Fans turned out in force to watch Periphery lead a four-band lineup at New York’s Irving Plaza on Feb. 12, but with the standing-room-only venue rapidly filling up once the doors opened, it was clear the audience was also lured in by the three supporting acts: Thank You Scientist, Wovenwar and Nothing More.

Vincent Cavanagh on being a recording artist: “You just become more honest at time goes on. It think it’s one of the things about growing up. You chip away the layers of your personality, of your façade, especially like young working-class males from the north of England. You kind of have a strength to show, you don’t want to show any weakness… there’s a lot of pent-up things that you’re feeling that you want to get out at that point as well, so it kind of goes hand and hand with that and your adolescence. But then of course as you realize that you don’t really have very many things to worry about, if you’re OK, if you’re very secure, then you can start to be yourself and at that point other sides of your music comes out.”

Sweden’s Katatonia is a band of pleasing contradictions, one that combines differing elements into a darkly emotive blend of sound. While watching them perform at New York’s Irving Plaza on September 24th, those paradoxes came to the fore, mostly to the band’s advantage. Onstage it’s not physically stoic (considering the act’s name, that wouldn’t be a surprise), but its players don’t run amok like sugar-stoned toddlers, either, and singer Jonas Renkse kept his face hidden behind his curtain of long dark hair like a grieving widow, never showing his face. Despite being a progenitor of the doom genre, its set list didn’t sound depressing or disturbing enough to be described as black. Its uptempo moments weren’t consistent enough to be straight metal; the same goes for its progressive characteristics.

Singer Pamela Moore is famed for performing as Sister Mary on Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime albums, along with guesting on metal-related projects by Eden’s Curse, Halcyon Way, and Primal Fear. But her fourth solo record, Resurrect Me is the first time she’s totally embraced metal on one of her own albums after flirting with it on 2006’s Stories From a Blue Room.

Anathema is getting back into the touring routine, starting out in April and May with a handful of shows in Europe, with more to come in July and dozens more on the books from September through November in such countries as the United Kingdom, Spain, Poland and Finland. Anathema played in the United States last year during Steven Wilson’s solo tour (which was cut short due to the death of Wilson’s father), but singer and guitarist Vincent Cavanagh believes the band will return to this country sooner than later. Cavanagh spoke to PureGrainAudio via phone from Paris as we were experiencing a fine day on both sides of the pond. “We’re heading into that kind of beautiful terrace weather,” he observed. “Everyone’s sitting outside and being very French with their coffee. A bit clichéd, but somehow it lives up to it.”

Learning from past experience is a sign of wisdom. And whatever you want to say about Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine, you can’t deny his intelligence. Although he had the vision to launch Gigantour years before the touring circuit became glutted with rock fests, that first trek in 2005 struggled to fill venues despite carrying such proven names as Dream Theater and Opeth on the bill. Gigantour returned in 2006 as a dual-stage event, then trimmed down to one stage and five acts for its 2008 North American run. That third tour was the proverbial charm, setting the stage for Gigantour 2012: It’s playing in a mix of amphitheaters and theaters, and being booked in cold-weather months to avoid getting lost in the usual onslaught of summer concerts.

If you want to learn about German band The Intersphere, you have little more to rely on than its third album, Hold On, Liberty!. Aside from numerous announcements on rock websites that the album is due soon, not much is available about it on the Internet (even its official website, is light on content, and its Facebook page is naturally in German). It’s a barrier we hope Long Branch/SPV will surmount since we predict that would-be fans will want to learn more about the quartet of Christoph Hessler, Thomas Zipner, Sebastian Wagner and Moritz Müller. But it’s also a treat to enjoy a band strictly for its music instead engaging in myriad technologies to keep track of what the drummer ate for lunch.

Although Lacuna Coil’s style has always been immediately catchy, its music has never been too pretty for guys. In other words, it’s never tried to be a pop metal band. It hasn’t turned into one on new album Dark Andrenaline, either – but it comes close. There’s nothing wrong with that, but perhaps the group hasn’t fully come to terms with that musical route or it doesn’t even realize it’s following that orbit, because Andrenaline feels self-consciousness for some unexplainable reason.

Although Norwegian band Ulver began its recording career as a black metal band, the outfit has evolved so much since its 1995 debut album, Bergtatt—Et eeventyr i 5 capitler, that the only accurate way to classify it would be if there was a genre called “chameleon.” Its sound defies description, not just because it doesn’t fit neatly within musical boundaries, but because Ulver’s albums are meant to be experienced, not just listened to.

If you’re on the East Coast this spring and happen to see a small school bus that’s painted black and stripped of its stop sign, don’t be afraid. It’s not driven by a pervert trolling the neighborhood with bad intentions – that’s just End of an Era, one of the best bands you’ve never heard, arriving at its next gig in its makeshift tour bus.

What do you call a band that makes you stress over every word you try to write about it, because no adjective or noun adequately expresses how its music stirs you? A pretty frigging good one, that’s what. Rarely does an act come along that makes you think you should shuck any attempt at impartiality – but when it does, what’s the sense in holding back the praise?