Issue 9 - August 1, 2001

Mark

Not blessed, or merciful
Apr 11, 2001
7,134
74
48
Sarf Lundin, Innit
EXTREME METAL SPECIAL

Greetings, devoted readers! This is the first of three specials I have planned this month, on this occasion integrated into the main column. For the first time, the extreme metal outweighs the progressive recommendations. I know this may alienate some, but keep in mind that this column is devoted to ALL types of metal. This edition is brought you to by the letter X. And now, the songs…

And Oceans – 'I Wish I Was Pregnant', 'Acid Sex And Marble Teeth': Great song titles, right? After being quite impressed with the innovative BM of this year’s AMGOD, I decided to sample a few tracks from their previous release Symmetry of I… and they are just as good, both featuring passages where almost normal usages of guitar and piano are buried under insane drumming and/or riffery.

Arcturus – 'Ad Astra', 'The Throne Of Tyranny': This experimental black metal act, one of many that have evolved out of side projects, has gained much praise among the more adventurous followers of the genre. Both of these songs from their album La Masquerade Infernale contain great atmospheric passages.

Borknagar – 'Genesis Torn', 'Icon Dreams': Quintessence has quickly become one of my favorite black metal albums, encompassing a wide range of the genre from the assaultive former track to the more atmospheric latter track. New album coming soon, and one that will see a major change in the band’s lineup…

Chroma Key – 'Undertow', 'Mouse': Thoughtful electronic-based music from former keyboardist Kevin Moore, and one of the more interesting solo projects from that band. The former song contains some excellent piano playing, while the latter features a repetitive but compelling structure. Both songs available at www.mp3.com

Edge Of Sanity – 'Of Darksome Origin', 'Burn The Sun': I have sought out and recommended songs from Dan Swano’s solo album and Nightingale in earlier editions, so naturally I decided to give the death metal act in which he established himself a try. On these songs, the integration of his progressive influences into the band is apparent, particularly in the latter’s midsection.

Emperor – 'An Elegy Of Icaros', 'Nonus Equilibrium': I’ll admit to not being the biggest fan of this seminal black metal act, and Ihsahn’s voice still gets on my nerves. So why include songs from what is usually considered their worst album? Because they emphasize what I feel is the band’s strongest point, Samoth’s guitar work. The solo on the latter track is sick…

Leonardo – 'Mona Lisa', 'The Reins Of Tuscan': I included Nostradamus last week, and this is another rock opera based on a historical figure, conceived by the head of the progressive label Magna Carta. The main attraction to prog fans is James Labrie’s performance in the title role. On the excellent latter track, Josh Pincus of Ice Age provides great vocal support.

Madsword – 'Darkened Rooms', 'A New Beginning?' – Ironically and unfortunately, the latter song for now marks an ending for this superb overlooked Italian progressive metal act, who recently disbanded after releasing one full-length album. Both of these songs feature great extended instrumental passages and some highly emotional performances.

My Dying Bride – 'Edenbeast', 'The Light At The End Of The World': Like Anathema, I had avoided this well-known British doom metal act for a long time, only to discover that despite the extremely slow progressions in the songs, with patience one can detect the intense emotion and moments of beauty common in the genre. Both songs from their latest album.

New Sun – 'Mammoth': Progressive rock act I’ll admit I don’t really know that much about, but I was pretty impressed with this song after hearing it on Progged Radio, which has some great riffs in it and a strong chorus. I can also detect strong Rush influences…

Onward – 'The Waterfall Enchantress': An album that has been characterized as a bit of an 80s throwback, but still one of this year’s best debuts and power metal albums, featuring great guitar playing from Toby Knapp. This song features some great slower passages in it.

Secret Sphere – 'White Lion', 'Gate To Illusion': This Italian power/prog act’s A Time Never Come was one of my unexpected favorites of this year, and a frequent recommendation in the early installments of this column. Here are two of the better tracks from a debut that initially left little impression on me, but these are great, particularly the former, which has a great chorus and a beautiful extended middle section. Second song available at official site.

Sentenced – 'The Trooper', 'Desert By Night': A pair of non-album tracks from when these guys were among the best melodic death bands around. Both are available on their best of album. The former is one of the few accurate translations of a Maiden song into a heavier content I’ve heard, while the latter is an excellent song that would have fit perfectly on either North From Here or Amok.

Sigh – 'Corpsecry/Angelfall', 'Ecstatic Transfromation': Japanese experimental BM act whose music I was inspired to seek out after reading great reviews of their latest, Imaginary Sonicscape. And these songs are incredible, the latter featuring a great chorus with some strange backing and an orchestral finale. The latter has some Sabbathy riffs in it! Both songs available at official site.

Specter – 'Elements', 'Mythology': Another obscure band discovered through Progged Radio, and one I think is deserving of more attention. I can detect influences from Dream Theater in these songs, but with a darker and more metallic feel. The latter song has a particularly strong chorus.

Threshold – 'Consume To Live', 'Siege Of Baghdad': I’ve recommended this British prog metal act’s albums Hypothetical and Clone before, and I finally decided to seek out songs from their highly regarded debut Wounded Land, which features great vocals from Damian Wilson. These songs are as good as anything from their last two albums, and feature some intelligent topical lyrics. The album is scheduled to be reissued later this year.

Ulver – 'Nowhere/Catastrophe', 'Hallways Of Always': Another experimental act with BM origins led by Garm, one of the genre’s most respected and complex figures. These songs from this year’s Perdition City are electronically based, but feature great arrangements and I admire the challenging of expectations. Latter song is an instrumental, while the former has a memorable vocal hook.

Virgin Steele – 'Sword Of The Gods', 'Veni Vidi Vici': Power metal act that often is compared with a self-deluded band of warriors I won’t mention here, but they are far more musically creative and incorporate symphonic influences to great effect. These songs from arguably their finest album Invictus emphasize David Defeis’ love of all things epic. New album expected early next year.

Farewell until next week, when I will include a special I’ve always wanted to do, one that will be the antithesis of this column’s goal. It will be called Songs Not To Watch: Bad Download Suggestions and will savage some of my most reviled bands in metal. I’m going to stay away from obvious targets and show little mercy and include some normally highly regarded acts, so be forewarned…