Metal Moments, 2018 Edition

“I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters: not the mortgage, not the store, not my team and all their bullshit. For those ten seconds or less, I’m free.” – said that guy from ‘The Fast and the Furious’. But it applies to all sorts of fanatics, whether it’s music or cars. Try living a concert at a time – and for those ten seconds of fast and furious deathly riffs, you are free. For some, a year can be simply about those collective 10 second memories.

Few months ago on my way to a Neurosis concert, I actually ran into their bassist Dave Edwardson. For a second it was difficult to believe. Fifteen feet away from crossing each other, I just stopped and looked at him. He noticed that puzzled look on the guy wearing Vader T-shirt, and simply acknowledged with a nod and a friendly smile. If this was a fortunate accident, running into Thomas Gabriel Fischer at an L.A. Koreatown Denny’s is what some might call a windfall. And this was the morning after we saw him perform a full Celtic Frost setlist. “Circle of the Tyrants” played live – as good a metal moment as it can get.

Entombed was among the most stunning live experiences of 2017, but was sort of quickly eclipsed by this year’s Easter Weekend tryst with Mayhem. Watching De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas playing out live – is as good a life moment as it can get?

But it’s not always just about epic moments, sometimes it can be epic with a touch of weird. After all metal sub-culture resides right at the fringes of civic society. For instance, Krisiun opening for Suffocation was an absolute high, but watching these death metal greats at a Salsa bar was a tad unusual. Outside the venue it was a richter scale 5.5 earthquake — walls vibrating and shutters rumbling with every dissonant note. The venue was simply not built for death metal. Well, if this was just whimsy, Dying Fetus show was positively bizarre. Midway into their setlist, Sean Beasley said — “Everyone’s welcome on stage, let’s f*** this sh*t up”. Of course, after that announcement, stage diving was off-the-charts! It was like watching an extreme metal video, people swarming on to the podium, but only this time it is unscripted. Madness went on till the event organizer came on stage and pleaded.

Unexpected moments can also sometimes leave a deeper mental imprint, and they need not be Dying Fetus level audacious. It can be just about drinking À Tout le Monde beer (Megadeth beer) and crashing a Red Fang show, even though you have tickets for Armored Saint. Or headbanging to Mastodon in an open air arena, while enduring some pacific northwest drizzle. Or all those moments when you are reminded, metalheads are fortunate for affordable tickets, and thoroughly spoiled for getting to experience legends like Paradise Lost and Morbid Angel up-close at small venues.

But there are rare disappointments too, like the new Amorphis record, and how deeply detached it is from their Black Sabbath roots. Or that moment when you read about the next leg of Slayer’s “final” tour once again passing through town – but this time only with a slightly different set of opening bands. But, highs outweigh the lows, thanks to engaging conversations and stunning riffs.

Metal X-mas and a Heavy New Year to all!

Review: 23 Acez – Embracing the Madness

23 Acez - Embracing the Madness

Prog/Heavy metallers from Belgium, 23 Acez, have been around since 2010, and they have recently returned with their third album “Embracing the Madness.” Why the hell didn’t I know about them earlier? Now, thanks to the PR wire, I got a promo copy of the mentioned release, which is a real t(h)reat. 

The style that 23 Acez plays is pretty standard, comparing somewhat with more traditionalist ‘80s metal throwbacks, yet they manage to sound different and fresh when compared with a lot of the other bands that attempt to play in this particular style.

Benny Willaert’s vocals are gravely and rough, standing at the very center of the counter-tenor wails of Rob Halford and the husky baritone of Blaze Bailey. During the choruses of such catchy anthems as “Cellbound” and “Embracing the Madness” the vocal work almost punches past the rest of the arrangement. While he doesn’t soar into the higher stratosphere in the manner that most in the genre do, he more than compensates with sheer power.

Although the voice alone gives this album a heavy yet melodic edge, the entire arrangement pounds the sonic threshold of the listener into submission. Whether its faster songs like or down tempo stomping machines, there is a consistent picture of a mighty fist slamming itself down on a stone table and commanding your undivided attention.

“Embracing the Madness” is a powerful statement from a band that is hungry to show what their abilities are, and according to this they have much more to offer. Grab this record, you’ll not regret.

Review: Barry Weinberg – Samsarana

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Fresh from the warm South Florida, comes a prog rock veteran Barry Weinberg, with his debut album “Samsarana” dropping January 25th.

The fifteen-piece musical beast of a debut appears very much ready to stand next to plethora of amazing albums that the genre gave birth to over the years.

After short and atmospheric intro titled “Conception,” forward comes “Creation” leading off with a very Floydian feel and with a full sized chorus following all verses, it seems there may be an easy ride ahead for more cautious listeners. “Welcome to my World” is a laid-back stripped down acoustic piece with Weinberg’s voice over leading to “This Vicious Circle,” which sees Weinberg’s circling melody wash over the pebbles and steal away the shoreline behind, whereas “Come Out and Play” is a groovy and funny little piece.

“Beyond the Astral Sky” kicks in through a silent verse, attacking with a slightly alternative-flavoured chorus, and some sharp instrumentation, before the leviathan-sized hook belonging to “Taking it All” take things to a further level, with occasional hard rock sprinkle. We hear the same good work kept up through “Endless Sea” and “A Passage of Time,” the latter ringing the Genesis influence.

After another instrumental interlude “Perception,” “You Cannot Burn the Fire” comes as, arguably, the heaviest piece, incorporating heavy metal riffing and evil-flavoured singing. “Come My Way” brings in the folk element, while the following “The Way” comes with a steady pace, making for one of the highlights.

“Samsarana” is an absolutely accomplished piece of playing, writing and performance that should see the genre pushed out of its confines.

“Samsarana” is out on January 25th; pre-order it from Barry Weinberg’s official website.

Review: Impera – Weightless

Impera band

Impera from Lisbon prefer to mix their metal with some groove and prog, albeit with the strong emphasis on the ‘metal’ part. The other bands of similar genre orientation place a premium on virtuoso musicianship and highly technical song structures, and while that also figures prominently into Impera’s music, these boys slather it all up in a special sauce that I like to refer to as ‘classic sauce.’ The group’s debut album “Weightless” sounds deliberately rustic and antiqued, like that milk-stained fake money you’d buy at the museum.

But production is not what prods Impera. What stimulates this band’s formidable corpus are five very talented musicians. It’s Daniel Chen, though, who takes home the MVP award on “Weightless”; if drummers are action figures, Chen carries both a rapid-fire uzi (the toms) and an erase-all, double-barreled bazooka (dual-bass drums). I guarantee, he will brutalize you.

Impera - Weightless

Like their metal peers, Impera sport some mathematics. But where Meshuggah get deep into calculus and Dillinger Escape Plan prefer(red)  trigonometry, these guys enjoy the more accessible stuff — we’re talking pre-algebra here. They drop in just enough to keep the arrangements flavourful, but not so much as to overload the vintage guitar riffs with Dream Theater-like complexity. And then they counterbalance it with some nice, old-fashioned, Sabbath-style metal attitude: guitars crunch, wail, and burn. The complete package sounds timeless, but in that unbelievable way that you’ve never heard before.

A great band whose raging, sodden hellfire now beckons you to warm yourself at its side throughout the impending winter months. A band whose crushing, odiferous, sodomizing blade dices like a Popeil cuisinart and runs you through with gruesome exactness. This band is Impera.

Treat yourself with “Weightless” here.

InnerWish – InnerWish – Album Review

Artist: InnerWish Album Title: InnerWish Label: Ulterium Records Date Of Release: 18 March 2016 I’m going to begin this review by stating that I know nothing of InnerWish. Or at least, I didn’t until I decided to give this album a try having been sent the promo. I mean, it would be rude not to […]

https://manofmuchmetal.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/innerwish-innerwish-album-review/

Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again – Album Review

Artist: Thunderstone Album Title: Apocalypse Again Label: AFM Records Date Of Release: 1 April 2016 The Blog Of Much Metal seems to have been inundated with albums that have a strong power metal influence recently. Arguably however, this is the most straight-up no-nonsense power metal record of them all. And it comes in the form […]

https://manofmuchmetal.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/thunderstone-apocalypse-again-album-review/