to relax and just enjoy a fairytale of harmony.

 

# 13  Symfonia – In Paradisum

Symfonia begun as a project by Timo Tolki (ex-Stratovarius) aided by Andre Matos (ex-Angra, Shaaman) and Uli Kusch (ex-Helloween) the supergroup presented In Paradisum. An album full of great and complex melodies, you can find influences of the member’s previous work with other projects, but not a similitude to their sound. The concept is based on the idea of a post modern world after the information revolution. Tracks like Field Of Avalon, Santiago, Pilgrim Road are the best out of this release.

# 12 Draconian – A Rose For The Apocalypse

Draconian has been the leading band in gothic doom metal for quite a while now, A Rose For The Apocalypse is a masterpiece of sorrow and sadness. Dark and melodic, the band propose nothing new to the genre, but in the contrary they present a traditional well done gothic doom metal album. Some of the tracks to watch out for are: Elysian night, Last Hour Of Ancient Sunlight, and A Phantom Dissonance. Unfortunately the band parted ways with their female singer Lisa Johansson a couple months ago.

#11 Thulcandra – Under A Frozen Sun

Thulcandra took me by surprise with this release, as the side project of Steffen Kummerer guitar player of the technical death metal band Obscura, the project is a total opposite to Obscura, the sound is totally based on old school death metal. You can listen strong influences of Dissection and The Unanimated, Under A Frozen Sun is just a kick in the face that it would make you head bang non stop to tracks like, Black Flags Of Hell, Gates Of Eden, and Echoing Voices. I really would like to see this band live, unfortunately so far is not tour plans due to timing and other band compromises of the band members.

#10 Van Canto  - Break The Silence

I never thought that metal could exist without electric instruments, but Van Canto has proved me wrong, since their debut in 2006, and after their performance in Wacken Open Air 2008 their fame as the only “metal a capella” band in the world has growing a lot. This year they released Break The Silence, a really well produce album full of fine songs like Seller Of Souls, Neuer Wind, Black Winds Of Hate, and a cover of Primo Victoria by Sabaton. Break The Silence is  full of vocal talent that without using conventional instruments, besides the drums will put you to head bang from the first to the last track.

#9 MaYan – Quarterpast

Out the mind of Mark Jansen (Epica) came this idea of a more aggressive form of Symphonic metal, for this Mark was joined by some of his partners of Epica including Simone Simmons who recorded back vocals for some of the tracks. MaYan is a project that speak for itself and that is way different from Epica in music and content. Their debut album Quaterpast is an album full of progressions in a death metal context that combined with symphonic elements results on a opus of violent proportions. The most impressive tracks on this album are, Symphony Of Aggression, Course Of life, Bite The Bullet, War On Terror and Drown The Demon.

#8 ChThonic – Takasago Army

Taiwanese demons Chthonic returned on 2011 with Takasago Army the closing episode of the “souls reposed trilogy” that started with Seediq Bale back in 2006, the album is based on the stories of Taiwanese soldiers that fought with the Japanese army against Chinese forces during WWII. Musically is the best album the band has put out so far, is straight forward extreme metal with some oriental folk instruments that add the identity component to their music, my favorite tracks on Takasago Army are, Takao, The Island, Broken Jade, Oceanquake and Quell the Souls of Sing Ling Temple.

#7 Arkona – Slovo

Russian pagan metal band Arkona released Slovo at the beginning of fall. It was a surprise to me how folky and more melodic was these album in relation to Goi Rode Goi of 2009. The album is a mixture of progressions and folk melodies with lyrics obviously about slavic mythology, a great album full of little treasures and epic pagan songs like, Leshy, Stenka Na Stenku, Az, and Zakliatie.

#6 Ancient Bards – Soulless Child

The biggest surprise on my top 15, Ancient Bards is a Italian Symphonic on the tradition of Rhapsody Of Fire, but with a fresh approach to the saga storytelling. Soulless Child is the second chapter of the black crystal sword saga. a story of sorcery, betrayal and a race to conquer the world and those who want to save it. The musical level on the album is amazing, the best tracks are To The Master Of Darkness, Soulless Child, Gates Of Nolan and Struggle For Life.

#5 Serenity – Death & Legacy

The third studio album of Serenity is a full roller coaster of melody and history, and I say this because the album is full of historical characters and events, which is what makes this album so appealing to me. The musical work is astonish and the band included guesses like Charlotte Wessels of Delain, Ailyn of Sirenia and Amanda Somerville whose work with Avantasia, Kamelot & Trillum is well known. The best tracks of this album are Serenate Of Flames, The Chevalier, Far From Home, and Youngest Of Widows.

#4 HELL – Human Remains

After 30 years a band that was forgotten on time returned. HELL, was part of the NWOBHM back in the 80′s, but for unknown reasons never got the recognition they deserved like their peers of Iron Maiden, Saxon or Def Leppard. Their album Human Remains is a collection of satanic work that bring back that sense of fear and censorship to the heavy metal genre. Supported and the joined by producer Andy Sneap, the band delivered a HELL of musical debauchery and blasphemy that has been absent of the metal scene in years, songs like On Earth As It Is In Hell, Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us, Blasphemy And The Master, and The Devils Deadly Weapon.

#3 Leaves Eyes – Meredead

Norwegian/German gothic metal band Leaves Eyes arrived this year with their 4rd studio album Meredead, a more melodic and mature album than it’s predecessor Njord. with the aid of guesses like Maite Itoiz and John Kelly of Elfenthal on the track Tell Tale Eyes which is the most folky song of the whole album, Liv Kristine also included her own sister Carmen of Midnattsol for the song Sigrlinn. Mereadead is so far the best album that Leaves Eyes has recorded so far, the production and the execution are amazing. Some of the best tracks besides the ones named above are, Krakevisa, Velvet Heart, Meredead and Mine Taror Er Ei Grimme.

 

#2 Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions

After a silence of four long years Arch Enemy emerged triumphant with a kick ass record in 2011, and I say this because literally this album will blow your mind, the guitar work of the Amott brothers, and Angela’s voice will rip your soul apart. The idea behind the album screams just one thing, REVOLUTION, songs like Yesterday Is Dead And Gone, Bloodstained Cross and No Gods No Masters are the hymns of this Khaos Legions. A call to question those in power, don’t get me wrong this is no a political album, but an awaking call for change. The production work and the clean guitars made this album a must have to any metal head. Other great tracks of this release are, Under Black Flags We March, Through The Eyes Of A Raven and Cult Of Chaos.

#1 Nightwish  - Imaginaerum

Finally the best record for me in 2011 goes to Nightwish 7th studio album, Imaginaerum. I know this record could go on the best of 2012, but talent has to be recognized where it belongs and the work that the Finnish quintet put on this album is amazing. Tuomas Holopainen had created a masterpiece that I haven’t listen in years since Sirenia’s Nine Destinies and a Downfall (2007),  Tristania’s Beyond The Veil (1999) or Theater Of Tragedy ‘s Velvet Darkness They Fear (1996).

The band really revamped their sound and make it more epic and bombastic that before, a real adaptation to the new path the band decided to take years ago. Imaginaerum is a new concept on album making with phenomenal orchestrations and a diversity of influences from movie soundtracks, jazz, blues and of course classical music, a real masterpiece. Tracks to be listen of this album, hmmm! listen the whole thing from beginning to end, I have a couple songs that I like. I Want My Tears Back and Scaretale. But generally the whole album is astonish.

Tony’s Metal/Hard Rock Top 10 of 2011


1. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

This immediately shot up to the top of this chart as soon as I heard it. Dave
Grohl and gang really knocked it out of the park with this album, which was
recorded analog in Dave’s garage. It rocks from beginning to end.
Favorite tracks: Bridge Burning, Rope, White Limo, Miss The Misery

 

2. Opeth – Heritage

Stripping out the death metal in their music is nothing new, but this is not
Damnation 2.0 by any stretch of the imagination. The lyrics are still moody and
dark, but accompanied by something much more musically refined. It’s certainly
different, but it’s still great.
Favorite tracks: The Devil’s Orchard, I Feel The Dark, The Lines In My Hand

 

3. Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising

This band can do no wrong. They have never strayed far from their formula, yet
it still seems to work album after album. The songs just want to make you grab
the nearest sword and charge into battle.
Favorite tracks: War Of The Gods, Destroyer Of The Universe, Slaves of Fear,
For Victory or Death

 

4. Anthrax – Worship Music

Although considered one of the “Big 4,” they always received the least amount
of attention and never achieved the status of their counterparts. Honestly, this is
the first Anthrax album I’ve cared about in years. Belladonna is back and sounds
fantastic behind the mic. Hopefully it won’t be 7 or 8 years before the next
album.
Favorite tracks: Earth On Hell, Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t, Judas Priest

 

5. Obscura – Omnivium

Fans of Necrophagist are so happy that Christian Müenzner and Johannes
Grossman left and joined Obscura, as they have easily filled any voids in the
tech-death scene. Hopefully they can keep putting out quality material every
couple years so we’re not left waiting forever on a new Necrophagist album.
Favorite tracks: Septuagint, Ocean Gateways, Celestial Spheres

 

 

6. Mastodon – The Hunter

Never hopped on the Mastodon train with everyone else, but the last two albums
have certainly grabbed my attention. The band members are undoubtedly
talented musicians, but it now seems that they’ve been able to reign in their
madness and focus it into really powerful tracks.
Favorite tracks: Black Tongue, Curl Of The Burl, Octopus Has No Friends

 

7. Cauldron – Burning Fortune

A NWOBHM revival has swept over the metal landscape and this band has
caught my attention. The energy on this album is fantastic, raw and feels good.
There’s no telling how long this trend and band will be around, but for now, I’m
glad they’re here.
Favorite tracks: All Or Nothing, Tears Have Come, Queen Of Fire

 

8. Machine Head – Unto The Locusts

Since Through the Ashes of Empires, Machine Head have really been on a roll.
Long gone are the rap, nu-metal days…these days, the band are focused on
bringing metal with no frills and no nonsense. It seems as though Machine Head
is simply getting better with age.
Favorite tracks: Locust, Darkness Within, Who We Are

 

9. Unearth – Darkness In The Light

There’s a soft place in my metal heart for Unearth. There really is no “WOW”
factor with them, but they consistently put out well-written, catchy metal tunes.
This new album is certainly no exception. Ken Susi and crew have done it again
with a solid album.
Favorite tracks: Watch It Burn, Shadows In The Light, Arise The War Cry

 

10. Psycho – Pain Addict Pigs

I originally heard this album at the end of 2010 and although it wasn’t officially
released until January of this year, there was no question this album would make
the list. The nastiest thing out of Singapore is Psycho. It’s black/death/thrash/
rock blend is killer and vocalist Penny Torture would probably not think twice
about devouring your carcass for breakfast.
Favorite tracks: Pain Addict Pigs, Meat Slit Grinder, Revenge Of The Raging
Whore

 

Comeback of the year: Decapitated – Carnival Is Forever

Losing your drummer in an auto accident is terrible. Losing your brother is even more
tragic. However, Wacław “Vogg” Kiełtyka decided to continue the band, something his
brother would have wanted. Decapitated managed to come back and put out a solid
album. It’s great to have them back.

 

Disappointment of the year: Morbid Angel – Illud Divinum Insanus

No album in 8 years and THIS is what we get? Disappointment does not even begin to
describe this album. Morbid Angel…you have left many of us in tears.

Jonathan’s Top 10 of 2011

If I had to describe this year in a single word, it would be “revival”. Many of the bands I’ve found myself placing on this list are reviving different styles of metal and making them totally unique and fresh again. It’s fantastic to see so many bands bring back these great styles of music and make it their own. But before we get to the positive, it’s time for me to give my annual Fireplace Award. I give this award out every year to the band whose album that was released this year has only one purpose: BURNING. To keep you warm. This year, I give that award to a group of people whose pretentiousness is only surpassed by how god awful their record is…and most of you love them.

Ghost – Opus Eponymous

Okay, what the hell metalheads? Everyone’s been buzzing about this album all year, so I decide to give it a spin. It starts off boring…and doesn’t change throughout the entire disc. The band, led by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his co-conspirators, portray this image of “We are srs Satan worshippers LOL!” and it has the distinct honor of coming up as neither serious nor funny but instead incredibly pretentious. It’s like they’re trying to be King Diamond…except they’ve failed miserably. What makes this worse than the beaten-to-a-dead-horse Lulu and the nu-Korn masterpiece Illud Divinum Insanus? We actually knew both of those would suck. This one is just totally bland and contrived on a different level.

And now without further ado…my top 10:

TOP 10:

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10: Helms Alee – Weatherhead

This release came out quite some time ago and is probably the most unique band on this list (with the exception of my top album). They cover so much ground in their music, from songs you can sing along to (Elbow Grease) to definite heavy stuff (8/16) to even really pretty, subdued music (Music Box). And those are just the first three real tracks (excluding the intro). Just imagine where the rest of the album goes.

 

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9: Indian – Guiltless

This is, without a doubt, the heaviest album to come out all year. I mean Jesus fuck, can an album be this heavy? It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite here because the whole album is just fantastic. Seriously. If you want just pure, unadulterated heavy, go listen right now.

 

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8: Cloudkicker – Let Yourself Be Huge

When Beacons (Cloudkicker’s previous album) came out, it totally threw me off guard. I had never heard anything like it to that point, and it hit number 3 of the best albums of the year last year. This release is noticeably different. Gone is the heaviness, technicality – hell, everything about Beacons is disappeared on this release. However, this just goes to show the sheer talent of Mr. Ben Sharp, the architect of this project: it’s really really good and deserving of a listen from front to back. Also, the inclusion of vocals on the title track are very Cloudkicker-esque and don’t come off as unnecessary at all, which is fantastic.

 

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7: Scale the Summit – The Collective

The Collective marks both something old and new for Scale the Summit. In terms of old, it’s still straight instrumental, without most of the wankity wank wank guitar that comes from this genre as of late. However, it’s much heavier than anything they’ve put out prior. Many of the songs on this release are real headbangers (The Levitated, Colossal) and Black Hills is likely the most epic song they’ve ever written. I honestly can’t wait for where they’ll go next.

 

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6: Hammers of Misfortune – 17th Street

John Cobbett (ex-Ludicra and Slough Feg) has been making metal extremely different for years, all the while relating it to current issues. This album, 17th Street, talks about various topics here, from the collapse of the Lehman Brothers bank (Staring) and bankruptcy (17th Street) and the impact of gentrification on the music scene (The Day the City Died). However, despite the new-school topics, the music is definitely firmly rooted in the music of old – particularly the NWOBHM scene. And HOM brings that scene to new heights with this album. From the dual leads of the title track to the somber sound of The Grain, this is definitely a bit of a classic for the NWOBHM scene.

 

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5: East of the Wall – The Apologist

East of the Wall is this extremely technical band out of Brooklyn, New York. The Apologist is on par with Ressentiment, which coincidentally was on my top 10 of last year. The album flows a lot better than Ressentiment did. It’s great to just listen all in one go. The mix between clean vocals and growls is better than most technical bands as well. One of those few albums this year that is both really complex and you can headbang to.

 

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4: Junius – Reports from the Threshold of Death

Junius has always been known for throwing some of the most viscerally intense live shows around. With their new album (on Prosthetic Records, who’ve been taking some artistic risks with this release), they come really close to melding that live sound with the recorded sound. The emotion that went into this release (keep in mind that the subject matter here is death) is evident, and the final track (Eidolon and Perspirit) is absolutely gorgeous and is one of the best songs released all year long. If you’re into really emotional music, this is what you need to listen to immediately.

 

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3: Devin Townsend – Deconstruction

Now, I remember when this whole four-album series was announced. I listened to both Ki and Addicted and they were great for what they were. But I couldn’t help but miss the Ziltoid and Strapping Young Lad-esque Devy.

Welcome to Deconstruction.

First off, this could not have been pulled off by Mr. Townsend himself. Virtually everyone important from the left field of metal pitched in, from Emperor’s Ihsahn to The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato, and many many more. An orchestra was involved. It’s definitely massive, though sometimes it can buckle underneath the pressure of its own greatness.

 

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2: Rwake – Rest

This album is the stuff that defines a genre. It hits a peak that sludge metal has never truly hit. This is the realization of what sludge metal can be: an absolutely bleak sound that just lays you fucking flat on the ground. The concept of this album is the end of days. And trust me, it sounds like it. You’ll probably never hear anything this bleak this decade, and I’m willing to bet that many bands will try to aspire to write this record, but they will fail. The impact that this record will leave will be seen sometime in the future.

 

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1. Cormorant – Dwellings

First off, before I explain why this is the album of the year over everything else, keep in mind that this album’s been out less than a month (as of writing, that is).

Alright, here we go.

Cormorant has accomplished something absolutely fucking monumental with Dwellings. For starters, they’re completely unsigned. Everything they do is 100% independent of a label, entirely self-funded. Now here’s what makes them special: the music they write is miles better than many other bands on different labels.

Dwellings is a realization of what this band can do. It’s a perfect amalgamation of their influences, from the post-black metal core to the folk/old school metal that the songs are built around. It’s absolutely perfect. Every single nuance of this album is just perfect. This album features some of the most gorgeous guitar work around, yet some of the most brutal as well. This is by far the most unique, great, original thing released this year. The emotion in this record is extremely evident with every word out of Arthur Von Nagel’s mouth. Even the artwork is amongst the best of the year. What you see above is only a small sliver of it.

This is the only album I’ve listened to this year that truly just got me. It’s really that good.

Elsthon’s Top 10 Albums of 2011

1.) Insomnium – One For Sorrow: Insomnium, a Finnish band that for years have been climbing the ranks of Melodic death metal has created their most distinctive and concise album. Clearly with One For Sorrow they have become one of the forerunners for the genre. One For Sorrow is an album that truly shows Insomnium’s place in the pantheon of Melodic death metal with its tight heavy guitar riffs and soaring melodies. The album starts with Inertia, an instrumental track that builds up for the first single of the album Through the Shadows. The album continues with its melodic assault with some highlights being Song of the Blackest Bird, Unsung, the epic Lay the Ghost to Rest and Regain the Fire. Being Finnish they are like their counterparts across the pond in Sweden, yet Insomnium clearly has their own distinctive sound and have been carefully crafting that sound throughout their years making this Finnish Melodic Death Metal at its finest.

2.) Septic Flesh – The Great Mass: Septic Flesh is one of the premier acts to come out of Greece since Rotting Christ. Septic Flesh plays a mixture of Blackened Death metal like Behemoth however Septic Flesh stands out with its symphonic elements and not more clearly than The Great Mass. With Great Mass (and their last album Communion) they have employed the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra with guitarist Christos Antoniou, who has a master’s degree in concert music from the London College of Music, composed all the orchestrations. The Great Mass just sounds epic with a full orchestra and with songs like The Vampire of Nazareth, Pyramid God and Oceans of Gray you get the feeling of an evil metal orchestra playing at the pits of Hell.

3.) Vallenfyre – A Fragile King: A newly formed supergroup with such superstars as Gregor Mackintosh and Adrien Erlandsson of Paradise Lost and Hamish Hamilton Glencross of My Dying Bride. With big names in the Doom metal scene you would imagine this to be very doom-like, however Vallenfyre is Death metal in its most purest form. To call A Fragile King a heavy album would not do it justice, this album is monstrous, guitarist Hamish truly made some evil riffs mixed with the extremely low tuning of the guitars and bass and the monstrous vocals of Gregor Mackintosh makes this a spine-chilling listen. Highlights include All Will Suffer, Cathedrals of Dreads and The Grim Irony.

4.) Amorphis – The Beginning of Times: One of the most well-known acts to come from Suomi (or as we call it Finland), Amorphis is a band that can’t be described by mere genre classifications, they are just Amorphis. With this album The Beginning of Times, Amorphis continues on their sound that became present in their album Eclipse with the addition of singer Tomi Joutsen. The Beginning of Time is a concept album about Väinämöinen, an iconic hero of Finnish mythology, which is nothing new since throughout their career the Kalevala, the great epic Finnish poem, was and is used as a primarily source of their lyrics and themes. This album is a culmination of everything they have done in the past while still moving forward with some highlights like Battle for Light, My Enemy and Reformation.

5.) Opeth – Heritage: Opeth, a name that is known throughout the metal community for their brilliant songwriting and musicianship work. Opeth is led by frontman Mikael Akerfeldt who writes all the music and as such is a pivotal part in Opeth (in some way he is Opeth). Heritage is their 10th album and by no means does it show the slow down of the band but it does show a shift once again in their sound. One thing that is shown the biggest shift is the lack of death growls from Mikael, which some have cried foul. However this does not mean that Heritage is a bad album, far from it, Heritage is probably their most interesting release to date. Mikael has been known in the metal circles to be a great fan of obscure progressive rock music and throughout their career Opeth has been shifting to that direction with each album release. Heritage is definitely a very weird album with strange sounds being played from obscure instruments and interesting melodies. Songs like The Devil’s Orchid, I Feel the Dark and Häxprocess greatly show this.

6.) Torchbearer – Death Meditations: Hailing from Sweden this band plays a blend of Melodic death metal mixed with elements of Black and Thrash metal. One thing the members of Torchbearer have in common is that they were (or are still) in bands with Christian Alvestam (yes as former vocalist of Scar Symmetry Christian Alvestam) who plays guitar and does backup vocals for this band Torchbearer. Death Mediations is their third album and by far their best with highly melodic leads, intense drumming and the black metal raspy screams of vocalist of Pär Johansson coupled with the death growls of Christian. Each song is diverse ranging from the highly melodic Coffin-Shaped Heart, to the weird At Takao River, to the black metal styling of Severing to the almost Decrepit Birth riffage of The Aphotic Depths.

7.) Night in Gales – Five Scars: Night in Gale, a band that for years has brought Melodic death metal and the Gothenburg sound to Germany (and were one of the first). Five Scars is a continuation of their sound, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it is a solid release that harkens back to the 90’s Gothenburg scene but with a modern touch. Stand alone tracks like This Neon Grave, the title track and the blistering Endtrip displays the prowess of these veterans in over-bloated scene.

8.) Uneven Structure – Februus: Over these past few years there has been bands clinging to the intense guitar and drum polyrhythmic styling of Meshuggah. Uneven Structure, hailing from both France and Sweden, is one of those bands. However unlike say TesseracT or Vildhjarta these French/Swedish guys know how to create great atmosphere coupled with very groovy riffage. Each song on Februus seems to flow into each other like a puzzle revealing the whole picture that is Februus.

9.) Thulcandra – Under a Frozen Sun: Thulcandra is a relatively new German project from Steffen Kummerer of Obscura fame. Thulcandra is highly influenced by Dissection and as such plays a very blackened sort of Death metal. While their last album Fallen Angel’s Dominion sounded much like an homage to Dissection, Under a Frozen Sun comes off as more of their own work and of a real band. Under a Frozen Sun, like the name, creates a very cold and icy atmosphere with songs like Aeon of Darkness, the title track Under a Frozen Sun and Echoing Voices (A Cold Breeze of Death).

10.) Pagan’s Mind – Heavenly Ecstasy: Pagan’s Mind is a band from Norway that plays a blend of Power/Progressive metal. Heavenly Ecstasy is their newest take on the genre and by the sound of it they haven’t change much from their last album God’s Equation however even with this Heavenly Ecstasy is a very well done album and is in fact better than God’s Equation (a very good album in its self). With songs like Eyes of Fire, Walk Away in Silence, and Revelation to the End, Pagan’s Mind have released a concise album that should not be missed out.

Note From The Editor.

Dear Readers of The Age Of Metal:

I hope you are having a good end of the year, and had enjoy the records that 2011 left us, and like us, are excited about the records that will come out in 2012. The purpose of this note is, first thank you for your support, and second to let you know that we will be releasing out top 10 lists of 2011. But because The Age Of Metal is a conglomerate of writers, we all have different taste in metal, each list will be different. Though all are part of The Age Of Metal, each list is made at discretion of each of the authors. Therefore, there will not be a single top 10 list of best albums of 2011 from The Age Of Metal. Instead, you will have the opportunity to agree or disagree with the choices that each writer makes.

Thank you for your consideration

Yours truly

Miguel Rozo

Director & Editor of The Age Of Metal

Interview with Jarkko of Korpiklaani

Last time Korpiklaani visited the US was almost three years ago, and for some reason I missed their date here in AZ. So when their Ukon Wacka Tour 2011 was announced I cleared my calendar for December 8th. It was my first time seeing them live, I’ve heard the stories that the best way to enjoy a Korpiklaani concert is to be drunk, but I decided  be sober this time so I could tell the tale of it. The band when on stage right after Arkona, and by that time the Russians had already warmed the crowd with some pagan tunes and folky mosh pits, so it won’t take long for the Finnish to reignite the flame again. Playing songs like Wooden Pints, Tequila, Vaarinpolkka, Pine Woods and of course the favorites Beer Beer and Vodka, even they played the cover of Iron Fist by Motorhead, which is the  bonus track on their latest release Ukon Wacka. It was a great show and the energy of the crowd was amazing.

Previous to the show we had the chance to talk with Jarkko, the bass player of the band about Ukon Wacka, their current tour, the video of Tequila and the future plans of the band.

Masha of Arkona checked in with The Age Of Metal

When I received the news that Russian pagan metal band Arkona was confirmed to tour the United States for first time supporting Korpiklaani, I knew I can’t miss them. So the past Thursday they played at The Clubhouse in Tempe,AZ. Their set was composed for songs out of their last two releases Goi Rode Goi & Slovo. So watching the band perform tracks like Arkaim, Zakliatie, Yarilo,Goi Rode Goi and Stenka na Stenku on which Masha singer of Arkona asked the crowd to divide the room in two for a wall of death (which is what the song literally means) the room of The Clubhouse went nuts with a massive moshpit, clear response of the crowd to her petition.

The band was amazing and the energy and charisma of Masha on stage was sublime, I could not expect nothing better that what was delivered that night, pure pagan metal at it’s best delivered by one of the most respectable bands on the genre.

Previous to the show I had the chance to speak with Masha about the album, the writing process, the inspiration behind the lyrics and the future plans of the band. the interview was done with the help of one of the crew members of the band that served as translator because Masha doesn’t speak english.

Show Review: Protest the Hero/Scale the Summit/Last Chance to Reason

Skrappy's

Image courtesy of Tucson Weekly

Tucson, Arizona. Home of Skrappy’s, and the place where the Scurrilous tour just so happened to stop by. I’ve heard pretty okay things about the place, but when Hailey and I arrived, it definitely gave off some kind of sketchy vibes. The whole place was graffiti’d up. More in an artsy style, but it definitely gave some kind of odd vibe unlike any venue I’d ever been to (more on the sketch venue in a bit). Anyway, on with the show!

Last Chance to Reason

First up, Last Chance to Reason. This six-piece (though they currently have five members due to band members leaving) has made a lot of waves since their most recent album Level 2 came out. The music sounds just as good live as it does on record. More importantly, Michael Lessard (the band’s vocalist) has absolutely killer stage presence. Some of the best I’ve seen from an opening band in a while.

Setlist:
Upload Complete
Coded to Fail
Taking Control
Temp Files
Programmed for Battle
Portal/Apotheosis

Chris Letchford of Scale the Summit

Next up, Scale the Summit. I’ve seen this band four times already (three times this past year alone) and they NEVER disappoint. This is perhaps the only band that can play instrumental music without it ever coming off as guitar wankery. Oh, and Black Hills live is still amazing. They don’t really need stage presence because you’re too busy asking yourself, “How do they do that?” They don’t need live visuals. The music speaks for itself.

Setlist:
Balkan/Glacial Planet
Origin of Species
Whales
Gallows
The Levitated
Black Hills
Sargasso Sea

Protest the Hero

Finally, we have Protest the Hero. I suppose this is a good time to mention the glories of Skrappy’s. For starters, if I didn’t see the press release for this tour I wouldn’t have found out about this show: the promoters did not promote. These are bands that could have like 300 people in one night. Secondly, someone should ask what they paid the tour (don’t act like we didn’t know you undercut them, Skrappy’s). Despite all of this, Protest the Hero played one of the best shows I’ve seen, especially with the crowd. Even though there was like 80-100 people there (Rody Walker remarked that it felt like a High School talent show) everyone was moshing and having fun. Rody even held an impromptu Q and A session with the crowd. Their set got cut short by the ever loving curfews of Tucson (though only one song got cut).

All in all, despite being underfunded, Protest the Hero still played a great show and everyone had fun. My personal highlight: Rody yelling at me “Hey Wolfman, stop trying to grab my arm!” because I tried to sing along and had my hand a little too close. All in good fun, of course.