Sanctuary – Into the Mirror Black (1990)


Sitting somewhat uncomfortably in between the heavy, speed and prog metal genres, Sanctuary achieved reputable status with their first album Refuge Denied despite having a fragmented and vulnerable identity.  The record itself was a slightly more melancholic take on the style Queensrÿche established on Rage for Order with some carefree thrash moments added in for the more aggressive metal fan. The formula was ultimately more kitschy than timeless, and relegated the band to perennial B-tier status.  (more…)

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Malevolent Creation Retribution (1992)

Malevolent Creation have never reached the relative popularity of their Floridian peers, and neither have they received the same degree of recognition. The band members moved from New York in order to follow their dreams of metal stardom, yet they never saw even a quarter of the admiration that Cannibal Corpse and their brand of deficient death metal received. For a short while Malevolent Creation were a band displayed unlimited potential within their percussive style combined with primitive caveman-esque melodies, but they never reached the summits of Deicide, Morbid Angel, Obituary and Monstrosity. The band would eventually fade away due to constantly changing members, drug related stories and the inability to build upon previous works.
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At the Gates – To Drink from the Night Itself (2018)

Music is a language, and utilizes formulas to communicate emotions to an audience.  This is the most basic understanding of the idea of music as a tool, but the mastery of the manipulation of human perception through the mathematics of musical language can only be effective if an artist has something substantial to say, and uses the medium of music as the vehicle to communicate that idea, rather than approaching this communication as if the method of expression is the message itself.  This is the disconnect we see as musicians “mature” and develop their craft as their passions slowly extinguish, and it is not surprising that the best releases using metal as a communicative tool are often released in a band’s initial releases, when they knew the least of how the musical language works.  This ignorance allows an immediacy that overwrought cynicism betrays, and it is here that the heart of metal thrives.  The education gained from elaborating on the language of music can enforce the initial artistic message when the understanding of human perception is developed, or it can suffocate the communicative process should the composer fixate on how the listener will react to the information presented.  The efforts of post-reunion At the Gates are mired in the latter type of composition, and To Drink from the Night Itself is the band’s most grievous offense.

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Analysis of Dissection’s “A Land Forlorn”

Dissection was one of the last bands to be associated with violence and action in metal. Jon Nodveidt, a true Hessian who rejected the modern world,  committed various acts that most will consider morally reprehensible yet they embodied his personal philosophy and the ideology of his music.  Barring the third album, Dissection display a penchant for ambitious composition within a framework of heavy/death and black metal.  The second outing reached too far and ended up sounding almost confused from the virtuosity of the musicians and the wide number of techniques at their disposal without the vision to streamline all these ideas. The Somberlain is a lot more focused in its inspirations by sticking closer to the source material and more structured arrangements.

A Land Forlorn impressively bridges multiple approaches to metal.

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/smr/ Sadistic Metal Reviews: Terrible Traxx Edition

In our search for great metal in the internet age, we are constantly being swarmed by legions of mediocre bands releasing countless albums ranging from terrible to passable. Most bands aim to replicate their idols without understanding what actually makes them great and others rely on gimmicks or illogical hybrids of styles in their attempts to distinguish themselves from the herd. Sometimes we stumble upon fleeting works that point to something greater but those are few and far between and most of us do not have the time to sit through hours of meaningless music In hope to find a flash of brilliance.  Yet sometimes we come across music that is so bad not through neglect nor lack of skill but through the mental decay of the composers and troubling musical choices. In these situations all we can do is laugh and learn to not become like these people. Here is a list of songs showing various metal musicians at their lowest.

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Analysis of Immolation’s “Christ’s Cage”

Immolation are legends in Death metal and rightfully so, though their heydays were after the initial burst that characterized the NYDM scene and have cemented their place with the likes of Cryptopsy and Immortal for prolonging the lifespan of that classic period of metal. Longevity seems to be the forte of the band’s centerpieces Dolan and Vigna and while they released a few decent albums, none of them quite hold up to Here in After. Black Sabbath and Slayer stretched the palette for what was possible in metal and introduced endless possibilities whereas Immolation took one closed approach and pushed it to its limit on this album. Though Close To A World Below took experimentation further, the whole was not as cohesive or powerful. Let us look as the closing track which truly concludes the album.

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Introduction to Power Metal, Part II: The First Wave of European Power Metal

[The epic continues!  Read part I of Johan’s journey here and listen for yourself via this playlist]

While working with what was intended to be the second part of a tripartite article series covering the history and general properties of the power metal subgenre, it soon became clear that a sufficiently thorough treatment of the subject would require more space and time than what was originally intended. This insight subsequently led to the conclusion that individual parts needed to be subdivided and portioned out in order to not grow out of proportion. The initial plan to present the material into three consecutive parts has thus been revised.
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Metal Arsenal: Choice Software for Metal Warfare

Once upon a time, musicians needed to have a fat budget for a decent studio recording (and therefore, a record label to front the bill on the onset).  But even with one, many extreme metal recordings in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s still sounded like complete ass.  Even insanely popular death metal bands like Cryptopsy, who have sold over half a million records, have had albums with production so shitty that I can’t hear most of the riffs.  Aside from a few innovators, most audio engineers (back when it was possible to make a career out of it), simply did not know how to record and produce metal.

However the industry has changed mightily over the last 15 years or so, and in today’s music world the phrase “everybody’s an engineer” is deeply rooted in truth.  Whereas high end recording software was once closely guarded and outrageously priced, the freedom of file sharing as put many high end tools in the hands of the public at no cost and without the need for professional training to use.  No longer do you have to shell out $10,000 for an album that sounds like it was recorded in the prior decade, nor do you need take out a ludicrous college loan for audio engineering school. Instead, all you need to do is make a few quick downloads to successfully arm yourself for a quality recording (assuming, of course, you have done your homework in practicing your instruments and listening).

This change in landscape greatly benefits the type of music personalities we saw in Darkthrone, Burzum, and Graveland- top-tier musicians more concerned with their art and ideology than pandering to a room of idiots via live performances (yes, I know Graveland and Darkthrone both played live: it was only at microfractions of their careers).  And given that lefties are regulating and policing which bands are allowed to play live shows, there’s all the more reason for defiant metal musicians and bands to forgo live performances and focus their energies on quality studio recordings.  With narcissism, attention seeking, and fan expectations removed, the opportunity for quality recordings to flourish is undoubtedly more abundant.

It is an honor and privilege to present to you, the readers of this infamous site, the favorite battle-tested software and tools from a road-tested veteran who began a career in metal when freeware first became widespread some 15 years ago:

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RiffsandBeards Hosts Classic Riff-Off

There is an Instagram group known as “Riffsandbeards” that is currently running a contest until March 13 awarding prizes to whoever in the USA can contribute the best riffs meeting the following criteria: you must download and write to the given sample drum beat, and you must upload the video of yourself playing your riff to the beat in two weeks from when the contest was announced. You can view everyone’s contributions by searching for #riffsandbeards3 on Instagram. Given that the only people playing guitar anymore that use social media are modern metal guitarists, the results are an interesting window into the mind of the modern player and broadcasts the pitfalls therein in blaring, naked transparency.

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