Jun 062014

As a general rule, when I put together these “Seen and Heard” collections of new music I write about what I like (of course) and I also try to spotlight music from bands who are often overlooked by other metal sites. This particular collection is a departure from the norm. First of all, In Flames, Mastodon, and Opeth are among the biggest names in metal. Over the last week, each of them has premiered a new song from a forthcoming album, and the odds are high that you’ve already heard the music — because every metal site in creation has been spreading the word about them. Second, I have mixed feelings about the music. So what I’m really doing with this collection is trying to satisfy my own curiosity about what our readers think about this new material — which means I want your comments!


The new In Flames album Siren Charms will be released on September 15. The first advance track from the album, “Rusted Nail”, is now available to European Spotify users (here), and it has also started appearing illicitly on YouTube. So of course I listened to it. I ought to repeat that this band were one of my gateways into the more extreme genres of heavy music. For that I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for them. In addition, unlike many hidebound fans who haven’t liked anything In Flames have recorded since Clayman (or even before), I remained enthusiastic all the way through Come Clarity. But even with that said, “Rusted Nail” is failing to make much of a mark.

What do you think?

(via Metal Injection)







Mastodon‘s sixth studio album, Once More ‘Round the Sun, is due for release on June 24 via Reprise. I really love the cover art. Earlier this week they released a single from the album named “Chimes At Midnight”. You can’t really compare the music of Mastodon with the music of In Flames, except perhaps in measuring how the new music of each band stands up against their past achievements, and in the extent to which it reflects the sparks of creative fire. In that regard, “Chimes At Midnight” easily surpasses “Rusted Nail”. The song is much more interesting, more instrumentally complex, more effectively atmospheric. But for reasons I haven’t quite put my finger on, it’s not grabbing me as firmly as I had hoped. I haven’t listened to it more than twice, and it may be a grower. What do you think?







Opeth’s new album Pale Communion will come out on August 26 via Roadrunner Records. Earlier this week Metal Sucks officially premiered a song form the album named “Cusp of Eternity”. I don’t really mean to rekindle the debate over the direction Opeth have been following since Watershed (and even before). The question is not whether “Cusp of Eternity” is a return to form after the divergence of Heritage, because it clearly isn’t. The fairer question is whether the song is good for what it is, not for what some fans (including me) might wish it to be. My own verdict is that it’s the most successful of the three songs included in this post.

I can’t embed the track, so go here to watch the video for the song and listen to the music.

What do you think?



  1. I loved Cusp of Eternity. I fear I have lost my objectivity with Opeth because I just adore everything they do. Oh well, Pale Communion looks to be another amazing album and I’ll just sit here and flail and fanboy all by myself.

    • I like the song, too, and am now interested to hear the rest of the album. It’s just not the kind of music I spend much time with, given my current tastes.

  2. Honestly I think that the new “In Flames” aren’t a true force in “Melodic Death metal” anymore since “A Sense Of Purpose” even if some songs are quite well written so not totally awful but not brilliant as the tunes from “Whoracle” and “Colony” with “The Jester Race” and I’m thinking some bands are better when they don’t change even if “Rusted Nail” is not an ugly song to me. “The Hunter” is the only record that I don’t like from “Mastodon” while “High Road” and “Chimes At Midnight” especially is already in my personal list of “infectious songs”. Here we are with the new “Opeth” track that is not impressive but I will wait to listen the entire thing and sincerely I regret the times from “Orchid” to “Watershed”.

  3. I am a fan of Opeth but I haven’t lost my objectivity. And even if I don’t hate the new song, I would say that it is less inspired and singular than everything they did before Heritage.

  4. New Opeth is good enough for bout the first couple of minutes, then just gets boring and self-indulgent. I mean, I LIKE prog and such, but it just doesn’t really DO anything for the rest of the song.

    Like the intro of the new In Flames, and the chorus, but getting a distinct “A Sense of Purpose” vibe from the track… and since that album was fucking awful… well, I’m not too confident now. It could be a grower though.

    Mastodon reminds me of something, but I just can’t put my finger on it!

  5. No comment on the music, but I really like the Mastodon artwork. Skinner, the artist, has a doom/sludge band called Ungoliant that is pretty good, and also features his amazing artwotk.


  6. When I first heard the Opeth song, it reminded me of Amorphis (this alternate picking in the main riff is IMO a Amorphis-trademark). But overall it´s a weak song without “character”.

    Unfortunately I can´t listen to the other songs, because YouTube blocks them for some legal reasons.

  7. In Flames(as well as Opeth) was a gateway band of mine so similar to you, Islander, I have soft spot for them. I was excited to hear this new song, but even after 3 listens it seems to be falling flat. I am interested to hear the entire album still, but a bit disappointed.

    With Cusp of Eternity, I knew it wasn’t the Opeth that affirmed my love for Extreme Metal; but I also knew that it was Mikael’s intended vision. With that being said, and the fact that I have a lot of respect for Mr. Akerfeldt, I think it’s solid track that leads me to think Pale Communion will definitely be worth checking out when it’s released.

  8. Never been a huge fan In Flames, but have liked a few songs here and there. This isn’t one of them.
    As for Mastodon, I think they’re great. One of my favourite “big” bands. I wasn’t overly struck by the last album, The Hunter, or the first song they’ve previewed off the the up coming album. But this track I’m liking, and is the first time I’ve heard it.
    As for Opeth. Never been keen. The song here isn’t something for me to get excited about either.

  9. In Flames is still uninteresting to me, ever since Come Clarity. Even soundtrack to your escape lost me a lot of the time.

    And long ago I sold my soul to Opeth’s older materiel. I’m not getting it back, so I view their new stuff as Meh almost all the time.

    Mastodon has always been hit or miss with me. Some songs I love, some I can’t stand.

    But how about that Agalloch, eh? Eh? …..

  10. I love Heritage and what I’ve heard off the new one so far. I never really listened to Opeth properly until Heritage and I think I’m kinda lucky for that because now I’m not judging them based on what I want them to do, just what they are doing.

    That fact makes my perception of the new Mastodon material a little ironic though. I loved Remission, that was a gateway album for me and I was with them up through Crack the Skye (which I ended up getting bored with really quickly). But The Hunter and what I’ve heard from the new one is just so uninteresting. They completely lost the energy and frantic aggression that made their early stuff so awesome. The new stuff is waaaaay too pop-oriented for me.

    Which leads to In Flames nicely. I’ve never been interested in them for the same reason I don’t like the new Mastodon, just way too pop oriented and uninteresting.

    • Glad to see other people that were disappointed by “The Hunter”. This track in particular you can still hear that wonderful Mastodon chuga chuga but it is just so buried in the mix. What was great about Crack the Skye was the room both instrumental and vocal sections were given. “The Hunter” and these new tracks seem like 95% of the time you are hearing singing which is still not their strong point no matter how hard they try. Musically I’m liking the new songs more than the last record but when I have to struggle to hear the playing I’m not sure how much effort I want to put in.

  11. I like the Opeth song. I think it’s better than the first one they released from the new album and I’m looking forward to hearing the whole thing.

    Thought the Mastodon song was alright, but after hearing the two songs they’ve released so far, I’m just a little worried about an upcoming Mastodon album for the first time. I love The Hunter but these two songs sound like lesser versions of stuff they’ve already done.

  12. Opeth starts out okay, but get repetitive very quickly

    Mastodon has a bit of their old sound in there, but the vocals killed it for me

    In Flames just sound bad

    Really had no interest in any of these albums, this just confirms my original feelings

  13. Opeth fanboy here, but Heritage bored me to tears. This new one sounds promising, an actual song unlike the farting around of ideas that was Heritage. That said, I would LOVE some crunch and gurgles, because Mike’s the shit at both of those…alas. Pre-ordered.

    Mastodon was an acquired taste that didn’t stick until Crack the Skye, and The Hunter was a fun album, and this sounds like it continues the trend. I like these guys better when they don’t take themselves so seriously. Probably pre-order worthy.

    In Flames. Man…Clayman is my favorite album of theirs (and for fucks sake can we get a proper vinyl release!), perfect mix of the commercially catchy metal and the melodeath past. Every album after just gets watered down more and more. There are not-bad elements of this song, but I’ll definitely wait for a full album stream before making any purchases.

  14. i’m really liking “Rusted Nail”, a very nice change from the more straight forward approach of most of the songs on “Sounds of a Playground Fading”, which i thought was a fantastic album. I’m really hoping the tour cycle for the new album brings them through here again. My son and I just saw them for the first time, last year, and they were awesome! 🙂

  15. Opeth is in my “top tier” of bands (who can really pick a favorite band anyway?), and yes I do love Heritage. With all that being said, when I first heard Cusp of Eternity it was probably the least impressed I’ve ever been with any Opeth track ever. The vocal melodies didn’t engage me, the song structure is very simple and straightforward, and there isn’t much variation in texture or atmosphere throughout the track. However, upon repeated listens I’m really digging it. Now I can’t get the vocal lines out of my head. The overall aesthetic of the track may be pretty one-dimensional, but it’s a very interesting one and I can’t wait to see how it fits into the overall mood and vibe of the tracks that surround it, and the album as a whole. Also, Fredrik’s solo really tears it up.

    No comment about the In Flames or Mastodon as I’m not really a fan of either band and have spent basically no time listening to either band’s music.

  16. Never really cared for In Flames, and I’m not sure I ever will. Obviously the older stuff is pretty good, but I haven’t ever felt motivated to scour through it.

    On the other hand, Mastodon were a HUGE gateway band for me, and I’ve come to positively love everything they’ve done. Crack The Skye is almost as good as Leviathan for me, and I’ve grown to love The Hunter and Blood Mountain after initially disliking them. The new songs sound pretty damn good, though I think High Road is better (this one gets a bit same-y with the same riff carrying through for quite a while).

    Opeth are still my absolute favorite band, and Blackwater Park and Still Life are my two favorite albums of all time (in turn, The Moor is my favorite song of all time). I started out really liking heritage, but I’ve grown to find it somewhat uninteresting, as it doesn’t have their signature “character” so to say, like all their other albums did, even Damnation. Speaking of which, Cusp of Eternity gives me a strong Damnation vibe, informed a bit more by somewhat burlier guitars (not too much burlier, but a bit). The Opethian riffing and vibe feels like it’s back on Cusp Of Eternity, and I’m loving it. Can’t wait for the new one now, if it’s of the same quality as Cusp Of Eternity.

  17. That Mastodon track is great. I think this album is going to be a purchase for me. I was never super into In Flames, but most of their recent output has left me pretty cold. Opeth…I’m just not going to say anything. Pointless.

  18. I’m…actually liking this In Flames? Maybe it’s because I went in with incredibly low expectations. The song didn’t actively cause me bodily harm, hurrah! It’s not the In Flames that brought me into more extreme metal. It’s not even the In Flames that released Come Clarity (which I also loved). But at least it isn’t what I vaguely remember the In Flames that released A Sense of Purpose sounding like.

    I’ve listened to the new Mastodon tracks a couple times now and they just do not grab me. So much of what I loved about Mastodon has been stripped out of Mastodon, I really wish they could have continued on the road they started with Crack the Skye. Nothing’s BAD but it doesn’t feel like they’re pushing it. The album could totally shock me but right now it feels like they’re resting on their laurels. And I thoroughly enjoyed The Hunter.

    Opeth…I’m giving my second listen now. I like prog, I like Heritage, I love Watershed. My initial reaction to this song was pretty meh but I’ve got high hopes that if any of the three bands listed here are really going to grab me this time around it’s going to be this one.

    Speaking of bands that have grabbed me lately, Son of Aurelius. What in the christshitting fuck happened? I don’t know what I was expecting but what I got is one of the more pleasant surprises of 2014 thus far.

  19. I’ve said this many times, and I’ll continue to say it: Jesper Stromblad WAS In Flames. He founded the band, wrote the bulk of the material on their early albums, and was the principle driving force that made them an elite melodic death metal band. Over the years he took a smaller and smaller role in the creative direction of the band, handing over the reigns to Anders and Bjorn. Finally, he left entirely before Sounds of a Playground Fading, and he took any small traces of what In Flames once was with him. The other big factor is their producers. Fredrik Nordstrom was the engineer for Lunar Strain, then he took over as producer and the band recorded Jester Race, Whoracle, Colony, and Clayman with him. After than In Flames stopped working with him and brought in a different production team. Granted Reroute to Remain and Come Clarity are both albums I really like, but when taken as a whole their material with Nordstrom producing towers over their material without him. The drop in the quality of the band’s work can be directly tied to the involvement (or lack of involvement) of these two men. Without them, this current group in In Flames in name only, and this crappy new song reflects that.

    Mastodon, honestly, is a band that never did much for me personally. I like them okay, and I like this new track okay, but the hype surrounding the band has always mystified me a bit.

    I love Opeth, and I actually really liked Watershed, but Heritage was a bit of a weird dud I thought. They’ve abandoned heaviness temporarily before (Damnation) only to bring it back later, so a single album wandering off in an odd direction doesn’t worry me too much. The question is how they follow it up, and given their penchant for relatively long and varied albums, a single 5-minute track is too little to go on in that regard. SO for me at least, the jury is still out on that one.

  20. I like newer In Flames more than older but this track didn’t do much for me. I have never liked Mastodon or Opeth and neither of these tracks changed my opinion of them.

  21. Differently as what happened in Heritage, the new Opeth songs (there’s the opener also out there) bring me to mental places, which is what I expect Opeth songs to do. So I think this new one will be ok. Also, it comes out on the brink of my birthday…

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