Has anyone else noticed that in the last five years, the metal community has become a lot more (there’s no other way to say it) nerdy than it used to be? It’s really true – we in the metal community are not entirely the jacked-up, muscle-bound idiots that the general public seems to think we mostly are. In fact, many metalheads nowadays are sci-fi and fantasy nuts that love computer games, role-playing adventures, MMORPG’s, and the supernatural just as much as they love incredibly heavy music (myself included). And make all the jokes you want about power metal fans being the bulk of that group, because the truth is, it’s the progressive bands that are bringing in most of the newer (and nerdier) metal listeners. Ask any new metalhead what got him into the genre, and these days you’re more likely to hear names like Opeth, Mastodon, and Between the Buried and Me than you are to hear anything else. There is no shame in this! Be proud to be a nerd and a metalhead!
Still feeling self-conscious? Need an excuse to wear a shirt like this? Well, this week’s top two releases ought to give you what you need. On one hand, you have a stoner metal group releasing their most forward-thinking album to date, replete with concepts and ideas drawn from Lovecraft, Quantum Leap, and many other strange and insightful sources. On the other hand, you have one of the staples of the early ’90s technical death metal scene, releasing one of the most sought-after pieces of music history to an anxiously-awaiting public. Either way, it’s a good week to be a metal geek!
High On Fire, De Vermis Mysteriis (eOne)
There is no denying the fact that High On Fire has become more heavily influenced by the prog scene in recent years. Listening to 2007’s Death is This Communion and 2010’s Snakes for the Divine give an irrevocable sense of prog-inspired groove, which continues throughout De Vermis Mysteriis. It’s almost as if a generation of bands influenced by High On Fire suddenly began to have influence on the elder band, as hints of Mastodon, Baroness, and Kylesa sneak into the album’s sound and enliven the compositions all the more. Add to that the excellent production of Converge’s Kurt Ballou, and you have an album that’s every bit as titanic as its predecessors. Recall the aggressively dark mix of 2005’s Blessed Black Wings, entwine it with the lyrical and musical wizardry of the two later albums, and you might get a hint of what amazement De Vermis Mysteriis will leave with you. Listen to the full album stream now posted at NPR’s website, of all places.
Cynic, The Portal Tapes (Season of Mist)
When Cynic went on hiatus in 1994, three of the group’s members stuck together and formed a group called Portal. Although Portal did record a demo and had enough material to release it, the full demo never saw the light of day. It became something of a legend for Cynic fans, who were desperate to hear what had been created. The closest they ever got was three bonus tracks taken from Portal’s demo and released on the 2004 reissue of Focus from Roadrunner Records. Now, though, the Portal demo that has been so storied will finally be made publicly available, seventeen years after it was recorded by the group. This is truly momentous for longtime Cynic fans, who likely thought that the Portal demos would never see the light of day. Well, get ready to celebrate, prog lovers! This new release is a rare treat, but even bigger than that, it is likely to give a strong indication of just what influenced Cynic into their current, less aggressive style, as heard on Traced in Air and Carbon-Based Anatomy.
Also being released this week:
Beyond Terror Beyond Grace, Nadir (Willowtip)
Eye, Center of the Sun (Kemado)
Lonewolf, Army of the Damned (Napalm)
Solbrud, Solbrud (Euphonious)
Legacy of Brutality, Ad Bellum (Chief)
Next Week: With a classic German heavy metal group leading a pack of excellent new releases, there is plenty to be excited about! Get ready for another big selection of new music coming your way in seven days!