Ever wonder what your favorite Axis Of Metal reviewers are listening to? Well here’s your chance! This is a window into the sounds that have been billowing out of our speakers over the course of August. We are planning to do this on a monthly basis, and hopefully you can walk away with some new and interesting music to listen too!
One thing can be said about these lists, is that, we here at Axis Of Metal have immensely varied tastes, and cover the broad spectrum of heavy metal. [and not so heavy metal]
So without further mumblings, I present to you, August 2012’s staff playlists:
10) Inepsy – Bombshell Rock - YouTube
Who doesn’t like motorhead worship? Well, it has to be done right, and let me assure you; Inepsy does it better than right. This song is simply infectious, and it’s never a one-time play, I always end up playing it two or three times in a row. This band does deliver live, as I saw them open for Toxic Holocaust, but unfortunately they have disbanded. Their discography rocks, and it’s still floating around on vinyl, so don’t miss out!
9) Whiplash – The Burning Of Atlanta - YouTube
Ah Whiplash, another love of mine. Admittedly this band didn’t see as much play as they usually get, but I still managed to listen to them quite a lot in August. This song in particular is quite pleasing with it’s; fast riffing, great vocals, and overall an extremely memorable effort from a band that should have been much bigger than they were. Tony Portaro is criminally under rated, and that SUCKS. I also got a chance to chat with Tony Portaro, which can be heard here.
8) Speedwolf – Denver 666 - YouTube
Good ole’ Speedwolf, beer laden, violence inducing, thrash-speed-d-beat awesomness. Everything about this band rules, and I listen to this album constantly. This is the final track on their debut album, which came out last year, and it’s just so darn catchy and fast, that you can’t help but love it. Speedwolf rules. You can check out my interview with Reed the lead singer, here.
7) Entropy – Ashen Existence - YouTube
In the month of August I was big on the proggy-techy-thrash and this trend usually fluctuates. After I get sick of this sound I usually resort back to the more traditional stylings of thrash. [but I never get sick of the almighty Vektor] Anyway, this is yet another unknown gem from ’92 – hailing from Canada. This title track sums up the band pretty well. Essentially entropy is an amalgamation of thrash/death/melodic/technical elements and this album really is a whirlwind, but this song really describes it best. A great song from a fantastic album and band that got passed over, in the metal world – a shame really. This band ended up changing up their sound, and this album is not telling of their current direction. They released E3 this year, and you can be the judge of that.
6) Threshold – Decaying Ice - YouTube
First of all this isn’t the prog-metal band Threshold from the UK, this is instead a completely unknown French progressive thrash band that released only one album in 1991. I featured this album, “Within The Expanse” in the first entry of “The Unseen Paragon”. So I won’t describe this song here, instead click here to see my in-depth thoughts on this fantastic piece of forgotten music.
5) Aura Noir – Black Thrash Attack - YouTube
I love ugly music, and when my favorite form of metal becomes even more vicious I become even more enthralled. Simply put this song has all the goodness one would want from blackened thrash. It’s fast, vocals are great, and the overall feeling is ugly. Besides, it’s Aura Noir, how can you lose? You can’t.
4) Enforcer – Mistress From Hell - YouTube
God damn those riffs rule. I love trad metal; but only if it contains speedy tempo and this song satisfies that criteria, extremely well. Vocals rule, riffs are even better, and overall this song is great. If you like your metal to reek of that’s 80s attitude and the smell of stale perfume, then this is your ticket.
3) Phantom – Well Of Souls - YouTube
If you read the Fritz -vs- Ferret riff showdown, then you would’ve seen that I picked this song as one of the best underground power metal songs I’ve ever heard. This band was a little late to the game releasing this song in 93; but none-the-less it rules. Awesome vocals, great riffing, and seriously one of the best and most fitting guitar tones I’ve ever heard for power metal.
2) Razor - Behind Bars – YouTube
This is a tough one. Razor is one of those bands that I usually listen to full albums in one sitting, and really there are a ton of songs that get repeated over and over again, but this month, behind bars was that song. With the, uh, interesting lyrics, the awesome vocals and of course the expert riffing by Dave Carlo, which leaves you with a winner. It’s a toss-up between the violent restitution version, and the live version found on the True Thrash Fest 2011 dvd with Bob Reid singing. Razor delivers live, and both versions rule. Hell even Cannibal Corpse covered it. IF you haven’t listened to Razor, rectify that problem immediately. Seriously.
1) Vektor – Forests of Legend – YouTube
Admittedly this whole list could be comprised of Vektor songs, but I’ll spare you that non-sense. This track out of all’em in August saw the heaviest play. Forest Of Legend is Thirteen glorious minutes of proggy and techy thrash, with frantic passge, melodic passage, slow passage, awesome passage, and just overall a damn good song. Oh Vektor how I love thee. [I had the chance to interview Dave DiSanto when Vektor played in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on August 15th, that interview can be heard here. Also I wrote up a show review with pictures, which can be found here.]
10) Over and Over – Black Sabbath (Doom/Traditional) - YouTube
I don’t know why the only Dio-era Sabbath stuff I put effort into listening too was Devil you Know and Heaven and Hell. This is melancholic doom Sabbath AND Dio, in retro glory.
Got to review the new album and the whole thing rules. This is the opening track, but the way it begs you to head bang is why I put it down over the other songs.
8) Tetrastuctural Minds – Vektor (Progressive/Thrash) - YouTube
Saw them live a few weeks ago, seriously the best thrash band of the past 20 years. [Note from Fritz: I totally and utterly agree]
7) Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract – Ne Obliviscaris (Progressive/Black) - YouTube
I won’t lie I’m a sucker for violins, so melodic and chaotic black metal with lots of variety and aforementioned violins was a shoe in.
6) All Over But The Shouting – Overkill (Thrash) - YouTube
Overkill rules. Being able to write bitchin songs well into their seniors proves this.
5) Foreigner-Pallbearer (Doom) - YouTube
Very melencholic and depressing, but very uplifting in a way too.
4) City Limits – The Great Sabatini (Progressive Sludge/Doom) - YouTube
One of my favourite Canadian bands right now, crushing, fast and progressive. [A live review with pictures of their recent Toronto show can be found here.]
3) You’re No Good – Van Halen (Hard Rock) - YouTube
Just got my vinyl player/speakers set up and Van Halen II. This song alone helps me understand why vinyl is still undeniably the best sounding format.
2) Hawk as Weapon – Conan (Doom) - YouTube
Heaviest. Song. I have ever heard.
1) Spiral Vacuum – Hour of 13(NWOBHM/Doom) - YouTube
Traditional Doom plus NWOBHM = CATCHY AS HELL!! It’s not an overly doomy song, but that chorus riff is just addicting.
10) Windy City – Love and Happiness - YouTube
Windy City is one of my favourite retreats for upbeat chill-out music, especially in warmer weather, and this track is one of my favourites. Bouncy reggae-tinged soul with a sweet simple piano hook and smooth vocals.
9) The Seatbelts – Clutch - YouTube
A quick, swinging jazz piece from a fight scene in the Cowboy Bebop movie. I’m genuinely listening to anime music. God help me. But The Seatbelts are amazing so it’s justified.
8) Om – Gethsemane - YouTube
An absolutely gorgeous track, sparsely populated with pulsating, ethereal cello, and chanted vocals; this is as good as background music for relaxing as it is for really sinking in and listening.
7) Murder by Death – No Oath, No Spell - YouTube
A track from their upcoming album they’ve been performing live a bunch, the particular recording I’ve been listening to is a free download from a promo they did with just guitar, vocals, and cello. More of the dark, moody stuff they do so well.
6) Mono – The Flames Beyond The Cold Mountain - YouTube
A slow build to a huge midsection that falls and then builds again. I know some people aren’t big on huge, crashing drums in post-rock but I love it. The final minute and a half of this track is a brilliant climax to the 12 minutes before it.
5) Lionize – Parlor Tricks - YouTube
An incendiary rock tune with a killer hook and great groove. Lionize has to be one of the hardest working rock bands going: touring constantly, putting out two records in 2011, and already playing new stuff on the road. Everyone should give this band a listen.
4) Diablo Swing Orchestra – Justice for Saint Mary - YouTube
Spends most of its time being a quiet, mournful tune backed by clean guitar and way over-the-top melodramatic strings, then some horns come in to help slowly build it to tense soundtrack piece leading into 45 seconds or so of metal before “the drop” and then it gets all glitched and screwed. DSO likes playing with genres I guess.
3) Deep Purple – April - YouTube
I never spent much time looking through deep cuts on Deep Purple’s albums but when this came up on shuffle I was blown away. A 12 minute song with no band member playing for the middle 4 minutes so an orchestra can do its thing, and every moment is stellar.
2) Boris – Naki Kyoku - YouTube
This is one of the relatively few Boris songs where the focus is on Wata’s more traditional playing rather than her layering of effects and toying with sound, along with Atsuo’s dirty blues backbeat and Takeshi’s thumping bass, it’s a bit unique for them but it’s one of my favourites.
1) Baroness – March to the Sea - YouTube
I’ve been listening to the whole Yellow & Green album a lot, but this is the track I tend to jump back to when I just want a quick fix from the double album. It’s primarily John Dyer Baizley’s strong shouted vocals and the killer hook in the chorus that keeps me coming back.
When “In The Woods” announced their break up and subsequent reformation as Green Carnation; their next incarnation as a melodic progressive rock band, many jumped ship. If anything, I became more enamoured with what they became than what they ever were, and it’s when they stripped it all down to their base acoustic roots; their simplest works, it shows them at their emotional pique. It’s been a long time since I first heard of them and even longer since they released their “Acoustic Verses,” but it’s always stayed with me. and this month saw me remind myself why I first fell in love. It also sees me publicly revealing how dreadful my written capabilities were 3 ½ years ago. Yikes!
Any time I found myself wondering how much a drummer can really contribute to an album I found myself returning to these Aussies debut; the opening work on the drums proving how even one man in the back can contribute. Catchy riffs galore and venomous vocals make this one track too few people will have the joy of hearing.
Well it’s only natural that this artist should get a mention in here somewhere; his debut blowing the competition out of the water and proving what one man can do with his mind in the right place. With this title track, his ‘coup de grace,’ he leaves us with one of the most groove-laden riffs the genre’s seen for years and then finishes it off one with a mind-melting extended solo demonstrating why he’s one of the rising stars amongst guitarists.
7) Doom – I Will Be With You - YouTube
Again from the recent “Riff Ultimate Showdown” Fritz and I wrote, the re-discovery of Doom’s “Complicated Mind” let me to their later work in the realm of Avant-Garde, and more specifically to the work of their bassist Koh Morota. For Morota was far more than just another bass player, he was the pivotal player in providing them their rhythm and unique tone, and it’s in this gentle instrumental that he shows his more contemplative work on the fretless bass, and perhaps why he is one of music’s genuine unsung heroes.
6) Kyaru Pamyu Pamyu – Ponponpon - YouTube
With the debut out recently, it was time for me to revisit an old discovery. If you thought Lady Gaga was strange, please, make sure you’re sitting down for this one. One of the commendable things about the J-Electropop is their openness and honesty regarding who actually writes the music, and in this case it’s a man called Yasutaka Nakata. Creative, inventive, and batshit insane, as this video demonstrates. Even stranger is how it got known outside of Japan; what happens if you couple this ridiculous over the top cuteness with lolicon (cartoon child porn essentially)? Yes, it’s a question nobody asked but 4chan answered anyway with a cover song called “Pomf Pomf,” which might have even made it as a meme if anyone outside of 4chan dared admitting to have heard it. Oh, and no, “Pon” doesn’t meaning anything, but then again neither does the song. Nobody out-crazys the Japanese. Nobody.
5) Mac Lethal – Your vs You’re - YouTube
I could probably list the number of hip-hop artists I enjoy on my fingers but Mac Lethal is one that will often be at the top; not just technically talented (none of this slow speaking (c)rap, he actually can rap quickly) but he has an ability to come up with poignant topics for which he’s finally starting to get recognised for on his own label, and whether he’s speaking from the heart or just poking fun it’s always a joy to listen to. Few more so than this one, which tackles one of the most important topics of our generation: Internet Grammar.
Well I’ve already mentioned elsewhere how much I’ve fallen in love with this album; I was always a fan but the direction they’ve now taken has re-invigorated my passion, and Eula just might be the most beautiful and emotional track that they – or anyone else this year for that matter – have written. Slow and ethereal lines slowly build up in energy until the final desperate roars that sees him reach the album’s dramatic conclusion. This is most likely my favourite single track of this year, and the fact I’m still listening to it obsessively two months later is the proof of that.
Yet another I expect would never be permitted here otherwise, Hot Cross are a Progressive Screamo band with a very old-school attitude, probably owing to the fact that they all came from infamous older screamo bands. Three vocalists and three guitar lines all intersecting in their very own brand of chaos; an album I rediscovered by accident perusing some of my old CDs and wondering what on earth I’d bought. Turns out it was something awesome.
Failing to make my recent ‘Ferret vs Fritz Ultimate Showdown” by a whisker, replaced by Stone at the last minute, these Finnish nutters have made one of the catchiest albums I’ve heard in years with this standing at its peak. A sort of Progressive Alternative Thrash containing hard hitting shouted vocals, rip roaring riffs, shredded solo’s, and far more of Hyde’s ass than I ever wanted to see. Perfect.
1) PSY – Gangnam Style - YouTube
Fortunately for me there is an “anything goes” rule in operation as it allows me indulge in what is far and away my most listened to song this month. Since being shown it by my sister I’ve infected my partner, tried to infect her best friend, not to mention countless others online and off; a ridiculously catchy tune, even more ridiculous a video, and all this is trumped only by the anti-materialistic lyrical content. PSY’s return to the South Korean music scene has not just made him a hit at home but an international meme spawning sensation and since it’s release has been both the most watched youtube video and most downloaded track in America. Surprisingly, for something so damn popular it actually might be worthy of being so.
10) Psyclon Nine – Divine Infekt - YouTube
Psyclon Nine has been on of the bands I always turn to when I am in need of some harsh electronic music and Divine Infekt happens to be one of my favourites of theirs. It has a solid hook in the intro and their subject matter of zombification is always appealing.
9) Marilyn Manson – The Flowers of Evil - YouTube
Ever since the release of Born Villian I have been trying to figure out how exactly I feel about the album and I’m still not sure, but I do know I certainly enjoy a few songs off it. One happens to be more the melancholy The Flowers of Evil, which to me is most reminiscent of older Manson, but of course with his new vocal twist.
8) London After Midnight – America’s a Fucking Disease - YouTube
London After Midnight have always been a band without compromise when it comes to their lyrics and message, and this song is no different. It is very clear by the title that this goth rock tune is very much anti-american. It’s all about thinking for yourself.
7) Belle Morte – Winter - YouTube
As you may have guessed by my list I have been in a mood for some less than light-hearted music and Belle Morte is always great to fill in that void we like to call a heart. Winter is likely the most depressing song they have ever played, and perhaps I like it only for that reason. Its brooding, moody and dark, while lacking any real instrumentation or complexity.
6) Murder by Death – Killbot 2000 - YouTube
Depsite the name of both the band and song you wouldn’t likely suspect that this band takes most of its inspiration from Johnny Cash. The song contains lyrics of dead children being dragged across the ground, part of the albums concept and story of disaster.
5) :Wumpscut: – Die in Winter - YouTube
Winter seems to be a theme this month and it continues with the repetative, somber beat of :Wupmscut:’s Die in Winter. It just has a nice slow, electronic beat I can always chill out to.
4) Cradle of Filth – Nymphetamine - YouTube
Probably the most mainstream of all of Cradle of Filth’s song, it also happens to be an album that’s perpetually stuck in my record player as I can’t get enough of it. The variety of the sonic assualt contained in this song are enough to wake me up and start my day, every day.
3) 10 Years – Battle Lust – YouTube
This track off of 10 years latest album is by far my favourite. The band has evolved in their sound but has never changed that and I have always enjoyed their unique passionate rock sound. Battle Lust just has a nice flow and a catchy beat. Its also one of the few more upbeat songs I have enjoyed.
2) Katatonia – Evidence – YouTube
“I hold my breath and check the time, one minute no collapse“, my favourite line from the song. Katatonia will always be on my playlist, they suit every mood with their depth and beauty. This happens to be my favourite track of theirs.
1) The Gathering – These Good People – YouTube
Their latest promo just reached my desk this month but I was digging this track all last month. Its inverted piano’s and ticking beat combined with Anneke’s voice most akin to a goddess make no compromise. It’s not fast, loud or upbeat, but it is magical.
Hello everybody, this is Deane returning to the world of the written word since I have been in somewhat hiding from writing anything so ignore it if I come off a little rusty.
10) Serpents – Vomitory – YouTube
Lately I have been playing the Carnage Euphoria album when I am in a bit of a death metal mood and feel like “gettin violent”. This has been on my replay list ever since its release in 2011. These guys seem to blend a nice mixture of the death metal roots with some aspects of the Swedish scene thrown in there. It’s also nice to hear a set of drums that sound like drums and not tiny rocks being thrown at a brick wall, it sounds authentic. The track “Serpents” stands out for me mainly just due to really enjoying the riff in the songs, however if you haven’t heard it yet go and listen to this whole album, “Carnage Euphoria” by Vomitory.
9) Rise Up – Testament – YouTube
Yes I was grouped in with the rest of the Testament fan boys and patiently awaiting this album to be released. Now I am under the impression that there were some in the community that found the “Formation of Damnation” was a tiny bit of a letdown but really “Dark Roots of the Earth” I found to be a pretty solid album. Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick show what a great team they are on this album and Chuck Billy particularly on the opening track “Rise Up” really displays his ability and proves that he is still relevant in this massive world of heavy metal. “Rise Up” is enough to keep any Testament fans attention with its catchy riffs and chorus. Good job Testament, good job indeed.
8) Mirror Messiah – Black Pyramid – YouTube
I had just recently discovered Black Pyramid while on a hunt for some Doom style bands. Now Mirror Messiah is off their debut self-titled album. Black Pyramid is all about that raw stoner/doom sound that fans of the genre will just eat up. If you like Clutch, Black Sabbath, Sleep or anything similar you have my guarantee that you will enjoy this band. Not re-inventing the wheel but check out all their material and it will be on repeat.
7) Dead Letters – Katatonia – YouTube
This song was released a few months back now, and I really did fall in love with it. With the album only being about a week or so old at this point I haven’t had much of a chance to dive too deep into the entire thing yet, however “Dead Letters” is probably one of my most looked up songs on Youtube right now. It is basically what to expect from Katatonia, dark subject matter and an overall gothic and depressing feel. Still in somewhat the same direction as “Night is the New Day”. But I am sure Katatonia fans will agree when I say that there is just something about this band when they release material, it is easy to fall in love with. The haunting sound of Katatonia has found its way back to us.
6) V – Iced Earth – YouTube
Obviously i have mentioned many times that I love me some Iced Earth. Their recent album “Dystopia” has been in my constant rotation for my driving enjoyment, and when V hits the stereo I get that warm fuzzy and I guess in this case epic feeling that I just can’t help but bang my head to and sing along with the chorus, it’s even better live.
Half way through the set here and I cannot forget my precious Ihsahn. I was a sucker for this album probably because I am such a fan boy of his work. To me it’s hard to find this kind of material on a daily basis. It’s mix of extreme, progressive and black metal with the haunting melodies and jazz passages. I melt when I hear saxophone on this tune, and on an album with appearances of Jeff Loomis and Devin Townsend, how can one go wrong. [ Deane conducted an interview with Ihsahn, and that interview can be heard here.]
4) My Twin – Katatonia – YouTube
Katatonia appears once again and they are probably one of my top bands that I have been listening to for the past month. Ever since the release date for “Dead End Kings” drew closer and closer I put these guys back in my regular rotation. Jonas Renske on this track just gives me chills and the hard hitting riffs and melodies are unforgettable. Like I said gives me chills.
3) Drawn to Black – Insomnium – YouTube
No surprise once again, Insomnium has to make my list. This group takes melodic death metal and truly make it their territory. Even going years back now on “Above the Weeping World”. The song writing is just extremely coherent and this group has proven their strength even very early on in their career. When going into this genre obviously I want the melodies, I want the aggressiveness with a nice touch of those haunting passages and you get that with Insomnium. For me especially when I hear the intro to “Drawn to Black” I know I am in for one hell of an experience
2) Tetrastructural Minds – Vektor – YouTube
Wait!!!!! Deane has a thrash band above Insomnium, Katatonia and Iced Earth something must be wrong, can’t be doing that shit. Maybe Mr.Fritz has had an influence on me or maybe when he showed me Vektor, I fell in love. Both Black Future and Outer Isolation are great albums and I hope these guys fly high. I don’t get to hear this brand of I guess you could say progressive thrash very often, but this track has just stuck with me. Right off the bat with the quick drum roll and all other elements zooming in quicker than light it is hard to find something wrong with this track. The thought out technical riffs and pounding drums in the background that aren’t just the same thing over and over makes this really stand out for me. I am even treated to some calming melodic passages; this has my name all over it. Vektor brings their material all over the place and has been almost non-stop in my Ipod. Hail glorious Vektor.
1) Adrenaline Distractions – Screamer – YouTube
This will be an odd one for people to see I think, as long as they know what my normal rotation is. Don’t get me wrong I have always been a fan of that traditional hard rocking sound. I’m sure there will be some who don’t know who Screamer are and don’t feel bad because I didn’t either before I had the chance to see them right here in Hamilton, Ontario and then Fritz had the opportunity to interview a couple of the members. [this interview can be found here] As soon as they took the stage I was over whelmed with happiness and fuzzy feelings. I purchased the album “Adrenaline Distractions” and probably has become one of the most played albums in the Deane Machine (my car). While listening you can hear the obvious influence of Iron Maiden which if you hadn’t realized is far from a bad thing. These guys constructed a group of songs that really kept my interest and had me singing along with in minutes. It is by no means perfect and I would like to see what Screamer does on their next offering, but track by track I could really feel the effort and passion that was being put in. Catchy and chuggy riffs, blazing and hard rockin’ solos, chanting vocals at parts and that old school feel that will have the old guard eating this up. Thank you Screamer, THANK YOU.
About the Author
Anyway I'm one of the co-founders of Axis Of Metal, which I created out of a love for all things heavy. Admittedly my first foray into music wasn't so heavy. At twelve i developed a love for grunge music, which then lead to a love of classic rock, and punk. Then as I consumed almost every piece of music in said genres I needed something with a bit more intensity, and something more extreme. One day I was walking through the halls in my high school, and i heard music blasting out of someone's headphones, and it was exactly what I was looking for. So after I found out that it was Slayer's "Disciple" I went home that day, and listened to every song Slayer had ever released, and that's how it all started.
So that's my story, so why not go out and listen to me blabber on, on the podcast or go and read what the Axis Of Metal's writing team has to say. Axis of Metal is created by metal heads, for metal heads.