Monday, November 19, 2007

Holiday Buyer's Guide (Accessible Metal)

Other Sections:

-Introduction
-Progressive
-Symphonic/Power/Folk Metal
-Accessible Metal
-Alternative
-Classic Metal
-Mainstream Rock
-Melodeath/Doom/Goth
-Extreme Metal
-Other

Accessible Metal

2007 was a year full of terrible metalcore and “mainstream” metal albums, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find quality metal albums that are accessible to any and all fans of the genre. Whether you’re looking to get into metal for the first time, or you’re just simply a fan of more accessible genres of metal, there’s a wide of variety of quality albums to choose from.

3 Inches of Blood
Fire Up the Blades

The excessively high vocals may initially incite laughter, but that doesn’t mean 3 Inches of Blood is a joke. In fact, the band has more talent than many of the bands their spoofing, and the music they make is certainly compelling. Fire Up the Blades may not have anything that comes close to their infamous “Deadly Sinners” from their last release, but nearly all of the songs present work. Whether you’re looking for a quality album that can be appreciated by any fan of metal, or you’re just looking for one of the most fun albums of the year, it’s hard to go wrong with Fire Up the Blades. Just make sure you don’t expect anything too serious.

As I Lay Dying
An Ocean Between Us

Personal preferences aside, As I Lay Dying deserve some credit. Not long ago, they were just another generic metalcore band that did very little to differentiate themselves from the many other metalcore outfits populating MTV. To their credit, they’ve played that style better than most, and the band did potentially have the talent to break out and evolve. With An Ocean Between Us, they finally do. The album introduces a moderate amount of thrash metal influences that finally cause the band to stray from the generic metalcore sound that has held them back throughout their career. At the same time, the band doesn’t compromise the sound that garnered them a large fan base to begin with. The metalcore base is still the same, but couple that with surprisingly great guitar work and a heavier thrash metal edge, and you have as good of a metalcore album as there is. Fans of the band should either already own this or add it to their collection immediately, but even if you’re the type of person that’s found only marginal interest in As I Lay Dying in the past, An Ocean Between Us may very well be worth a purchase.

Between the Buried and Me
Colors

Part metalcore, part progressive, and part whatever else they feel like playing at the moment, Between the Buried and Me is essentially a “love ‘em or hate ‘em” band. Their sound is all over the place, and it’s nearly impossible to explain. It’s hard to even tell which parts of the album work and which don’t. All that can be said is that Colors is one of the most creative metalcore albums ever released, and the band’s musicianship continues to improve with each album. It’s hard to recommend Colors to anyone in particular, but an album this good deserves a recommendation nonetheless.

Chimaira
Resurrection

Forget what you think you know about Chimaira. Resurrection takes nearly all of the band’s past flaws and throws them out the window. The band has made a full transition from nu-metal to true heavy metal, and the result can be recommended to just about anyone that hasn’t already passed Chimaira off a no-talent band that will always be awful no matter what they do. For everyone else, Resurrection is an album that takes the band’s angry sound to a new level. This is the type of album that can cause severe headbanging, and deserves to be listened to with the stereo turned way up. There may have been a large number of subpar angry metalcore albums released this year, but Resurrection is not one of them. Chimaira’s rage takes things to a new level, and their musicianship has improved dramatically. Resurrection is pure calculated rage, and if that’s what you’re looking for, this album should satisfy.

DÅÅTH
The Hinderers

Quite possibly the best debut album of the year, Daath’s The Hinderers is an album that can be wholeheartedly recommended to almost any fan of heavy metal. The band mixes a number of different metal subgenres, and their sound is a perfect blend of uniqueness and accessibility. Despite being a death metal band at their core, aspects of industrial and thrash metal cause their sound to become both more accessible and more unique. Metalheads that are tend to avoid the accessible side of the genre should still find a lot to love with The Hinderers, and Daath’s sound is accessible enough to metal fans that aren’t into the extreme or underground. The Hinderers truly has something for any metal fan, and that combined with the music’s exceptionally high quality earns this album a very high recommendation.

Dethklok
The Dethalbum

On top of being one of the most brilliant comedies of the year, The Deathalbum is an outstanding death metal release. Cartoon band Dethklok (as seen on Adult Swim’s Metalocolypse) may have been created strictly for the purpose of humor, but it’s really quite amazing what Brandon Small and Gene Hoglan (the actual personnel behind the album) have accomplished. The actual death metal that Dethklok performs is certainly of great quality, and it’s also accessible on top of that. You don’t have to be a fan of extreme metal to enjoy The Dethalbum, but it doesn’t hurt if you are. This is easily the most accessible death metal albums ever released, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call it one of the best either. Even if the music isn’t your thing, the humor in the lyrics is top notch, and it’s as fun as death metal gets. In fact, this is as fun metal or even music gets.

DevilDriver
The Last Kind Words

The Last Kind Words is an album for DevilDriver fans. That may seem obvious, but DevilDriver has done an exceptional job of creating an album full of everything their fan base loves about the band. From a musical stand point, it’s not outstanding, but it’s clear that the point of the album was to please their fans, not craft a masterpiece. DevilDriver is very good at what they do, and they do what they do a lot on this album. Fans of metalcore and/or groove metal should get a lot out of The Last Kind Words, but it’s doubtful that anyone who isn’t already convinced will find much to like here. However, this is a highly recommended album for fans of the band and genre, and if you’re a newer metal fan looking to get into something heavier, The Last Kind Words may be a good place to start.

Dimmu Borgir
In Sorte Diabli

Dimmu Borgir is easily the most accessible black metal band on the planet. Fans of black metal may not think much of them, but for those looking to get into heavier styles of metal, it’s hard to imagine a better starting point. In Sorte Diabli is an accessible album that incorporates elements from both black and symphonic metal, although the album is probably best enjoyed by those who are looking to get into the genres or are already members of the band’s fan base. Dimmu Borgir’s style is certainly unique, and condensing a genre like black metal into an accessible package is certainly an impressive accomplishment. It’s hard to compare Dimmu Borgir albums to anything but other Dimmu Borgir albums, and it’s probably fans of the band that will get the most out of In Sorte Diabli. Even for those who aren’t already interested in the band, this is a quality album, and you could certainly do a lot worse.

Sanctity
The Road to Bloodshed

The Road to Bloodshed is an album sure to please almost any thrash metal fan. On just their first album, Sanctity has avoided two common trends that often plague newcomers to the thrash scene. Firstly, they don’t copy what the legendary 80s thrash bands did, but instead create a sound that doesn’t sound like something that could have been released 20 years ago. Secondly, Sanctity avoids the repetitive Pantera influenced riffs that has plagued the genre over the last few years. Sanctity instead sounds like a breath of fresh air in both thrash metal and metal in general. Everything from the riffs to the production is solid, and it’s hard to imagine a fan of thrash metal not finding something to like here.

Shadows Fall
Threads of Life

It’s debatable whether Shadows Fall is the most talented band in metalcore. That is to say, Shadows Fall is easily the most talented band in metalcore, but it’s debatable whether they fit into that genre in the first place. Threads of Life doesn’t sound like your typical metalcore album. With expert guitar work that sounds more like something from a high quality thrash record than a metalcore release, as well as a mix of harsh and clean vocals that show both sides of Brain Fair’s outstanding vocal ability, Threads of Life is a great album no matter how you look at it. This very well may be the most accessible album on this list, and it could be recommended to any fan of rock. However, this is an album that any metalhead can and should appreciate. Shadows Fall have truly evolved as a band, and they’ve recorded an album that should please just about anyone. Any fan of metal or even rock in general that doesn’t already own this should consider Threads of Life this holiday season.

1 comment:

Yasin said...

Hey Bryce, this is Yasin, one of Alan's friends. Great job on your blog. And I gotta come to a concert with you guys.