LIVE & INSPIRED
I'm sure I'll probably get killed here by my metal brethren, but I actually like Godsmack. Certainly, I realize they are a more metal version of Nickelback; a band whose sole goal is to create three or four radio hits on each album, sell a good amount of music and concert tickets, and basically be a key cog in the radio rock syndicate. I get it - it's less about the art of music than the business of music with them. That said, they have been consistently solid with their albums...so much so that most say they are the modern day AC/DC where there's NO difference from record to record. For Godsmack, all a new album means to most people is that they will be invading radio with the sames songs as always...but with different words attached to them.
For the purists out there, this version of Fear Factory that only features original members Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares just doesn't measure up as the "real deal". To those people, I hope you enjoy missing out on one of the greatest resurgences in all of heavy metal. Without question, Fear Factory was at a point where it was time to give it up and do other things. Albums like ARCHETYPE and TRANSGRESSION were just shells of the former intensity that the band had possessed, and most thought these guys were done. Still, Bell rekindled his relationship with Cazares, pushed aside other original members, and forged ahead. If it did nothing else, the extremely solid MECHANIZE proved that the fire in the band was always spawned from the riffs of Cazares and the voice of Bell. With THE INDUSTRIALIST, they have seemingly taken it all the way back to their best era of the band.
Over the last few years, one of the most busy and biggest growing metal bands as far as reputation has been Havok. These guys have proven, right from the start, to be one of the most motivated and hardworking bands on the planet. They seem to be doing one of two things at every moment for the last 3 years...touring or recording. These new band creates what has to be considered the freshest dose of Bay Area Thrash throwback music the metal scene has seen in quite some time. There are other bands that have come along with them (Warbringer, Lazarus AD, Municipal Waste), but Havok is the only one that has seemingly stayed busy every step of the way and gained its share of attention.
From listening to THE EPISODES from Taproot, I guess it really wasn't that far of a leap for them to go from talented alternative rock band to a more emo flavored version of said talented alternative rock band. You have to give these Michigan rockers credit for keeping themelves somewhat relevant in the wake of a trendy landscape that has changed markedly since they debuted.
ELEGY OF BLOOD
It's amazing how many of these second and third tier "classic metal" bands there are out there. Specifically, it's truly amazing how many bands there are that around around 20 years old, never made much of an impact, but still crank out this kind of heavy metal that touches on thrash elements from time to time. We all know the big names that have had success doing this kind of music - Metal Church, Helloween - you know...classic metal bands that are either grand in their sound, heavy in their riffs, or both from time to time. For every great one though, there's always the more workmanlike bands that put out solid material but just can't find that extra whatever to take them over the top. Bands like Meliah Rage, Tankard or Helstar immediately jump to my mind.
I know for many people, the fact that Accept is back with a vengeance is a bad thing since lead vocalist Udo Dirkschneider is not along for the ride. I guess, on some level, I wish he was there as well. That said though, I think I'm one of the few that enjoys his post Accept band U.D.O. just as much as I ever did Accept. Let's be honest here - all U.D.O. amounts to is Accept with a slightly more electronic edge to them. To my ears, they are virtually the same band. The vocals are obviously the same, and even the guitar players have names that sound somewhat similar (Wolf Hoffman - Stefan Kaufmann). It may just be due to pressure, but the last two U.D.O. albums DOMINATOR and REV-RAPTOR have smoked sonically. Needless to say, when the latest CELEBRATOR came across my desktop, I was definitely excited.
Wolfbrigade are a band of some irony. They are a punk meets metal band, and yet, they have landed on a stoner rock label like Southern Lord to release their latest album, DAMNED. While heavily punk influenced, their latest release is far more brutal than you would expect from a band of this ilk. Checking in from the road, Dadde from Wolfbrigade checked in to explain just what's going on with the band, with DAMNED, and with their decision to take a full year off before reconvening with DAMNED.
FIRE FROM THE SKY
There's definitely some credit that has to be given to Shadows Fall. Without question, they are one of the most recognizable band from a collection of extreme metal bands to have broken out in the early 2000s. When you look at their contemporaries - God Forbid, Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage - they fit perfectly in there with that small collection of bands that a lot of modern metalheads actually care about from release to release. To me personally, they've done the most with the least amount of "it" factor. To their credit (or discredit if you must), they have always featured a sound that's all their own while merging pieces parts from everything else around them.