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Best of 2014: The six best metal albums of the year


How good was the metal slate in 2014? In making up this annual list of the six best albums of the year (because six is, of course, the most evil and thus most metal number), I realized that Mastodon, one of my favorite bands, put out an excellent album called Once More Round the Sun that didn’t make the cut. Once More Round the Sun is a delightfully fuzzy, tightly-wound bit of groovy sludge, but in my mind it fell short of the albums below.

But those are the kinds of problems you want to have when putting together year-end lists. There was so much amazingly fantastic loud rock in 2014, and it came from all corners of the world in dozens upon dozens of different forms. On the list below, there’s the epic sprawl of doom, the jackhammering intensity of black metal, prog-kissed math metal, and good old-fashioned death from two good old-fashioned crews.

So with apologies to Mastodon, YOB, the Atlas Moth, Triptykon, Witch Mountain, Thou, the Oath, Agalloch, Demonic Resurrection, Coffinworm, and Indian, here are the six best metal albums of the year. READ FULL STORY

Peter Fonda 'performed' with black metal band Liturgy on this week's 'Blacklist'


Within the insular world of experimental metal the band Liturgy is infamous for releasing a lengthy, complex aesthetic manifesto that angered many fans of black metal who saw it as insufficiently respectful of the genre’s traditions, and for inter-band feuding that resulted in drummer Greg Fox quitting to pursue his own, more psychedelically inclined path with his group Guardian Alien.

Fox (and bassist Tyler Dusenbury) recently rejoined the band after a few years in which the band was using a drum machine instead. On last night’s episode of The Blacklist, though, he was replaced once again—albeit temporarily and fictionally—by Peter Fonda, playing an exotic animal lover and “33rd richest man in the world” who apparently just happens to spend his free time pumping out burst beats for a transcendental black metal band.

Enjoy a quick clip of this unlikely team-up:


Thrash lords Oozing Wound share a headbangingly good playlist

Oozing Wound is three guys from Chicago who, as you might be able to guess by the name, play thrash metal.

The beloved hybrid of punk and metal’s been having a pretty substantial revival over the past few years, driven by bands who play up the genre’s association with the kind of cheap-beer-chugging, boneheaded party animals who more serious metal acts have left behind in their quest for artistic seriousness. The Wound, however, takes things in a vastly different direction on their new Earth Suck (out Tuesday on Thrill Jockey), keeping thrash’s headbanging energy and shred-tastic guitar licks while adding bits of sonic weirdness that reflect the trio’s long-running association with the noisy experimental underground.

Their EW playlist is accordingly idiosyncratic, running a gamut from Michael Jackson to obscure vintage synth-punk.


Meet Profound Lore Records founder Chris Bruni, the face of modern metal


Next week sees the release of Foundations of Burden, the second album by Arkansas-bred doom metal band Pallbearer. Their first album, 2012’s Sorrow and Extinction, was a critically-beloved collection of heavy tunes that not only announced the arrival of a great act but also cemented Pallbearer’s label, Profound Lore Records, as the best source of new material for headbangers everywhere.

The 10-year-old label, based out of Kitchener, Ontario, has put out a staggeringly excellent series of releases by some of the best groups currently working in the extremely fertile metal underground. Just this year, Profound Lore has released stellar collections from Lord Mantis, the Atlas Moth, Alraune, Dead Congregation, and the Must List-approved Agalloch. Pallbearer comes out next week, with a new album by Witch Mountain not far behind. These bands dig deep into metal subgenres, conjuring up remarkable darkness via black metal, death metal, prog, hardcore, folk, and whatever else is available to get the turned-to-11 point across.


This 10-year-old girl is the future of guitar shredding


During the peak of Guitar Hero and Rock Band’s popularity it was common to read worried articles in online magazines about the threat these sorts of games supposedly posed to young people’s musical education. Many people were concerned that an entire generation of potential musicians would be so satisfied whacking away on a plastic simulacrum of an instrument that they’d never actually learn how to play a real one.

Instead, the opposite seems to be true. There are loads of guitar instructors who swear Guitar Hero was the best thing that ever happened to their business, and the obsession-building gamification of learning how to play one seems to have driven a lot of young players to level up their skills and learn how to shred for real.

Take Audrey, a 10-year-old girl who lays waste to Slayer’s “War Ensemble” on Ubisoft’s Rocksmith game, which lets players play on an actual electric guitar. Not only has gaming apparently taught her how to wail hard enough to keep up with Kerry King, but she also seems to have picked up two other skills that are crucial to a future as a rock guitarist: making your hair look cool as it’s blown around by a fan and not letting an attention-starved lead singer distract you from what you’re doing. Children are not only our future, but metal’s too.

Preteen thrash-metal trio Unlocking the Truth sign major-label deal

New York City is famous for the number and variety of its street musicians. But even in a place where in the course of your commute you can see a freestyle rapper, an old-timey banjo player, and a guy performing French medieval religious chants, the Brooklyn trio Unlocking the Truth stand out as unique. For the past couple of years, these three Brooklyn natives—one of whom is 12, while the other two are 13—have been setting up their amps and drums around the city and filling its public spaces with remarkably tuneful, technically impressive thrash metal that’s almost surreally incongruous to see coming from three adorable middle schoolers. Ever since camera-phone footage of them blew up on the Internet, they’ve been pulling down bigger and better gigs: This spring they played Coachella, and they’re about to wrap up a stint on the Warped Tour.

Now, according to the Daily News, Unlocking the Truth has signed a deal with Sony that could pay out as much as $1.7 million for six albums. That’s a lot of money to be potentially investing in a band whose members are in the middle of dealing with the effects of their voices dropping, but their viral popularity is still spreading and it’s not showing any signs of dissipating.

Despite the meme-like quality of cute kids playing heavy metal, the group is more than just a novelty act. Their Internet popularity at the moment would probably be good for a couple thousand sales on an album rushed out before some other prepubescent musical act breaks on BuzzFeed, but the fact that Sony offered them a six-album deal suggests that someone there realizes they’re actually a really, really good thrash metal band, and could very realistically get even better as they age. They may be middle-school kids playing unexpectedly brutal music, but in this day and age, maybe the oddest thing about them is that they’re a musical act that just signed the rare kind of long-term deal designed to incubate emerging talent that barely exists anymore.

Heroic metal fan headbangs himself into the hospital

Metalheads have known for ages that headbanging is hard on the body. They even have a name for the pain that comes after an evening engaged in their favorite activity: a bangover. Usually it’s nothing that a few ibuprofen and some downtime won’t fix—but a German Motorhead fan has gone far, far beyond that point by headbanging his way to actual brain damage.

The unnamed 50-year-old metalhead’s condition was discovered after he sought treatment at the Hannover Medical School for “constant, worsening headaches,” according to an AP report. Although he had no history of head injuries or substance abuse problems, a scan revealed brain bleeding that required doctors to drill a hole in his head to drain it—which actually sounds extremely metal. They discovered a benign cyst that,  in conjunction with his frequent headbanging (most recently at a Motorhead concert), may have caused the bleeding.

Dr. Ariyan Pirayesh Islamian, a member of the team that treated the man, says that normally with headbanging, “the risk of injury is very, very low. But I think if [our patient] had [gone] to a classical concert, this would not have happened.” That doesn’t mean he’s anti-metal, though. “Rock ‘n’ roll will never die,” the doctor said. “Heavy metal fans should rock on.”

Hit the jump for a classic Motorhead cut, and make sure you rock out. Doctor’s orders.


Hear Tenacious D's cover of Dio's 'The Last In Line' -- EXCLUSIVE


If a Mount Rushmore-style monument existed for metalheads, the late Ronnie James Dio would certainly be on it. As the frontman of Dio, Rainbow, and Black Sabbath (and a bunch of others), he’s more than earned his spot. And even if you don’t care much about smashes like “Holy Diver” or “The Mob Rules,” you have to give Dio credit for giving the world the metal horns.


GWAR frontman Brockie found dead in Virginia home

Dave Brockie, frontman for the heavy metal band GWAR, has been found dead in his Richmond, Va., home at age 50.

Richmond police spokeswoman Dionne Waugh says officers were called to home shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday for a report of a dead person. When officers arrived, Brockie — who went by the stage name Oderus Urungus — was found dead inside the home.

Detectives don’t suspect foul play at this time and Waugh says the medical examiner’s office will determine cause of death.

The Grammy-nominated band founded in 1984 is known for its comically grotesque costumes, stage antics and vulgar lyrics.

GWAR released its latest album in 2013 and recently toured Australia and Japan.

In 2011, lead guitarist 34-year-old Cory Smoot was found dead on the band’s tour bus.

Gene Simmons blasts the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for KISS treatment


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be having its next induction ceremony on April 10 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but do not expect new inductees KISS to be performing. Founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have decided against it to protest the Hall’s decision of inducting only the original line-up of the group (which includes departed members Peter “Catman” Criss and Ace “Space Ace” Frehley) while ignoring other longtime (and current) bandmates like Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. I asked Simmons about his decision when he called into Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) to chat about his appearance tonight on CBS’ CSI (where he will be playing himself). READ FULL STORY

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