August 1, 2018

2017 Album Of The Year

 (#1) Ne Obliviscaris/Urn (2017)
[Album Rating: Classic 10/10.]
[Country: Australia. Genre: Progressive Black Metal.]


June 22, 2017

2016 Album Of The Year

 (#1) Vektor/Terminal Redux (2016)
[Album Rating: Classic 10/10.]
[Country: USA. Genre: Progressive Thrash Metal.]


June 7, 2016

2015 Top 5

 (#1) Horrendous/Anareta (2015)
[Album Rating: Classic 10/10.]
[Country: USA. Genre: Death Metal.]


 (#2) Mgla/Exercises In Futility (2015)
[Album Rating: Classic 10/10.]
[Country: Poland. Genre: Black Metal.]


 (#3) My Dying Bride/Feel The Misery (2015)
[Album Rating: Near-Classic 9/10.]
[Country: UK. Genre: Doom Metal.]

 (#4) Visigoth/The Revenant King (2015)
[Album Rating: Near-Classic 9/10.]
[Country: USA. Genre: Power Metal.]

 (#5) Avatarium/The Girl With The Raven Mask (2015)
[Album Rating: Near-Classic 9/10.]
[Country: Sweden. Genre: Doom Metal.]

January 6, 2015

2014 Top 5

(#1) Ne Obliviscaris/Citadel (2014)
[Album Rating: Classic 10/10.]
[Country: Australia. Genre: Progressive Black/Death.]


 (#2) Primordial/Where Greater Men Have Fallen (2014)
[Album Rating: Classic 10/10.]
[Country: Ireland. Genre: Celtic Black Metal.]


(#3) Judas Priest/Redeemer Of Souls (2014)
[Album Rating: Near-Classic 9/10.]
[Country: UK. Genre: Classic Metal.]

(#4) Hoth/Oathbreaker (2014)
[Album Rating: Near-Classic 9/10.]
[Country: USA. Genre: Melodic Death/Black.]

 (#5) Triptykon/Melana Chasmata (2014)
[Album Rating: Near-Classic 9/10.]
[Country: Switzerland. Genre: Gothic Death.]

May 27, 2014

DARKEST ERA Interview (May 27, 2014)

1. Thank you for doing the interview. With mere days remaining prior to the severing of the ropes holding down the new album, SEVERANCE, is the band getting pretty excited, or what?

ADE MULGREW (GUITARS:) Definitely! It's been over a year since we wrote and recorded this album, a long and arduous road for sure and it's great to finally have the war machine turning! I've been looking forward to the release immensely, especially getting my hands on the vinyl.

2. Upon hearing the first two released promo tracks -- Sorrow's Boundless Realm and Trapped In The Hourglass -- we were suddenly stoked. We immediately felt a more driving, aggressive soundscape being achieved by Darkest Era. Are you intending to take a somewhat gritter approach going forward, or is that just how this album turned out as compared to The Last Caress Of Light?

ADE: A rougher, grittier tone was something we had wanted before recording this album, yes. The first album had each guitar double tracked so there was an atmospheric wall of sound vibe to it. While this is great the intricacies of some of the playing can get a little lost sometimes. This time myself and Sarah chose to have just one guitar track each on there. The result is that the dynamic of the playing comes through a lot more; you can hear the bite of the strings and the amps being pushed into overdrive, and because the songs were shaping up to be a bit darker and more aggressive it worked out very well I think.

3. It must be stated that one could not dream up a more generic name for a recording studio than "Data Recording Studios"! Nonetheless, having listened twice through an advance copy of the entire recording, from our copious salivating we can clearly see the results speaking for themselves... This album takes it to the next level! Was the recording process smooth and relatively painless, or did you have to really work it to get all the parts flowing together so well?

ADE: Well, a couple of people did ask us what the hell we were doing in County Kerry recording a metal album, haha. The studio was residential and isolated which is what we were after. We knew we would be flying Chris Fielding over to produce again so it was more a case of making sure he was happy with the facilities to be honest. As it turned out though it's a great studio, and the in-house engineer there has put out some great records himself. It’s quite a large building with an absolutely huge live room which was amazing for getting the perfect drum sound. The place used to be a factory which made jam, so why they called it 'Data' and not 'The Jam Factory is beyond me, haha. The recording process wasn't stressful as such, but rather it was extremely intense. We were still working on arrangements and vocal melodies in the studio, as well as lyrics. We would work from 11am until 2 or 3 am most days, and on the last day we went right through the night until the next morning. Every second of every minute was focused on the record, because we knew that's what it would take to get it done. You undergo a sort or reality shift when you work like that; coming out of it is a part relief and part melancholy - a bit like after a long tour really.

4. Speaking of hard work, those in-the-know know that Darkest Era have become one of the very hardest working bands in Ireland and the UK (with several European appearances also under the belt at this point). This gigging has paid off in terms of the Metal Blade and Cruz Del Sur record contracts, and also in terms of allowing the largest number of metal fans to become entranced! Does the band (as Darkest Era, since 2007) have an official gig count? What # are you at?

ADE: I honestly wouldn't have a clue, but it's not as many as you'd imagine really. We're not the kind of band to play our local venues week in week out, audiences soon get sick of you around here! Normally we play the main Irish cities once or twice a year, often enough to not be forgotten but seldom enough that there is still a good level of anticipation when we play. We've done three good tours now but we would love to get out on a really long run as part of a big package tour. We really don't play half as often as all of us would like.

5. Having just two months ago headlined the North Of The Wall festival in Glasgow, would you say that you could get used to being Festival headliners?

ADE: There's a lot of waiting around and a lot less time for drinking, hehe, but it was nice to do something like this for sure. It's not something we've done much of before. We're some way off headlining anything other than quite small festivals, but one of the things we're looking forward to is hitting the European festival circuit. There are a bunch of festivals right across Europe that we would love to play and hopefully now we'll get the chance to hit some of them on this album cycle.

6. Fans are in for some fun as deeper album tracks such as The Serpent And The Shadow really grab the listener by the jugular. There will be a thousand screaming souls on the day this opus sees the light! Speaking of which, we noted a terrific, uninhibited and very-metal, almost Paul Di'Anno-esque "Yowow!" at the end of the seventh track, A Thousand Screaming Souls. I guess this answers question #3: you were having fun in the studio! Was 'the scream' also a result of a collective sense that the group was really nailing it this time, with Severance?

ADE: Well I think it was a very consciously cheeky 'Iron Maiden' moment. That song is pure heavy metal and that stabbing ending was just crying out for it, so why not. We're a heavy metal band at the end of the day, and Severance is to us a heavy metal album. It's almost a dirty word these days. You won't find any Joy Division references, faux retro occult 70s bullshit, or 'post-whatever' in our music. We're a heavy metal band, through and through.

7. Better than pirated wares, of course, yes, but, are the Spotify royalty checks really as paltry as we've heard?

ADE: I think we're the wrong band to ask there. Being underground and relatively unknown you can't expect to get very much, if anything at all from the likes of Spotify. You'd have to ask a band who was getting much more substantial plays and record sales, but from what I understand it's pretty poor yes. I do believe this will eventually change though, especially as the power gap between labels, bands, and distros change. Streaming music is the future.

8. Recent events in the news suggest that the tense peace in Northern Ireland is being tested. Just from your perspective, is N. Ireland 100 miles away from returning to The Troubles, or are things actually worse than those of us outside the country could be aware of?

ADE: As with all of these things, the media portrayal of the current state of affairs often paints a highly exaggerated picture. There are very small pockets of resistance to the peace process and it only takes a few extremists and isolated incidents of violence to make the headlines. The vast majority of people here want to leave the past behind, and that's the key difference between now and 30 years ago. There is no support whatsoever for these dissident groups and that's why we won't return to those days. 

9. Will an upcoming video serve any hint as to whether the girl in the An Ancient Fire Burns video actually survived her entombment? Hey, we can hope, right?

ADE: I'm afraid not, that story remains unsolved for now :)  We're currently editing the video so it will be out soon, and it is for a song that we feel is the thematic centrepiece of the album so we're very excited. Who knows though, we may pick up the thread again on the next album.

Enjoy the Severance touring cycle and your guaranteed new crowd of additional fans, and....Thank you!!

ADE: Thanks for the support!

For further study:

1. Bliss out with the An Ancient Fire Burns video:

2. Examine the Darkest Era Facebook page
3. Yell for June to hurry up and show up, and then pick up your copy of Darkest Era's SEVERANCE wherever fine metallic gems are sold.

April 25, 2014

7 Demons Of The Fall -- Appreciating Opeth's progressive death metal decade: 1995-2005
Iron Maiden did it. Black Sabbath didn't do it.

In fact, very few bands have produced a string of seven straight phenomenal, absolutely Grade A+ METAL albums without a clunker, or at least without an album that was merely "great" but not "phenomenal". (Opeth also released Damnation during this time, but that was not a metal album, and it is thus not included in this count.)

With the absolutely dreamy, sensational genre-defining 2-album deathpunch of ORCHID (1995), and MORNINGRISE (1996), Opeth from the very first moment of In Mist She Was Standing enshrined themselves in the hall of fame as one of the very greatest metal, and rock, groups of all time. The genius dripping from these two unbelievably inspired slabs of licorice pizza is captivating. Opeth would go on to produce other sounds (they are progressive, note), but they were never better than they were on these two albums.

Then came the very end-of-the-millennium's finest recorded musical offerings, the twin mind-benders, the astounding MY ARMS YOUR HEARSE (1998), and STILL LIFE (1999). Now incorporating what would become their signature style of their classic progressive death metal years, Opeth had sealed the deal at this point. After Iron Maiden before them, and Black Sabbath even before them, Opeth were now the ultimate expression of heavy music. And not just heavy, of course... melodic, nuanced, intelligent....freaking sublime.

2001 brought one of the most famous institutions of the recorded medium, BLACKWATER PARK. Unanimously praised for sticking perfect 10s in terms of both style & substance -- and again, doing so in their newer style which was more accessible than Orchid and Morningrise -- Opeth's members chiseled in a few of the words that would be on their various gravestones many years from now: "created Blackwater Park". Rightfully to be praised forever by rock critics and fans the world over, this was the band's true watershed.

Reaching deep to, in many ways, actually surpass Blackwater Park, the gentlemen came right back with their heaviest hit, the massive and inescapably beautiful and devastating DELIVERANCE (2002). Truly the ultimate statement by this band at their absolute creative peak, Deliverance represents pure love to any metal fan with a properly trained ear. Life needed to not even continue and we would have died happy...

But it did continue. Being Opeth's final A+ METAL album of this period, GHOST REVERIES shyly did not appear until 2005. But like any ghost worth it's corpse-paint, Ghost Reveries did appear -- and it's effect was lingering and permanent. Having carried us all Under The Weeping Moon (from their debut album) in pure audio ecstasy all these years, there was time for one last transportation: past The Baying Of The Hounds, and through the Harlequin Forest, until the possessing final climax of The Grand Conjuration, we felt enraptured -- as we had been for the entire previous decade -- and we were utterly captured forever by the 7 Demons Of The Fall... the 7 life-definingly glorious metal albums of one of the very greatest bands ever to strike a chord.

March 10, 2014

Slough Feg cannot resist everything digital as they disseminate Digital Resistance

 Slough Feg/Digital Resistance (2014)-Review:
[Album Rating: Near-Classic 9/10.]
[Country: USA. Genre: Heavy Metal.]

Friends, Slough Feg have produced a fine slab for their new label Metal Blade. This comes as no surprise to anyone because EVERYONE falls into one of two categories: (A) Person knows about Slough Feg and their extended history of tasty, cerebral classic heavy metal -- thus there is no surprise upon hearing a groovy set of SF tunes like this one; OR (B) Person does not know about heavy metal at all and thus would express only confusion, not surprise, when informed that The Lord Weird Slough Feg has assembled another rip-roaring kick-ass romp of metallic proportions.

The fact that this album is available digitally (and we actually purchased it digitally) presents only a slight setback en route to the greater goal of resisting the digital takeover of our lives. Scalzi & Company have a clever concept behind this album, making an appeal for sanity that almost no one ever makes anymore...

At the very least do not insanely multi-task when listening to this album! If tweeting, selfie-ing, and Facebooking your March Madness partialities must be done, honor the creators and please complete those crucial actions when this tape/vinyl/MP3 is not running! 

In a nutshell: Digital Resistance is a particularly tightly crafted album -- at its very best on resident scorchers such as Laser Enforcer which features cascading riffage that will leave you at once satisfied and clawing for more.