Album Review: Opeth – “In Cauda Venenum”

Opeth - In Cauda Venenum

The past is only as dead as we allow it to be.  It may be behind us, but the present reveals echoes and traces that inform the whole of our experience.  It’s been an easy hit to simply cry out that the old Opeth is dead; what remains now is a vague simulacrum, going through the motions in a pale imitation of vague and obscure heroes of yesteryear.  But there’s another view, one where a band sheds its skin but the bones remain, framing a personal and vital change in direction that comes to full blossom with new album In Cauda Venenum.  It’s not just another step in the band’s ongoing evolution, it’s a firm realization of where they want to be.  Continue reading

Album Review: Soen – “Lotus”

soen - lotus

Soen have always played in that space that blurs the distinctions between genre classification: are they metal?  Rock?  They’re certainly progressive, but are they so progressive to be considered “progressive” metal?  Or rock for that matter?  The good news is that on fourth record Lotus continues to not care about labels, opting to let the emotional core of their music carry through.  Others can opt to argue what it sounds like; to these ears, it simply sounds like Soen. Continue reading

Album Review: Fifth to Infinity – “Omnipotent Transdimensional Soulfire”

FifthToInfinity_OmnipotentTransdimensionalSoulfireIn today’s metal landscape, “dark metal” is a loaded term that encapsulates multiple subgenres. Color me surprised, then, when Fifth to Infinity‘s debut Omnipotent Transdimensional Soulfire labeled itself as “blackened dark metal.” Somewhere at the intersection of doom, melodic black, and progressive metal (not “prog,” though), OTS has the ingredients for an intriguing and challenging listen but fails to deliver this consistently over its runtime. While there are great moments, the album as a whole is a maddening blend of simultaneous detours and overstayed welcomes.  Continue reading