October 30, 2011

Album Review: "Th1rt3en" by Megadeth

Amidst the resurgences of Metallica and Anthrax and the genesis of an entire new wave of thrash metal around the world, Megadeth has been consistently and quietly releasing solid albums for the past ten years. The problem has been that the group's new albums end up being outshined by other new albums, from either their peers (in the case of 2009's Endgame, it was passed over by critics in favor of Slayer's World Painted Blood) or newer, more vibrant metal bands with large followings (such as 2004's The System has Failed being outclassed by Mastodon's Leviathan). It's likely not what Dave Mustaine envisioned for the band's return from hiatus in 2004 and subsequent signing with Roadrunner Records in 2006. Nonetheless, Mustaine and his cohorts are still making great music and keeping classic thrash relevant in the metal community. They've certainly accomplished that on their thirteenth studio album, appropriately titled Th1rt3en. But there is also plenty about the album that makes it different from its predecessors.

October 22, 2011

Album Review: "American Capitalist" by Five Finger Death Punch

There is a very important reason why Five Finger Death Punch has essentially become the face of metal in America. In many ways, their outward appearance personifies every stereotype that pop culture makes about the modern-day metal listener, just as much as their music matches the preconceptions made about metal by most non-metal listeners. The group's first two albums, The Way of the Fist and War is the Answer, were chock-full of meaty riffs, wild guitar solos, guttural screaming vocals, and emotionally-charged lyrics about individualism, rage, and darkness. And as the group's album sales went through the roof, the face and voice of metal invaded the tranquility of pop culture America and refused to leave. War is the Answer was cemented on the Billboard 200 for 92 weeks following its debut at #7, which is a nearly impossible feat for a metal band in the era of downloaded music. It was only logical to believe, therefore, that Five Finger Death Punch's third album would be just as popular and do similarly well.

How unfortunate, though, that the third album, American Capitalist, is not on par with the group's previous work. Saying it's not on par isn't even an accurate description, though. The album isn't wholly bad – in fact, there are plenty of good things to say about it. But the things that are wrong with American Capitalist are so glaringly obvious that they're hard to ignore and harder still to forget.

October 20, 2011

Album Review: "IV" by Maylene and the Sons of Disaster

The crunch and grime of Southern metal is attempted by many and mastered by few. The few that have made it their constant trade, like Clutch, Melvins, and Black Label Society, are responsible for inspiring a generation of new artists that have begun to make Southern metal a more popular genre again. Of greater interest, though, are the groups that have taken Southern metal and fused it with other styles to generate wholly new subgenres in the past decade. Groups such as Every Time I Die, He is Legend, and The Showdown have dared to tread where few others would even imagine possible, and they've done so with great success. Another group deserving of praise in this category is Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, whose fusion of metalcore and Southern metal was considered innovative and unique on their very first album. Now on their fourth full-length, the Georgia-based group has cemented that reputation, and is now focused on expanding their horizons via some intriguing experimentation.