Kevin Stewart-Panko's Posts
To the untrained ear, this review is nothing but nerdy hair splitting; your significant other who knows nothing about metal and your mom will continue to hear a bunch of fucking directionless noise.
"…contribute customarily down-picked thunder and chug that recall as much bright and sassy new school sludge as it does mid-tempo Bolt Thrower-inspired wrist-slitter riffs that’ll make you want to make nice with a bar of Irish Spring and an inner city fire hydrant…"
Melodic rock/AOR may not be as overtly popular as it was when bands were selling millions, but the “scene” appears to be as strong and healthy as ever. It’s a perfect time for The Night Flight Orchestra to thrive, and they’ve written an album that should help them do so.
When I sat down to review this, I wasn't sure what there would be to say about an album comprised of live versions of songs from seven years ago recorded a mere three months before the band called it quits. But this brief look into the ISIS canon illustrates why they were one of the most important and innovative bands of the first decade of the 21st century.
Whether you’re a fan or not, it has to be recognized that there’s no band like the singular, shape-shifting force of musical nature and what guise the duo of Roger “Buzz” Osborne and Dale Crover are going to take is always unpredictably up in the air. Take that irreverence and have it fronted by the multi-faceted performance art approach of Le Butcherettes’ Terri Gender Bender, add Omar Rodriguez-Lopez from At the Drive-In/Mars Volta, a musical polymath in his own right, and…
Black Star Riders emerged when Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham had new material kicking around which he initially intended to showcase on a new Lizzy album a couple of years back. Three albums in and Heavy Fire continues the collision of down-to-earth pub rock and in-the-stadium-rafters anthems.
Whether you think positively or negatively about Hammerfall, the Swedes have to be respected for being one of the initial bands to break heavy metal from the doldrums created by the music industry’s obsession with finding the next Kurt Cobain and trying to replicate and extend the success of grunge back in the 90s. Ten albums in and things aren't so sunny.
There’s a lot more going on this record than what gets actual credit for, especially from the metal underground. There are definite weak spots and this brand of metal isn’t what you'd turn to in order to experience unchecked aggression and the expression of its creator’s simmering dark side, personal struggles and full-on disgust for the ways of the world. However, there’s no doubt of the infectiousness of just about every chorus here.
The band draws instant comparisons to their peers in Holy Grail, Skelator, Monument and White Wizard, which also means they like their Jag Panzer, Vicious Rumors, Helstar, Armored Saint and, of course, Iron Maiden. And it’s this combination of past and present stabs at metal that give Spellcaster’s material a more streamlined, song-oriented feel.
In the interest of full disclosure, and as a demonstration of the transformative power that comes with taking one’s time and ignoring first impressions, when I first heard this album, I fucking hated it. Ok, maybe saying “fucking hated” is a bit of an extreme shank into the pine straw, but there weren’t a lot of hugs and kisses between myself and With Whips and Chains.
First whirl – a blah and a lazy shoulder shrug.
Second whirl – here’s where I started paying a bit closer attention.
Third whirl onward…
Graves at Sea is triumphant; sounding like a unit bristling with animated energy and freshness despite having produced a work no one would be surprised to find playing at the scene of a grizzly murder-suicide. The lifetime leading up to its debut’s torpedo landing may be unconventional, but fully justified as you can hear the musical anguish and life lessons learned being poured into the material. We’re not being melodramatic or histrionic when we say this album sets a new standard for the sludge/doom sub-genre and that the album of the year could possibly come in the form of these eight songs.