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Category Archives: Band of the Month

Project, Week 2

English: Guitarist Roope Latvala of Children o...

English: Guitarist Roope Latvala of Children of Bodom performing at the Ilosaarirock festival in Joensuu, Finland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week was difficult, I mean doing the project was difficult. It was the last week at work before the second half of my summer holiday, so I had a lot of things to do. But I did write the review for The Inheritance by Witherscape. I didn’t finish any books, I just read some more of Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi and If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino. They aren’t easy books, so it will take some time for me to finish them.

Anyway, this summer has been quite revealing for me. Or once, I’m starting to understand what I really want in my life. I don’t know how, that’s a different story, but knowing what I want is really a good start. How zen! (Not…) All my life, I seem to have avoided clear goals, perhaps because plans usually change because life never goes 100% as planned. And I’ve always wanted things to be certain. If there’s even a possibility of uncertainty, the doesn’t sound too good to me. Until now.

But I’m on my holiday and I’ll take it easy this week, so I’ll won’t probably be reading any books (unless something comes up and I get the inspiration to grab either book, or a new book). I think I’m going to finish the first season of Arrested Development, a great American tv comedy. And a half of my family has their birthdays this week, so I need to get some birthday presents for them. That’s my project week #3. Simple.

Anyway, here’s the band of the week (or month). Latvala Bros, a band formed by Roope Latvala after Stone disbanded in the early 90s (and way before Roope joined Children of Bodom), with his brother who plays the drums. It’s instrumental thrash metal, nothing less, nothing more, but it’s still damn good.

 

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Witherscape – The Inheritance

English: Swedish progressive metal band Nighti...

English: Swedish progressive metal band Nightingale live at Nosturi, Helsinki Deutsch: Schwedische Progressive-Metal-Band Nightingale am 20. März 2008 live im Nosturi, Helsinki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He looked at the Facebook page once more. “Witherscape. Hmm. This band could be interesting“, he thought with slightly impatient feelings, looking forward what the album would sound like. He had been a Swanö fan ever since 1995, that’s why when he heard Until Eternity Ends EP and Purgatory Afterglow. Still, anything featuring Dan Swanö hadn’t moved him since Moontower (1999), Swanö’s first and only solo album. Had he become old? Or perhaps sick and tired of the music he used to love in his twenties?

Time passed. Finally, at the end of July, the album arrived in his mailbox. He carefully opened the album and started listening to it. He listened to it for more than a week, always when it was possible to do it.

This is Moontower meets Infernal by Edge of Sanity meets Nightingale meets a new element – that must be Ragnar Widerberg, the other member of Witherscape“, he thought, sighed with relief and smiled again. “Progressive rock, death metal, AOR, melodies, growling vocals and clean vocals put together, nice” were his thoughts when the last song ended once again.

Definitely better than Crimson II that sounded like Swanö was trying to sound too hard like Edge of Sanity“, he pondered and stood up from the chair. “Perhaps I’m not so old after all”. He laughed at the stupid thought and got more coffee.

One thing he had forgotten, or consciously ignored: this was not a Swanö album. It was a Swanö-Widerberg album. Just like Pain may be a Tägtgren band but Hypocrisy is a Tägtgren-Hedlund-Horgh band. “A duo instead a solo album, that’s a good idea. An album that would sound 100% like what Swanö had done before would be quite boring in the end. Refreshing.

He went to bed. The Witherscape songs still kept echoing in his head. “Now, that’s really a good album. Not a masterpiece like Moontower. But still an excellent album.” He fell asleep and had a lot of weird dreams, perhaps Moontower or The Inheritance as the soundtrack of his dreams.

 

 

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Band of the Month: Edge of Sanity

Death metal water sold here

Death metal water sold here (Photo credit: Nick Sherman)

In the 90s, metal was practically dead to the mainstream media apart from some exceptions. But metal was not dead. It kept evolving in the depths of a weird place called the metal underground. In that place, the most extreme genres of metal became something new and interesting. One of these genres was melodic death metal,  born of death metal, NWOBHM and thrash metal.

When people about melodic death metal, they usually talk about certain bands: In Flames, Carcass, Dark Tranquillity,  At The Gates and so on. And when they talk about progressive extreme metal, bands such as Opeth, Cynic, Death.

But at that time, in the mid-90s, there was one band who played melodic death metal, progressive death metal and much more. The band was called Edge of Sanity from Finspång in southeastern Sweden, hundreds of kilometers from Gothenburg, the Mecca of melodic death metal.

Cover of "Purgatory Afterglow"

Cover of Purgatory Afterglow

I usually divide their albums into four groups.

The three first albums were rather basic death metal, although you can some original elements on them. “Sacrificed”, released on The Spectral Sorrows (1993) is actually one of the very first gothic metal songs ever despite of being “just” a Sisters of Mercy pastiche.

The second group consists of Until Eternity Ends EP, Purgatory Afterglow, Crimson and Infernal (from 1993 to 1997). Purgatory was the first EoS album I heard and it really blew my mind. Melodic death metal had not been so innovative and versatile before.

Cryptic (1997) is alone in the third group. Without Dan Swanö, there weren’t elements of surprise and diversity on this album. The music got a bit one-dimensional without the melodic, progressive elements. To my ears, Cryptic sounded nothing but a half of what it had been before. It was heavy and extreme but something was missing.

Cover of "Crimson II"

Cover of Crimson II

After Cryptic, EoS broke up. But Dan Swanö raised the band from the dead once more to create Crimson II (almost) all by himself in 2003. The result was an updated version of the EoS sound. Unfortunately, I had sort of melodic metal and could not enjoy the album as much as I had wanted. Had it been released just after Cryptic, it would probably have been the best EoS album.

And that was the end of Edge of Sanity. They always remained a cult band with a huge influence on many bands, including mine. Why didn’t they become the biggest band in the whole extreme metal genre? Perhaps their record company (Black Mark) was a bit too small. Perhaps their unwillingness of doing a lot of tours around the world. But well, it happens.

Anyway, their songs can be found on Spotify and Youtube, so check them out. If you’re into melodic but extreme metal, I’m sure you like them.

 

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Band of the Month: Chroma Key

Kevin Moore at Balo Stage-Istanbul

Kevin Moore at Balo Stage-Istanbul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever since I wrote my first “Band of the Month” post in January, I’ve been listening to so many genres and bands I can only remember a fraction of them. Stoner rock (Mustasch, Queens of the Stone Age, Corrosion of Conformity), heavy metal (Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest), progressive rock (Panic Room, Riverside, Wigwam), (dark) ambient (raison d’être, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Kammarheit), trip-hop (Massive Attack) and a lot of artists and bands that are almost impossible to categorize (Ghoul, Chroma Key, Tenacious D, KT Tunstall, Alcest, Lucia Pamela).

After all, it’s not so hard to choose. Take a guy (Kevin Moore) who played in a groundbreaking progressive metal band (Dream Theater) for years, left the band for musical differences, added some ambient elements into his bowl of influences and voilá: Chroma Key was born. ‘Dead Air for Radios‘ (1998) was and still is an excellent, original album that is so much underrated. It was nothing like you could expect from a co-founder of Dream Theater in 1998. Previous year, Dream Theater released “Falling into Infinity“, which was a somewhat watered-down version of the previous albums with more commercial sound, simpler songs and even Desmond Child re-writing one of their songs. Meanwhile, Mr. Kevin Moore was ready to release something completely different, something that would redefine the concept of progressive rock (at least for me).

Dead air for radios indeed.

 

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Band(s) of the Month: Riverside and Godlesson

I’m starting a new tradition here. Each month, I’ll pick up a band or two that have fascinated me. Enjoy.

Riverside is a progressive rock/metal band from Poland. I can’t remember the first time I bumped into them, but it certainly took some while to get into them. This song has really stuck to my head recently.

Godlesson, ah, thrash metal from Oulu. Slayerish energy with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. Great.

 

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