Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hindsight Pt.4 2000-2009, a look at a decade

You should know the deal at this stage… enjoy.

Click the "standout track" to listen

Machine Head – Through The Ashes Of Empires (2003)
HERE to read the Essential Album feature on Through The Ashes Of Empires. It says it all there. Ashes... was an astonishing return to form for a band that had almost been buried and forgotten. “Imperium”, the opening track, should in many ways sum up the furious invigoration that Machine Head experienced in its creation. They took no prisoners, bludgeoned and killed… the result? One motherfucker of a metal record.
Standout Track: Imperium

Killswitch Engage – The End Of Heartache (2004)
With both a new vocalist in Howard Jones and new drummer Justin Foley in tow Killswitch had an unruly task ahead of them with writing a record to follow up their monstrous breakthrough Alive Or Just Breathing. Still with Adam D at the production helm and a refreshed vigour The End Of Heartache was everything it needed to be and more. The thunderous intro of opener “A Bid Farewell” beckoned one of the most heartfelt metal records of the decade from the anthemic flurry of “When Darkness Falls”, the visceral but oddly delicate “Rose Of Sharyn”, metalcore’s first power ballad in the title track or the massive chorus of “Wasted Sacrifice”. Top to bottom the record is all killer no filler, an astounding feat one which has since gone heavily copied but never even remotely matched.
Standout track: Wasted Sacrifice

Biffy Clyro – Puzzle (2007)
Puzzle, Biffy Clyro’s fourth album is a force to be reckoned with. For too long the Scots clawed their way through undeserved shitstorms, despite their previous three efforts being absolutely faultless. But come 2007, with a major label but no compromise, Biffy Clyro took their highly earned place with an inexorable, zero dud rock album. The sheer unabashed hooks of “Saturday Superhouse” and “A Whole Child Ago”, the attitude and just fun of “Get Fucked Stud” or “Who’s Got A Match?” and the soaring “Folding Stars” and “As Dust Dances” all speak for themselves
Standout track: Get Fucked Stud

Protest The Hero – Kezia (2006) & Fortress (2008)
Protest The Hero sound a little like what the bastard child of Faith No More and Dillinger Escape Plan. At least that’s what yours truly thought upon first spin of the Canadian’s debut album Kezia. It was heaving with merciless drumming, fret blurring skills and OTT high note vocals, like the fevered run around of “Blindfolds Aside” or the mass sing along brought by “Turn Soonest To The Sea”. But come 2008 and Fortress, that album found itself well and truly topped. It was a progression but not a drastic one, just natural. Frankly it sounded like they’d guzzled a few mouthfuls of steroids with Red Bull and hit record, listen to first track “Bloodmeat” if you don’t believe it.
Standout tracks: Blindfolds Aside & Palms Read

Porcupine Tree – In Absentia (2002)
In Absentia, Porcupine Tree’s seventh album, would be when the band became one of the centrepieces of modern prog. From the ground shaking riffs and instantly memorable chorus of “Blackest Eyes” to the cessation in the euphoric “Collapse The Light Into Earth”, Porcupine Tree almost seized your last breath. The record also contains monumental prog numbers like the swooning “Trains” or the funereal “Heart Attack In A Lay By”. You need this album.
Standout track: Trains

Friday, October 30, 2009

Biffy Clyro - Olympia Theatre, 29/10/09

Last night Biffy Clyro delivered a monumental show in Dublin's Olympia Theatre. While the words to describe it are difficult to find, an attempt was made. Click HERE to read the review.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hindsight Pt.3 2000-2009, a look at a decade

Keeping this going we’re off to part three of Hindsight, a multi-part appraisal of the past decade. Click below to read the first two parts


Click the "standout track" to listen
Pelican – City Of Echoes (2007)
Now, without a doubt Pelican are post metal pioneers. Sometimes a band can earn such acclaim and praise after only three albums because their ability, ambition and drive is raw and undiluted. Pelican are such a band. The instrumentalists channelled so many emotions (sans lyrics) into City Of Echoes, from the sashaying rhythms of the title track, to the hypnotic acoustic melodies of “Winds With Hands” or the heart stopping crescendo of “Far From Fields”. Top to bottom, City Of Echoes is a work of art.
Standout track: Far From Fields

Opeth – Blackwater Park (2001)
When The Big Book Of Prog Metal: Bumper Edition is published there will be some notable cover stars, Opeth will be one of them. Prior to Blackwater Park Opeth were on a consistent rise, one heightened by 1999’s Still Life. But in 2001 the Swedes trumped that record with the shimmering gold of Blackwater Park. It was a jaw dropping statement of intent, melding their early death metal roots with some doom influences and of course all things progressive. While Opeth have never produced a bad album in the slightest since then, amongst die hard fans, Blackwater Park, more often than not, is the immensely preferred effort.
Standout track: Bleak

Glassjaw - Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence (2000)
Taking a formula set by the pioneering hardcore bands of the 80s and more specifically the ridiculously important Fugazi, Glassjaw created a crucial album for modern rock music at the turn of the century. Never before had anyone such invective displays of screaming from the enigmatic Daryl Palumbo. His tales of horribly failed relationships and infatuations can easily be related to. Plus, it really helped that all the tunes, more specifically the choruses, were so damn catchy. Pivotal, doesn’t even come close to describe this record, possibly too before its time as well.
Standout Track: Siberian Kiss

Trivium – Ascendancy (2005)
Trivium seemed to pop up out of nowhere in March 2005, but what a lot of people didn’t know at the time was that Ascendancy is their second record and the band had been in existence for a few years. Ember To Inferno (first album) showed so much potential and by the time their Roadrunner debut came around that potential was realised. Ascendancy is a jaw dropping modern metal record from four young men with nothing but world domination in mind. Tracks like “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr simply bludgeoned while closing tracks “Departure” and “Declaration” left the hair on the back of your neck standing.
Standout track: Declaration

Dream Theater – Train Of Thought (2003)
After 1999’s astonishing Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes From A Memory, Dream Theater took on a route that has divided fans. But while there’s certainly cause for debate over the 21st century Dream Theater, not once have they disappointed with a record. It’s open to even more debate but Train Of Thought is possibly DT’s heaviest album with seismic riffs and colossally peaking climaxes TOT was much like previous records but on crack. It, of course, retained the grandeur with epic lead riffs like on “Honor Thy Father” and dazzling solos, like Petrucci’s inhuman widdling on curtain puller “In The Name Of God”. While Dream Theater have always dazzled, there was even more dynamism on Train On Thought.
Standout Track: Honor Thy Father
Email suggestions to or leave a comment


Monday, October 26, 2009

Isis - Button Factory 23/10/09

This punter is speaking only on behalf of himself but there seemed to be an stirring aura about The Button Factory for Isis. Simply because, well it’s Isis. After dropping a remarkable album this year what fan wouldn’t be stoked about this gig?

The evening’s support band comes in the form Clare’s black metal experimentalists Altar Of Plagues who, like a hybrid of Isis and Wolves In The Throne Room, will have gained a fan or two after their set. Lit only by the Button Factory’s most meagre of lights the band play in near darkness, creating an oddly charming surrounding as blast beats, shrieks and gorgeous crescendos are created. If you haven’t checked these guys out yet, than you owe to yourself to do so, they’re definitely one of the most interesting acts this island has produced for quite some time. Their debut album, White Tomb is out now, pick it up.

But as much as a delight as that was it can’t be even remotely compared to the maelstrom delivered by Isis.

The band serenely walk on stage and the edgily tranquil intro of "Hall Of The Dead" kicks this off and serves as a calm before the storm before Aaron Turner’s earth shaking bellow enters. It’s then followed by the soaring "Stone To Wake A Serpent".

The new material from the year’s shimmering opus Wavering Radiant takes up a sizeable chunk of the night’s set list.

The delicate balance of loud uncompromising rancour and pliable hypnotising passages is kept from start to finish. "Ghost Key" epitomises this with a spellbinding delivery, while "20 Minutes / 40 Years" splendidly scales to its deafening and bold climax.

There’s a shift to a mood of more melody on, the only airing from the In The Absence Of Truth album, "Dulcinea". Turner swings more to his harmonious side but as the number rises and rises the all too familiar growl returns. By "Dulcinea"’s conclusion all 5 members are fully engaged in a frenzied melee of amazement.

"Backlit" from the imposing Panopticon album is the only other non WR track that gets an outing in the set list. It maintains the searing air of the evening. What Isis can do would be the envy of many a band. Their remarkable credentials on record are only augmented l
ive. Their body of work has a whole new layer applied, it’s engrossing.

To initially close the show is none other than Wavering Radiant’s closer. "Threshold Of Transformation" is satisfyingly crushing and inexorably ascends to magnificent heights that can’t be put into words. Fortunately, that doesn’t entirely spell the end. An encore of pre Wavering Radiant tunes like "Carry" dazzlingly wraps this gig up.

On this night in Dublin’s Button Factory, Isis fluently asserted their unique and unrivalled ability to astound and overwhelm. They couldn’t come back sooner.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hindsight Pt.2 2000-2009, a look at a decade

Welcome to the second instalment of Hindsight, a retrospect of the past decade’s finest albums. You can read the first part HERE. Anyway, let’s get this show on the road…

Click the "standout track" to listen to it.
Between The Buried And Me – Colors (2007)
If I did make a top 50 list chances are this would be number one. Colors is unabashed beauty committed to audio format. Across 8 tracks, and over an hour in length, BTBAM solidified their spot with the prog metal greats of the 21st century. Every note flows perfectly, everything feels right. When Tommy Rogers screams, roars and sings you feel every emotion. This album unravels itself more and more upon every listen, unveiling a new gem every time. The musicianship is astounding; there are not enough adjectives to describe Colors. In fact no words can yet do it justice.
Standout track: The whole album

Killswitch Engage – Alive Or Just Breathing (2002)
At this time nu metal was longer on its death bed. It had already begun to rot. A new sound was needed, desperately needed. Enter Killswitch Engage, but Alive Or Just Breathing is actually the band’s second album. KSE targeted influences like that of thrash, melodic death metal and American hardcore on their self titled debut. But on AOJB those influences were greatly harnessed and morphed into a relentless melodic powerhouse. Thus, KSE pioneered what would become metalcore. Alive Or Just Breathing was to be the first of many a breathtaking victory march.
Standout track: Rise Inside

Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death (2006)
Was there anything more refreshing than Maiden’s 14th studio album A Matter Of Life And Death? Let’s not beat around the bush here; Iron Maiden have sweet fuck all to prove…. to anyone! But still when a new album from such legends lands there’s still hype. Maiden blew the hype out the water, produced a record with the hunger and ambition of a young band struggling to get their name out there. Put simply, A Matter Of Life And Death is stunning and well and truly schooled the young ‘uns.
Standout track: These Colours Don’t Run

Strapping Young Lad – Alien (2005)
Strapping Young Lad may have ceased existence three years ago but their legacy undoubtedly remains. Alien is the centrepiece of that legacy. It wasn’t a drastic departure from the bludgeoning nature of SYL but it just culminated all their most powerful elements into one cohesive motherfucker of a metal record. Here, Devin Townsend penned some of the finest riffs to hit your ears in ages, “Love?” anyone? Secondly the tracks have no give, like a hurled brick destined for your head unbeknownst to you. Bloody excellent, even “Two Weeks”, an acoustic interlude felt right here, further proving Townsend’s song writing eminence.
Standout track: Love?

Children Of Bodom – Hate Crew Deathroll (2003) & Are You Dead Yet? (2005)
Prior to the release of Hate Crew Deathroll, Children Of Bodom were in somewhat of a mainstream limbo. Previous records like Follow The Reaper and Hatebreeder had effectively displayed the band’s ability to completely slay. But HCD would be their breaking of the glass ceiling with bursting anthemic metal tunes. From there the ball kept rolling on the equally impressive Are You Dead Yet? with its monstrous title track and the effortless shredding from main man Alexi Laiho. Bodom would then continue to gather pace on last year’s Blooddrunk.
Standout tracks: Hate Crew Deathroll & Bastards Of Bodom

Got an album you think deserves a mention here? Leave a comment or email
Part 3 coming soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fredrik Åkesson Interview

Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Opeth's Fredrik Åkesson for an interview where topics discussed included Watershed, touring and of course, the next album. You can read the interview on Drop-D by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hindsight Pt.1 2000-2009, a look at a decade

The first decade of the 21st century is nearly over, and so I feel a retrospective of the 10 years is in order. Initially I was going to compile a top 50, or maybe 100, albums of the 00s but on second thoughts that was a bit pointless. I’d never be able to pick the best, and some would be undeservedly left out. That’s why this approach is being taken. Basically, over a few weeks, Hindsight will recap and discuss some of the finest and interesting albums of the last ten years. This is the first; enjoy! Click the standout tracks to listen.

Nevermore – Dead Heart, In A Dead World (2000)
Despite what some people will tell you the mid to late nineties produced some fine metal! Albums like Nevermore’s Politics Of Ecstasy showed this in spades. But it was in 2000 on Dead Heart, In A Dead World that the Seattle metallers delivered a bombshell. Heart… is a lush, immaculately produced, plethora of machine gun riffs and soaring melodies. Warrel Dane stepped up to the plate with his now unmistakeable voice and Jeff Loomis ripped and shredded his way through what would become solos and riffs that young upstarts would hopelessly copy and horribly fail at.
Standout track: Believe In Nothing

Cynic – Traced In Air (2008)
Cynic changed metal in the early nineties with their debut, the genre bending and hugely important Focus. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards the band called it a day. Cynic was no more, but their legacy lived on. Then, in 2006, the band reformed for a few shows and a new album, Traced In Air surfaced in November 2008 much to the delight of fans. The album was worlds apart from its predecessor. It soared to beautifully new heights and was a welcomed triumph. Utterly astounding.
Standout track: The Unknown Guest

Finch – Say Hello To Sunshine (2005)
Understatement: Say Hello To Sunshine is different to What It Is To Burn. That’s a massive understatement. For their second album Finch abandoned their emo-like sound (they were never “emo” by the way) and the big hooky choruses. Say Hello To Sunshine was a dark, brooding affair. From the unsettling lyrical content, the slightly sporadic arrangements to Nate Barcalow’s indulgence in more screams as well as his astonishing clean vocals. Every track here is faultless – grooves of “A Man Alone”, the insightful “Fireflies”, the oh so shadowy and introspective “Bitemarks & Bloodstains” or the insanity that is “The Casket Of Roderick Usher”. One could go on…
Standout track: Bitemarks & Bloodstains

Trigger The Bloodshed – Purgation (2008) & The Great Depression (2009)
For the latter half of this decade there has been an exciting wave of new, young death metal bands popping up along with much of the old guard reasserting their spots. The UK produced some interesting acts but none more so then Trigger The Bloodshed. Two albums in the space of a year assured they’d become a force to be reckoned with. Purgation is a vicious aural assault that fell on many a willing ear, with the stomps of “Laceration” and the riff-tacular “Retribution”. Despite a change in vocalist for the follow up, The Great Depression they managed to ascend to greater heights. The second album saw a more focussed, mayhem intent Trigger The Bloodshed. It has been rocky though with drummer Max Blunos departing this year but he has been replaced by Aborted’s Dan Wilding. Regardless, the future looks very bright.
Standout tracks: Retribution & The Infliction Of Tophet

Devin Townsend – Terria (2001)
Sometimes a record just takes your breath away so dramatically that it’s hard to put it into words; that is how you should feel about Terria. A sprawling, awe inspiring modern progressive metal masterpiece, Terria epitomises all of metal’s beauty and elegance that resides along the chugging and blasting. In Strapping Young Lad Townsend proved his worth in bludgeoning extremities but it was here that he took his place as a remarkable musician and songwriter. The airy impressions created by the instrumental “Down And Under”, splendour drenched harmonies of “Earth Day” and ultimate curtain closer “Stagnant” are only the tip of the ice berg here.
Standout track: Earth Day

Stick around for the second of many parts in the coming days!
Feel an album has been left out? Email recommendations to or leave a comment.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2nd Biffy Clyro single, The Captain

Did you need another reason to highly anticipate the new Biffy Clyro album, Only Revolutions? Well, if you did here it is.

“The Captain” is the second single after “That Golden Rule”, and you’ll find the music video below.

Not only is pirates a concept in the video but the theme runs through, particularly with the intro. Simon Neil delivers a superb vocal with a chunky underlying bass line before the aura rises and rises. “The Captain” is replete with massive hooks and insisting sing alongs, with the chorus being just huge. But would you expect anything else?

Going by this and “That Golden Rule”, Only Revolutions looks more than set to top Puzzle.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Opeth - Olympia Theatre, 13/10/09

Click HERE to read the report from Opeth's astonishing headlining set in the Olympia last Tuesday, with support from Ireland's Mourning Beloveth.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Is Hell - Warbirds EP

This Is Hell have rightly placed themselves amongst the elite of modern hardcore, along the likes of Comeback Kid and Propagandhi, particularly in the latter half of this decade. Two solid albums and seemingly endless touring have begun to carve out a respectable and deserved reputation for this hardcore quartet, especially after some rough patches in recent months including parting ways with long time label Trustkill.

This new EP, Warbirds is the first new batch of material from the Long Island natives since 2008’s Misfortunes, featuring three new original tracks and two covers. “The Search” wastes no time setting off like a fucking cannon. It unleashes Travis Reilly’s throat shattering vocals on top of some welcomed shred from guitarist Rick Jimenez. Meanwhile the title track is just over a minute of frenzied aggression. Here, the band sticks rigidly in familiar regions, but still keeps things intriguing.

The last of the new tracks, “Worship Syndrome” continues the unrelenting trajectory of Warbirds and could easily warm up next to various live staples in the future, as it’s replete with demanding sing alongs.

The first of the two covers is the band trying their hand at “Crazy But Not Insane”, a number from influential hardcore mob Warzone, which sounds exactly as one would anticipate it to.

The peculiar element of Warbirds is to be found on the fifth and final track, “Never Tear Us Apart” a track as you probably know is by INXS. It’s interesting when these scenarios happen, polar opposites, This Is Hell covering INXS. It opens earnestly with Reilly’s coarse bellow jutting in, and you know then that his tried and tested vocal style won’t deviate here. It does what it does, and is attention-grabbing but is still a tad unnecessary.

Wardbirds’ three original offerings do one thing for definite, sate the appetites of fans (for now). The new full length follow up to 2008’s Misfortunes couldn’t come quicker.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Keith Caputo does Cyndi Lauper

Yeah, you read that headline right. Life Of Agony front man Keith Caputo has dared to cover the famous Cyndi Lauper tune “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”.

Is it ironic, or just plain stupid? Unfortunately one is more than likely going to rear towards the latter. This acoustic cover just oozes absurdity in the worst possible sense. What were you thinking, Keith?

The song is released from his new solo EP Cheat. This cover of course is garnering most of the attention for it and frankly, on that sentiment, Cheat does not look like a promising prospect. Do us all a favour Keith and reconvene with Life Of Agony for a new album.

Listen for yourself:

Friday, October 9, 2009

New Devin Townsend track

As promised by the man himself Addicted is a heavier, more accessible and “danc-ier” affair than its predecessor, the proggy, art rock laden Ki. The lead riffs here groove when they need to and Townsend’s vocals are void of overt melody, semi-harking back to Strapping Young Lad. The heavier and harsher moods insistently give way to demented carnival like reverbs.

This title track certainly raises the bar in the continuing series that is The Devin Townsend Project (4 album, 4 albums different styles). Addicted being the second looks set to thread on the locale of poppy mainstream metal, but knowing Devin it will still be bulging with his usual tremendous essence and annulled of any hollow machinations.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Michael Alexander passes away

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Evile bassist, Michael Alexander. For a few days he was feeling unwell on tour, in Sweden. Yesterday he collapsed and was rushed to hospital. In hospital he died from a suspected blood clot, he was only 32.

The band has released the following statement:
“This is so hard to find the words to express fully how we feel. We can’t believe or accept what’s happened. One minute we’re talking to our buddy, Mike, the next minute we can never speak to him again.

There’s so many things rushing through our heads that we want to say, do and feel. We half expect him to come round the corner and call us ‘dickheads’. We can’t get our heads around it.

It upsets us so much that he was away from his family when this happened, although knowing Mike, we’re at least glad he was on tour doing what he loves.

We’re lost for words. We all miss him so much already. He was such a headstrong, genuinely nice guy who loved music and his family. We’ve got so many brilliant memories with him.

Our hearts go out to his daughter, family and friends at this tragic, difficult time.
Mike is much loved and is sorely missed.

Rest in peace, brother.”

Last April, I had the pleasure of meeting Michael after Evile’s show in Dublin. He was a humble and down to earth guy who just seemed so pleased to talk to fans about the show and their upcoming new album. I extend my condolences to all his family and friends at this truly sad time.

Rest in Peace, Michael Alexander

Monday, October 5, 2009

Alice In Chains - Black Gives Way To Blue

At long last, the new Alice In Chains record Black Gives Way To Blue. How does it stand up against the hype? Click HERE to find out.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Zu, Crawdaddy 29/9/09

First let’s start with a quick complaint. The doors for tonight’s gig were scheduled for 7.30 yet upon arrival one must loll around the bar until 8.50. But then thankfully it’s not much longer to wait after doors for the first band to arrive. The Kites however don’t salvage too much. Their biggest problem is their stagnancy, moving little on stage and unfortunately as their music is quite inert too all make for a rather dull set.

But things drastically shift for Bats, as their 3 guitar rampage comes powering in. Supporting the release of their debut album Red In Tooth And Claw, they exude a fresh exuberance and a fuck load of energy in their fervent shitstorm display. Good stuff.

But if anything Bats prepare the punters on hand for the bombarding assault on your ears of instrumentalists Ten Past Seven. The majority of their performance is reminiscent of Dillinger-esque noise core but towards its end a graceful trade off between guitars commences which vaguely harks to the flouncing rhythms of Dysrhythmia. Ten Past Seven, check ‘em out.

No disrespect to the support bands but thank god they’re finished as now Zu, the three piece Italian jazz tinged experimental noise outfit enter. Crawdaddy isn’t exactly wedged but there’s a pleasingly large crowd on hand. It’s a satisfying testament to Zu’s sprawl in recent years.

It’s a lot of material from latest opus and career best Carboniferous that get the finest airing tonight. Tracks like “Carbon” are nothing short of stunning. Not one of these three remarkable musicians yields any energy from start to finish. It’s also great to see a band who astound on record consume you even more live.

They effortlessly hammer out their patented noise. But it’s drummer Jacopo Battaglia that certainly earns his bread throughout this cacophonous maelstrom. Crawdaddy’s intimate surroundings underline this, as every bead of sweat on his forehand is visible.

Another important aspect of the gig is its immense volume. The small setting provides for every note being like a loud, destructive crash.

The entire band wholly innovates on all levels with Luca Mai doing anything but play his baritone saxophone conventionally and it doubles over as additional percussion as he slaps its body. Meanwhile, bassist Massimo Pupillo widdles fluently through bizarre notes. It’s all staggeringly impressive.

To close Zu pummel their way through “Ostia”, a highlight of Carboniferous and one that becomes a highlight of the gig. It’s hard to imagine that someone could walk
away from this show not smiling.