Robert Ham


I am both fascinated and repulsed by death metal. Repulsed by the overuse of grotesque imagery both on the band’s album covers and their songs, tracks that wish all kinds of bloody, fiery despair on the people of the world. Fascinated in wondering how much of this is a put on by the people that write these songs and…

“Supergroup” has become one of the hoariest of adjectives to toss upon any band. Sure, you may have heard of some of the bands that this new group was in previously, but does that really fit the textbook definition of what a “supergroup” is? In the case of Barren Earth, it surely does.

There was a rather workmanlike quality to the recent performance in Seattle by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, but I don’t mean that as a complaint. This wasn’t a band going through the motions of a set, but rather a well-oiled machine that has been cranking out album after brilliant album and hundreds of stirring live sets since the band as we know it was set in motion in 2001.

What they haven’t done to any appreciable effect is adapt their sound for the new millennium. Instead, the formula is the same: four-to-the-floor techno beats, angry guitars and growled socio-political commentary. And in keeping with this formula, they commissioned an album of remixes of their material.

The story behind The Slew is that famed Canadian turntablists Kid Koala and Dynomite D were asked to soundtrack a film with a mix of hip-hop beats and psych rock. The film died a quick death, but the music lived on in the minds of these two cut-and-scratch artists. They ended up pulling together an entire album’s worth of material that slips prime cuts of fuzzy riffs, heavy bass and the low growl and high…

For my money, the band that best exemplifies the best notion of a power trio is Future of the Left. Led by former Mclusky front man Andy “Falco” Falkous, this three piece has the lean and hungry sound of a ’77 punk outfit, but with the political smarts and righteous indignation that can only be found in our modern age.

Although they broke up in 2001, the legacy of Buzzov*en was one that helped pave the way for both barn-burning acts like Queens Of The Stone Age and slow droners like Sunn0))). But to date, no one has ever captured in full this North Carolina group’s mixture of in your face punk and slow-burning metal. Outside of former front man Kirk Fisher’s current outfit Weedeater, of course.

Imperium Dekadenz have managed to hit upon an idea the blackest of black metal bands would likely scoff at: it’s not such a bad thing to let some light in and air out the room for your listeners. Whether it’s simply an excuse to show off their compositional chops or a true palate cleansing, this German duo tempers their soupy mass of sound with moments of surprising delicacy.

Epic instrumental rock is ground that has been, to be fair, well trodden by groups such as Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Unwed Sailor. This doesn’t mean, though, that efforts to create a new strain aren’t welcome. In fact, when they are done with such strength, tension and moments of blissful beauty as La Fin Du Monde does, you might start clamoring…

As one of the few women singers who can capture the proper evil growl needed for a death metal band, Arch Enemy’s Angela Gossow may sound imposing, but the diminutive blonde’s figure isn’t cut to match. Get her on stage with a mic and her vicious band behind her though, and Gossow sings and snarls like she could cut through steel with just a glance.

It made perfect sense for French prog-metal wizards Hypno5e to open their set playing off and along to the piercing tones of Bernard Herrmann’s familiar shower murder scene music from the film Psycho. Just as they spent their hour-plus performance accompanied by a stream of video images projected behind them, the quartet plays…

It’s unfortunate that this long-running Greek group can’t seem to make up its mind whether it wants to be an artsy metal project or a straightforward black metal outfit, or that they couldn’t find some more comfortable way to mesh these two ideas on their latest album. Throughout Aealo, the band gamely shoehorns in the sound…

Rockabilly is one of those genres that I’m surprised is still thriving at this late date, particularly when you consider the ways in which the genres it influenced have progressed in the decades since. Yet, tarted up with tattoos or goth-leaning lyrical content, it is still rumbling along with the steady purr of a clean V8 engine.

Irony is a dangerous, dangerous thing in the world of music, putting any artist who dabbles in it at risk of mockery, complete dismissal or both. The fact that you’ve likely never heard the name Gene The Werewolf before tells you all you need to know about how the critical response has been towards this six-song disc.