Posts Tagged ‘Jordan Itkowitz’

Soilwork – Verkligheten

Creating anything is hard, even if you’re a master of your craft. I don’t care if you’re Spielberg, Scorsese, Pixar, or Stephen King. You still need to take your raw, half-formed idea, and then use all of your skill, experience, judgment, and persistence to shape it into something that measures up to or surpasses your […]

Dimmu Borgir – Eonian

Eight years isn’t quite an eon. Still, it’s been quite a long wait for Dimmu Borgir to pull their satanic symphony back together and to don their fringed white leather arctic wizard outfits once again. Wait, scratch that, this time they’re going for bedazzled cosmic hooded robes…  no matter – Eonian is finally here. I’ve […]

Blut Aus Nord – Deus Salvatis Meæ

During past Halloweens, I’ve set the mood for trick-or-treaters by playing horror movie music – The Exorcist, Halloween, Poltergeist – and baroque Cradle of Filth instrumentals out of the windows. If I really wanted to terrify our visitors this year though, I could switch it up for the new Blut Aus Nord. Then again, it might […]

Mithras – On Strange Loops

Nine years is a mere nanosecond compared to the endless expanse of space and time, but that’s how long it has been since Mithras’ last full album, Behind the Shadows Lie Madness. That was my #1 album for 2007, and it still gets frequent play (its album cover also still gets regular desktop background honors), as there […]

Tardive Dyskinesia – Harmonic Confusion

Tardive Dyskinesia is an affliction that causes the lower half of the face to droop over time. The Greek djent band – now prog-djent-sludge – captures this with one of the best album covers of the year. Unfortunately, the cover captured my own frustrations with the album as well. Despite the swirls of color and […]

Opeth – Sorceress

Opeth’s 12th album is upon us, and as promised, Sorceress is their heaviest in years – certainly since Watershed. It is also their best since then. The pendulum has not swung back to 2008, though. This is still not a metal album, per se – certainly not the progressive death that made them so beloved […]

Soilwork – Death Resonance

If only other bands’ cutting room floors looked like Soilwork’s. When they released The Living Infinite in 2013, I marveled at how many superb songs they had turned out during those writing sessions – enough for an absurdly generous double album that was also my #1 pick for the year. And then some, it turns out, when they […]

Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas – Mariner

If Vertikal and its companion piece Vertikal II were Cult of Luna’s final, triumphant shout, then it’s poetic that silence followed afterwards. The band has created a career from the interplay between thunderous, violent peaks, and soft, hypnotic lulls. All the same, I was disappointed to learn that there’d be no more brilliant and mesmerizing […]

Ihsahn – Arktis.

The lone traveler on the cover of Arktis, Ihsahn’s sixth solo release, may as well be the man himself. Ever since departing Emperor, Ihsahn has charted his own paths across rough and largely unknown terrain. Previous album Das Seelenbrechen veered off into particularly strange and challenging territory – even for me, a die-hard fan of his work […]

Babymetal – Metal Resistance

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it doesn’t matter – Babymetal are now the Supreme Overlords (or perhaps the Overlord Supremes) of their own Cult of Kawaii. And if you do hate ‘em, then lighten the fuck up. The absurdity of three J-pop teenyboppers fronting a metal band is too ridiculous not to love – and […]

Grift – Syner

I moved from the US to Scandinavia last year, and as we head into our second winter here, I understand why so much dark and depressing music comes out of the region: it gets dark and depressing. By mid-December, it’s dark until 9am, gray all day, and dark again at 3:30. And we’re in Southern […]

Ahamkara – The Embers of the Stars

Atmospheric black metal is perfectly fine as a descriptor, but what it should really be called is headphones black metal. Strap on a pair of your best reality-blockers, close your eyes, and get lost in a blizzard of sound and fury. Mare Cognitum released a perfect experience with Phobos Monolith, my #1 pick for 2014. […]

Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud

The Beginning of Times and Circle were both solid Amorphis albums, each with a few memorable standout tracks, yet I haven’t returned to them often. Instead, when I’ve been in the mood for some of the Finns’ melancholic majesty, I’ve chosen Skyforger, which I think is the quintessential album for the band’s now-lengthy third era (by my classification, anyway; era 1 […]

Fear Factory – Genexus

Any band with 20+ years to its name is bound to evolve, but Fear Factory has never gone through massive upgrades to their OS (band members though, different story). Soul of a New Machine was industrial death metal in its molten form, and Demanufacture refined it into cold blue steel. Remanufacture sent it through the crusher and the chop-shop. […]

Symphony X – Underworld

Russell Allen’s vocals have always been one of the elements I’ve loved best about Symphony X: he’s powerful and stunning in big choruses, rousing in the verses, and never so goopy or overcooked that my enthusiasm turns to embarrassment (as is the case with a lot of power metal bands, hence my very picky attitude towards […]

Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs

It has been more than a thousand years since the minstrels, troubadours, and minnesingers of the Middle Ages strummed their lutes and cooed their poetry to eager and usually royal ears. Obsequiae, if they could travel back to those days, would have lulled the lords and ladies of court into wondrous reverie with a gentle opener […]

Dekadent – Veritas

The term ‘cinematic’ gets thrown around a lot these days, as many black, death, and progressive metal acts have become more comfortable with orchestration as a way to add color, texture, or simply grandeur to their sound. It’s not as simple as that, though – you simply can’t layer some heavy Gothic chords atop and […]

Job for a Cowboy – Sun Eater (2nd Review)

Never judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, don’t write off a band simply because they have a goofy name and used to be a scenester deathcore act. ‘Cause holy hell, this cowboy has learned some new tricks at the rodeo. Granted, that’s because the band that catapulted to MySpace stardom and a Metal […]

Oubliette – Apparitions

An oubliette, from the French word ‘oublier’ – to forget – is a dungeon. A particularly horrible and lonely sort of dungeon, little more than a hole in the ground. In you go, curled and cramped, and then a lid or stone is slid across the opening, trapping you in blackness while your body succumbs to pain, hunger, […]

KMFDM – Our Time Will Come

Another year, another new KMFDM album. If only every band were so prolific! Wait a second, that’s how I started my review of last year’s album… but it works, because they keep pumping ’em out for our industrial-dance/metal enjoyment. Every year there’s a new full-length, and in between, Käpt’n K and his hardworking crew constantly produce new remixes, compilations, and merch, […]

Scar Symmetry – The Singularity (Phase I – Neohumanity)

The new Scar Symmetry isn’t just an ambitious sci-fi concept album – the first in a planned trilogy – it’s also the extreme metal equivalent of Voltron. Melodic death combines with progressive metal, fuses with classic 70s radio-rock, and then activates with a core of pure Transformers-soundtrack awesomeness. Stan Bush and Vince DiCola: “Form feet and legs!” Kansas, Styx, and Foreigner: “Form […]

Abysmal Dawn – Obsolescence

In 2012, I covered the Slaughter on the Water III festival aboard the USS Hornet in San Francisco Bay. Yes, a death metal festival on an aircraft carrier. Actually, make that inside the hangar of an aircraft carrier, and you’d better believe that shit was loud. I got tinnitus in my balls. The day was a blur […]

Mare Cognitum – Phobos Monolith

Black metal has become a gigantic and multi-faceted genre in the past 30 (!) years, and each sub-style offers its own emotional and aesthetic experiences. Raw, orthodox, war, symphonic, folk, progressive, depressive, Cascadian, shoegaze, post, industrial, ambient, death/black, black n’ roll – the list goes on. Despite the differences in style, what I look for, […]

Blut Aus Nord – Memorial Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry

We had to wait 13 years between Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age and its second chapter, Dialogue with the Stars – which has since become one of my favorite metal albums of all time. Now Vindsval has only taken 5 years to deliver Saturnian Poetry. Don’t hold it against him; in the meantime, he’s started and completed the 777 trilogy, […]

Xenomorphic Contamination – Chasm of No Return EP

This tasty little Italian brutal death EP comes to us from two members of Vomit the Soul, Beheaded, Antropofagus, Septycal Gorge, and Putridity. To be honest, I had only heard Antropofagus before checking out this EP, but given that this has been a steady player for me all month, I will have to look into the others. […]