Alright, here we are, another weekly three! This week I picked some bigger names to feature in this because as good as underground music is, there are some bands that are well known still putting out amazing albums and coming out with some great material.
Deicide - In The Minds Of Evil
While I still appreciate death metal in many forms, it is far from my favorite genre. Most death metal, especially earlier releases, all sound the same to me. No melody, no structure, just noise and boring guttural vocals. There are some bands that I certainly enjoy like Morbid Angel and Repugnant, but Deicide has never stuck out to me as anything special until I picked up their latest album, In The Minds Of Evil. When the North American Deicide tour was announced with Septicflesh, Inquisition, Abysmal Dawn and Carach Angren, I knew I couldn't miss it. The only band I wasn't familiar with was Deicide and I figured that I would be hearing quite a few songs off of this latest record so I decided to grab a copy and check it out. I am sure glad I did that, as it is one of the best death metal records I have ever heard. The riffs are solid and interesting. There is more than just boring guitars with a thin tone, there is a certain thickness to the sound that makes this album feel alive and fast-paced. Blast beats are barely present within the music and are replaced by fast double kick and a simple snare and cymbal pattern. This drives the music forward faster and keeps the energy up. Glen's vocals have never been impressive to me at all. Now, they are brutal and scary as hell! He has moved from the higher snarls that made some of his songs recognizable to a lower guttural growl. It fits much better with the style of the album and in all honesty, doesn't sound like a hormonal teenager trying to scream in a death metal band anymore.
Avatarium - Avatarium
I enjoy myself a bit of doom metal every now and then but no doom metal band has ever stood out to me like Avatarium has. One day, while browsing the new releases for the day at my local record shop, I came across Avatariums album and the artwork intrigued me. I decided to take it home and give it a shot, not having a single clue about what the album was or who was in the band. Once I took a closer look, I noticed Leif Edling's name and was instantly worried. I have heard of Leif through his main band, Candlemass, but was never a major fan of Candlemass's music or style. Once I threw on the Avatarium record, I was pleasantly surprised! They sound like any classic doom metal band, close to the likes of Cathedral or Candlemass but have a twist to their music. Their singer is Jennie-Ann Smith, who was relatively unknown to the metal scene before joining Avatarium. She has a gorgeous voice that is almost dream-like, calming you down and keeping you extremely relaxed. The atmosphere of the album is as if you are living the singers fantasies and dreams. It is dark and melancholic but with a touch of happiness, sort of like a light in the darkness. The instrumental work is exactly what you would expect from a doom metal band, slow and sludgy. Other than the one mid-tempo song on the album, everything has a very strung out feel to it and there is never any fast, energetic sections. With that being said, this record is definitely reserved for certain days when the mood is just right but it is still an excellent release and worth checking out!
Cradle of Filth - Nymphetamine
Oh yeah, I do listen to Cradle of Filth! While being shunned in the black metal community for "selling out," I am not ashamed to admit that Cradle was the band that started transitioning my taste in music to something a bit more heavy. While I got into them through their most hated album, Thornography, Nymphetamine quickly became one of my favorite CoF albums. The intensity of the music is still there and the brutality of Dani's vocals is better than ever, in my opinion. While the music is a huge shift in style from their praised releases like Cruelty and the Beast, giving their music a more straight forward structure and style made their music more accessible to other metalheads from around the world. A lot of the riffs are easier to hear and melodies play a big part in the songs. The drumming is taking a step back and utilizes simple beats to accentuate what the rest of the band is doing. The guitar work adapts elements of death metal, leaning away from the insane black metal style they were previously. While things like tremolo picking and dark chord progressions are still present, the riffs sound as if they're geared towards a wider audience. While most fans will disagree with me about this album, I think it is amazing. A band cannot keep doing the same thing over and over again, they need to grow and expand as a unit, adding in different styles and influences. Their sound is going to change eventually, especially for a band like CoF who have been together for over 20 years. Going from an underground symphonic black metal sound to a more accessible black metal sound means that they are growing as a band and evolving as musicians. If you don't like the music, don't listen to it but respect that bands need to change and grow.