Kirk Windstein – Dream in Motion (2020)

Kirk WindsteinDream in Motion (eOne Heavy / Entertainment One, 24 January 2020)

 

Exactly twenty-five years and eleven months ago, on the 24th of March 1994, the sixth episode of the fourth season of Beavis and Butthead aired on MTV. That was the first exposure — for myself, and I suspect for many others who were teenagers at that time — to the music of Crowbar, as that episode included a portion of the New Orleanian sludge innovators’ “All I Had (I Gave)” video. (For the record, yes I do have a fairly good memory, but no I did not know all of those details off the top of my head; thank you to Wikipedia.)

Anyway, that day marked a pivotal moment in my music fandom. What I heard on that show prompted me to pick up a copy of the band’s self-titled 1993 album, and their blending of sheer heaviness with absolute raw emotion had me hooked for life. That combination is what has set the band apart from most of their peers and imitators over the years. And now after nearly a dozen albums with Crowbar (in addition to participating in a handful of other people’s projects over the past three decades) the founder, vocalist and guitarist Kirk Windstein, has released a solo record — eschewing some of the heaviness this time around, but retaining every bit of the passion and intensity.

 

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Fister – Decade of Depression (2019)

FisterDecade of Depression (Listenable Records, 27 September 2019)

 

Hey, have you heard? St. Louisan grimy doomlords Fister are celebrating their first decade of existence!

Well, maybe “celebrating” is not the correct word — taking a cue from the Slayer live album Decade of Aggression, the band has assembled an LP filled with covers paying tribute to some of their main influences, entitled Decade of Depression.

Here at VOS we’ve been huge fans of this trio for the better part of that decade — ever since a joint tour with The Lion’s Daughter led to a stop here in Pittsburgh back in the summer of 2013, which was completely mind-blowing to those few of us in attendance. From then on, we’ve tried to make it a point to spread the good word anytime there is new Fister material with which to desecrate one’s ears.

It’s been a little over a month since Decade of Depression hit the streets, but for those who may have been sleeping on this, kindly do yourselves a favor and direct your attention this way…!

 

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Bandolirium – Bandolirium (2017)

BandoliriumBandolirium (12 May 2017)

 

In a coincidence that ranks up there with both Baker’s chocolate and German’s chocolate cake, the bandoneon was named for the man who had invented it in the mid-nineteenth century, German music instrument dealer Heinrich Band. The concertina-style instrument was used to accompany religious and popular music of that time, spreading into eastern Europe where some had adopted it into their traditional folk styles — but the bandoneon’s popularity really took off when it reached Argentina, where it quickly became an integral part of tango music.

The complex instrument, which like other concertinas (but unlike its cousin the accordion) is designed to play different tones depending on whether the bellows are being squeezed inward or pulled outward in conjunction with various combinations of the thirty-three left-hand and thirty-eight right-hand buttons, became rather scarce after production had ceased near the end of World War II. But with a recent return to manufacturing in Germany — and especially in the past few years when domestic models are now being made for the first time ever in Argentina — it appears that the bandoneon and the tango music with which it is most closely associated may both be experiencing something of a resurgence in popularity.

Argentinian bandoneonist, teacher, and composer Amijai Ben Shalev had the idea to incorporate the instrument into the context of progressive metal, and so gathered together fellow porteños Marcos de Cristobal (guitar), Matias Brandauer (bass), and Marcos Edwards (drums), forming Bandolirium in 2016. As a taste of how this unique style would fit within the structure of metal music, the band released their rendition of “Por Quien Doblan las Campanas” (or “For Whom the Bells Toll”) in an instrumental arrangement, where the bandoneon sometimes slips into the background playing chords along with the rhythm guitar parts, but elsewhere produces a tango-flavored melody in the place of the vocals from the original song. Feel free to check out this recording right here, then continue reading as we address the group’s self-titled debut record which they’ve put out about a month and a half ago …

 
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Opeth – Sorceress (2016)

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OpethSorceress (Moderbolaget Records / distributed by Nuclear Blast, 30 September 2016)

 
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Abbey Road. “The White Album.” Widely considered to be hugely influential milestones in the history of recorded music. And yet the group responsible for these masterpieces began its career with mindless bubblegum-pop: stuff like “Love, love me do / You know I love you / I’ll always be true / So please love me do,” “She loves you, yeah yeah yeah / She loves you, yeah yeah yeah / She loves you, yeah yeah yeah yeah,” and “I wanna hold your hand / I wanna hold your hand / I wanna hold your hand / I wanna hold your hand.”

Certainly that’s a pretty extreme example, but the point here is that when a band experiences a seismic styistic shift, it isn’t always catastrophic, and can even be a positive thing. Naturally, when this occurs it can sometimes be unnerving to fans of the artist’s earlier work (and of course there have been plenty of moments where such a move did turn out to be a major misstep), but it never ceases to confound me, how often and how passionately hatred is spewed in the direction of Opeth for having developed a different sound over their quarter-century-plus career. This group of Swedes receives just as many nasty comments (particularly if the band is ever mentioned in the context of a metal festival or anything to do with metal music) for NOT making the same album over and over, as Six Feet Under does for essentially the exact opposite transgression.

The transition from death metal to progressive death metal occurred very early in this band’s existence, and it was the latter guise that caught most fans’ attention, gaining the ensemble a huge following. But throughout the course of a dozen full-length albums, gradually the elements of “death” had dropped away, and ultimately “metal” as well, landing Opeth squarely in the realm of “progressive” music, and leaving many earlier devotees feeling shortchanged. Nevertheless, in this reviewer’s opinion the band’s latest effort, last September’s Sorceress stands up quite well — when one judges it on its own merits, rather than attempting a side-by-side comparison with Still Life or Blackwater Park. And with that in mind, let’s jump right in.
 
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Scott Ian: Metal God Turns his Hand to Poker

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Scott Ian: Metal God Turns his Hand to Poker

EDITOR’S NOTE: as some of you may have noticed, I put out an open call for writers a short while back when I updated this website’s contact page. That offer still stands — anyone who might have something to contribute, please feel free to get in touch! Today I’m posting an article that was sent to me regarding Anthrax/S.O.D. guitarist (and perennial VH1 personality) Scott Ian. Please enjoy!

 

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Metal Memories: The Time I Discovered Faith No More and My Life Was Forever Altered

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It had been rumored and speculated about ever since the band first announced that they were reuniting several years ago, but early last month it became 100% official: for the second time in less than a year, one of my favorite bands ever will be releasing a new album for the first time since I was in high school. Of course this is exciting news (that, until about five or six years ago, I would never have guessed would ever be happening again), and — with some amount of trepidation — I’m really trying to be optimistic about it. But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about.

By this point, I’m assuming any of you who would care at all about this band’s upcoming seventh album have already seen most of the information currently available — and probably even listened to one of the two pre-released singles that have come out so far. So I’m not really intending (or expecting) to inform anybody here. Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to share an anecdotal description of my own discovery of the band, dating back multiple decades; perhaps to offer a little bit of insight into myself as a writer and a fan. I don’t know whether anyone will actually care about any of this, but considering how influential this was in my formative music-listening years, I felt like I ought to take the time to write it.

 

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Review: Satan – Life Sentence

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SatanLife Sentence (Listenable Records, 21 May 2013)

 

Hello, readers. As I mentioned a few days ago when I published my list of year-end lists (if you missed it, the collection can be found right here; my own personal list of 2013’s best releases can be found by scrolling all the way to the bottom), and as you could certainly tell yourself just by poking around a little bit, I really dropped the ball when it came to getting much writing done last year. And consequently, I neglected to share a great deal of music with you folks. Believe me, I feel bad about that, because there’s so much of it that I’ve been really enjoying listening to, and it’s pretty unfair not to pass that along. So on that note, let’s talk about Satan.

 

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