Saturday, October 30, 2010

Favorite Albums: John Arch - A Twist Of Fate (EP)

John Arch was the original singer for the progressive metal band Fates Warning, leaving the group for a more practical career after only three albums. That's all he's done, that's all he's known for. Three albums in the mid-80's and no one had heard anything from him for almost 20 years. That all changed in 2003 (I know I'm a little bit outdated here) when he approached Mike Portnoy (of Dream Theater fame) for his help for a project he was working on. Arch also collected the guitar section of Fates Warning - Jim Matheos (Guitar/Keyboard) and Joey Vera (Bass) - to assist him in this endeavor. What was eventually released was a two-song 30 minute EP of amazing progressive music. It is really quite amazing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Album: Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare

Upon the death of Avenged Sevenfold's drummer, The Rev, many fans of A7X wondered how they would continue. Well my friends, they did 'push on' and I do have to say, Nightmare has become one of my top 10 albums. The Lyrics are written fantastically, the melodies and harmonies are amazing. Very, very catchy songs. And with Mike Portnoy (the ex-drummer for Dream Theater), at the helm of the drum kit, this is a dynamite album. The first track opens with the title song, which is melodic and yet at times, haunting - which fits perfectly for a song named "Nightmare".  Nightmare is reminiscent of their first, self-titled album with it all being orchestrated beyond the normal metal band setup.  In fact, towards the end of the album, the songs slow down somewhat, and become a lot more musically in-depth, almost to the point of becoming classical music - with guitars and drums thrown in (this point can be argued that all of their songs are musically in-depth, but work with me here).
This album is almost like a concept album, in a way before concept albums even existed. Back in the days that artists created the track listing for a reason. Mainly to tell a story, or get the feeling that a story was being told. 

The Pyro's advice: GO BUY THIS ALBUM  4.7/5 stars 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Band: Samsara Blues Experiment

Also seen on Heavy Planet

I'm just finishing up Samsara Blues Experiment's debut (after a couple of demos) album, Long Distance Trip, and I'm pretty impressed. The album is only made up of six songs, but it lasts over an hour, so you can imagine. This album isn't all long songs though (if you hate a track over 10 min - not me), two are a little over four minutes long, one in nine, two are around twelve minutes, but the ending track is damn close to half of a hour (twenty-three minutes) long - as I haven't finished the album yet, I can't say if it is actually twenty-three minutes, or if it ten minutes followed by ten of silence then onto a 'hidden track.' God I hope not, one of these days I need to write an article about my disdain for these so-called 'hidden tracks' and their uselessness in the current age of music....but another time.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Album: Monster Magnet - Mastermind

I really like Monster Magnet, being the granddaddies of the modern stoner age and all, it's hard not to. I also like their side project, The Atomic Bitchwax (and that project's side project, Black Nasa - albeit the weakest of the group), with is a more groove-oriented version of the parent band.
I was indoctrinated to Monster Magnet when my father bought their '98 release (and their step into the mainstream), Powertrip. The song "Space Lord" launched the group into unseen heights (before or after really), and introduced them to a whole new audience - myself included. Fast forward a decade, and I'm in college, searching for my own version of musical independence and I come across the albums Monolithic Baby! and Dopes To Infinity and I am blown away. I did not realize that this group was the same that I had heard repeatedly over the past decade being blasted on my Dad's stereo. My hunt for independence has led me back to my beginnings in rock.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tribute Series: Cygnus And The Sea Monsters

As I was researching the horrible news of Mike Pornoy leaving Dream Theater I stumbled upon a series of tribute shows he, and several other musicians, took part in in the 2000's. I have not been listening to these in order (instead opting to listen in the order that most appeals to me), and so will not be reviewing them in order, but they are pretty sweet, and fairly unknown. So I think they deserve some sort of mention.

Cygnus And The Sea Monsters is a Rush tribute one-night-only supergroup consisting of Paul Gilbert (Racer X, Mr. Big), Sean Malone (Cynic), Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys) and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater).
Out of the group i listened to this one first, as I am a huge Rush fan - more then The Who or Led Zeppelin anyway - and I think it is fitting that Mike Portnoy is sitting in for Neil Peart, as they are both amazing percussionists. The group hits all of the progressive rock classics (opting out the more mainstream successes like "Tom Sawyer" or "Spirit of Radio") and the band plays them all amazingly.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Current Trend: Simplicity

...and by simplicity I don't mean simple. I mean the kind of music that is a stripped-down sound, with only a pairing of instruments and/or vocals. This comes in a variety of styles and genres so it's hard to accurately pin down with words, but if you've heard it, you'd know what I'm talking about.

Classic (traditional or epic) doom is an excellent example (think Candlemass); although there is a full band, it still sounds empty. For the most part it's the focus on the vocals and the droning guitars, with little emphasis on drums or bass (for the most part), leaving the songs sounding hollow, with an empty background - this is the kind of doom I love. Maybe it's because I've been listening to too much stoner of late (and the constant 'fuzz' or reverb), but I'm just getting the same satisfaction out of the new doom bands as I did the old ones. I just listened to Ice Dragons's debut, The Burl, The Earth, The Aether (free download from their Bandcamp page), and my favorite songs are the simple, droning melodies.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Band: Poweraxe

Also seen on Heavy Planet:

I was sent Poweraxe's debut EP to review from my new partnership with Heavy Planet, and from the bit I was sent they call their type of music 'goom metal.' Now originally I thought it was a typeo for gloom, but it appears not to be. Having not heard any of their music yet (I plan to write as I listen), I don't know what 'goom' is or supposed to be, I'm equally intrigued and off-put by this description. The band is made up of the Brothers Axe (which is an awesome last name) who play a seemingly (from their bio) instrumental doom/experimental sound. It sounds kind of a cool mix. Let us begin.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

New Band: Crippled Black Phoenix

Another band I discovered through AngryChairs, Crippled Black Phoenix is a supergroup, containing members from famous post-metal groups such as Iron Monkey, Gonga, Mogwai, Electric Wizard, Godspeed You Black Emperor! and others. While the post-metal tag is fairly accurate, it does not fully explain the complexity of the sounds of Crippled Black Phoenix. There are many progressive elements, psychedelic, industrial, stoner to an extent, it's almost impossible to collect it all under one heading, which is why post-metal they will remain.
The group has had numerous members - 27 is wikipedia is to be believed, there is not a lot of information about this band out there (Their official website is in shambles, only has half of their discography - hence the sketchy linking) - and has several vocalists on any one record, both male and female. It gives the group's albums a really odd sound, with all the eclecticness of instruments and vocals. Some songs are slow, doomy songs with almost no vocals, while others are upbeat rock and roll songs. Some are filled with a male's clean vocals, some with a woman's gentle wail, and others have a harsher version of both styles within. Each song of off each album seems to be headed into a different direction. It sounds like it wouldn't work, and for some parts it doesn't, but for the most part it all works together great.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Two Years!!!

I have made it 2 full years running The Klepto's Guide To Awesome Music! I want to thank all of you for reading, commenting, and - most importantly - coming back. I am averaging 1,200 visits a month and that number astounds me. So please, keep reading, keep commenting, keep coming back for at least another two years.

Also I have a lot of articles coming up (I have been writing like crazy); articles about Crippled Black Phoenix, sHEAVY, The Velvet Underground, Iced Earth, and John Arch, all within the month. I don't know why but I have been very prolific in the past few weeks (ever since coming back from Scotland...hmm), so stay tuned for the best in rock and metal (and whatever else I tend to throw in).


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Awesome Websites: The Blogroll

These are just a few of the blogs that I frequent; either just to keep up with bands, get some new music, or hear what 'golden oldie' I might enjoy. These aren't reviews of the sites themselves, just sharing the love for my internet friends.

Basic Band Info: Good for new releases, tour dates, album reviews and the like
The Obelisk - Stoner, Doom, Sludge. Reviews and interviews.
Heavy Planet - Stoner, Doom, Sludge. Also has some nice weekly segments; a really good site to find new bands
The Metal Minute - Kind of defunct now, with the author working on other projects. but it is still a good place for interviews and album reviews
Psychotic Philosophy - Posts are few and far between but if you care to go back into the blog's history (4 years of it) you will find some gems. Some album reviews, but most is just the guy's favorite albums and bands
Hook In Mouth - All about new album releases and tour dates. Some interviews and reviews, and the occasional free and legal downloads. More of an emphasis on the thrash/core/death metals, but occasionally other music makes it through
Heavy Metal Time Machine - As the title suggests, this is a blog about the golden years of metal. Most of the articles are pretty short, so it's a good casual read. Frequent posts, and several running themes.
Heavy Metal 107 - A nice mix of the old and the new, with reviews of both eras. Another one with shorter articles for an easy read.
The Soda Shop - Newly discovered, not a whole lot of info on this one. I know they do a lot of new bands, mostly in the stoner genre. Reviews and interviews.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mike Portnoy Leaves Dream Theater

So this might be a bit of old news (as The Pyro pointed out to me like an ass, apparently a month in real time is forever in music time) but apparently Mike Portnoy, second only to Neil Peart as the best drummer ever, is leaving the fabled Dream Theater to pursue other opportunities. He left a nice farewell post on his website forum that better explains his means and motives behind this decision. Turns out the rest of the band is continuing on without him, so I'm interested to see who they get to fill these immense shoes.

Farewell to thee, Mike Portnoy, and the best in whatever your next stop is, whether it be Transatlantic, Avenged Sevenfold (which is where my friend Mike thinks he's headed) or some new project. Keep rockin' my friend!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Awesome Artwork: Iron Maiden - Running Free Single

I could go on and on about Iron Maiden and their amazing artwork. Eddie is the real deal, the band logo that is almost as famous as the group he represents. He has been located somewhere on almost every Iron Maiden release; LP, EP, single or otherwise (even a video game!), from the band's formation. His look has changed over the decades, for better or worse its for you to decide, but he has always been Eddie.

I was bouncing across the internet and I came upon a website that hosted (almost) all of the various picture of Eddie. I had seen most of these versions before (mostly album covers), but the artwork for the "Running Free" single caught my eye instantly.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Video: Betty White is Death Metal

Just a stupid and funny video I found. Betty White shows the SNL cast how she loves Death Metal.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Albums Listened To In September (86)

There has been a lot of music and, more importantly, a lot of great music this month. 86 albums, Jesus Christ!!! So we'll skip the howdy-dos and dive right in:

Argus' debut self-titled was a complete, but pleasant, surprise. I only listened to this album because I wanted to try something new, a band without a huge discography so I could get in and get out, but Argus was so much more. It's a bit like power stoner, with a full sound and big ideas. I'm thinking about listening to it again and writing an actual article about the group.
Cloudkicker fucking rocks! My favorite instrumental-progressive-metal-one-man-project ever! Check out my full article of the guy/group for more information.
The newest two Crippled Black Phoenix albums, I, Vigilante and The Resurrectionists, are both amazing examples of experimental/progressive metal. I've got a full article finished and prepped, so be on the look-out for that next week for more info.
Firebird's new album, Double Diamond, comes off much more classic rock then the blues rock of its predecessors. You'd be forgiven to assume this was another side project of anyone from Deep Purple. It's a nice break from the somewhat-lagging style of the past few Firebird albums.
The newer half of the Fu Manchu discography are really good examples of grooving stoner metal. I really like We Must Obey and beyond especially.
I've already gone into the awesomeness of Dax Riggs and his various projects.
A pair of great new releases from new(ish) bands; Quest For Fire's Lights From Paradise is a psychedelic lover's wet dream, and a much more solid release then their debut. This release has a bit of an edge to it, while their self-titled dives deep into the shoegaze. The release from Rocketchief, Rise of The Machine, is another healthy debut. It is hard rock/metal stoner at it's greatest; think mid-history Clutch (Blast Tyrant or Robot Hive/Exodus). I can't wait to hear more from this group.
I love sHEAVY and their second new album of the year, Disfigurine, did not disappoint. It is a new sound, having a new guitarist and all, and the band as a whole seems to be moving to a more status quo stoner sound, not the very Black Sabbath sound of Synchronized or Republic? I'm intrigued; I'll see where this trend goes before I pass judgment. But Disfigurine and The Golden Age of Daredevils are both worth a listen.
I was not too impressed with Stonebride's first album, Inner Season, so I was in no rush to listen to their 2010 release, because of this I was very surprised. Summon The Waves is a great showcasing of the way to make a good stoner/doom album. With only six songs (and one of those a one and a half minute intro song) the album clocks in at over fifty-two minutes of music. Sometimes with these long song collections the overall sound tends to lag, but not with this one. The music is great, the lyrics are great, this album is great! If you like doom, try out stonebride.