Album Review: Howling Sycamore – “Seven Pathways to Annihilation”

Howling Sycamore - Seven Pathways to Annihilation

Whenever someone mentions the term supergroup, I can’t help but think of massive ones, like Ayreon or Avantasia, and the way they are able to create stories while incorporating a revolving door of vocalists and musicians that play major parts as characters. However, supergroups don’t need a huge group of people to be considered as such, which brings us to the band Howling Sycamore, whose members have various degrees of expertise across the metal spectrum, making this one of the more ambitious groups I’ve encountered. But, that doesn’t mean that Seven Pathways to Annihilation works like a total charm. Continue reading

The Path to Paradise Begins in Hell – Progressive Metal

The Path to Paradise Begins In Hell

It’s been a while since I wrote one of these, despite writing about numerous other things and being on the Nine Circles Audio Thing. Blame grad school – I am stuck in this hellhole to further new opportunities, so I am hoping things pan out. Otherwise, I will be so mad. Luckily, I am free (for now!), so here we are!

Anyway, last time, I discussed gothic metal and my appreciation of the aesthetic as a whole. I consider that genre to be the darker side of symphonic metal; instead of the beautiful fairy queen, you get the belle dame sans merci who will make you suffer for your desires. I also wanted to address something that I thought of before we jump into the next genre – if you think about it, there are more men involved in gothic metal than in symphonic metal. Granted, the genres overlap, but men rarely take the spotlight in symphonic metal. Maybe some of you can tell me why?

Now, we can start talking about a genre that is known to be experimental in nature, albeit not avant-garde (I might write about avant-garde at some point). Given our recent discussion of Empath (see podcast), it’s only fair that we look at how this genre has become a staple in my music listening and how it has expanded my horizons into other bands.

It’s time we talk about Progressive Metal. Continue reading

Album Review: Arch/Matheos – “Winter Ethereal”

arch matheos - winter ethereal

No one crafts a vocal melody like John Arch.  No one.  It’s not just his ability to hit these ridiculous high notes and carry them, something that doesn’t seem to have lost its power more than 30 years after I first heard his voice on Awaken the Guardian.  It’s the way he fashions his lyrical lines, almost (but not quite) cramming them into a cadence that never follows the riff, but always complements it, no matter how unexpected it turns.  That’s the cornerstone of what made his time in Fates Warning unique, and it’s what makes Winter Ethereal, the second full length from Arch/Matheos such a dynamic powder keg of an album. Continue reading

Album Review: Uhtcearu – “Madness & Creation”

Uhtcearu - Madness & Creation

It’s a thing of true joy when bands do unexpected things or further explore smaller nuances of albums past and actually stick the landing. And while Uhtcearu’s direction on third full length, Madness & Creation, is more subtle than Lord Dying’s recent about face, it is a bit of a different look. This time out melodic black metal takes a backseat to the band’s progressive side as well as a more straightforward black metal approach and as a result we’ve got ourselves a different, more well rounded, and stronger version of Uhtcearu. Continue reading

Profile: Christian Ayala of Progressive Metallers Avandra

Avandra

The story of Avandra and how their sophomore effort, Descender, came to be on Blood Music is one filled with strife and a fairy tale turn of events. The album was written in the wake of Puerto Rico’s devastation caused by Hurricane Maria and due to the huge response from their debut, one fan wrote to Blood Music and the rest, as they say, is history. Or at least, how they ended up where they are now. Avandra’s music is progressive in nature, epic in scope and sound, and overall a pleasure to listen to with just enough bite to cut through the otherwise majestic atmosphere. Just ahead of the album’s release we had the chance to pose our Profile questions to mastermind Christian Ayala Cruz, who also takes care of vocals, guitars, and synths, so head below to see how it went down. Continue reading