November 14, 2010

Album Review: "Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa" by Cradle of Filth

Few bands have attracted as much derision as Cradle of Filth has throughout their career. But they are one of the few metal bands where the hatred arises not from lack of talent, but from overabundance of talent and the inability of some listeners to recognize it. Looking back at the black metal scene and extreme metal in general, Cradle of Filth has consistently been among the pioneering bands. If a trend becomes popular, they were usually doing it before most others. Even the band's missteps (Damnation and a Day and Thornography immediately come to mind) still have their hidden gems of inspiration and innovation. 2008's Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder was a stunning return to form, and its intriguing conceptual storyline was remarkably well-executed. Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa, another concept album, is a daring release with its own batch of new twists that will delight fans and potentially convert some naysayers.

November 2, 2010

Album Review: "Poetry for the Poisoned" by Kamelot

Kamelot is one of the leading bands in power metal because they have dared to do what many bands would not - expand their borders. The reason that The Black Halo and Ghost Opera were so successful is that they went outside the norms for most power metal bands. Instead of fast, over-the-top compositions of grandiosity and slow, crooning ballads placed side by side over the length of an album, Kamelot has dared to blend those two extremes and construct power metal songs more akin to what genre creators Iron Maiden did in their early years. Thus, instead of trying to top the creators (something that many modern power metal bands seem to be trying to do), Kamelot has decided to emulate them, and they have become a better band because of it. Their latest album, Poetry for the Poisoned, is very different from what the band has done on its two predecessors, but it is nonetheless a surprisingly good album that proves its worth over time, rather than through an instantaneous musical reveal.

Album Review: "A Thousand Suns" by Linkin Park

Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is revered as one of the greatest albums of all time because it was one of the most ambitious albums released by any music performer in that era. The idea of crafting an entire album that was designed to be a continuous musical composition, rather than several separate songs, was a revolutionary idea in rock music at that time. Sure, concept albums existed before Dark Side of the Moon, but virtually all of them were conceptually based around a lyrical theme, rather than a musical theme. And while the album did have its singles, the innovation and progression it introduced forever changed the musical landscape.

Other groups have tried, with varying degrees of success, to release albums that are one continuous composition, but most groups that attempt this feat are part of genres in which that type of album is expected. Progressive rock groups such as Rush and Porcupine Tree, or technical metal bands like Meshuggah and Between the Buried and Me, are the best examples of success in this venture. Not since the album that started it all has a mainstream rock group with a worldwide following in the hundreds of millions attempted a feat such as this - until now.