Back on track. With school about to start, I felt like it was time to pick some kids that are on their  way to school too. Guitarist of Portage, IN’s We The Creator, Patrick Weaver, talked to me today and said he was already at Ball State – so congrats to him! I don’t get to school until Sunday afternoon.

But back to metal. Or, in We The Creator’s case, heavy hardcore with a melodic, mature twist.

I was very impressed by this EP for multiple reasons; that’s why I’m going to just post my first impressions as I went through the tracks as opposed to a deeper analysis. It’s with EP’s like these that make you like where certain genres are going. Of course, I use the term “genre” loosely, as that suggest that certain bands are just placed in a category and never leave. While that’s true, I don’t want to put We The Creator in any sort of genre. They even call themselves “galactic freedom metal”, and that proclamation spoke to me through each track. Not only did it sound spacey at points with some effective electronic samples – the “genre” for which the band would be pegged shifts within each track. It’s definitely a newer spin on what deathcore or melodeath sounds like. I’m not trying to play it up and say it was completely standout and novel in every way. At the same time, considering both the local level and what the band has told its fans they were trying to accomplish – it’s a pretty damn good EP.

Here’s my track-by-track analysis and first impression:

  1. Vehemence – Instant brutality, forceful groove right out of the gate. The vocals immediately stand out with the astounding range, and clarity of both the lows and the highs. The riffs are simple, but I can’t see anything else working. Very effective transition to the slower solo; the tone of the song successfully been changed, though the vocal echo was a little strange. The track starts to find “purpose” with a more mature harmonized groove. The simplicity of all of these riffs should be noted, since I have heard many EP’s lately full of guitar riffs that try much too hard (concerning technicality and whatnot). Everything works here, and the vocals stay consistent throughout.
  2. Assimilation – Starts off very heavy again, but the tempo of the song is much slower and seemingly catchier. The talking is taken straight out of Frankie Palmeri’s book, and the more I deeply listen to the song I hear more of an Emmure influence with someone like The Analyst and/or Whitechapel thrown in there. The solo is the technicality I was begging for, since I was starting to get worried that this was going to be a very simple (but brutal) hardcore EP. The ending breakdown was a nice touch.
  3. Deviations – Whitechapel actually came on between tracks here accidentally. It allowed me to hear the similarity in guitar tone that I thought existed – how serendipitous. I can’t get over how clean the screams are; that is, I can’t get over how I can actually hear the lyrics. I was very impressed with the rhythm riff in the middle of the song. It was very intriguing and brutal at the same time. That’s what this band plays off of, I believe – intrigue. It appeals to people that really don’t care about stuff like that when they listen to heavy music, but the changes in tone and the intricacy combined with simplicity of the riffs make it appealing to a more intellectual, “thinker” listener. That’s why I like bands like Parkway Drive and All Shall Perish, at least – even though ASP is far from simple in any way, shape or form. The left/right guitar action at the end, ending with a massive breakdown, was a great cap to the “revelation song” for me (meaning, the song that allowed me to understand what was going on with the band’s sound).
  4. Liberator – The blitzkrieg siren sounding made me expect something very heavy, and I got it. I can only imagine hearing that siren live. Going into bar chords after that was interesting, but that’s why I’m a fan of this EP – I’m continually guessing. After a few listens, I still don’t know most of the riffs, though I can see some of the changes. Great change of tone (and an eerie riff in the background) for another huge breakdown. Yes, the band is hardcore so they have a lot of breakdowns. But at least they change it up unlike most hardcore bands I hear now that don’t have any riffs above the fifth fret, let alone have a sort of chorus with bar chords galore. Most of those just have a continual muddy breakdown for 5 minutes and call it the next big song.
  5. Signals – Definitely a different sentiment being created, as if a story is being told. The tapping riffs are very quick, very technical, and give me the feeling that the “signals” are from above, beyond our control. For some reason, the song is speaking to me. The clean vocals are a very nice touch – it tells me the band is about more than just total brutality, as if their brief harmonized interludes were not enough throughout the EP. Silence for three minutes, and hilarity ensues. I’m not spoiling that. It’s a great clash of maturity between the “why can’t we see through open doors” line of the clean singing and … well, yeah – go listen to it.

All in all, I’d say buy this EP. In terms of being overly revolutionary, I can’t say much, as my mind comes up with many more unique combinations than thoughts of originality. However, the combinations themselves speak for a very well-versed band that is trying hard to stick to their own brand. It’s simplistic at most points besides the solos, but that’s what they do. It’s heavy, but with meaning. It has a shared sentiment throughout the songs, and you can definitely feel the movement of the EP, ending with some nice clean vocals. I was most impressed by that one point, actually. The riffs, not too technical by any means, were layered in such a way that it sounded complex. It gives a mature deathcore sound that you can’t usually catch at the local level. That’s why you should go see these guys at a show very soon (they’re experienced; they’ve played with Molotov Solution, Becoming the Archetype, and Wretched, among many other bigger names). Show some support, and expect an interview with these guys in the coming weeks.

It’s time for a second anonymous writer to emerge on the Metal Pedagogy scene. The Pyramid Smasher, who hails from Ohio, has obliged to review Heads & Tails Promotions’ Bleach the Skies EP. Without further ado, here it is:

Before I launch into this review, I would like to commend the CEO of this band’s label. This dude is 19 and already runs a functioning record label that has numerous bands on it, all of who have releases. I’m only a year younger than him and can’t even keep my room clean, serious respect for Joseph Todd, he was born to do this.

Bleach The Skies’s debut EP “Tonight We stand” is admittedly not something I would normally listen to. This 5 piece band from Queensland, Australia can best be described as a melodic metalcore band in the vein of Parkway Drive and As I Lay Dying, with an emphasis on brutality and chugging patterns. At first listen, one may even wonder why they should choose to listen to this band over their predecessors and influences, and I admittedly thought that at first as well, until I realized just how young they were. Not only does this band have potential, but they have a plan, which puts them in the upper echelon of the massive amount of young bands with untapped potential.

The EP begins with an electronic intro track. Though instead of the cliché synthy style of intro you’d expect on an Asking Alexandria album, the band opts for a more symphonic interlude reminiscent of Angra’s “Dues Le Volt”. I would actually consider this track to be one of the more professional points of the EP, due to it’s interesting orchestration and interesting method of building up over time, keeping the listener interested for the entire span. Strangely enough, the intro leads into a track called “First Impressions Always Last”, which can perfectly describe what the band must have had in mind while writing their intro.

“First Impressions Always Last” begins with a clean bass section, and then launches into a chugging breakdown. I would love to say I didn’t expect that, but that seems the be the nature of the beast with metalcore. While the premise may be generic, a chugging breakdown with a melodic lead, the execution is not bad at all. I have heard countless EPs begin in much less interesting ways, from bands who are far older, more experienced, and often quite famous. Vocalist Darcy Smallhorn makes his first appearance on the song shortly after the minute mark. Just from looking at their Facebook picture, I can not believe a voice this mature is coming from someone who looks this young. All of his vocals on the EP favor a mid-range metalcore scream, with no clean vocals to be heard. While that may sound off-putting, does metalcore really need more generic clean choruses? This reviewer says “No.”

The third track is titled “You fell, I rose” and begins with another breakdown intro. The transition between this and the track before it is not a smooth one. The song would’ve done better either in a different place on the track list, or with a non-chugging intro. It begins to feel like this EP is going to have way too many breakdowns on it, though the rest of the song has some of the more melodic leads of the EP on it. Altogether the remainder of the track made up for its iffy beginning.

Up next is “Depths”, at which point I began to feel that the songs all sounded very similar to eachother, though that may be owed to the fact that I tend to not listen to this kind of metal. Towards the end of a song is a very cool clean section, my favorite part of the EP, though the breakdown after it begins to mitigate it’s effect. I feel like the breakdown would’ve worked if it was faster, or didn’t ring out as much, the one that was there just felt anti-climactic.

Finally we arrive at “Tonight We Stand”, which may be my favorite track. It begins with a melodic riff instead of a breakdown, which is a nice change, and I expect to hear this more on their next release. The song has vastly superior drumming to the rest of the album, including blast beats and fast double bass that capture the true spirit of metal. Odd time signatures even make an appearance during one breakdown, which I think suits the band quite well. The song fades out with a cool melodic intro, and ends the EP on a higher note than some of the middle tracks would allude to.

All in all the EP was a worthwhile release. It very much reminds me of the “By Sunset” EP by The Eyes of a Traitor, with a splash of their debut album as well. I feel that these two bands are very comparable and will one day share the same fan base. Bleach The Skies is a band who I can foresee becoming a big name in metalcore, due to their work ethic and progress so far alone. I hope they will take this constructive criticism for what it’s worth, and stress melodies more in place of breakdowns in the future, it’s their only real hindrance.

My final verdict is download it. There’s a strong niche following for this kind of metalcore, and it’s a professionally preformed EP. While the writing on “Tonight We Stand’ is questionable at times, the performance is not. Aside from production, this EP sounds like it was recorded by seasoned professionals, which is more than you can really ask for from a band this young.

– Pyramid Smasher

It’s good to hear from across the pond every now and again.

Joseph Todd, CEO and Owner of Heads & Tails Records, sent me his promotional mix today. It consisted of thirteen tracks from thirteen bands scattered around the globe. Some were from the US, some were from the UK, and at least a few were getting some distribution down in Australia (whether they were actually from there or not was rather unclear in our conversation). He came to me with the standard British charm, asking harmlessly if I would be ever so gracious as to review his album. I can’t turn something like that down, as this is my business! I’ve written a lot about each track, so I’ll spare you from our small talk. Here’s how it broke down, in true British fashion; I modeled my scale after the Barclays Premier League:

Bands were promoted if they did a bang-up job and sounded jolly good.
Bands stayed if they were so-so, or if they were good and needed some cleaning up, or if they were bad and I was giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Bands were relegated if I had no more aforementioned benefit of the doubt to give.

Promoted:

  • “Cincinatti Bow Tie” by Death Remains – Stereotypical but impressive riff to begin the song, a good screaming tone for the vocals. You can’t hear the drums as much as I’d want to, but it puts the emphasis on the vocals, which I enjoy. A lot of chugging, unexpected low growls – relentless riffs all the way through. I almost don’t want to hear a breakdown! The breakdown, when it finally came, was very effective. It’s different from most of the stuff sent to me in that it was effectively forceful and unrelenting. There are quite a few songs that have been quick and filled with riffs that I’ve heard in this site’s history, but none done quite so tastefully. Ironic, because the name of the song is disgusting.
  • “Treachery” by Half Past 12– Classy, simple riff to begin the song. The treble-heavy guitars make me think of a classic metal sound combined with a little something extra that at least I’m not accustomed to hearing. The singing/screaming combination is again very impressive. The melody lines are effective, though not very creative; I’d really appreciate it more if the singer went out of what might be his comfort zone. The drums can be described as “efficient” – a nice couple of rolls as the singer holds out a long note, but other than that, no real spark. The vocals are what make the band so good, along with some of the rhythmic parts. The low-end riffs and the drums’ cohesion with the bass and rhythm guitar are great. I haven’t heard much of a lead yet, but the song is definitely good enough where I will give them a deeper look and see what I can find. A refreshing new take on some classic metal ideologies is what it feels like … minus the lack of a solo, of course.
  • “Under the Strings” by Gathered Below – Another cymbal-heavy recording, but I’m able to hear the riffs. Pretty nice use of modifiers for the vocals going into a breakdown, and a moderately clean transition into a slower part resulting in sweeps and another riff. I sound like a broken record, and it’s only the fifth track, but I see a lot of potential here. For me it’s a matter of production value on a promotional CD like this; it sucks that these bands don’t get more attention because they would be up there with the rest of them. The alternation between the riff from the slower part and a breakdown (fresh with panic chords, delivered right to your door) is tasty. At first I would equate them to Bring Me The Horizon, and then I sensed other influences. Good song, can’t wait to hear more.
  • “Recognition” by Havenside – For some reason, Parkway Drive and For the Fallen Dreams have combined here in my mind to make Havenside. The transitions between fast-paced low-end riffs and the slower breakdowns are seamless, and the production value is great so I can hear everything going on! The breakdown after the talking portion of the song actually has me feeling their anger with the world. Unfortunately, the song was really short, but I enjoyed it to the fullest. I rarely appreciate hardcore like that, but it resonated with me.
  • “Alcoholic (Bonus Track)” by Disaster Plan – Really catchy post hardcore – my guilty pleasure genre for sure. Solid riffs, the vocals have that air of desperation and pain that post hardcore thrives on, and the clean vocals still have a little scream in there followed by group vocals. It has all of the elements of a great song in this genre, and it sounds completely original. The songwriting quality and the production quality are both very high. The breakdown is completely unexpected, and it reminds me of something from Horse the Band or The Number Twelve Looks Like You. This band should check out Tera Melos or Pianos Become The Teeth, both very sick bands which this song brings back into my mind. One of my favorites on the CD.

Stayed:

  • “Bury Your Knight” by Afraid of Heights – Interesting intro going into the first scream, the distortion on the guitars sounds just right. Vocals are very good, the clean and screaming pair is very effective with the cascading guitar riff. I like the riffs and the musicianship, but the flow of the song seems a little too formulaic. It’s very good, but it seems to me the band needs to hone their songwriting skills a little more and go a little more outside of the box on both the clean and metal sides of the spectrum. There’s a lot of potential here, though! I’d like to check back with this band soon.
  • “Humanity’s End” by End Creation – It’s really difficult to appropriately review this because of the quality of the recording, but I do see some potential. A BTBAM-esque growl accompanied by death metal riffs from hell make this a solid track. The guitars are too overdriven, I think – that might be what’s keeping me from hearing the exact precision of the riffs. All things considered, though, it’s a pretty solid yet generic death metal track. The only thing that sets them apart is a 15-second slow part that could possibly be misinterpreted as humorous. I truly can’t tell if the generic sound is a result of the production or because the band hasn’t quite found that extra special something yet. Because of this, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and wait for some studio time.
  • “Summer” by To Crown a King – Songs like this frustrate me. The band clearly has a lot of potential. The riffs are catchy enough, their song structure is nice, and the vocals are great (next to the auto-tuning, which I won’t even comment on because it makes me so angry; they went from something like a Parkway Drive to Attack Attack! in an instant because I can only associate the auto-tuning with crappy bands). However, nothing really happens in the five-minute, 29 second song. The structure which started so well in the beginning kind of became more predictable, riffs kept repeating themselves, and overall the song got boring at the four-minute mark. I was hoping, because this band seems talented from what I’m hearing their instruments do, that something would change drastically in the last minute, but it didn’t. I hear so much potential here, but they didn’t deliver all of it. Therefore, they’re staying in our hypothetical “league” for one more season.
  • “Scream” by Setback – Very interesting drum beat for the first main riff, and I did not expect the vocal style that came out of nowhere. It’s almost as if classic metal is back and here to stay with these guys. Very catchy harmonized riff in the middle of the song. The song is getting a little too cliché to be one of my favorites (review-wise) on this album, but it deserves some credit. No other band is doing this right now;there were probably hundreds of bands like this about twenty years ago, but that’s neither here nor there. The band stays in the league, because I’d like to see what else they can do when given a chance. And if they’re ever around my town, I would most definitely pay for a ticket to see if they can deliver live before I make the final ruling.
  • “No Photos, Please” by Versus Robots – I really like the main riff, but like most of the songs that are staying / getting relegated, there’s nothing original about the song structure, which leaves me pretty uninterested. The vocals seem out of sync with the breakdown as well. I like the pinch harmonics … sometimes. Every bar of a breakdown is a little overkill. In summary, though, it’s not a bad song. Like two or three other songs on this list, I find certain elements very enjoyable, there are just a few kinks that need to be worked out before moving to the next level.

Relegated:

  • “A Moment in the Meantime” by A Violet Alibi – The first song on the entire compilation that has an actual “groove” to it, though I can’t exactly give it much credit. The clean vocals are very much hit-or-miss, and the keyboard is overpowering the guitars or even the drums. All I can hear in the first clean-singing part are cymbals, keyboard, and vocals – and that’s not good. Some of the riffs are pretty good, but the keys kind of push everything out of sync and place it on the blind noise part of the spectrum for me. Out of nowhere, the chorus comes back, and I’m more confused than ever. That’s about all I can say about this song. It’s not horrible, but at the same time, the rest of the songs on here stepped their game up, so to carry on the theme of Premier League, these guys are relegated.
  • “Screams in Silence” by Kantiko – I was expecting something a little better to start off with, since I had to deal with the buildup for a good ten to fifteen seconds. The main riff is hardly unconventional; it’s just a little thrashier than what I’m used to hearing. The vocals are relatively good, considering what’s going on with the guitars and the drums. It’s not that they’re really bad musicians, it’s just that there’s no creativity that I can see. It’s a generic metalcore riff, with generic metalcore progressions. The breakdown at the end is a decent accent on a pretty bland song, but all in all, I’d need a second song or a full EP to see if this band has what it takes.
  • “Protest” by 13th Rebellion – I honestly do not know what to think, here. I heard this was a solo project, and I was anticipating something to the likings of Animals as Leaders or Chimp Spanner, or at least something in the djent realm. Based on the recording, this almost sounds like garage pop. Is that what I’m supposed to be hearing? Yes, the drums sound like they’re making an effort to be metal, but I honestly can’t tell. It’s cool – don’t get me wrong, I like some garage stuff – but for all intents and purposes, it isn’t what I’m looking for out of this.

 

That’s everybody! Special thanks go to Heads & Tails for giving me this promo CD. I thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of it. To all those that stayed – if you’re willing to try to prove me wrong, send over something else at metalpedagogy@gmail.com! You can also like us on Facebook @The Metal Pedagogy.

-Geoff, the Nashvillain.

I know it sounds weird, but Zakk Cash isn’t spending too much time with his own band since he’s starting another project up. Therefore, he sat down with Chris Hammock – of Call Us Tragedy – to discuss a few things and have a few laughs. Take a listen:

There are still a lot of EP’s being sent to me to review – and I’m more than happy about that. I really wish I had the personnel to both check them all out and review them all as quickly as I have them coming in, but I don’t. I save the immediate reviews for those EP’s that explode into my headphones. Those EP’s that have me looking around the room, seeing what inanimate objects could be brought to life with the sheer power I’m hearing now. The very samples of music that should be making every metalhead cringe sinisterly, and while I know that isn’t true, it strikes me as “H0ly crap, this band should have something going for them.” – And that’s A Wanted Awakening.

The 5-piece from Lowell, Mass. has gone through many changes, trials, tribulations, and a few names since the beginning, in 2002 (yes, that’s no typo – 9 years ago). If you want to read about their entire history, you can check out their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/awantedawakening?sk=info), but what really hit me hard while I was reading through was the very bottom:

A Wanted Awakening hopes to be just that, an awakening: a breath of life for the stagnating metal scene, and a force to push metal back to the forefront of the music industry.

Bold words indeed (even though I put them in italics). Any band with that sort of message is alright in my book already. Plus, they’re from Massachusetts. Like half of Jacoby Ellsbury’s games this month, they’re 2-for-2. Now it’s at-bat number 3, I’m on the mound, and Rebirth EP has just come in to pinch-hit. Was that a good decision?

Absolutely. This EP caught my hanging curve and put it right on the Mass Pike.

A Wanted Awakening's "Rebirth EP"

The name of A Wanted Awakening’s game is versatility. Though they call themselves melodeath, that’s sort of understating how many genres they delve into and how many influences they make apparent throughout Rebirth. They play the mature, let’s-slow-things-down-a-bit, seamless transition card quite a bit on a few tracks, but it doesn’t get stale because of the manner in which they approach these riffs. The other riffs are so carefully thought out and meticulously placed amongst great rhythm and arguably the largest range of vocals I’ve seen on a local level, that I can’t even call it deathcore at times.

On that note, the clean vocals are just great. I didn’t expect them at all a third of the way into “Flameborn”, and was waiting for them every second after. I can clearly detect another large Massachusetts’ band influence, possibly Killswitch Engage or All That Remains, in the singing voice. It wasn’t necessarily the tone that led me to that conclusion, it was more of the booming, beyond epic proportion vibe that the production was attempting to draw.

The most scintillating track, though I couldn’t take many notes as I was listening (because such curiosity had been invoked, I didn’t know what to do with my hands), had to be “Spiders”. In this track, the clean vocal range is at its finest, and none of the notes seem particularly forced. While that’s going on, a groovy rhythm is being played aggressively in the background, and the dichotomy is magical. The solo – which began soon after I was finally starting to get into the groove of everything – was artistic, yet thrashy at the same time. The harmonies were right on point; a very difficult harmony to pull off due to the tempo, I might add. This is my highlight track because it most accurately depicts the main point I want to get across about this band: they have plenty of influences. Classic metal, metalcore, death metal – it doesn’t matter. The band plays what they like, and they combine it all to make their own sound. There isn’t a band out there that sounds like this, and that really sucks, because I want to see a band that’s readily available to me in Chicago or elsewhere in Indiana that sounds exactly like this.

With that said, I would tell you to buy this EP – but they already have it on their bandcamp: http://awantedawakening.bandcamp.com. If you’re in Massachusetts or see that they’re playing near you, go support this band. If you can’t do that, buy some merch online. If you can’t do that, give them a Like on Facebook. Whatever you have to do to support ’em, go ahead and do it, because I was honestly impressed by this EP. I can’t wait until the full length comes out.

If you think your band should send me an EP to listen to, just contact me at metalpedagogy@gmail.com!

-Geoff, The Nashvillain

 

Everybody has a local favorite, and for TMP’s Southeastern Correspondent Zakk Cash, it’s Gweedo and the Edible Thursdays. The band’s been together for quite a while, and has turned a lot of heads because of their unique blend of alternative, pop, and punk. Here, Zakk asks drummer Tristan Collier a few questions outside of a show:

Compilation CD’s or digital releases are definitely the best way to get bands heard. For starters, you have at least ten different bands per disc, so how are you not going to find something you like? Also, as a promoter, you’re killing a bunch of birds with one stone – got thirteen or so bands barking at you for attention? Throw ’em all a bone with a good ol’ compilation.

Jonny Beans' Bring the Motherf**king Ruckus, Volume 1.

That’s exactly what Mr. Jonny Beans did. He’s compiled a 13-track promotional disc of some great (and not so great) hardcore and metal bands, called Bring the Motherfucking Ruckus, Vol. 1. The album itself is a great idea, and for the most part it’s a great album. A lot of songs hit hard, quite a few have quite progressive, mature transitions, and some are just brutal as all hell. There are some that miss the mark, however – and that’s why we have this categorical system for The Ruckus:

Brought the ruckus means that the band nailed it, case and point.
Brought some of the ruckus
means that the band did pretty well, but it’s still missing a few elements for it to be a great song.
Forgot the ruckus at home
is pretty obvious; the band just didn’t have it on this track.

So now I’ll sort all of the songs by category now, if you don’t mind. I was a little harsher with “grading” on this one – to mark the debut of “not so nice Nashvillain” now that readers would appreciate more honesty.

Brought the ruckus:

  • Improvement, by Burn the Weak – Catchy tapping riff in the beginning, sort of makes me think of Parkway Drive with a little edgier rhythm guitar tone. The vocals seem forced, but it works. It’s a slow, groovy song with some heavy riffs behind it. The transitions between riffs are very good, and the drums keep you guessing throughout the song – it’s actually what’s pulling the entire track together! Maintaining structure while having a web of technical (and catchy) riffs is what bringing the ruckus is all about. I like that certain riffs are coming back in, especially the harmonized tapping riff, by the fourth minute of the song. The slow solo behind the fierce, Plagues-esque high wails make it beautiful and in discord at the same time. Overall a great track, I will definitely look into this band more.
  • This … is My Boomstick, by History of Monsters – Immediately making some noise with a catchy breakdown. Definitely did not expect the southern drawl on the vocals behind the riffs. All of the riffs are so southern and the alternation between the southern vibe and the heavy vibe is a great combination. I’ve never really been a fan of southern metal – a little bitter taste in my mouth with Maylene & the Sons of Disaster – but this is really catchy. I know this band’s signed to Ling Chi records, so I’ll be hearing from them soon.
  • Resolve, by Chronographs – I was nearly startled by the explosion of sound to start the track. I absolutely love the groove of the track, and the subtle riffs in the background are a beautiful touch. The emphasis is put on the groove and the symbiosis of all of the instruments, no matter how chaotic they may sound together. Very good job on the clean vocals as well, the vocal lines are simple but not too simple by any means. This band is just very good at placing the emphasis where they want – I want to hear more from them for sure. It’s hard to relate this band to someone in particular; it would have to be Periphery or The Arusha Accord – a band with variable vocals and great groove. Either way, I know they’re good since they’re, for the lack of better words, incomparable. This won my favorite song on the compilation disc, great job guys.
  • The Desert’s Curse, by Behold Oblivion – Catchy riffs, fast pace – more progressive range of screams, makes me think Black Dahlia Murder right away. The standard deathcore progression of the song makes me wait for that one thing that’ll set it apart from the rest. The vocals are definitely professional sounding, and the production value is extremely high. A beautiful transition at the 2:30 mark was just about what I was looking for; this deathcore band doesn’t abide by all of the deathcore rules. I sense a tad of Veil of Maya influence as well, whether it’s strictly the guitar tone (with the lack of true overdrive), or the range of vocals. The clean vocals are an amazing touch, though I’m slightly desensitized due to what else I’ve heard on this compilation. I still have to give credit where it’s due.
  • Of Titans, by Elysion Fields – I really dig the combination of gang vocals and the brutality of the main vocalist right off the bat. The main riff builds as the drums do, and instead of a breakdown, clean vocals come out of nowhere! I’m slightly biased because I’ve listened to this band for a while (north Chicago represent), and this isn’t even their greatest song, but it’s still a solid pick. They put on an awesome live show, and it’s only a matter of time before they go through the ranks. The breakdown is a little stereotypical but is thrown off slightly with the intermittent octave riff – and I still think it’s catchy and brutal at the same time. There is nothing wrong with a song like this by any means; the more metal songs that can be heavy but still have a chorus, the better. This wins the runner-up for the compilation disc.

Brought some of the ruckus:

  • Inherited, by Forefathers – Chaotic, hardcore – reminds me of a heavier Every Time I Die. Muddy guitar tone and awkward drum level. I really can’t hear anything of the drums besides a few cymbals and a nasty drum kick tone. Decent riffs and transitions, the vocals have really saved the entire song – I can picture him going nuts in a live situation. I expected a better breakdown riff with the very large lead-in on the drums, but it wasn’t overly disappointing.
  • Now Go Home and Get Your Fucking Shinebox, by Beyond Dishonor – First recording I heard that sounded professional, especially on the drums. Every note is on point, the two guitars are in perfect syncopation with the drums, and the pinch harmonics are perfect as well. The transitions are pretty cliché – reminiscent of some old Liferuiner stuff, or even Recon if they could ever play guitar – but the riffs that the transitions are supposed to connect are for the most part pretty good. It sounded like there were a few miscues later in the song with where the vocals came in versus where the guitars came in, but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and listen to more songs by them in the near future.
  • Trinity, by When Legends Die – Whenever I hear a sound clip before a song starts, I expect one of two things to happen if it’s used effectively: 1) The clip is short and sweet, usually funny, or to some kind of point, or 2) The clip fits with the tempo of the beginning of the song. I didn’t feel like this clip did either of those things, which is why I initially lost some interest. The guitar tone is very good, as well as the drum/cymbal tones (except for that china cymbal, which started to annoy me two minutes in). The vocals are a little chaotic, but it’s not terrible. Everything sounds a little too muddy together for me to fully appreciate what’s going on, but they’re definitely bringing something to the table. It sounds like a band with a lot of potential.
  • Blasphemy Beat, by The Teeth – Initially I have no idea what to think – are the vocals reminding me of Metallica or of Every Time I Die? I don’t really understand the alternation between screaming like ETID and the singing like Coheed and Cambria, but for some reason I’m not wanting to turn it off. It sounds like the emphasis is the lyrics, and it really sucks I can’t understand them, but I’m sure when I read them I will give this guy some poetic credit. As far as the instrumentation goes, there really isn’t anything that’s standing out. Yes, they’re playing chords, the drums are being struck, and there might be a bass back there, but this vocalist is certainly in the front. La Dispute sounds like a definite influence, the more I think of it.
  • Sick of It, by Bound By Exile – This band, though still a little too extreme for my taste, brings it a little harder than the other extreme band. Taste aside, I can still hear the guitar riffs, and the drums are not nearly as over-embellished. The transitions are nice, and the breakdowns in combination with some electronica are a solid touch to set them apart. The production quality makes it sound a little sloppier than I think the band would like. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they have some potential. If everything got tighter and the progression was a little less predictable, I’d give it higher marks in a second.

Forgot the ruckus at home:

  • The Void, by Synopsis – Catchy lead riff, but I feel like the production value – or just what’s going on with the other musicians – made them kind of miss the mark on how epic that intro was supposed to be. Normally I would admire clean vocals amidst a breakdown, but everything just sounds pretty generic. The lower octave is what’s killing this vocalist for me – if it was a little higher, or maybe even harmonized, I’d definitely have a different opinion. It just seems that everything the band did was supposed to be beyond proportion, but it turned out very tame and bland.
  • A Shell of a Human Being, by Paris is Burning – Starts off with guttural pig squeals that I haven’t heard yet on the compilation – and now I know why I’m fine with that. The riff isn’t that great, and I’m instantly waiting for the next segment of the song. The song is slowly getting better – from the perspective of guitar work – but it’s certainly not giving me that “wow” factor, considering some of the other things I’ve heard on here. The guitar tone allows the guitars to be overly sloppy on the breakdowns, and I honestly can’t hear a snare drum unless there’s a set of pans making that sound in the background. Maybe if it was produced a little better, I’d understand what the band was going for. Yes, the breakdowns are fine (even better than fine, at some parts), but again, I’ve already lost the overwhelming interest.
  • Deathless Ringing, by Archspire – …Is this even real? The grosser-than-Behemoth barking is making my stomach turn, and I don’t even want to know what program they’re using for drums because it doesn’t even sound real. Yes, the guitars are relatively impressive, but I honestly can’t even listen to it. I can’t put my finger on what I truly dislike about it. It has to be the combination of the extreme vocals and the clearly triggered / computerized bass pedal. The beat is going so fast, I can’t even follow any sort of riff. The one thing I find adequate is the change in tempo about two minutes into the song. Other than that … I don’t know what to tell you. Listen to it yourself if you’re a fan of extreme metal and the like.

 

Well, there you have it. A detailed review of the compilation disc. Whether you agree with the opinions or not, I tried to give a summary of what the song had in it, so you can make an opinion for yourself! You can also download the compilation at http://www.mediafire.com/?9kt6mnl50e1pmxb – I know that both myself and Jonny want you to very much.

-Geoff, the Nashvillain.

It’s really tough for some people to keep track of their favorite bands, where they’re going on tour, if they’re releasing anything soon, and most importantly on what label all of this is happening! The label most certainly isn’t the most important part in principle – being signed means next to nothing these days, what with minor promotion companies, minor labels, and piracy galore – but it’s still most important because that’s the only way you can get legitimate news on your go-to bands. For instance, I haven’t heard from Blind Witness in a while – I’m thinking they’ve broken up, they aren’t playing anymore, or I’m just out of the loop. I go to Mediaskare Records’ Facebook page, and sure enough, Blind Witness has new merch available – results in a huge sigh of relief from me. Now for some more metal news:

Speaking of Mediaskare Records, big partiers Bermuda are set to record a new album, after their EP received much critical acclaim (and for good reason, that EP is solid). The label’s been VERY busy promoting Bury Your Dead‘s new album and music video. I don’t really care for the new album too much, since I think Bury Your Dead was long gone a long time ago, but I suppose they’re big wigs in the hardcore game still, and Mediaskare’s gotta do what they gotta do. The other bands on this label are busy as well! While Hundredth is out on tour, Sovereign Strength and Betrayal have both released new albums. As mentioned, Mediaskare is focusing on merch for other bands without material in a while, such as Blind Witness.

Sumerian Records gets the MVP award this week, as they’ve been on the ball promoting a lot of bands across the board. Dead Letter Circus‘ debut album was just released in the US through Sumerian, and it’s picking up steam (even though I had heard about it a few months ago from a friend). The band just finished a tour with Animals as Leaders, Intronaut, and Evan Brewer; they’re about to go back on tour, this time in Australia, starting on the 15th. The busiest band as of late is definitely After the Burial, as they’ve released two videos in the past week – they were actually released on the same day! Both “Pendulum” and “Your Troubles Will Cease and Fortune Will Smile Upon You”, off their sophomore release In Dreams, were released while the band is still on the All-Stars tour with Sumerian peers Born of Osiris. That tour is in Richmond and the Carolinas this week – check their Facebook pages for more details! Lastly, The Francesco Artusato Project is really blowing up, as Sumerian wasted no time in picking him up and getting an album out. The album itself is incredible, and the Italian Berklee grad must be on top of the world with two very popular and very new albums being released and promoted right now.

Speaking of All Shall Perish and Nuclear Blast, the label is wasting no time and riding the momentum of This is Where it Ends to pursue other endeavors. On the same day Immolation announced their latest North American tour (which starts October 5 in Toronto), German greats Blind Guardian have announced that they will collaborate with an orchestra to produce a concept album. The album’s story is said to be written by fantasy author M. Turville Heitz (Wizard Fantastic, Blood Muse). Metal legends Vader – who have been hitting hard since the 80’s and are not stopping any time soon – have released a new song. It’s available for $1.98 on iTunes, but you can probably find it on YouTube – I’d pay for it just because it’s a classic band, and I don’t know how much longer they’re going to be around! Other classic bands, such as Sepultura and Symphony X, are holding video contests in which fans upload their own music videos onto YouTube. The deadline for the contests is August 31, so go onto Nuclear Blast’s Facebook page to find out more!

Christian label Facedown Records has had an eventful few weeks, despite the fact that there are very few releases from them this summer. Quite a few bands, however, are set to release albums in November (like A Hope for Home and Nashville’s own A Plea for Purging).  Most of the focus as of late has been promotion of their donation website, http://www.knowthinkact.com/facedownrecords. The band picks a new project every so often, and hopes that some of their good-hearted fans will make donations to these great causes. Facedown has taught us that being in the music business definitely doesn’t mean you have to be a cold-hearted loser. These guys both mean business and have great hearts in the right place.

It’s been a rough couple of days for Century Media, despite the success of iwrestledabearonce‘s new release. Speaking of which, the band was recently featured on MTV’s Music Meter chart, which could be a sign of great things to come. Could this mean that other more legitimate metal bands will be featured? Probably not. But did someone over at MTV grow a pair and decide to put something heavier on the list? Quite possibly. At any rate, Century Media decided to pull all of their artists off Spotify – which in case you haven’t heard, is a new program that basically allows the user to listen to anything they want in playlist form. Century Media released a statement as to why they did this, citing they wanted “to protect the interests of the artists”. I understand where they’re coming from, but honestly, it’s not going to matter much. Piracy is everywhere nowadays; though I absolutely agree with what Century is saying, the resulting increase/decrease in income is most likely going to be next to nothing.

Roadrunner hasn’t been too active lately, since most of its big bands are between tours and releases. Two of their bigger US acts, Dream Theater and Trivium, are releasing new material soon! Trivium’s newest album, In Waves, has just released today (August 9), while Dream Theater’s new single “On The Backs of Angels” is up on iTunes today as well. Machinehead is also gearing up for a new album, as interviews are all over Roadrunner’s Facebook page. It seems they are expecting it to be quite a big release.

The only label that’s about as inactive as Roadrunner is most certainly Metal Blade, at least on their Facebook page. Most of their acts are also between tours and/or releases, with the exception of a very solid few (at least, more solid than Roadrunner’s few). The most disgusting yet awesome metal show in the world, GWAR, has just announced a new tour, entitled “Return of the World Maggot”. It will feature Every Time I Die, Warbeast, and Ghoul. The action starts October 18 in Charlotte, NC. Another large tour from Metal Blade features Allegaeon, The Devastated, and The Browning. That tour will be going on at least all month, so check their Facebook page if it’s near you! Also, to keep everyone pumped about Behemoth, the label released a new update on the completion of their new music video. I guess that means their new album can’t be too far off … can it?

 

That’s all for now! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, look us up on Twitter or Facebook, or you can send us an email at metalpedagogy@gmail.com

-Geoff, The Nashvillain.

The most common misconception about the city of Nashville, Tennessee, is that country artists reign supreme. While it’s still true that there are quite a few Top 40 country artists in the area – Brad Paisley, Alan Jackson, and Taylor Swift to name a few – there are also larger music scenes in other genres. Belmont University churns out singer/songwriters like its their job (which it undoubtedly is – it sure isn’t to teach kids anything about independence and responsibility </rant>), while a quite formidable garage rock scene has appeared in Nashville. Though I realize some music elitists will get mad at the term “garage rock”, note that it isn’t my area of expertise – so it sounds like garage rock to me!

Through that hefty introduction basically saying that all kinds of music coexist in Nashville, it is also important to note that there is a larger hardcore / metal scene in the Nashville area. The occasional Belmont guitarist forms a metal band, and the surrounding high schools have made the scene more alive than ever in the past few years. The Last Freefall, a band that’s been featured on this site twice (most recently for their new EP, Apocalyptic Cataclysm) is one of those bands that’s taking Nashville’s metal scene to the next level – a more thought-oriented, mature, eclectic level, away from the scene-kid age. Some notable metal artists are from Nashville or got their start in Nashville: The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, A Plea for Purging, Tommy Aldridge (drummer for MANY bands like Ozzy Osbourne and Ted Nugent; was born in Nashville), Every Mother’s Nightmare (featuring a professional cricketer for a time), and others. This new generation to appear in Nashville – the very generation of late-teenage-to-early-twenties kids that plays in the same venue as a recent Whitechapel music video – will change the game in some way, I’m sure of it. Here are three bands that are arguably the largest of this scene right now:

Ancients

Ancients, at 2300 likes, is in all likelihood one of the more popular metal bands in Nashville right now, at least on that local level. Their aggressive sound makes them a live force (I assume, as I never got to see them live), and their versatility in both vocals and instrumentation keeps any new listener guessing, and any old listener waiting for the next amazing transition. As a new listener myself the last few days, I still cannot exactly predict all of the shifts in “Epigenetic” or even the difference of guitar style in “Chariots of Fire”. The six-piece has you constantly on your toes, waiting for the next big breakdown or riff, and I can only imagine how extreme their live shows can get with all of the interludes and quick tempo changes. Their unique blend of groove and aggression is one of a kind in Nashville’s scene – since most hardcore bands just play muddy chords, and most groovy bands are more in the djent realm, like Faith in Shadows – and Ancients combines this sound with speculation about humans’ past, present, and future. With that classic death metal mentality of “we need to destroy the world in order to rebuild and become better” combined with today’s hardcore stylings, Ancients is just a solid band. Check ’em out at http://www.facebook.com/ANCIENTSmetal?sk=info.

 

The album art for Pulaski's Sirens Fall Silent's upcoming EP

Sirens Fall Silent is from Pulaski, TN – a town that often has been welcomed into Nashville’s scene with open arms, and for good reason. This blend of progressive metal, metalcore, and hardcore is in a weird way upbeat, but still really hard-hitting. They remind me of a young Texas in July, or even Oblige – the metalcore sound is that classic and combined with some very solid riffs. SFS also knows how to break it down, as their one song on Facebook, “Visions of Your Ghost” goes from very heavy to very quick and riff-heavy in a matter of seconds. The musicianship is unique in that the guitars and drums seem specialized to their particular subgenres – but together, they create a blend of sounds that would be extremely difficult to duplicate. The 5-minute song goes all over the place and doesn’t even seem choppy. The transitions are seamless, and the clean vocals into the solo are beautiful. Once I saw the band had 1,700 likes, I thought two things: 1) This band is definitely from Pulaski because it’s once again a case of a small-town band getting no recognition because of where they’re from, even though they’re better than the majority of Nashville’s scene, and 2) I need to get this band out there so they’ll want to come to Nashville more often. Their EP, “In Our Darkest Dreams”, is set to come out soon. To have this band play near you, you should try emailing them at SirensFallSilent@gmail.com – or check out their page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sirens-Fall-Silent/228508018985

 

As Hell Retreats

I saved the biggest for last. Since their full length release, Volition (which is awesome in full, you should check out the review here: http://www.christiansonic.net/2011/07/as-hell-retreats-volition.html), the band has really picked up steam. Everyone is starting to realize that they are a young 4-piece to be reckoned with, with a great combination of aggression from the Hendersonville hardcore scene, and actual meaning behind their lyrics. The new video from Volition for the song “Matriarch” has a great story that relates to the singer’s relationship with his mother. Content like this is what most hardcore is missing for me nowadays. There are too many bands that just want to play breakdowns for 30 minutes straight on an EP and get big – that’s not going to happen anymore. If more bands in the scene started to act like As Hell Retreats and have some actual sentiment behind some powerful screams (and a great live show, I might add – even though I am not the biggest hardcore fan) and some heavy riffs combined with the breakdowns, there would be much more life in what we call Nashville hardcore. These guys are everywhere right now, so if you’re around Nashville you should try to get to a show. Also, give ’em a like on Facebook and check out their songs (I recommend ANY of the ones on their Facebook page, especially “Inferior”): http://www.facebook.com/ashellretreats?sk=app_178091127385

 

That’s all I have from Nashville’s scene for now – expect more in the coming weeks, as there are a lot of talented bands out there. We now have a gmail account, so if you want to contact us directly with questions, comments, suggestions, or band ideas, email metalpedagogy@gmail.com

Also, like us on Facebook @The Metal Pedagogy, or follow us on Twitter @MetalPedagogy. Have a brutal day!

-Geoff, The Nashvillain.

Some Hometown Favorites

Posted: 08/07/2011 in Metallurgy

It’s about time we got back on track. There are a lot of great bands out there that not nearly enough people know about. At least check out these guys on Facebook and like their pages, because I think they’re pretty damn good! These three bands haven’t contacted me; I’ve just been so impressed by a few things: 1) Their actual musical ability, 2) The tenacity to keep playing shows after being around for so long (this point is particularly associated with one of these bands), and 3) Despite the lack of “likes”, their genuine appreciation for the support they’re getting. So, at the risk of sounding long-winded, here are my three artists of the day:

Nashville, TN's Faith in Shadows

As most readers know by now, I tried to immerse myself in Nashville’s hardcore scene while I was down there for a year. Of the fifteen or so local bands I saw, Faith in Shadows was definitely up there with the best of them. This djent project is the self-proclaimed “brainchild” of Jessie Wooten – and yes, I know what you’re thinking. Jessie is the nephew of brilliant bassist Victor Wooten. In 2005, the project began. Even though Jessie is a drummer first, he writes all of the music on guitar and bass, and has equally-as-talented-in-their-own-right musicians James Downs,  Warren Sadler, Christian Venson, and Joey Fitzpatrick. I don’t know about you, but those names just sound like the names of future huge musicians (even though it says different names on the ReverbNation page, so if those are the wrong names I gravely apologize). With great production value from XPlosive Joseph Music, their two songs on their Facebook page sound great (even though one is proclaimed as “rough”, I didn’t hear anything but smooth djent music). If you’re a fan of djent, hard rock, or talented, dedicated musicianship, check them out on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Faith-In-Shadows/205584999472063?sk=info

 

The Voice of Thunder, from Augusta, GA

Hailing from the same area as TMP writer Zakk Cash, the Voice of Thunder is signed to the same label as Cash’s band, Call Us Tragedy, at Viking Records LLC. With six energetic members (one of them being an energetic girl – girls in metal are still interesting). There are three tracks on their Facebook page right now (you should give them a Like at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Voice-of-Thunder/196126743766388?sk=app_2405167945) – one is a hardcore punk song, and the other two are very heavy but still have that punk feel. The clean vocals are very good and catchy, reminiscent of a Treason era A Day to Remember, with scratchy screams in between. These kids, judging by their pictures and Facebook page, are here to have fun and play music all the time, which is totally fine by me since they’re very good at what they do. According to a source, an EP is on the way – expect at least another follow-up on that soon. If you dig For Today mixed with Mayday Parade or the aforementioned A Day to Remember with a little edge, check these guys out.

 

Pittsburgh, PA's What's Left of Her

What’s Left of Her has been a force to be reckoned with in Pittsburgh’s metal scene for a number of years – at least since I was a bassist trying to play in Pittsburgh as a high school student! Their brilliant songwriting ability is showcased through a myriad of brutal riffs, abrupt tempo changes, and the most charismatic, free-flowing vocals. Their full-length release, Perceptions, was long-awaited but definitely worth it. Their new 2011 demo, now streaming on their Facebook page, already has 1800 plays between the two songs – it features a great vocal range, some more blazing guitar parts, and some synth lines that will make your knees weak. Also, after seeing this band live a few times in local Pittsburgh venues, I want to see this band reach far beyond Pittsburgh; their live show is still to this day one of the best I’ve seen from a local-level band. The band is so close to 1,000 likes on Facebook (which is still, in my opinion, MUCH too low), so stop by their page –  http://www.facebook.com/whatsleftofher – and show them some love.

 

All three of these bands deserve to play out of their comfort zones. They’ve taken what the scene has given them, and taken it up that one notch that makes them interstate bound. If you book these guys for a local show, you won’t regret it. If you’re from another state and want to see these guys, get their booking information and do it – because I promise you won’t regret that, either.

-Geoff, The Nashvillain.