No band in heavy metal has changed as successfully as Enslaved while still keeping their identity

Enslaved’s 15th (FIFTEENTH) album, Utgard, is out today, and (spoilers) it’s bloody excellent. It’s one of their absolute best records in a 27-year recording career that’s almost without blemish, and it is achieved by changing direction.

This really is not news, however, as this has happened multiple times throughout their run, and is often what defines their best records – and throughout all that, at no point have they ever stopped feeling like Enslaved. And it is time they were acknowledged as the best band at shifting gears heavy metal has ever had.

Continue reading “No band in heavy metal has changed as successfully as Enslaved while still keeping their identity”

Below The Light #2 – For whom the bells toll

This installment of my rolling heavy metal ICYMI [Paul Rudd here, actor and certified young person… – Ed], we’re off to France (twice), Italy, Belgium, Australia, USA (if they promise not to mention politics, anyway), and even drizzly old Blighty. And even this edition’s Googly is proper good, so you had best read on.

Continue reading “Below The Light #2 – For whom the bells toll”

Below The Light #1 – No pace like Rome

In the first of a (potentially… if anyone reads them) regular column, I round up some under-the-radar heavy music. Full details of how it works are on the about this blog page, to save making this intro boring and long.

This edition features some filthy doom, catchy power metal, something really unusual from Azerbaijan, and something slow about Rome.

Continue reading “Below The Light #1 – No pace like Rome”

One bad album should not ruin your favourite bands – but what if it’s as bad as Nightwish’s HUMAN :II: NATURE?

The last decade of being a Nightwish fan looked briefly like being more of a nightmare, but then blossomed into a golden age. Imaginaerum was astonishingly good, then when Anette left, the band fell on their feet by recruiting Floor Jansen – their best singer yet – then didn’t put a foot wrong live, and put out the excellent Endless Forms Most Beautiful to show they didn’t even need bedding in time.

Then they released HUMAN :II: NATURE. And I’m wondering how long it’s going to be before I can stick up for them again.

Continue reading “One bad album should not ruin your favourite bands – but what if it’s as bad as Nightwish’s HUMAN :II: NATURE?”

How Unleash The Archers got me more excited by doing an album I like less

Unleash The Archers blew my socks off with their last album, Apex. Understandably, I was itching to hear their next one. And once the follow up, Abyss, arrived, I found myself even more enthusiastic about the Canadians than before.

They stand out as one of the best things to happen to power metal in Odin knows how long – but they’ve done it by releasing a record I like less than the last. And it’s partially because I suspect you will like the new outing more than I do.

Continue reading “How Unleash The Archers got me more excited by doing an album I like less”

Heavy metal wine pairing – 6 matches to while away a sophisticated yet brutal evening

Just because we metalheads like nothing better than music that sounds like it’s coming to eat your face and destroy your house doesn’t mean we can’t be sophisticated. And what better way to show it than by finding the perfect wine to go with your favourite band? Here are 6 matches to get you started, with more to come in future.

Just don’t forget to stroke the stem of your glass just long enough for it to be uncomfortable before whispering “Satan” before every sip.

Continue reading “Heavy metal wine pairing – 6 matches to while away a sophisticated yet brutal evening”

Mental illness tried to kill me, and destroyed my ability to listen to music – until Abbath saved it

Close followers of mine on Twitter may have noticed that I’ve tweeted bugger all about new music for about a year.

This is for a simple reason: shitty mental health. The kind of shitty mental health that can fuck your entire life up very quickly, and becomes a genuine threat to your life.

And just when it seemed to have got to its worst point, it got yet worse, and robbed me of my ability to listen to music – and music was the one thing that had never let me down.

Continue reading “Mental illness tried to kill me, and destroyed my ability to listen to music – until Abbath saved it”

Music is easier to love when it’s not surrounded by noise – a lesson from Wolves In The Throne Room

Sometimes being a black metal fan is a bit like being the manager of an unfashionable football club; you’re frequently surrounded by people telling you exactly what you should think and explaining why you’re wrong, while you remain staunch and steadfast in your beliefs (even if they’re part of what’s making you unpopular), and it’s a damn sight easier when all the bullshit quietens down.

Put another way, Wolves In The Throne Room have gloriously reminded me how much easier it is to simply enjoy something when the circus has moved onto fresher pastures.

Continue reading “Music is easier to love when it’s not surrounded by noise – a lesson from Wolves In The Throne Room”

Sometimes the best bands are the ones that had to work to win you over

It’s easy as a shit after a curry to stick to your first opinion about a band. Anyone can take one listen to a band, say “yay” or “nay” and never revise that inclination until the band release a Cold Lake. But sometimes the ones that can form the strongest attachments are the ones who you didn’t initially get on with. Continue reading “Sometimes the best bands are the ones that had to work to win you over”