May 022011

(Andy Synn joins us again today with his review of the The Unseen Empire, the new album from Sweden’s Scar Symmetry. The Unseen Empire was released on April 15 in Europe and will be released on May 17 in North America via Nuclear Blast Records — that’s the North American jewel-case cover art above.)

I have to admit right now that Dark Matter Dimensions was my favourite of SS’s releases thus far. Although the two new vocalists were not fully integrated together, I felt that the musicianship and song-writing on their last album was nothing short of stellar. Too often the band was referred to merely as an afterthought to the impressive vocals of Christian Alvestam, yet on this latest record the new vocalists have made huge, leaping bounds of progression, matching the capabilities of the musicians and material surrounding them as never before.

Comparing their performance with that of their predecessor is now a pleasure, rather than an unfortunate chore, as the harsh vocals are now more varied and aggressive, lower, harsher, higher, more emotionally convincing, while the clean vocals have also pushed themselves to greater heights, smooth yet unexpected melodies matched by digressions into piercing falsetto and powerful, intensely emotive singing. The new blood and new-found variety allows the band to explore vocal arrangements and melodies which would never have been possible or thought of with their previous vocalist. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »

May 022011

What the hell is that big yellow thing up in the sky? It looks vaguely familiar, but it’s appeared so rarely here in The Emerald City over the last six months that we’re having trouble placing the name. Well, maybe the name will come to us. The great wheel of the seasons surely must continue to turn someplace, but in Seattle it seems to have been stuck on Winter since, like, forever. In some parts of the world, April showers bring May flowers, but here, April showers will probably bring . . . May showers.

Okay, enough whining. At least we don’t get tornados dropping from the sky like atom bombs and wiping whole towns off the map. And even though the weather hasn’t been our friend, we have metal to make up for the cold shoulder — and there’s a bunch of new metal headed our way.

What we do with these installments of METAL IN THE FORGE is collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know them yet. And in this post, we cut and paste the announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

This isn’t a cumulative list, so be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported in previous installments. This month’s list begins right after the jump. Look for your favorite bands, or get intrigued about some new ones. Continue reading »

Apr 082011

As I forecast, today I’m starting a two-week stretch when I probably won’t be able to write a new post every day. I have some longer posts about new music in the works that I haven’t been able to get done yet, though I hope I can finish some of them soon. But, because I’m running out of time, today’s post will be pretty random. I also hope you’ll find some fun in it.

I should have a few of my own posts to run here and there over the next two weeks, but you can expect lots of guest posts, too — because I’m fucking delighted to say that people have responded enthusiastically to my open appeal for help.  I’ve already received a half-dozen, I know more are coming from people who’ve e-mailed me, and I bet still more will arrive over the next two weeks that I’m not even expecting yet. If you want to do this, there’s still time. Just check out some “rules” here.

Now, for today: I’ve got something that could have fit quite nicely in a THAT’S METAL! post, but I haven’t yet collected enough other items to fill one out — so I’m using it today. But I also wanted to include some new metal, so this turned into just a random mishmash of unconnected stuff — a video about the latest dance/fashion craze from Matehuala, Mexico that you won’t fucking believe, and a brand new song from Scar Symmetry. Check it after the jump . . . Continue reading »

May 232010

Fetching album cover, isn’t it? It’s for the The Reckoning, the latest release (on Regain Records) from Sweden’s Arise. Arise has been around for almost 15 years, though the band was significantly re-formed in late 2006, with three new members joining the two remaining original members (drummer Daniel Bugno and guitarist LG Jonasson). The Reckoning is the band’s fourth album and the first since the 2006 makeover.

Regain publicized the album for a late-March 2010 release, so I thought it was new. But it turns out the album was also released in the spring of 2009 — or so it seems, because lots of metal blogs reviewed it last year. Puzzling.

At any rate, between the 2009 “release” and the 2010 release, The Reckoning has been reviewed quite a bit, and while most reviewers found things to like, a common snooty critique runs through the write-ups like a monotoned thread: That what Arise is doing has been done before by other, better-known bands in their early days, like At the Gates or Dark Tranquillity or In Flames.

I suppose there’s some truth to that criticism. I just happen not to care, because I’m having too damned much fun listening to this music. It’s thrash-paced death metal embedded with devilishly catchy grooves, seamed with melodic leads and solos, enhanced by razor-sharp modern production, and played quite capably by people who know what they’re doing.  (more after the jump, including a track to stream . . .) Continue reading »

Feb 242010

Miseration‘s new album, The Mirroring Shadow, is not at all what we were expecting — but it’s a most welcome surprise.

Our expectations were based on the band’s first album, 2007’s Your Demons – Their Angels. That album was a particularly melodic rendering of melodic death metal, marked by the same mixture of clean singing and harsh growling that vocalist Christian Älvestam brought to his former band, Scar Symmetry. In fact, the similarities to Scar Symmetry were far more dominant than the differences.

That wasn’t a bad thing (cuz we liked the old Scar Symmetry just fine), but it seemed to us that Älvestam’s partnership in Miseration with guitarist/drummer Jani Stefanovic had become less a catalyst for change than a vehicle for continuing on with the songwriting style and musical sound of the band Älvestam had just left.

But on The Mirroring Shadow, Miseration has become a different breed of cat altogether. And we mean something like a prehistoric sabretooth — big, fast, powerful, vicious, and with teeth the size of carving knives. (more after the jump, including songs to hear and a digression about album artwork. . .) Continue reading »