Now Playing: deathbringer's Playlist
In this new weekly column, entitled "Now Playing," a different staff member each week will write about what he or she is currently listening to. We'll give some mini-reviews and some recommendations and hopefully bring some new and interesting bands and albums to our readers' attention. I'll be kicking off the first week's column myself.
First, I have to clarify that due to having a family and a wife who doesn't like metal, all of my metal listening is done either in my car or on the computer, whether at work or home. The last time I gave myself whiplash cranking my dated but powerful home stereo system was around eight months ago when I had a rare few days to myself.
My CD changer in my car has recently been switched up quite a bit due to some interesting releases arriving in the mail, so I'll start there.
Occupying a lot of my listening time of late in the car is Orange Sky's latest album, "Upstairs." These guys may not really be metal, but they play a form of heavy melodic rock featuring downtuned guitars, and a vocalist whose Caribbean accent can not help but invoke the thought of reggae. Their press sheet calls them a mixture of Black Sabbath and Bob Marley, but I hear influences of 80's era melodic metal as well as Alice In Chains. Despite not being that heavy and even having an upbeat sound much of the time, Orange Sky's sound is unique and refreshing.
Still, when I want something heavy and aggressive, there's no substitute. That's why two albums I've had in my car and been playing almost nonstop since mid-summer are Chimaira's self-titled album and Devildriver's "The Fury of the Maker's Hand." These are two bands who have found their sound and produced definite contenders for metal album of the year...if I could only decide which one I like better. Both are fast-paced and aggressive throughout, yet good enough and varied enough that I have not tired of them yet. Chimaria is the more varied of the two, with longer songs, more interesting change-ups and excellent guitar solo work. But Devildriver practically spoon feeds me exactly what I want - fast aggression with killer riffs.
I was sent a copy of Story of the Year's "In The Wake of Determination" and have been giving that a spin here and there. For a band I thought was purely pop-punk, they do have several songs on this album that show their hardcore influences (roots?). There are several decent heavy songs and several others with outbreaks of hardcore screaming. Still, to the "true" metalhead, there are enough many catchy pop-punk hooks to turn one off to this band. I personally don't mind it, maybe even like it, since I don't listen to radio and have it forced down my throat all day, but I still find myself gravitating toward the heavier stuff.
At the other end of the spectrum, another record I've been giving a listen is Through the Eyes of the Dead's upcoming "Bloodlust". I'm not a fan of your typical monotone death metal growlers, but TTEOTD offer up a form of technical and melodic death metal like none I've heard before. They have more changeups in the first two songs than most full albums, and they hit some nice death metal grooves as well as stop and go parts along the way. This is one of the most extreme bands I've heard that I could recommend.
I don't even know what the sixth disc in my car is, so I guess I'm not listening to it!
My work mp3 playlist is dominated by somewhat melodic metal, as that's what sounds best to me at low levels (when I don't feel like putting headphones on). I've been playing the hell out of Am I Blood's three albums including the still unreleased "The Truth Inside the Dying Sun" (an excellent Metallica Black-style album), Shadows Fall, Manntis, Machine Head's "Through The Ashes of Empires," Demons and Wizards' latest, and Communic for months now. While melodic metal comes after pure thrash (and death-thrash hybrids) as far as my favorites go, I end up listening to it the most it seems.
If you're still stuck on the fact that I listened to Story of the Year (or not), you can always check out my Audioscrobbler profile (tracks your listening habbits on your computer) to see that my taste in music doesn't suck!
Well that's that. What are you listening to now that is worthwhile and worth recommending?
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