Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Rick's Discoveries Volume XIV

It's only the start of the second month of 2012 and already my list of new albums released in this year that I want to either listen to or have been asked to listen to has grown beyond 50. And what about the 75-100 albums from last year I never got around to yet? It boggles my mind how much music there is out there, so getting noticed amidst the myriad of competition today is something that every new band must struggle with. I'd love to give every band I listen to some exposure, but it's just impossible. Knowing that… here's a set of 10 albums that I think deserve at least a little bit of your time to check out.

Tears of Mankind is a one-man band consisting of Phil Skrobelin, who plays a form of doomy, depressive metal that wouldn't be too far removed from what you'd hear on a Swallow the Sun or My Dying Bride release. The album is quite moody as many tracks take on a somber, downtrodden feel only to be buffeted by the few tracks that push the album along at a, relatively speaking, quicker pace. You'll need patience with this album as its 10 tracks run over 60 minutes in length, but if you give it the proper attention, you'll definitely be rewarded.

The Jelly Jam - Shall We Descend?

If you loved mid-career King's X, then The Jelly Jam is the perfect band for you. Considering that the band is made up of King's X's Ty Tabor along with Dream Theater's John Myung and, of all people, Rod Morgenstein of Winger fame, Shall We Descend? is basically what King's X could have sounded like after Dogman if they decided to stick with their core prog-ish rock oriented sound instead of dabbling with other rock and metal genres in their later albums. This is a nice album that hearkens back to Ty Tabor's earlier work.

Eno - -t

It's hard to call this anything other than a mood album. Of the 7 tracks on the album, 4 are interlude-ish shorties that surround 3 epic ambient post-rock compositions (I find it best to ignore the shorties and focus on the epics). The first is 12 minutes, the second is 15, and the final one is 22. Each ebbs and flows in a slow, methodical, melancholic motion. If you lack patience, you won't be able to really appreciate the deliberate pacing of the album, but if you find yourself in a very peaceful, serene mood and want to enhance that feeling, this album will easily do it for you.

Ever Forthright - Ever Forthright

Holy batshit insane jazz-prog-djent, Batman! With 12 tracks spanning nearly 80 minutes, you'd figure this album would get old after a bit… but it never does. It's like someone put together a crazy mashup of Journal, TesseracT, After the Burial, and Between the Buried and Me to see what would happen. Yes, this is predominantly a djent and progressive metal album, but there are many free-form jazzy sections along with some very djent-core moments that keep you guessing as to where the band will go next. If you want variety in your djent, then here you go!

Pretender - Selflessness

If you've been looking for a happy medium between Misery Signals and Bury Your Dead, I think Pretender should fill that niche. They may tilt a little towards the Bury Your Dead side of things, but there's enough MS moments to keep the album spiced up. Hailing from Russia, they have taken on the US metalcore sound quite well with plenty of breakdowns and a lot of open chords to pepper their songs. The band has their album available for free download, so there's no reason not to check them out.

Fractals - Paradox

How am I not tired of djent yet? Most other trendy genres I grow weary of quite quickly and then only stick to the cream of the genre's crop. Maybe I'm more lenient with djent or maybe it's finally a genre where I tend to somehow avoid truly bad releases. Here we have a deathcore infused, mathy, djenty metal band. There are some very overt influences of Meshuggah to be found in the riffing, but the deathcore approach puts a bit of a different twist on things. If you lean towards the more aggressive side of the djent spectrum, (ie: Structures and Volumes) then this is perfect for you.

Secrets - The Ascent

For some reason I always feel dirty when I like bands on the Rise Records roster. It's the same feeling I had when I liked anyone on Victoryduring the last decade. Most likely it's because I know the label is signing bands predominantly to fill a popular niche, but even so there is the occasionally catchy band that somehow makes it onto the roster. Secrets are one such band. They definitely play in the trendy post-hardcore realm, but if you've been taken in by the likes of The Color Morale, The Air I Breath, or Ten After Two (whether you want to admit it or not) then Secrets will fit perfectly into that niche for you. We all need some guilty pleasures, right?

Mahal - Waves

I'm usually not a big fan of EPs, but in the case of Mahal's Waves, their EP is just the perfect length for their brand of post-hardcore influenced classic emo sound. Their mix of influences reminds at times of Thrice, Seahaven, and Saosin (although the last is very slight). They have a slightly rougher edge to them that is actually pleasantly different from most modern bands--it gives them a late-90s or early-00s feel, which is quite welcome by me. And since this is an EP, things don't tend to feel too same-y, although I could foresee that being an issue with a full-length from these guys. Hopefully they'll figure out a way to add just a few more dynamics to their approach by the time they get there.

The Last Word - Crashing

Ok, to start this off, if you hate bands like Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, or Attack Attack! then just ignore this entry. If you do enjoy listening bands in this critically reviled (but popularly loved) genre, then The Last Word is a band from the UK you should be keeping your eye on. Their strong suits are their breakdowns and restrained use of electronics. Their harsh vocals are also pretty solid, but where they could use some work is in the melodic vocal department. There are times where it feels a little too strained, but I'm sure that can be worked through given some time and effort. Barring that, this may be the next trendy post-keyboard-metal-core band to watch for.

Escher - Escher

As much as we harp on bands for ripping off their influences, sometimes it is fun to hear a band paying homage to what inspires them. On Escher's debut EP, you can hear a lot of Between the Buried and Me throughout each song (mostly in the musical approach), but you'll also get tinges ofAfter the Burial, some classic progressive metal, and a bit of death metal (mainly in the vocal department). There's a good amount of potential bubbling under the surface that, if harnessed, could allow the guys in Escher to start to carve their niche in the metal realm.

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