Book Review: A History Of Heavy Metal By Andrew O’Neill

Posted: December 28, 2017 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

aaaaa.jpgI’m not sure how to approach a book review, but um, here goes… I’ll start with some basic facts.   It is more or less a book version of the TV shows Metal Evolution or Heavy Metal Louder Than Life only released in 2017 so with some more up-to-date information and references than those, and considerably more humour and wit. It was written by a stand up comedian with left wing politics who has played in bands and been into Metal music since the 1990s. It is the book version of his stand up show of the same name fleshed out. Its succinct and brief, lasting about 280 pages in a fairly large font with a lot of space. You could easily read it all in a day or two if you wanted.

That’s the broad strokes out of the way. What I’ll say next is that it is genuinely funny. It had me cackling two or three times with laughter in the way usually only in-jokes between you and your close friends can. I’m tempted to list many of them but that would spoil their impact. Now; I am not generally a fan of comedy meeting Metal. Metal is something beloved, dear and important to me like most normal people’s religion, nationality, identity or favorite sports team for the kind of guys who cry if their team loses. I don’t really care for Metalocalypse or bands who do comedy lyrics. I don’t like a lot of comedy about Metal. I especially don’t like it if it is laughing at Metal rather than with it. I do however love hearing educated, sharp and with-an-element-of-truth-to-them jokes about it from my friends. That stuff makes me laugh. So does this book apparently. Andrew O’Neill works 99% in this style. The sense of humour is bang on the mark. Its the kind of thing your friends joked about in high school only on a professional letter and honed to better standards.

Onto the actual structure of the book. It starts off semi linear… the invention of metal and the stuff around at that time is detailed and analysed, then it covers the first few subgenres of metal and how they developed one after the other etc. Then it hits the awkward ’90s and explains how nothing is linear anymore in a satisfying way that doesn’t feel like a cop out. It does overly ignore some genres such as Prog and Power Metal while over-exposing some genres such as Black Metal but the author is really clear at the start that his biases and personal opinions are going to shine through and this is HIS history, not the objective factual history… so you can kind of let that slide.

It then ends with speculation on the history of Heavy Metal. This final section may be divisive. It is the section that is the most comedy-based. I can see a lot of people like me (but even more humourless if you can imagine that) really railing against it for it sheer absurdity. I found it pretty damn amusing, especially the lines about Messugah, Sodom, George Fischer’s indignity and Guns N Roses’ reaction to the war. (I can’t go into detail without spoiling jokes, but if you’ve read it you’ll know what I mean).

The history section of the book, by which I mean the main body of the entire book, is actually a very well written, well put together and fairly insightful and well researched version of heavy metal’s history, as good as, if not better than, most of the documentaries on the subject available for mass consumption and several other books on the subject.

It augments this history with some good arguments about subjects. One such example is something that I’ve wrote about before, the difference between the concept of “heavy” in people’s perceptions, such as how some people think heavy is a hippy-esque feeling of profundity and others think it is a measure of brutality and savagery. Eg. Which is heavier, the first Black Sabbath album, or say, Death Metal? People have argued both ways. Another such argument is how Heavy Metal was coined to describe/insult bands like Cream, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, but they aren’t Heavy Metal anymore because the goalposts have since shifted. These are interesting subjects which are close to me and I’m happy to see them discussed intelligently.

Soemthing else it really has a mastery of is the foot note. The main history will be presented in the main body of the text as normal and several notes will be found below, most of which are really rather humorous. Again, I’d love to list some but I feel I’d just spoil it on you.

Like anything; it is not completely perfect. There are a few minor issues and small factual errors. He says Jethro Tull are from Birmingham for example (Blackpool or Luton are better choices), that Strong Arm Of The Law is Saxon’s second album (third by my count) and Creed are a Nu Metal band (just no). He also calls Amon Amarth’s ‘Runes To My Memory’ ‘Runestones To My Memory’ but is setting up a joke at the time so that particular one may be intentional. He also misspells Scott Ian’s name a few times and Derek Green’s name once as well. This is probably the word processor more than the writer though, its just surprising to see in such a professional book, its not a shitty blog like mine or something. Overall however, these are very minor, mega-nitpicky issues that don’t impact the reading experience at all, when you think about it, and are barely worth mentioning except for the fact that if you are as big a nerd as me they may catch you off guard the first time before you get a grip of yourself. Overall, its pretty swish. And to be fair, there’s only so much objectivity you can realistically expect from a book that begins “There are two types of people in this world. People who like Heavy Metal and dicks!”

The only real negative for me in the book is when he can’t keep his musical bias against things I like hidden or objective enough. (On thing that raised an eyebrow was him implying Glam Metal bands can’t play their instruments but Nu Metal ones can, which is odd considering the absolute majesty of say, Ratt’s guitar solos. Those guys can play their instruments better than any Nu Metal bands I can think of, and I’m a diehard Nu Metal apologist). As stated already though, you can kind of forgive him because its clear in his mission statement, that this is his history and he has his own opinions. (Unlike, say, when Sam Dunn lets his opinion spill out when his work was supposed to be an objective factual true history of Heavy Metal and you find it a bit more galling that he can’t just keep schtum with the subjective opinions then). Andrew is also a comedian and will usually make a joke of it when he does get opinionated, which takes most of the sting off it anyway. I mean, my nose wrinkles a bit when he criticizes Slipknot but then he totally takes the edge off by turning it into a series of jokes about how people get more right wing as they get older.

In conclusion, this is a brief, very clever and interesting read that does a pretty great job of telling Metal’s history, especially the early days. It explores some interesting arguments and presents it all in a genuinely funny way. It doesn’t sacrifice quality for comedy however and isn’t wacky or stupid, it just has a funny writer. It achieves its goal of describing metal’s evolution from the ’60s until 2017 pretty damn well, but it sure keeps you smiling as it does it.

Stand up and take a bow, Andrew. Sit down Lars!

Prong – X No Absolutes Review

Posted: December 26, 2017 by kingcrimsonprog in Metal, Metal - Studio, Music Reviews

550143Prong’s 2016 album X No Absolutes is a real stunner. The band entered a new golden period of high quality and high productivity with 2012’s Carved Into Stone. Since then they’ve released 4 studio albums, one covers album, and one semi-live album. You could imagine with that high an output maybe the albums would sound rushed, but quite the opposite, this is arguably the strongest period of their career to date.

Among the best of this renaissance period is X No Absolutes, which is their tenth full length studio album (hence the X!). Prong show no weakness or slowing down with age. This album is pretty damn bad ass. The album follows the musical direction of the past few albums; Pantera & Early Machine Head-esque ’90s sounding Groove Metal mixed with brief hints of Thrash, a weird arty Killing Joke tinge at times, the best parts of Nu Metal used in moderation and all that is wrapped up in Tommy Victor’s New York bark.

The first track, lead single and modern day concert mainstay, ‘Ultimate Authority’ is an absolute winner, starting the album off strong with its faster pace and memorable chorus. All the first four songs are great. Groovy, punchy and memorable. Varied, but tied together perfectly by the vocal and production style. If you want to know if this album (or band) is for you, check out those first four tracks, they are red hot.

The title track comes next, branching out into more melodic material, which then defines the middle of the album. ‘Do Nothing’ actually reminds me a bit of Papa Roach only with more Fear Factory style drums, if you can imagine that. Think Digimortal meets Love Hate Tragedy.

After the middle experimental section of the album, it gears back up into more metallic territory, with ragers like ‘Universal Law’ and ‘In Spite Of Hindrances’ being particular highlights.

If you are into the likes of Pantera, Machine Head, Fear Factory, Pissing Razors, ’90s era Sepultura and actually Five Finger Death Punch as well now that I think of it, I think you would really enjoy this album. Its got a real good mix of styles but lives in that very crunchy, bouncy, memorable world more often than not and is another fine example of Prong’s modern day upswing. If you haven’t checked them out since Cleansing, maybe take a look back in the Prong camp nowadays, they’re as good if not better than ever!

Box Set Mania

Posted: December 23, 2017 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

I love me a good box set. Who doesn’t? Value for money is a damn tempting thing. I’ve been big into box sets this year. I’ve bought a few. A 17-CD AC/DC collection. A 14 CD Saxon late-career round up. A 6 album Deicide early days collection and a matching 6 CD Obituary album collection. I tried out a 5 CD King Diamond boxset & 5 CD Suicidal Tnedencies boxset. There was a 4 CD Girlschool boxset. A album CD Holy Terror set. A 3 CD Witchfynde box. A 3 CD Diamond Head box.

Heck, I started off the year with a 6 CD Yngwie Malmsteen boxset which someone sent me as a gift with no explanation or warning or follow-up. If that was you, own up and take your thanks.

I also went on iTunes and made my own imaginary boxset, by buying about 6 Running Wild albums at once, because I was disapointed I couldn’t find a boxset.

This is after a previous few years of getting a Dream Theater set, a Freedeom Call set, a Faith No More set, a ZZ Top set, a Thin Lizzy set, a Van Halen set, an early career Saxon set and a mid career Saxon set, 2 Motorhead sets, a Ratt Set, a Michael Schenker Group set, a Prong set, a Mountain set, a Foghat set and being gifted an Alice In Chains set.

Basically, in the last 5 years, I find Boxsets a very hard thing to skip.

This reminds me of a topic. I was discussing in the comments earlier. Boxset brain. I find that if I get a box set. I never, ever, even after 5 years… feel like I’ve really given a CD from that set enough attention. I feel like the boxset as a whole is one album and sometimes feel compared to listen to the whole set on shuffle. I feel the urge to group the sets together into a giant playlist and play songs from all the sets on shuffle. I sometimes feel like I can’t be considered a real fan because I only got into them through a boxset. (Strange, right?)

I feel like boxsets also come with a lot of pressure. A self-imposed expectation that it must be listened to quickly and all of it must be consumed NOW. I also always try to save one or two albums from it for later, but then fail, and listen to it once or twice, but then still try and save it and then get annoyed by the failure to save it and then the album is spoiled and never fully gotten into.

Its a strange battle. The need to NOT hear it and the need TO DEFINITELY hear it. I find myself needing to listen to the first few albums from the sets so much, that I have to put them on when I’m going to sleep. I’ll fall asleep and not hear it all, but in my mind I’ve put that album on one more time and therefore I’m getting my value for money.

…except I never get my value for money. I always, always have to listen to it more. I’ve never ‘completed’ that album. Not that music is something you can ‘complete.’ I bought all my Pantera albums when I was 12 years old and I’ve still been absolutely pasting them these last few months. I got into Metal through a strange combination of Metallica, Sepultura, Slipknot and Green Day and I’ve been listening to all of them this month all these many years later. So I don’t listen to something as a tickbox exercise. But if its a boxset. There is a tickbox element.

I got a Life Of Agony Boxset I forgot to list. It has 3 studio albums, a B-Sides compilation and a live album from an acoustic show with an electric encore. I have never, ever listened to that live album or B-sides album all the way through. …and that annoys me. I might go and do it now just to prove a point to myself.

There’s another point about boxsets I haven’t brought up. I’ve been talking about boxsets as if all of them are just a bunch of the albums in a cardboard box. Sometimes boxsets are specifically made new things.

I recently wrote about how I was really glad to have found a Megadeth album in Wembley from 1990. It came from a boxset. The boxset was a new product. It was specifically designed. They created a new greatest hits set and peppered a few rareties in. A new (old) live album. A new (old) live DVD. Slayer have released a similar product in the past.

Who wants theses? Why would a fan who liked the band enough to buy a box-set, want to get a greatest hits cd? Why would a newcomer who needs a greatest hits cd want to buy a gigantic boxset and take the risk on a load of rarities and archive live stuff ?

I missed out on this superb Megadeth live album for years because they stuck in on bassically a greatest hits cd filled box instead of on its own. Hell, take the rareties, take the new old live cd and dvd. Put em in a box without the greatest hits, charge the same price. I’ll buy that.

If I’m a fan enough for the box and wanting the rarities and the live stuff and willing to pay that much. I already have their greatest hits. I can make my own greatest hits playlists and burn my own greatest hits cds of my own design.

Greatest Hits sets were excellent in the past before playlsits where you could get all your favourite songs without the filler on one record or tape (We Sold Our Souls To Rock N Roll reviews always mention that!). Greatest Hits sets are excellent cheap starting points for newcomers to take a risk on a new band (I’ve done this dozens of times), or for casual fans who only want what they know anyway and don’t care about deep cuts and completionism (they do exist, as much as I can’t imagine living that way). Why stick them inside an expensive box clearly aimed at big fans though? What new fan would risk that much money on a maybe?

Maybe that’s just a little blind spot of mine. A strange bug bear of mine.

Box sets bring about a lot of strange opinions and habbits in me.

But hey…. ya gotta love em. Right?

Kingcrimsonprog Listening Habits 2017

Posted: December 21, 2017 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

(Source: LastFM.)

Part 1. Albums:albums 2albums 3

albums 4

Analysis: I am surprised I listened to Anthrax’s Vol. 8 more than either Edguy’s Theater Of Salvation or Anthrax’s new album.

I’m surprised Hardwired is the highest. I guess its two discs so that is more like half as much.

I thought Creeper was number one. Three. Pretty close. I thought Megadeth would be way higher. Higher than Anthrax definitely, roughly equal with Metallica. It felt like I listened to those three albums in equal doses, usually one after the other as a set. Apparently not as much as I imagined.

Trivium and Prong are doing incredibly well considering how recently I bought them.

I feel like Deicide should be on it and on it high. I feel like I listen to them really really often. I guess their albums only have like 6 songs each.


Part 2, Artists:

bands 1

bands 2

bands 3



…Aaaah. There’s Deicide. I guess overall is higher than an individual album would suggest.

Machine head so low? What the hell. Maybe that’s because their albums aren’t that many songs. Locust only has 8 songs for example.

Nirvana so high? I don’t remember listening to them much. I guess I read the Heavier Than Heaven book once this year and listened to them the whole time doing it. But that’s still higher than I thought.

Loving that Edguy made the top-5!

Artists 1 & 2 were exactly what I expected. I thought Creeper would be 3.

Megadeth, Anthrax and Metallica much closer together in overall, than in the albums section.

Kingcrimsonprog Albums Of The Year 2017

Posted: December 18, 2017 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I didn’t buy so many new-releases this year. I had my wedding this year so much of the year was spent saving for that. I also moved city to from a small furnished apartment to an unfurnished full house, so a lot of money was involved in that. In changing cities I also changed jobs and there was some time between the old job ending and the new job starting.

I’ve listened to plenty on streaming services, but for the purposes of this article only purchased albums are applicable. That’s why I’m not starting out from a giant list and whittling it down to a Top-20 or something big.

So; with that preamble out of the way, please enjoy, in context, Kingcrimsonprog’s Top 5 albums of 2017:


5. Accept – The Rise Of Chaos

Since Tornillo joined the band everything this band did has been brilliant. My favourite is Stalingrad, and this isn’t just as perfect as that was, but its a damn fine edition of this new formula.

This band know how to make absolutely perfect classic Heavy Metal music. I love how this album is absolutely devoid of filler. The production, formula and vocals are all brilliant. I’m not even that old and I’ve spent the last few months singing ‘Analogue Man’ like a damn anthem!



4. Black Country Communion – IV

I’m a bit of a die-hard fanboy and if they’d put out a wet turd of an album it would probably still have pleased me in some way, especially with the anticipation for this after the break up and reunion.

Luckily I don’t need to try write a defensive apologist review of this. This is pure gold. Among their best work. Chock full of new classics. Not a song on it I wouldn’t want to hear on the next live album or greatest hits package.

Its been my car album for most of the time since it came out. Well done, BCC, that’s one hell of a comeback you’ve got there!



3. Kreator – Gods Of Violence.

This was released all the way back in January but I hope that doesn’t stop it landing rightfully in people’s lists this year.

These guys just don’t know how to suck anymore, do they?

Since the year 2000 their discography has been absolutely amazing. Every album is album of the year stuff. They just constantly perform ridiculously well. The constantly write great memorable tunes. The incorporation of melodeath and power metal tinges into the blistering tetonic thrash has done them wonders.

This album is so good its better than any of their ’80s classics. Its better than most Thrash band’s output after 1992 at all. Its hard to believe how good this is when I grew up thinking all the best Thrash came out before 1991. This is crazily good stuff.



2. Trivium – The Sin And The Sentence.

A game changer, plain and simple. The undoubted best album of their career bar none. I haven’t stopped pasting this since it came out. Even my non-metal-fan wife knows the lyrics to ‘The Heart From Your Hate’ now, so much have I played this.

Everything about this album is great. The structures, riffs, crushing production, dazzling yet musical solos, best-ever vocals, verve and vigor filled performances. The drumming is the best on any of their albums ever. Its a real drummer’s album. One you can sink your teeth into.

I cannot say enough good things about this. This is a new benchmark for quality. It is the best metal album of the last two-three years. It is their The Blackening. If you haven’t heard it, get it!


1.220px-EternityInYourArms Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms.
This masterpiece was released in March and there is basically not a week since where I haven’t listened to it, not a day where I haven’t thought about it, and I have not heard any album since that I’ve felt was better than it.

A gripping mixture of all sorts of punk, pop and alternative rock styles from various decades mish-mashed together into a truly original and affecting record that feels cosy and familiar yet fresh and exciting.

Its odd structures, inventive patterns and utterly stunning vocals leave you feeling all warm inside after listening to it. The creative concept underpinning it all adds an extra layer of fun. The flow of the album is perfect.

I played songs from it at my wedding. I listened to it on repeat when driving for days on end back and forth dozens of times across the UK while moving house. I feel about it the way I feel about childhood favourites and all time classics in all the books and magazines.

Any time I felt bad this year, I’ve either played something jaunty of this, like ‘Suzanne’ to cheer me up, or else got down and somber with the excellent lyrics of the closer.

“Sometimes I feel like crying, and I know you feel it too, but life don’t seem as dark when I sing with you, oooh-oh-oh, I choose to live.”

Even all the shitty times in the hospital couldn’t ruin this one like they did Emperor Of Sand. This fun filled emotional roller coaster mixing misery, majesty and mischief is beyond negative association.


Where else are you going to hear something that starts off sounding like Cradle Of Filth, and ends up like Danzig covering Alkaline Trio? Where else are you going to hear it one the same album as a dark country tinged folk song and a furious bitter hardcore punk song?  All that amongst creamy almost saccharine, super catchy sweet melodies in oddly choppy songs that are absolutely unpredictable on first listen… this shit is the mad notes, as they say.



Honorable mentions:

Architects new song ‘Doomsday’ is absolutely stunning. It doesn’t count as its not a studio album.

Bullet For My Valentine and Slipknot’s new concert Blu Rays are great. They don’t count as they aren’t studio albums.


It was a bit of an interesting gig, in that I didn’t really want to go due to a mixture of recent bereavement and family visiting that evening and anxiety over finding a strange new venue in an unfamiliar city on a Saturday night when all the drunks and junkies would be roaming the streets, during the busy Office Christmas Party season where even more rowdy people would be out trying to look crazy to have something to talk about at work the next few weeks, as well as having to drive on some roads that have caused me much problems already this month and which have got me so stressed out I’ve actually said aloud ‘the next person to beep me, I’m getting out of the car and telling them, that I’m memorizing their face and if they ever beep me again I’ll follow them home and burn down their house with them in it.’

So, driving in the dark on a terrible road, negative emotions, better things to do with visiting family all already had me thinking I should just stay home and not attend.  Then, when I looked at the setlist of previous gigs in the tour I noticed a lack of a lot of my favourite songs (no Blood & Thunder!) and a too-high percentage of the new album (9 whole songs!). I also, when I bought the tickets initially, had noticed that they’d been doing a six song encore with all the songs they’d ever recorded with guests spots by Neurosis’ Scott Kelly, live, with Scott himself guesting. That seemed cool but I noticed on the previous show when I checked the setlist before going to my own gig that it now said ‘last show with Scott for 2017’ so one of the reasons that influenced me to buy the ticket in the first place was gone.

Mastodon are also a very hit and miss live band. Watch any outdoors show of them on youtube and you can see cracks appear. Watch their early DVD appearances and you can see Brent Hinds really struggle with vocals (that semi-famous version of ‘Capilarian Crest’ from that Slayer tour DVD for example). And while there are also amazing live moments from Mastodon, when I was thinking of reasons not to go and being a big wimp about the city streets and dodgy roads, I forgot about that.

I made a compromise and decided to not wimp out and still go, so I took my visiting guests to Cardiff for a night out, we had a nice meal in a restaurant, they went for drinks and saw the city and its Christmas market and temporary Ferris Wheel and got some drinks while I slipped off to see Mastodon after the food.

The support acts were Russian Circles, an instrumental Post-Metal band who my brother likes but I’ve never checked out, and Red Fang, the fun stoner metal band who have a Baroness and Mastodon sheen to them but also write Queens Of The Stone Age type stuff at times. I made it to the gig timed in such a way as to only see the last two Red Fang songs (and that’s ok, I only have two Red Fang CDs and only like one of em anyway) and I missed Russian Circles altogether (sorry guys… when I lived in Manchester I always walked to the venue early, got in as doors opened and watched all the support acts, but this is a new city, coming in by road, and bla bla bla…).

I’ve seen Mastodon three times before. Twice when their newest album was Blood Mountain, once with Tool where they leaned on their proggier side and played the full ‘Hearts Alive’ (hooray) and once supporting Slayer where they leaned on their more Metal side. I also caught them a few tours later when their latest album was Once More ‘Round The Sun, where they leaned on their more commercial and accessible material. Each version was great. In the Tool show the sound was bad and the vocals almost silent, but otherwise cool. With Slayer was probably the best. The headline ‘Sun show was pretty great but came at a period when I’d sort’ve fallen away from the band and it was actually what pulled me back in. The only downside was some stupid Scottish jerk screamed so loudly directly into my earhole that I had a ringing in my ears for three and a half days solid and I thought I was going to have to go to the doctor’s over it.

I have to admit, when it comes to Mastodon, my favourite albums are the three album stretch from Leviathan (I have a vinyl copy on my wall as decoration) until Crack The Skye. In this period, when it was happening, they were the most important, beloved, can-do-no-wrong band in the world and everything about them was cool and perfect. The next three albums are good too, and pay off really well when you first get them, but don’t quite live up to those previous three really, when you really look at them, in the cold light of day after the excitement has faded. They’re great, but they aren’t important and generation defining and tied up in all sorts of friendship memories and youthful anything-could-happen-next wide eyed wonderment. A lot of my friend group always say ‘they should’ve broken up after Crack The Skye and would’ve had a perfect untarnished legacy.’ (I’m much, much more forgiving of the next three albums than any of them, but even I can’t deny much preferring the previous three.)

So anyway, that’s the background.. On to the show…

So they came on after soundcheck to a warm applause, and launched into the rather odd song choice for an opener of the Crack The Skye late-album deep track ‘The Last Baron,’ (which is awesome in and of itself, but always feels like the second half of the title track and the third part of a suite of it, the title track and ‘Ghost Of Karelia’ and feels sort of unexpected and naked on its own). It was great though. It was a rather big statement of intent of what you could expect from the evening though, the trippier spacier stuff was definitely moved to the forefront.

There was some tasteful lighting and the stage turned from red to green to flashing depending on the tempo or time signature or some hidden logic I was having to much fun to study.

Then came the recent single from the new album, ‘Sultan’s Curse,’ which I didn’t think I liked all that much until I found myself singing along. They played the Crack The Skye single ‘Divinations complete with its surf guitar influenced solo, and then new-album deep cut ‘Ancient Kingdom’ and the lighting and previously not-much-used seven large thin screens surrounding the band started showing running water.

From then on the show started to get really good and I was warmed up and the showmanship started to come out more, the crowd started singing along more, and the screens started showing mental-ass psychedelic visions of evil octopuses, burning horses, snow, hell-scapes, deserts and all sorts.

The previous setlists on this tour had had a full 9 songs from Emperor Of Sand, but they trimmed that down to a more manageable 7 songs for my show, adding in the hits ‘Colony Of Birchmen’ ‘Black Tongue’ and ‘Blood And Thunder’ to the set to balance it out. They also made the very nice decision to play crazy-ass Blood Mountain deep cut ‘Bladecatcher’ which I wasn’t expecting but gladly welcomed, air drumming along to all its twists and turns and teases.

There was an absence of a lot of their hits that night. No ‘Iron Tusk’ no ‘Capilarian Crest,’ no ‘March Of The Fire Ants,’ no ‘The Wolf Is Loose,’ no ‘Crystal Skull’ no ‘Curl Of The Burl’ and no ‘The Motherload.’ They certainly don’t always just play the same songs every tour that’s for sure!

They did a pretty great job without them though. When they initially chucked in the deep cut from ‘Round The Sun, ‘Emerald City’ I found myself thinking, “which one is that?” when they said the name in the introduction, but then quickly found myself singing the chorus loudly along with easily a thousand other people. I didn’t even know I loved that one, but apparently I do. Its never made it into any of my greatest hits playlists or friend recommendations before, but I guess it probably will in future.

They also played my favourite track off of Emperor Of Sand ‘Andromeda’ with its almost Remission-esque noisy barbaric riff. Some of the drums on tracks like ‘Steambreather’ and ‘Roots Remain’ were breathtaking. Brann Dailor is an absolute drum hero up there with Dany Carey and Neil Pert.

Now; Because Mastodon are such an important band to me, all their albums are major life events and are tied to specific periods in my memory forever. Leviathan was around my 16th birthday and was influential to my teenage band and one of the most exciting times I’ve ever had as a music fan (a lot of my early facebook photos are in a Leviathan shirt and I’ve got a vinyl copy on my wall, now and in my last three homes, as decoration). Blood Mountain was the big exciting release all my high school friends were talking about when I left town after high school and what I’d discuss with them when I got back in touch with them any time in the next few years. Crack The Skye was this amazing otherworldly transcendental masterpiece that defined much of my time when I moved to England. The Hunter was the soundtrack to when I worked in Blackpool while reading all the A Song Of Ice And Fire books and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. Once More ‘Round The Sun always reminds me of walking my then girlfriend, now wife, to university in the snow and slipping and sliding along all the ice, and then waiting in the lecture halls I’d gotten to half an hour early for my own classes, just cranking out Mastodon, sitting in cold echoing halls bopping away to ‘Halloween’ and ‘Tread Lightly.’

Emperor Of Sand, however, reminds me of misery. I was listening to it heavily when we lost our first baby, and when I was working horrible soul destroying night shifts with an awful, passive aggressive, demanding and socially maladjusted manager in a horrific ungrateful job where you could work either 14 hours a day day shifts or 11 hours a night night shifts and still be harassed into coming in early so they’d pass inspections or going home every single damn day between 20 and 90 minutes late due to short staffing, and not be thanked for it, and have to come in on two hours notice, or on only five hours sleep, and work in awful dehydrating conditions and have the manager talk to you through the toilet door if you ever actually got the chance to actually go to the toilet and escape work for long enough to piss. That place broke so many labour laws and health and safety rules it was staggering and its a wonder the upper management weren’t all sacked, if not prosecute. But anyway… Nowadays when my life is so much happier and nicer and I’m in an awesome job that I love in a much better city in a much nicer home and everything is a lot better, listening to Emperor Of Sand just bums me out and reminds me of slaving away in such horrible conditions for such a dreadful uncaring company and their demanding, hateful, ungrateful clients and then coming home to bereavement and a lack of sleep.

Hearing those songs live with the cool video screens and all the joyous sing-alongs from the other fans sort of freed them from that association. I just got to listen to and enjoy them as songs, free from all the baggage. It was nice. Liberating.

Which is a good job, since so much of the setlist was from it. Going off Setlist FM, the breakdown was as follows: Emperor Of Sand -7 songs; Crack The Skye – 3 songs; Blood Mountain – 2 songs; Leviathan – 2 songs; Once More ’Round The Sun – 1 song; Remission – 1 song; The Hunter – 1 song.

Oh yeah, did I tell you they played bloody ‘Mother Puncher’ ?! SCORE! Its nice that even though they’re so late in their career they aren’t ignoring Remission (come to think of it, last time I saw them they very unexpectedly dropped ‘Ol Nessie’ into the middle of all the commercial stuff!). I hate fans who act all cool and say they only like Remission, sure, but it is a stunning monstrous album and I’d hate for it to be overlooked or forgotten. I’d love for them to drop a few more nuggets from it in nowadays. Nobody could argue with a bit of ‘Crusher Destroyer’ or ‘Where Strides The Behemoth’ nowadays, surely. Just slipped in nice and tidy among the proggier stuff to raise the energy levels and remind us of heavier times.

Speaking of ‘Mother Puncher’…. good God, the drums on that song! That and the breakdown in the middle of ‘Blood And Thunder’ have some of the most maddeningly-illogical yet crazily-satisfying drums ever.

Overall, I had a pretty great night and the band were great. A vastly different setlist than I’ve ever seen by ’em before, cool interesting visuals, a receptive audience, and I’ve not mentioned it yet but the sound was really clear and well balanced, the guitar solos were cool and Brent played them with a little bit of improvisation, and the vocals were really great. As I’ve said, I’ve went to Mastodon shows were you couldn’t even hear the vocals, I’ve seen Mastodon live footage online were the vocals weren’t so hot performance-wise, and I’ve seen ’em live before or recorded on their Brixton live video for example, with awesome vocals. Tonight was a good night for vocals, and indeed for crowd participation. The audience were dancing, singing, air drumming. I was sat behind the lighting/sound guys and they were dancing in unison at one stage. The whole vibe was very friendly and fun and like we were all in on the group secret.

I might have been skeptical and almost cancelled going to this show, but I’m glad I didn’t. I had a good time, I saw a good show and its given me a renewed appreciation for the new album and helped free it from bad memories.

Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us Review

Posted: November 19, 2017 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

Architects_album7coverAll Our Gods Have Abandoned Us was the critically acclaimed 2016 album from British Metalcore champions Architects. It is their seventh full-length release, their most successful to date, and their final album to feature Tom Searle before his untimely and tragic passing. It was produced by Fredrik Nordstrom (Arch Enemy, At The Gates, In Flames) and released on Epitaph records.

Architects fans generally fall into three categories; people who only like the incredibly brash and technical Dillinger Escape Plan-influenced early days. People who worship their breakthrough album Hollow Crown above all else, and people who favour their newest three albums. Me, I’m in the latter camp. My favourite of all their albums is Lost Forever // Lost Together.

My second favourite of all their albums is this. All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us is a real achievement. It is arguably their finest and most diverse record to date and when you take personal favouritism out of it, objectively their best. Their electronic side is fleshed out the best here. Sam’s voice is the strongest its ever been here. The balance between their heavy and contemplative sides is at its most harmonious here. Its got their best lyrics to date in my opinion. The production job is utterly perfect, the twinkling electronics float and the crunchy riffs really crunch.

The musical style comes close to Djent a lot at times especially with the balance of progressive metal style clean beautiful vocals, floating electronics and crunchy rhythmic, awkward riffing. They don’t fully immerse themselves in that one style but fans of it would love this album. Its one colour in their bigger picture. They also look in some more commercial directions here too, and luckily they have the tact and taste not to sound like they’re selling out or anything, again its just one part of a bigger whole. Its a very natural evolution of the style they’ve been refining since 2012’s Daybreaker.

Highlights include the punishing opener ‘Nihilist’ (which is the sort-of title track), as well as the rhythmic single ‘A Match Made In Heaven’ and the touching Anathema-esque closer ‘Memento Mori.’ It fittingly tells us to be mindful of death.

Overall; this is a stunning, tasteful, diverse and beautiful album that lives in a mathy, techy, heavy world too. It is expertly written, played, produced and has some fantastic lyrics. Its one of the band’s better if not best albums and if you like the band you’d be mad to miss it (unless you really only like the earliest stuff only). If you like bands like Tesseract, Circles or Monuments I’d also highly recommend this one to you to try.