I’ve Changed My Mind About The New Underoath Album

Last night I got the opportunity to attend the Baltimore date of the No Fix tour, and in all honesty, it made me think about Underoath in a whole new light.

To preface, the big reason I went to the show was to see Dance Gavin Dance, who were amazing as always. Underoath was headlining, and I knew a few of their older songs, but I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of theirs by any means. Once DGD finished, I found myself at the front of the crowd and figured it’d be a waste to give up this spot. It became one of the best decisions I’ve ever made at a show.

I really wasn’t a huge fan of the new record. I had given it a listen or two when it first came out, but really just wrote it off as a clone of new Bring Me The Horizon and nothing else. This is a critique I’ve seen in other reviews of the album as well, and it’s undeniable that it does have a much more modern feel. This is no longer the “Chasing Safety” Underoath, and it didn’t do a whole lot to catch my interest. That is, until I saw them live.

They opened with “On My Teeth”, one of the songs I knew pretty well, so that got my attention from the start. They came out with an energy I haven’t seen with many bands recently, and it was refreshing to say the least. As the set went on, I found myself really getting into it, regardless if I knew the song or not. However, it wasn’t until the intro to “Bloodlust” that my overall opinion of Underoath truly changed. I’ve seen plenty of energetic bands, but it’s been a very long time since a band has really made me feel something.

Before “Bloodlust” began, Underoath’s vocalist Spencer Chamberlain gave a little monologue about the new album, and that song in particular. He talked about how when he was recording the album it was the first time he was clean in a long time, and how much the lyrical content of the album truly meant to them. His overall message was really that there’s no shame in ever asking for help when you need it, and that he had received that help from his bandmates. Not only did that strike a chord with me in my own life, but really made me reconsider the new album.

On top of that, a few days ago Underoath drummer Aaron Gillespie tweeted this:

This in combination with Spencer’s monologue really made me think, and after giving the album another couple listens, I’ve changed my tone. Yes, it’s similar to other bands out now. Yes, it’s a bit more radio-ready. Yes, it’s much different than older Underoath. All of this is true, but none of it matters. It’s clear to me that this band didn’t change their sound to make a profit. They love what they do, and they had some things they needed to get across to people, and they did it how they wanted to. It’s always easy to assume bands “sell out”, but I truly don’t believe that’s the case here.

Music, at the heart of it all, is the greatest outlet and form of expression there is, and the members of Underoath clearly needed this. It’s got to be heartbreaking to put your soul into your music and have people pass it off as nothing.

So for what it’s worth, I urge everyone to listen to “Erase Me”, and if you’re lucky enough to have the chance to see Underoath live, do it. They’ve gained a very big fan in me, and I’m sure there are many others who would agree.

P.S., you can see me at about 0:47 of their video recap of the show last night, so that’s pretty cool.

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Is the old Parkway Drive dead?

This week marked the release of the newest album by Parkway Drive titled “Reverence”. The album has gotten some pretty good reviews so far, however the not so good ones all seem to share a common thread: this doesn’t sound like Parkway Drive. However, it turns out this is something the band is fully aware of, and in fact the lead vocalist for the band Winston McCall dropped this bombshell on everyone: Parkway Drive has outgrown metalcore.

First of all, before we fully unpack what exactly this means in regards to Parkway Drive, what exactly is metalcore? Put simply, metalcore is a subgenre of metal that combines some of the thrashier elements of punk rock with the heaviness of metal. Usually metalcore relies pretty heavily on intense breakdowns and low-tuned guitar chugs to get crowds really going. This classic Parkway Drive song is the perfect representation of what metalcore is:

Metalcore was an absolutely massive subgenre, particularly in the late 2000’s-early 2010’s, but it has its fair share of haters. If you need proof, just check out some of the “fan” made definitions of it on Urban Dictionary.

In the last few years, the metal scene has seen a major departure from metalcore, with many bands who strictly played metalcore or deathcore, such as Bring Me The Horizon, abandoning the sound for a more well-rounded or even radio-friendly rock sound. Many of these bands have found great success by following this route, and apparently Parkway Drive intends to do the same.

In the interview, McCall says:

“Ultimately, I want people to listen to our music and just say, ‘That sounds like Parkway Drive.’ That’s it. I don’t aim to say we have to be a metalcore band or a metal band or whatever genre.

Creatively, the older we get, the more stuff we’re gonna do. We’re always going to be a heavy band… What do we like doing? Melodic stuff, heavy stuff, things we’re interested in. That actually spans a hell of a lot, so we’re going to keep going to those areas.”

In all honesty, this just makes sense. It’s a similar sentiment that Periphery shared a few weeks ago. A band, more than anything, should make music that they truly want to make. When Parkway Drive began nearly 15 years ago, I’m sure they chose metalcore because that’s what they enjoyed listening to and enjoyed playing. Now, all these years later, their tastes have clearly changed and thus so will their music. To expect a band to remain exactly the same year after year after year is crazy.

So does this translate into their new album? From what I’ve heard thus far it absolutely does. There are still tinges of old Parkway here and there, but as a whole, it seems to be a much more Rock-driven album, and that is in no way a bad thing. It is clear that this is a very different band now, but you have to respect that they are owning this fact and not afraid to show the world that they are doing exactly what they want to do, and isn’t that really the spirit of metal anyway?

Tool Finally Releases A Solid Clip of New Song “Descending”

Progressive Metal band Tool has a bit of a thing for making their fans wait, but this week they finally gave them something a little more tangible.

In a promotional video for a series of music clinics the band is putting on across the U.S., Tool finally gave fans a taste of a new song which will appear on their newest album.

The song is called “Descending”, and apparently the band began to play the song a few years back at a live show in Arizona. Up until now, this song has only been heard via videos taken by fans at the shows, and an official recording hadn’t been released. However, in the promotional video released by the band this past week, there is a relatively clear quality recording of about three and a half minutes of the song.

Judging by the crowd noise in the intro and the overall sound quality not quite living up to past Tool albums, it’s pretty safe to say that this is closer to a demo recording of the song than the final finished product. Even so, it’s the closest fans of Tool have gotten to a real, new recording of the band in about 12 years, so they’ll take whatever they can get (I’m saying they, but I mean me. I’ll take what I can get).

Without a bit of background knowledge on the band, one may wonder why hearing a couple minute long snippet of an unfinished song would be news, and this is an understandable question.

Tool is arguably one of the biggest Progressive Metal bands of all-time. They have millions of fans, have won three Grammy’s, and are widely hailed as not only one of the most talented bands of the genre, but the most creative. An excellent microcosm of what Tool is can be found in their song Schism, which they won a Grammy for in 2001.

Schism best captures the true essence of Tool for a few reasons. The first is in its’ technicality, as the song boasts 47 time changes across the roughly eight minutes it spans. The second is through the music video. I highly encourage you to watch the video to gain a better understanding of what Tool is, however I will warn you that it is rather strange, and while it may not be inherently frightening, if you find odd visuals disturbing this may not be the video for you.

So now, with this clip of Descending being available, 12 years of waiting by an incredibly loyal fan base is beginning to pay off. The band finally entered the studio to record their new album in March, and the rest of us can only hope that the waiting won’t have to continue much longer. Until then, at least we have this three and a half minute demo to get us excited for what the future holds for these titans of Prog-Metal.

Sumerian Records Head Announces Periphery Departure, But Also Summer Slaughter Headliner

Ash Avildsen, the CEO of Sumerian Records, had an absolute powerhouse of an interview this week on Jamey Jasta’s podcast. He shared a lot of information, but by far the biggest news was that the band Periphery would no longer be on his label. 

Periphery, for those who don’t know, are one of the biggest names in progressive metal. Hailing from the D.C. Metro area (go us), they’ve been absolutely melting faces for over 10 years now, even getting nominated for a Grammy in 2017 for their song “The Price Is Wrong”.

In the interview, Avildsen calls Periphery “their own worst enemy” in regards to the way they go about writing music, and the kind of music they put out. With their progressive elements, Periphery is not a band that everyone will love right off that bat or maybe ever. They’re undeniably talented, however don’t exactly create “radio-friendly” music, and this is what Avildsen was pushing them to expand upon.

Avildsen went on to say that “Periphery could be an arena band”, meaning they could be so huge they could be selling out arenas across the world. However this isn’t what Periphery wants to do, so they chose to leave the label and put out their next album on their own.

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Periphery’s kick drum in Bakersfield, Ca. Photo by: Robert Bejil, Creative Commons.

While this may be an issue for some bands, as self-producing and putting out a record without the help of a label is a huge feat, Periphery are no strangers to doing things on their own. Many of their past albums have been self-produced, and if they intend to continue to make the kind of music they want, this seems like the logical step to take.

However, his wasn’t the only news that Avildsen announced in his interview. He also announced the first three bands of this year’s Summer Slaughter Tour. This year the headliner will be Between The Buried And Me, and they will be supported by Born of Osiris and Veil of Maya.

Born of Osiris and Veil of Maya are no strangers to the Summer Slaughter Tour, as they’ve both played it multiple times. However, this will only be Between The Buried And Me’s second appearance.

It’s interesting that Between The Buried And Me is this year’s headliner as the festival is generally geared towards death metal acts such as Cannibal Corpse and The Black Dahlia Murder. It will be interesting to see if the acts announced for this tour later on continue this trend towards more progressive metal.

Below is the podcast that Avildsen appeared on, The Jasta Show. The episode is almost three hours long, but I highly recommend giving it a listen. Avildsen does a deep dive on the whole Periphery situation along with many other topics. For any new metal fan, Avildsen is definitely one to listen to whenever you get the chance. He’s the head of one of the biggest metal record labels in the world, and is relatively highly respected in this industry.

Ghost Introduces “New” Vocalist, New Single, and New Album

Ghost has had themselves quite the few weeks as far as news goes. On the 6th, the Swedish metal band announced the arrival of their “new” singer, formally known as Cardinal Copia. On top of this, they released a music video on the 12th for their new song “Rats”, which is their first off of their new album “Prequelle”. That is a whole lot of new right there.

So those of you who aren’t familiar with the band may be asking yourself “Hey MTM, why did you put quotes around ‘new’ when talking about Cardinal Copia? Is he not new? Are you purposefully being vague in order to create content?” Well my astute reader, I did use the quotes purposefully. Allow me to give you a little context about Ghost.

Ghost’s whole shtick is that they are members of some sort of dark clergy. Their original singer/leader was known as Papa Emeritus (later to be revealed as Tobias Forge), and each of the other band members are known as the Nameless Ghouls. Now up until relatively recently, everyone in the band remained completely anonymous. The ghouls even signed their contracts with their symbol rather than their names. Papa Emeritus always held the image of a sort of anti-pope, complete with the robes and a hat bearing an upside down cross. It’s pretty dark stuff, but entertaining to say the least.

In the history of Ghost, there have been three iterations of Papa Emeritus (I, II, and III). While these singers have had different costumes, looks, and as far as lore goes are different people, they are all played by Tobias Forge. This is the same case for Cardinal Copia. I know it’s a bit confusing, so kudos if you’re following me. Just to recap: Cardinal Copia. Different character. Same singer and person playing him.

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Ghost live in Madrid on April 14, 2017. Photo by: Dr_Zoidberg, Creative Commons.

This new era began several months ago when Papa Emeritus III was forcibly taken off stage at the end of a show, and an older Papa known as Papa Emeritus 0 came on and signed off the show. Here’s a little clip of it so you cant get some context.

The new song seems to be similar to Ghost’s previous work, however it seems a little bit darker to me as well. In all honesty I’ve never quite been a huge fan of Ghost; there’s been a few songs here and there I didn’t mind but nothing really stood out to me until this single.

I actually saw Ghost back in 2013. They were on tour with Deftones and Avenged Sevenfold, who was the reason I got tickets. I went into the show not having a single clue who Ghost was and didn’t take the time to look them up. When they came on stage I had absolutely no idea what was going on. It was eerie and theatrical but undeniably entertaining. I vividly remember texting my friend who was also at the show about halfway through just asking “WTF are we watching right now.” It may not have been my cup of tea, but I can’t say I wasn’t at least intrigued, and that’s the same way I feel about this next chapter of this band.

Dance Gavin Dance Releases New Music Video

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way in the first sentence: I love Dance Gavin Dance. With that being said, let’s get back to some objectivity.

For those looking to begin listening to metal, which if you’re reading this blog is probably you, DGD is an excellent place to start. They’re technically part of the sub-genre of metal known as “post-hardcore”, but for our purposes let’s just call them metal. There’s so many things to dig about this band, but for someone who’s just getting into the genre, Tillian Pearson’s singing is what’s gonna get you hooked. DGD definitely has some screaming, some rather abrasive screaming at that, but Tillian’s clean vocals have absolutely melted every single person I’ve ever shown the band to, and trust me, there’s been a lot.

The music video they released this week was for a brand new song titled “Midnight Crusade”, which is their first single off of their upcoming album “Artificial Selection” and their first single since “Summertime Gladness” dropped last June. The video dropped with very little warning, but was very warmly appreciated, with the video having 19,000 likes at the time of this publication.

At this point, I’ve probably listened to this song roughly 40 times, and while I may come  to regret this, I believe this is one of DGD’s catchiest songs. As always, lead guitarist Will Swan’s playing is incredible. He has a unique style that blends slightly odd yet very melodic riffs with crazy chugs and unorthodox chord shapes that somehow just work so perfectly in every song. The first thing that stood out to me was that Tillian’s vocals sounded a bit raspier in this song than in their previous album “Mothership”. At first I wasn’t sure if this would affect how much I enjoyed the song, but I found myself really enjoying it. It’s relatively subtle in comparison, but definitely noticeable. Once I heard him still able to hit some of the ridiculously high notes he belts out regularly, I was much more comfortable. It will, however, be interesting to see if this is going to continue on the rest of the album or if it’s just a one-off thing.

One thing that DGD is known for at this point is having some pretty crazy lyrics, particularly in their screams, and this song is no exception. “Mothership” had brought us such great lines as “I just walk around the city telling chickens that I’m pretty and I’d love for them to meet my wife”, and “Riding a rhino, pico de gallo”. This song reserves most of their more wacky lyrics for the screaming parts, so allow me to translate some of my favorites if you don’t find yourself able to understand what the hell someone yelling at you is trying to communicate. My personal favorite comes from the beginning of the bridge, which is:

“I’m kissing a baby that licking a boot
I live in a deli put meat on your tooth
My business is pregnant and flaunting off nude
I’m smoking a chicken I took out the coupe”

DGD is the one band where if you jokingly say what you think they’re saying in a screaming part, chances are you’re going to be right.

The video is some classic DGD goofiness. It shows Tillian creating a robot (played by DGD screamer Jon Mess) and slowly trying to integrate it into society, which ends in him strangling and taking over the bodies by the time the song ends. There’s cake, there’s silly string, it’s DGD. Do yourself a favor and watch it.