Archive for the ‘In Remembrance’ Category

I moved away from traditional and power metal bands in about 2004 or 2005 when I moved to uni in Glasgow. I was a big Iced Earth, Iron Maiden and Metallica fan, Blind Guardian, Motorhead, Sabbath too. I didn’t quite get heavier stuff at that time, I was a late bloomer shall we say. Chimaira changed that. I’d heard some of their stuff before that, particularly ‘Power Trip’ and ‘SP Lit’ but never really went further with it. That changed when I heard opening track of their self titled record. Holy shit, ‘Nothing Remains’ destroyed my mind. This was the most brutal groove I’d ever come across that I had actually liked. It was a watershed moment for me. I suddenly found a new appreciation of metal, particularly since the New Wave of American Heavy Metal was truly taking hold at that point.

Suddenly, I had Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, Killswitch and Chimaira to get stuck into. But Chimaira’s self titled is still my favourite record from that time. As much as I’ve drifted away from then in more recent years towards darker and more extreme music, I still fucking adore the groove of that record. Be it the head cavingly heavy ‘Inside the Horror’, the powerful ‘Salvation’ or the epic ‘Lazarus’, ‘Chimaira’ should still be held high as a high moment in NWOAHM. It was insanely catchy, heavier than a planet, and filled with more grooves than Abdullah the Butcher’s head (obscure wrestling reference points!) I saw them on tour for this record, and they had the most insane pits I had ever experienced up to that point. Only Decapitated a few years later has ever beaten that.

I was only mildly disappointed to hear about Chimaira’s split recently, however after spinning this record again I must say I’m more upset now. It stands proud with ‘Alive or Still Breathing’, ‘The War Within’ and ‘Sacrament’ as a Big Four must have. All together now, ‘NOTHING REMAINS!!’

Another one…. Another great metal musician has left this mortal coil and gone to join Dimebag, Dio, Hanneman et al in the big concert venue in the sky. Selim Lemouchi, guitarist for The Devil’s Blood (who are great) and Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies (who I’ve not heard but am now going to look into) was reported to have died today. The news broke on Twitter through Ghost B.C. and Alan Averill’s pages, and was later confirmed. Don’t know how it happened as of yet, but personally I’d like to pass on condolences to his family and friends. He was a dynamite guitar player, and The Devil’s Blood were a unique, trailblazing band in the occult doom/rock movement. ‘The Heavens Cry Out (for the Devil’s Blood)’ was my favourite track of theirs, an insidiously catchy song that rocked hard through its shadowy occult haze. Lemouchi has left a fine legacy in his wake

Seriously Tool? I know an extended period between records is part and parcel of who you are, because it allows you to construct the best, and I mean BEST in progressive metal (seriously, there may not be a better prog metal record than ‘Lateralus’) but come on?! I’m currently listening to ‘10000 Days’, Tool’s 2006 magnum opus. A record of staggering heaviness and progressive wanderings. Polyrhythmic riffs judder from guitars, the bass and drums mesh together into a constant, earthshaking foundation, and James Maynard Keenan’s otherworldly voice is the icing on the cake. ‘Vicarious’ is probably my second favourite Tool song ever, after ‘Schism’ from ‘Lateralus’.

I first got into Tool when I saw the FUCKED up video for ‘Parabola’ on Kerrang TV when I was about 15. I had no idea what was going on, but it seemed cool and dark as fuck. They were a band that remained on my periphery for a few years; a friend lent me ‘Lateralus’ but I couldn’t get into it. I wasn’t ready for it. At the time, I was more into Korn, Metallica, Sabbath and Motorhead. Moody, epic prog metal was not for me. I appreciated their aesthetic, but they were impenetrable. I forgot about them and moved onto pastures new.

Until ‘10000 Days’ came along. ‘Vicarious’ rocked the shit out of me. It came at a time I was discovering bands like Meshuggah; bands that pushed the envelope and added some off kilter groove. I was hooked. I still love Tool. The latest is that in 2014 we will see a new Tool album. They will have to go far to beat ‘10000 Days’. The betting is that they will

I meant to write this yesterday, as an anniversary tribute but I got caught up at work. It was 12 years since the death of one of extreme music’s most influential artists. Chuck Schuldiner was an icon in first death metal and then progressive death metal, and his influence lives far beyond his passing.

I first got into Death with ‘Human’, an album that still stands as my favourite record from Chuck, although ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ and his other project Control Denied’s ‘The Fragile Art of Existence’ push it damn close. ‘Human’, like many of Death’s later releases, was an intelligent death metal album, not just an all out gore soaked brutality fest. It was progressive, inventive, but didn’t lack any of the characteristic heft and crush of a death metal record. Chuck Schuldiner, along with Cynic and Atheist, helped to invent progressive death metal, to take death metal out to new pastures. Of course, Death’s classic debut ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ is a peak in the early scene; a filthy, vicious metal album full of iconic songs like ‘Evil Dead’, ‘Zombie Ritual’ and the title track. It’s probably one of my top 20 pure death metal records of all time, along side other legends of the same time period like Obituary, Deicide and Morbid Angel. Death personified the Florida death metal scene with an output of pure quality, release after release.

But it was truly as Death became a progressive death metal beast that his guitar work began to shine through. It began with ‘Spiritual Healing’ arguably, and through ‘Human’, ‘Symbolic’ until ‘The Sound of Perserverance’ which you can argue is more progressive than most records of its time. But for me, ‘Human’ is the pinnacle of Death’s work. It contains two of my favourite Death tracks, ‘Lack of Comprehension’ and ‘Suicide Machine’.

I wish Chuck was still here, because not only could Death have possibly continued, but we would have had the chance to experience more records like ‘The Fragile Art of Existence’, Chuck’s final work on this earth. A progressive masterpiece, it found its creator pulling out some of his best work and letting us know that his potential as a prog musician was unlimited. Sadly, brain stem cancer took him only 2 years later, but thankfully we can rejoice that there are plenty of young bands taking his lead and creating excellent music for us to enjoy. Death truly is forever.