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!)
Opeth – Sorceress (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.
Green Elder / Pensive Ceremony – Split (self-released, 11 August 2016)
Twilight Fauna – Fire of the Spirit (Ravenwood Recordings / Fragile Branch Recordings, 19 August 2016)
Hello, and happy Friday! Today I’d like to call your attention to a pair of releases you may enjoy, that just came out last month. The second one is an album called Fire of the Spirit, Twilight Fauna‘s sixth full-length record over the past several years, in addition to numerous other discographical items. (As you may or may not be aware, Twilight Fauna is a solo black metal project with strong Appalachian folk roots, with everything written and performed by sole member Paul Ravenwood of Johnson City, Tennessee.) But before that, in light of it having been released a week earlier, we’ll talk about a 12″ split record that features Green Elder — also a Ravenwood solo gig, but this one entirely eschews the black metal aspects in favor of a more somber, pure Appalachian folk style. The flip side of this split consists of yet another single-member ensemble — one that’s even more elusive than the others we’re discussing today, in terms of sharing any personal information. It’s called Pensive Ceremony, and everything here is done by an individual known only as Pythagumus, apparently from somewhere near Tacoma, Washington.
The Ravenna Arsenal – I. (self-released, 23 February 2013)
Gholas – Litanies (Dullest Records, 11 February 2014)
Hello out there, folks. Hope this week has gone well for you all. Over the past few days — during which things got pretty crazy busy, to the point where I didn’t have any time to get anything written — I’ve heard some pretty incredible brand-new releases, and I definitely look forward to sharing those with you. But not quite yet; instead, today we’re going to turn back the calendar a little bit, and spend some time with a couple of my favorite releases from years past that I just never quite got around to writing about yet. These were featured in my Top 13 of 2013 and Top 14 of 2014 lists, respectively, chiefly due to the fact that both of these bands know how to write a hell of a song. These are both albums that I’ve listened to front-to-back like dozens of times, and I feel pretty certain you’ll agree that every single song on each is of excellent quality …
All right, people. Today we’re going to kick it old school.
Please accept my apologies for such a lame introduction, but honestly it’s all I have the energy for right now. After a busy weekend that was capped off with watching the Penguins seal a Stanley Cup victory late last night, I barely managed about three hours of sleep.
So anyway, here’s what I’ve got for you: a pair of newly reissued classics by two bands who — while I definitely wouldn’t call either of them unknown or obscure — have never seemed to achieve the level of recognition that they each seem to deserve …
Druids – Cycles of Mobeum (Sump Pump Records, 03 June 2016)
If These Trees Could Talk – The Bones of a Dying World (Metal Blade Records, 03 June 2016)
Okay people, today let’s take a look at another two bands. Both of these are American — one from the Hawkeye State, the other from the Buckeye State — and each of them will be releasing the third album of their respective careers tomorrow (Friday the 3rd). When I came across these two albums recently, it was my first time listening to either of these bands, but right away I found them both to be quite enjoyable (albeit in different ways). I’ve got a feeling you may agree. So let’s get started, shall we?
Ruby the Hatchet – Ouroboros (RUR Records, 29 April 2016)
Mars Red Sky – Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (Listenable Records, 20 May 2016)
Good afternoon. Today I’d like to talk to you about two different bands who each fall under the general umbrella of “psychedelic/stoner rock.” Both have new releases out (recently, or within the next two days), and both will be hitting the road (separately) playing various shows and festivals across the USA over the next few months. First I’ll introduce you to those recent releases, and then head down a little further to the comments section where I’ll share the scheduled tour dates!