Friday, April 21, 2017

S is for Swallow the Sun

I had to listen to a lot of what I considered to be pretty ordinary doom/atmospheric metal bands before I found these guys. Swallow the Sun are Juha Ravio, Markus, Jamsen, Mikko Kotamaki, Aleksi Munter, Matti Honkonen and Juuso Raatikanen, and they hail from Jyvaskyla in Finland. In my limited experience, I reckon they are a cut above.

Formed in 2000, their most recent studio release was Songs From the North I, II ∧ III. (2015) The song I chose to share with you is Cathedral Walls (2012) and I think it showcases every thing good about metal and its diversity. Dare I say it's a beautiful and powerful song.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

R is for R-Genium

R-Genium is a symphonic power metal group from Volograd, Russia. Formed in 2007, they are Nikolay Litikov (keyboards), Aleksandr Radchenko (guitar), Dimitriy Slyozin (bass), Aleksandr Kalashnikov (drums) and Tatanya Shevchuk (vocals).

Their latest release is titled Wonderful Wonderful World and this track is called I Know Your Lie.

On September 3, 2008, I took my son, James, to his first metal gig. Him, one month shy of his 14th birthday, and me, an old headbanger, traveled to the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney to see Disturbed. Actually I was only vaguely aware of, or interested in Disturbed at the time. I was there to see my favourite band, POD, who were one of the support acts. The other was Alter Bridge.

James was a little overawed, by the atmosphere and the music, but he loved it, and it is one of my fondest memories of time spent with him. Sadly, James would no longer call himself a metal head, even though he still likes Metallica and enjoys a bit of metalcore here and there.

POD were great, and one of my greatest desires is to see them play a full show. One day...maybe they'll come back Down Under. As for Disturbed, they are now one of my faves.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Q is for Qantice

This is how this French band describes itself, and seriously, I would not dare add or subtract a word. 

"More than a progressive/power/symphonic metal band. Qantice is a universe where the epics of a sci-fi saga spread over a story and music, mixing ancient and modern instruments, fantasy atmospheres, and jaw dropping virtuosity, with no limit but the wildest imagination."

Way to talk yourselves up fellas. I don't really like progressive metal, or symphonic metal, nor is power metal my favourite genre, so it goes without saying that Qantice is not really my cup of tea.

This Parisian band may have been formed in 2002, or as late as 2009, depending on your source. The current regular members are Tony Beaufils, David Akesson, Yosh Ortias (violin), Aurelien Jouela, and Christine Lanusse.

It seems they hire singers on an album by album, tour by tour basis. Pellek is the vocalist on this track which is called Hoverland

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

P is for Pelican

I know what you're thinking...a metal band called Pelican? How very un-metal. Nevertheless this quartet has been labelled post-metal, and that is a genre of heavy metal. I told you I'd bring you plenty of variety.

Established in 2000, in Illinois, in the United States, the band consists of Trevor Debrauw (guitar), Bryan Herweg (bass), Larry Herweg (drums), and Dallas Thomas (guitar). Notice I didn't mention a vocalist? That's because they are essentially an instrumental group.

Their latest release is an EP called Cliff. This track is called Deny the Absolute.

Monday, April 17, 2017

O is for Oblivion Denied

The Crown Princess of Denmark is an Aussie. She was born in Tasmania. Why am I telling you this? Oblivion Denied is a Danish band and I am an Australian. My gut tells me that the Crown Princess is not a fan of heavy metal, but you never know. I mean if she listened to these guys she might just convert to headbanging. Stranger things have happened.

This duo, yes duo, (Thomas Wagner and Eske Meldgaard Krogh) hail from the city of Stautrup, and offer metal in the groove genre.

Ridin' High is the second single from their upcoming sophomore release titled Lack of Faith.

Both my children attended Dapto High School which held an annual talent show called MADD night. It was at one of these shows where I first heard Four Words to Choke Upon by Bullet for my Valentine. The impressive amateur performance was enough to turn me on to this Welsh pop metal band.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

N is for Nanowar of Steel

The name of this comedy metal band (technically known as parodic metal) is a play on words from the band Manowar. They hail from the Italian capital, Rome, and their clips and their are funny (as one might expect from a parodic metal band)

Formed in 2003, Nanowar of Steel's line-up is Mohammed Abdul (Valerio) on guitar and keyboard, Gattopancer666 (Edoardo) on bass and guitar, Uinona Rider (Alessandro) on drums and guitar - presumably not at the same time, Potowotminimak (Carlo Alberto) vocals and they have a guy called Baffo (Raffeolo) who is responsible for sound effects.

Their most recent release was a 2016 EP called Tour-Mentone Vol.1. This track I'm Heavy has a little fun with Pharrell William's hit I'm Happy.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

M is for Mortal Soul

For some reason there aren't many African metal bands. I only
found three to include in the A to Z. Mortal Soul are a metalcore band based in Nairobi, Kenya, and this instrumental track, Solace, has been running around in my head for weeks now. I love it. It is from their debut EP called Ashes in the Wind which was released in 2013.

Mortal Soul, who have been likened to Bullet for My Valentine, are Leon, Pete, Joey and Celeste. They got together in 2010. On their Facebook page they list their musical likes/influences, and five of my fave bands are in the list: Bullet for my Valentine, As I Lay Dying, Creed, Trivium and Metallica.

In 2001, I was staying in a motel in Newcastle, NSW, to where I travelled fortnightly for many years for work. I usually stayed in the same hotel, but for some reason I stayed at the Sovereign Inn in Mayfield on this occasion: one and only. They had music channels in their pay TV arsenal, and I was channel surfing when I hit one of them and saw a band which knocked me out.

In 2001 this band released their breakout, and most commercially successful LP to date, Satellite. The song I saw on that video channel was Alive. I soon owned a copy of Satellite, and now have every record they've made. To say I love POD, is a gross understatement.

Friday, April 14, 2017

L is for Lefutray

Hailing from Santiago, Chile, Lefutray were formed in 2005, and they play groove and thrash metal. The band's name is a word taken from the Mapudungan language meaning 'fast sound'. Totally appropriate, right? In case you're interested as I was, Mapudungan is the language of the Mapuche people of south western Chile and central western Argentina.

This track is called Screaming in Silence and it's from their 2011 release Last Breath. Their latest album is called Oath (2015)

On the 31st of March, 1989, I saw Stryper play at the Sydney Sports Arena. Stryper raised the bar for Christian metal, and not without some controversy. They attracted plenty of criticism from Christian fundamentalists for their music, but particularly for their habit of throwing Bibles into the audience at their shows. Despite the furor of the small-minded, Stryper gained respect in mainstream metal circles and reached a lot of people with a very positive message. As one metal loving atheist said: "I generally hate everything Christian, but this song kicks f#$%^ ass." He was referring to the 1984 classic Soldiers Under Command.

The 1989 show was great by the way, and the boys in yellow and black are still rocking the world with their message of faith, hope and love.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

K is for Karat

Another new kid on the headbangers block, is this metalcore band
from Malang, East Java in the world's largest archipelago, Indonesia. The name means 'rust' in English, and they formed in 2015. 

Elegi is the debut record by Karat, and from it comes this track Kitalah Luka (which means "Our Wound"). For a debut video, this is pretty slick, and I really like the sound of these Indonesian metalheads.

In 1987, I stopped running from God, and became a Christian. One of the first challenges I faced in my new life was what to do with my huge collection of 'ungodly' heavy metal music. I was working at the time and had sufficient disposable income to purchase a lot of LPs. Most prized was my KISS collection. I had a copy of every record they had released since their debut in 1973, including each of the solo albums.

What did I do? I gave them all away. Yes. All of them. I then began to search for Christian metal. Bands like Whitecross and Bloodgood were every bit as good musically as the stuff I listened to, but they sang about God and positive things like love and forgiveness. Arguably the most successful, and certainly the most high profile Christian metal band of the 80s and early 90s was Stryper...and I'll have more to say about them next time.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

J is for Jackdevil

Sepultura is perhaps Brazil's most famous metal export (even though I only recently discovered this), but the largest country in South America, this Portuguese speaking island in a Spanish speaking ocean, produces more than its fair share of metal bands: for example Jackdevil who hail from Sao Luis.

This thrash metal group sings about satanism and evil stuff generally, so consequently they are not on my Christmas card list. Nevertheless, musically they are pretty good. 

Formed in 2010, their latest release is called Evil Strikes Again (2015) This track is from their debut full length album Unholy Sacrifice: Under Metal Command.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I is for Insomnium

Finland is one of only three countries in headbanging around the world to provide two bands. Insomnium is a melodic death metal band formed in 1997 in the city of Joensuu. Singing about darkness, loss, sorrow, pain and nature, the band also features doom and progressive metal influences. For me they epitomise the very best elements of melodic death metal.

This is my favourite song at the moment. I can't get it out of my head. While we sleep is from their 2014 album Shadows of the Dying Sun.

In September last year they released Winter's Gate: a concept album featuring one 40 minute track.

Insomnium are Niilo Sevanen (bass and vocals), Ville Friman (guitar and vocals), Marcus Hirvonen (drums) and Markus Vanhala (guitar.)

In the mid 1980s, I was experimenting with more extreme genres of metal when I discovered a band called Possessed who have been credited as the founders of the death metal genre. At the time, I was also trying out other things like petty crime, binge drinking and drugs. I also had a strong negative reaction to many of my friends becoming 'born again' Christians. Possessed were the exact opposite of a Christian worship band. One of the songs proclaimed their faith with the lyrics: 'We love you Satan, we worship you.'

Hearing that record was part of a series of events in my life which I would describe as turning points. It was too much for me. I actually threw it away after just one partial play through, and have steered clear of bands with overt references to Satanism or occultism.

Monday, April 10, 2017

H is for Hiranya

There are a handful of songs in this awesome A to Z line up which I loved instantly, and am still loving. This is one of them. Lost is from newbie metalcore band Hiranya. They launched in 2015 in the Spanish capital, Madrid.

Sara is the vocalist, and what a voice: a wicked growl and clean vocals. Backed by Johnny W and Dani on guitars, Jio on bass and Carlos on drums, this brand of metal is right up my alley.

Very little info available on these guys, but I reckon they are very good, so don;t be surprised if we hear a lot more from them. I leave you with this: hiranya is a sanskrit word which means 'golden.'

Friday, April 7, 2017

G is for God Damn

Not the British rock band, but the French southern metal band from Lyon. Formed in 2004, they are Charly (bass), Pich (guitars), Renato Di Falco (vocals), Jerem (drums) and Julien Alves (guitars.)

They've released two full length albums: Old Days (2009) and Back to the Grindstone (2012). Other than this sparse information, I can tell you nothing more. They don't even have a wikipedia listing. According to their Facebook page (last updated late 2016) they are working on a new album.

This track is called All In

In the late 80s, I was a regular binge drinker and often went to pubs and clubs to see bands play. I may have been under age, but I didn't look it, so I was never hassled for ID. One night my friends and I went to the Petersham Hotel (Sydney) to a live music venue called Max's. They showcased a lot of local metal bands, and we were metal fans.

I recall not being greatly impressed by the amateurish bands that night, but decidedly more interested in a young lady who was there. I spent most of the night imagining starting a conversation with her, which never eventuated.

On our way back to the train station, someone called out to us from behind. We stopped, as you do. The speaker was a punk who spoke in an accent so thick we had no idea what he was saying. From his increasing tone and agitation we suspected something might be wrong, and had that confirmed when he hit one of us, then pulled out a butterfly knife.

We ran. Thankfully, he didn't follow.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

F is for Flesh Juicer

Really? Flesh Juicer? This is one of the worst names in the list, but entirely appropriate for a deathcore band. They all have horrible sounding names. Anyway, Flesh Juicer is from Taiwan (shout out to all my Taiwanese ESL students.)

Although I really don't like deathcore, this video clip is pretty cool: Funeral  is off their 2017 sophomore album Flesh Temple: Build it on Brutal Taichung. 

Information on this band is pretty scarce, but I can tell you they won Best Rock Debut Album (2015) at the Taiwanese equivalent of the Grammy's, so I expect metal heads will hear plenty more from these guys who, apart from frontman Gigo Pro (he of the pig mask), remain nameless because I can't find out who they are.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

E is for Eluveitie

Describing themselves as the new wave of folk metal, Swiss band Eluveitie single-handedly changed my view of folk metal. The particular track which caught my attention was The Call of the Mountain. I dare you not to like it. Crunchy guitars, and something that looks like some sort of guitar, harps, violins and bagpipes...what's not to like?

Founded in Zurich in 2002, Eluveitie are Chrigel Glansmann, Rafael Salzmann, Kay Brem, Matteo Sisti, Nicole Ansperger, Alain Ackermann, Jonas Wolf, Michalina Malisz and Fabienne Emi. It reads more like a mixed football team than a band, doesn't it? How do they combine so many instruments and make it metal? Check them out.

In July, 2017 they will release Evocation II: Visions, and I might even buy it.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

D is for Decapitated.

With a name like Decapitated, is there any need to question what kind of music they play? This critically acclaimed technical death metal band was formed in 1996 in Krosno, Poland.

I have an anti cooking food blog called I Don't Cook, on which I regale readers with tales of frozen dinners and take-away meals. How is this relevant you ask? Most of my readers are from Poland, so I was really hoping I would find a Polish band good enough to make the cut. As it turned out they nearly didn't make it. I had the slot filled with a Greek band called Distortion of Perception, but during my research, I discovered they had disbanded many years ago. Only bands who are still producing new music and touring qualified for this A to Z. I stumbled on Decapitated as I searched through a list of wannabe 'D' bands.

Decapitated is: Waclaw Kietyka (guitar), Rafal Piotrowski (vocals), Michal Lysejko (drums), and Hubert Wiecek (bass).Their last studio release was Blood Mantra (2014) This track is called Instinct

Monday, April 3, 2017

C is for Crash

Crash is a thrash metal band from South Korea. With a name like Crash they had to play thrash, didn't they? 

Formed in 1991 and still kicking proverbial, the band consists of Ahn Heung-chan (bass and vocals), Jung Hong-wook (drums) and Ha Jae-Yong (guitars). They used to be a foursome back in the day, but one of the guys was sacked.

Their latest album Untamed Hands in Imperfect World was released in 2014.

This is an older song called Crashday 

In 1982 a British band called Iron Maiden released a heavy metal masterpiece called The Number of the Beast. It featured a new singer: classically trained vocalist Bruce Dickinson, and one the Iron's all time classic songs: Hallowed Be Thy Name. From this record also came a single which took Iron Maiden into the mainstream, and in so doing, they hooked a bucket load of new fans, like me.

Run to the Hills was the first true heavy metal track I fell in love with, and I still love Iron Maiden. The Irons are special for many reasons, but to name one: I think Bruce Dickinson is one of the best metal singers of all time.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

B is for Babymetal

When I stumbled on this band I didn't know what I was looking at. The music sounded like metal, but the band was fronted by three young ladies singing and dancing pop style. Upon further investigation I learned that Babymetal was put together by a record company, and is in fact, the originator of a new genre of metal: kawaii metal which translates to English as 'cute metal'. As I said, I didn't know what it was, or understand what they were singing about, but I liked it a lot.

Babymetal is a concept group which fuses heavy metal with J-pop (or Japanese idol music). The line up consists of Suzuka Nakamoto as "Su-metal), Yui Mizuno as "Yui-metal" and Moa Kikuchi as "Moa-metal." 

Formed in 2014, their latest album is called Metal Resistance.

Check out one of their songs: Karate