17 for ’17: The Rock and Roll Fables Guide To The Best Releases Of The New Year

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Whew! Glad the 2016 retrospective is finally over. Now we can get to some reviewin’ and interviewin’ and stuff….wait, we’re doing a 2017 preview, too? UGH! WHY????? Then I guess without further adieu, the top 17 albums that may or may not surface in ’17: [Read more…]

Take a trip Once More ‘Round The Sun with Mastodon!

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Sometimes I think it’s great that Mastodon is free from the shackles of the concept album, having completed their “Elemental” 4-album stint with 2009’s Crack The Skye. Other times I am not so sure because albums like The Hunter come about. While The Hunter is a great album, it’s still hard to wrap my head around in the grand echelon of Mastodon supremeness. Great songs but a little directionless.

The same can not be said about their upcoming album, though. Once More ‘Round The Sun sees Mastodon at another pinnacle in their illustrious career thus far. Is there a concept in here? There’s always a concept in there somewhere but regardless, OMRTS is the greatest collection of songs Mastodon has ever put together and quite possibly their strongest album since Leviathan (Gasp!).

The riffs are greater, the singing is stronger, and the production is dirtier (Thanks to the indomitable Nick Raskulinecz). From the get go, OMRTS is seemingly so full of life and new found energy as the acoustic opening of “Tread Lightly” transmorgifies into one of the most powerful guitar assaults Mastodon has ever conceived filled with riff after humongous riff and vocal harmonies that are out of this world (Thanks to drummer Brann Dailor who’s taken on a more active role vocally). This is just the beginning, people! It gets so much better from here.

Dailor takes center stage on “The Motherload” and bares all with a masterful lead vocal performance coupled with the insane fills he ravages throughout. If anything, OMRTS sees a band that was already seemingly the best get even better. At everything. Dailor has really developed as a singer with a style that’s somewhere between Ozzy and Dio. It doesn’t make sense when you read it, but hearing it is fantastical. Meanwhile, guitarists Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds are unstoppable machines here apparently saving the most colossal riffage and sweetest solos for this album. Let’s not forget Troy Sanders, fresh from his stint with Max Cavalera and Greg Puciato in Killer Be Killed, who is absolutely on point during “Feast Your Eyes” with a thunderous yowl that guides the most balls out rocker Mastodon has ever written and performed.

If you were enticed to buy Once More ‘Round The Sun solely on singles “Chimes At Midnight” and “High Road” then this is the gift that keeps on giving. I know that Faith No More weren’t the first to use a cheerleader-style chant in a song but hearing the dazzling conclusion of “Aunt Lisa” (“Hey, Ho, Let’s Fucking Go! Hey! Ho! Let’s get up and rock and roll!”) inevitably brings back fond memories of “Be Aggressive”. And what new Mastodon record would be complete without the token appearance from Neurosis’ Scott Kelly who rears his head on the lengthy and sinister closer “Diamond In The Witch House”.

While 2014 has yet to conclude, I don’t see any reason why Once More ‘Round The Sun shouldn’t take the crown for “Metal Album of the Year” home now. Remaining metal acts with releases slated for July 1st and beyond: Consider yourselves warned!

Once More ‘Round The Sun is out on June 24th. Pre-orders are available here.

 

Untitled Metal Column: Volume 1 (3.15.14)

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Eleven years ago today I said “I will” to my wife but I’ve been married to metal for longer than that. I’m not really sure what my first metal album was (Either …And Just For All or The Black Album by Metallica on cassette I think) but as soon as I discovered the genre, I couldn’t stop eating it up. My first concert was Pantera with Crowbar opening at the Wallace Civic Center in Fitchburg, MA on the Far Beyond Driven tour in April of ’94 and I’ve been to hundreds of heavy shows since (Wow, 20 years since my first show. I’m old.) Anyway, I listen to metal, see metal live, and while I was writing for popblerd.com, wrote a regular metal column for over 2 years (I have some metal tattoos, too).

Which brings us to today and Rock And Roll Fables’ first “regular” column, a play on my old “Metal Monday” from my Popblerd days. I tend to write about what I like so if you’re looking for some scathing reviews of bands I don’t like then go elsewhere cuz frankly, I don’t have the time to write or listen to what I don’t like (There are few exceptions, however, especially when a band I like puts out a shitty record.)

But I digress. A lot apparently.

I had plans on reviewing the new Lamb Of God doc (That’s coming next week) and then I was going to write about the phenomenal new album from Hark (That’s coming next week, too, I hope) but then yesterday Killer Be Killed premiered the first two tracks from their upcoming debut on Nuclear Blast Records and I was immediately inspired.

If you don’t know Killer Be Killed yet they are the definition of a metal “supergroup”. Mostly (Sorry ex-The Mars Volta drummer David Elitch!). Beginning as the brainchild of Max Cavalera and The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato who wanted to create a Nailbomb-type project (Which was a one off pairing of Cavalera and Fudge Tunnel mastermind and later The Mars Volta producer Alex Newport), the group eventually expanded to feature drummer Elitch and Mastodon’s Troy Sanders.

First up is “Wings of Feather and Wax” which opens with a wall of feedback followed by a juggernaut of riffs as Sanders and Puciato trade lines. Cavalera enters later with his uncanny growl. The band hits tribal territory during the breakdown with Elitch laying down a solid foundation until Max brings the Sepultura with a line beginning with “Arise! Arise!”. The song is all over the place with elements of metal, thrash, and some really melodic lines thanks to Puciato and Sanders.

“Face Down” is the more straightforward metal song of the two with a great Cavalera riff and Puciato letting it rip vocally. The song goes for the jugular for almost five minutes and displays the diversity that this debut is sure to have. The surprising thing about both songs is how diverse the vocal line up is. If you were expecting this to be the Max Cavalera show then you’ll be sorely disappointed. The other great thing is the amount of melody involved. Sanders has evolved considerably over the years and it shows here while Puciato really gets to show his stuff on “Wings…” bringing to mind the “poppier” DEP moments (“Black Bubblegum” in particular) and his work in Spylacopa. If this is a sign of what the rest the rest of the album holds then metal fans are in for a treat!

Killer Be Killed will be unleashed through Nuclear Blast on May 13th. Pre-orders are up now over at the Nuclear Blast shop but for now you can check out “Wings of Feather and Wax” and “Face Down” below. For more on the band, head on over to their official Facebook page.