Doom Side of the Moon (2017)

Doom Side of the MoonDoom Side of the Moon (self released, 04 August 2017)

 

So this weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd releasing their debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. That’s a pretty significant milestone, and anyone who spends much time poking around this website will soon realize that they are one of my favorite bands of all time. That has been the case for at least half of the past fifty years, ever since I really started to discover their catalogue of work when I was in middle school — and that fandom has been borderline obsessive during much of that time.

Evidently someone else who feels the same way is Kyle Shutt, guitarist for The Sword, who has chosen to mark the occasion of a half-century of Pink Floyd albums by recreating their best-known work (and one of the biggest selling records in history) The Dark Side of the Moon.

“The idea came to me after getting baked and wanting to hear a heavy version of ‘Time’,” he explained. “I thought, why not just cover the whole album?” While admitting that “It felt a little strange messing with someone’s legacy,” the guitarist went on to say that he is “treating it as a celebration of one of the greatest bands to ever rock, a party that everyone is invited to.”

Recruiting two of his bandmates, bassist Bryan Richie and drummer Santiago Vela III, the project was completed with the addition of vocalist Alex Marrero, saxophonist Jason Frey, and keyboardist Joe Cornetti, and thus Doom Side of the Moon was born.

Their lovingly crafted tribute will officially be released on Friday (04 August), and then on Saturday (05 August, the exact anniversary of Piper‘s release) they’ll be performing the whole thing at Emo’s in Austin TX, along with a laser show performed by The Mustachio Light Show.

 

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Zaum – Eidolon (2016)

ZaumEidolon (I Hate, 24 October 2016)

 

We’ve covered Canadian bands plenty of times around here, but I’m pretty sure this is the first from New Brunswick. Zaum have been around since about 2013 and last fall’s Eidolon was their second full-length, but somehow this dynamic duo of doom had escaped my attention until the recent announcement that they’ll be hitting the road for an August tour across their homeland.

Having done some pretty extensive touring over the years but mainly in Europe, the dates for this large-scale Canuck tour (also featuring Ontario’s Flying Fortress) will be listed down below, after we’ve listened to Eidolon!

 
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Neurosis – Fires Within Fires (2016)

NeurosisFires Within Fires (Neurot Recordings, 23 September 2016)

 

So Neurosis are heading out on tour RIGHT NOW. That news by itself will immediately be a huge deal to most people who read this sentence. They’re only hitting a handful of cities across the northeastern U.S. (and southeastern Canada) over the next week and a half, but this is a band that infreuquently performs live in the first place, and very rarely visits the east coast outside the context of a larger music festival (such as Baltimore’s Days of Darkness which they’ll be headlining in October). So, yeah.

But sometimes when it comes to bands that have been around seemingly forever (well over thirty years, in this case) and have achieved a near-universal legendary status (at least, for these guys, among the majority of fans of post-hardcore/sludge metal), it’s easy to forget that there are some folks out there who may not already be intimately familiar with them. Easy to just assume that everyone knows them, disregarding the fact that there’s always somebody who has yet to make that big discovery.

After all, though, that’s the whole point of writing about music: to help someone learn about something that could potentially be life-changing. The About page of this website describes exactly that — while also referencing a particular time period of exploration for myself, which in that narrative was described as “The Napster Years,” but frankly a huge part of my own rebirth as a metal music fan directly resulted from finding Relapse Records CD samplers (like this one and this one) at a local record store (more info here and here for the younger readers). Interestingly, three of the artists that had really jumped out at younger me and grabbed my attention are ones I have written about here, just this month: Today is the Day, Dying Fetus, and now, Neurosis.

Specifically, there were a couple of songs from the band’s then-new album A Sun that Never Sets which I bought not long afterwards, and which was — front-to-back — one of the most amazing things I’d ever experienced. So in light of all that, I’m pleased to present — to any of you who may not have heard this yet — their latest release, 2016’s Fires Within Fires.

 

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Idre – Unforgiving Landscapes (2017)

IdreUnforgiving Landscapes (Wolves and Vibrancy Records / Breathe Plastic Records, 19 May 2017)

 

Not to be confused with the municipality in Sweden, Idre (who insist, in a Young Frankensteinian way, that the name is pronounced to rhyme with “Hydra”) is a three-piece band from Oklahoma City, consisting of guitarist/vocalist Ryan Davis, bassist Austin Wylie, and drummer Nicholas Wojcik. My first exposure to the group was when they recently wrote to me about their second album Unforgiving Landscapes — which impressed me so much just from a compositional standpoint from the moment I hit “play” on Bandcamp, that by halfway through the first song I had already added the album to my list of things to write about, and before the whole thing was over I was pencilling it into my list of the year’s best releases so far.

Keep on reading, then check out the album for yourself, and see if you don’t feel the same way. If you do, be sure to use the social media links down at the bottom of the page to keep track of the band, since they’re currently working on setting up tour dates for later in the year …

 

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Argus – Beyond the Martyrs (2013), From Fields of Fire (2017); Arduini/Balich – Dawn of Ages (2017)

ArgusBeyond the Martyrs (Cruz del Sur Music, 01 October 2013)

 

Arduini / BalichDawn of Ages (Cruz del Sur Music, 24 February 2017)

 

ArgusFrom Fields of Fire (Cruz del Sur Music, 08 September 2017)

 

I can still remember the first time I heard Argus — in the burgeoning days of the early 2010s, the song was “The Damnation of John Faustus” from their self-titled album. I can’t say for certain, but it was probably on Foundry of Doom radio, since that’s what I spent most of my time listening to back then. And here, among epic tracks by the likes of Solstice, Atlantean Kodex, Solitude Aeturnus, etc., this song’s dark themes and powerful vocals really caught my ear.

This was still months, maybe even up to a year, before the genesis of my career as a writer, but I’ve always been inquisitive and wanted to research and learn more about everything I heard. In this instance, I was struck by how new the band was (their first demo dates back ten years, now, but at the time of this story the debut full-length was about a year or two old), but even more surprised to see that these guys were local (originating in Franklin, PA, just about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh)!

I also discovered that the vocalist, Brian “Butch” Balich (formerly of Penance), is also a member of Molasses Barge, another local doom band that would greatly impress me when I saw them for the first time just months later. Eventually I’d manage to catch Argus live, as well, and they definitely managed to live up to the high expectations set by their incredible recorded output. I believe this was just before the 2013 release of their third album Beyond the Martyrs — one that immediately made its way onto my writing “to do list” but inexplicably has stayed there for these past years.

But now there’s a ferment of activity surrounding the band once more: they recently announced that their fourth album will be coming later this year — and I’ll be discussing both of those today, with an added bonus that was released a few months back by a side project involving Balich. And to top it all off, Argus will also be performing in Pittsburgh THIS FRIDAY (14 July) at an event that doubles as a preview of September’s Brewtal Beer Fest as well as featuring the world premiere of the new beer produced through a collaborative effort between the band and Big Rail Brewing! So after you’re done reading about the music, pop on down to the comments section for more information about that.

 

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Reintroduce Yourself! Chuck Mosley Tour 2017

 

I think it would be safe to say that it’s not a normal trend for bands to grow in popularity after a significant line-up change, especially when it comes to a shift in the role of lead vocalist. Even more rare would be the case where a band goes on to achieve a global level of mega-stardom, seemingly overnight, but it has happened a few times throughout music history. And each time, there are invariably legions of die-hard fans of the original configuration — armed with countless reasons why Killers or The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was the band’s crowning achievement.

And frankly, “it’s just a difference of opinion“; what rational basis for argument could there really be regarding one’s musical preferences? Likewise, any discussion of Faith No More will immediately attract somebody who asserts that band’s best output was on its first two albums — 1985’s We Care a Lot and 1987’s Introduce Yourself, and they will never tire of explaining why the vocalist of those early years, Chuck Mosley, was preferable in every way to his (now) more well-known successor.

While I won’t be taking this opportunity to weigh in definitively on that argument — my personal obsession with that band has always been based less on the vocals than on most of the other elements anyhow — I will certainly agree that the band’s current singer is generally overrated every bit as much as Mr. Mosley‘s earlier contributions are perpetually underrated. After all, there’s no way to deny the band’s gigantic breakout moment — the one thing your average person-on-the-street will likely remember about the band, if anything at all — was almost entirely based on the vocal performances of previous recordings, most particularly the band’s first semi-big hit single.

Anyway, all of this is actually leading up to a point, which is that Chuck Mosley, that much-beloved former Faith No More vocalist, who went on to front Bad Brains for a while in the early ’90s before venturing off as a solo artist (sometimes under his own name and sometimes in conjunction with his band V.U.A.) with works like Will Rap Over Hard Rock for Food and last year’s compendium Demos for Sale, now finds himself touring all across America — starting this weekend and lasting well past the end of the summer (at least)! Dozens of shows have already been announced, and I’ve got a listing of all the most current information right here. (And the official word is that there will be more announcements forthcoming, so keep checking back if you don’t see your city listed yet!)

 
LATEST UPDATE: 25 July 2017

 

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Opeth – Sorceress (2016)

opeth_sorceress_promocover_revised

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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