allfather - bless the earth with fire

Allfather: Bless The Earth With Fire (2016)

There are epochal moments in my life as a “metal” dude that will never fade.  In 2016 I went from being a guy who listened to and collected a lot of metal records, keeping largely to himself to a guy who recorded and released a metal record (even though I called it a demo) and connected with a larger community of folks who did the same thing.  One of the earliest bands I connected with both on a personal and musical level was Allfather, a hardcore sludge/doom band from the UK who had at that point released a handful of cool singles and EPs.  Then Bless The Earth With Fire came out I got to witness a band go from “cool guys putting out cool songs” to “Holy crap these guys are the real deal and shit I need to get better if I want to do this for real.”   Continue reading “Allfather: Bless The Earth With Fire (2016)”

allan holdsworth - iou

Allan Holdsworth: i.o.u. (1982)

Guitarists whose playing is truly unique and identifiable are few and far between.  Sure, you can maybe listen to two seconds of a solo and know who’s playing it and what song it’s off of, but what if it were a new song?  Eddie Van Halen?  Sure.  Brian May?  Maybe.  If Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn were alive I’d throw them into the mix.  But one person truly deserving of being in that conversation is the late, great Allan Holdsworth, whose virtuosity on the instrument is matched by his unique way of using harmony to construct massively complex chord structures that delicately balance straight jazz, fusion, and pop.  I.O.U. stands out as a masterpiece that recalls the best of what Holdsworth brought to music, still vibrantly alive almost 40 years after it was recorded. Continue reading “Allan Holdsworth: i.o.u. (1982)”

all that remains - for we are many

All That Remains: For We Are Many (2010)

And so we come to the end of the All That Remains run.  After the disappointment of Overcome I tried one more time with For We Are Many, mainly because Adam Dutkiewicz returned to the producer’s chair.  The band curbs a bit of the active rock polish and brings the melodic death from earlier albums to the fore, making for a solid album the nevertheless failed to get me to return to the fold. Continue reading “All That Remains: For We Are Many (2010)”

all that remains - overcome

All That Remains: Overcome (2008)

You can hear it within the first 10 seconds of “Before the Damned” on Overcome, the fourth album from All That Remains. After re-listening to the previous albums I thought it was going to be the further dilution of the band’s sound into a washed out puddle that killed the record.  But nope, as soon as the Overcome starts I remembered exactly what the biggest problem was.

Your Honor, the Prosecution calls to the stand Mr. Jason Suecof. Continue reading “All That Remains: Overcome (2008)”

all that remains - the fall of ideals

All That Remains: The Fall of Ideals (2006)

I picture All That Remains sitting in a dark room, having just finished another show where attendance was maybe…less than optimal.  Heads down and sweaty, they’re deciding what the next step is when a slick dressed and well-fed gentlemen enters, exclaiming, “Hey!  Maybe do a little more with those clean vocals and homogenize those lyrics so you’re not alienating folks!”  He leaves, the scent of cash wafting in his wake.  Enter Overcome.

Haha, that’s tomorrow’s review.  Instead the band takes all that advice to heart in a way that doesn’t suck at all and gets The Fall of Ideals, my vote for All That Remains’s best album. Continue reading “All That Remains: The Fall of Ideals (2006)”

all that remains - this darkened heart

All That Remains: This Darkened Heart (2004)

Does anyone else remember when All That Remains kicked ass?  Earlier in their career they kind of got lost in the shuffle of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal propagated by bands like Shadows Fall, Unearth, and Lamb of God.  If anything the band was known for the fact that Phil Labonte was the original vocalist for Shadows Fall.  When I fell back into metal I picked up the most recent albums from both band to see what the fuss was about.  15 years later I can’t tell you what happened to my copy of The War Within, but damn if I don’t keep coming back to This Darkened Heart, which I’ll always love no matter how much of a gun-toting right wing nut Labonte becomes. Continue reading “All That Remains: This Darkened Heart (2004)”

ali helnwein - pterodactyl

Ali Helnwein: Pterodactyl (2017)

My first cassette review!  Supposedly this $25 Wikoo portable cassette player has Mega Bass™ and that weird warping noise I heard five minutes into “Side A” of Pterodactyl, the odds and ends compilation from composer Ali Helnwein was part of the charm!  I’m kidding (a little bit); I know there are much better cassette players out there that probably do this tape a lot more justice than my rinky-dink player is, but I can still see the nostalgic charm of the wonderful uniformity of the cassettes, and the music – regardless of media type or file size – is fantastic, a collection of unused film cues and smaller pieces that highlight the whimsical and intimate genius of Helnwein’s music.  Continue reading “Ali Helnwein: Pterodactyl (2017)”