Monday, 20 January 2014

Alexisonfire Revisited

In case you haven’t heard, one of the pioneers of post-hardcore (Or whatever you want to call it), Alexisonfire, called it quits a little while back, after a solid decade of rocking our eardrums. For many a metal fan, or rock fan in general, this band was a staple in any music collection. For me personally, Alexisonfire was one of the bands that really got me into the heavier stuff, way back when. I recall as a pre-teen, watching Much Music (Back when it mattered, and no one had iPods), and seeing their song Waterwingscome on, from their debut album. I was, admittedly, disgusted. “Why would they scream so that no one can understand the words??” I said to myself in blissful ignorance. 

Then a few years went by, and I had heard them again and again, and the music really started to grow on me. Those words that I previously couldn’t understand, became clear. The lyrics actually made sense and meant something. At the time I had first heard them, I had previously never heard screaming vocals, so the whole concept was new to me. I began to really feel a sense of bitter, harsh emotion flow from those vocals, upon continued exposure. 

I started to dig into other bands of similar styles, and explore. I came to the realization that the public’s opinion of “emo” kids, and the music they liked, could not be more misguided. I had discovered beauty in something so many simply ignore. I fell in love with metal. It just stuck. As most metal fans will agree, this style of music is not just a “phase” like many others are. 

Alexisonfire really grew on me. The raw feeling their words carried was enough to keep me hooked forever. I ended up seeing them in concert a few times, and they were definitely one of the few bands on the planet that sound tighter on stage than on record. Hearing the songs fromCrisis played live just blew me away.


I was lucky enough to see their very last show on their farewell tour, and it was possibly one of the most emotional things I had ever seen. Every member of the band was in tears by the last song. The whole crowd hugged one another, and remembered how much this music touched them and how much it had meant to them over the past 10 years of their lives. It was a very special experience. 

Today, the band still keeps in contact with one another, and they just released a $250 box set of all their works, posters, books, as well as vinyl. The box sets, to no surprise, sold out in 30 minutes after their release. If that doesn’t prove the impact these guys had on people, not much else can.

If you appreciated and loved this band as I did, and many others did, you’ll be pleased to hear, (if you haven’t already), that they have taken the original recordings from their very first album (self-titled), and remastered the entire thing. It has been released on iTunes for $9.99. Do yourself a favour and go get it. It’s every bit as awesome as the original, just better produced. Sounds much clearer, and really makes you feel like you’re there, as opposed to the rough sound that album always had.

I played the whole thing at least 10 times when I got it ;)

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Wolves Within: After The Burial Review

This week’s topic is a review on a new album. The album in question is the long-awaited Wolves Within from Minnesota metal wizards After The Burial.


It’s been three years since their last release, In Dreams, which was nothing short of brutal and violent. With this new album, they’ve gone absolutely balls to the wall.

The disgustingly low 8-string guitars that are a theme with this band make another comeback, with a tone that is all their own. Drumming throughout the entire album is incredibly tight and accurate, and the rapid double-kicks coupled with the lower-than-a-bass guitar notes complement the “trebellious” (think I just invented that word) melodies in the background perfectly. If you haven’t checked this band out prior to now, the only similar sound out there that I could mention would have to be the Swedish math-metal band Meshuggah (Hell, they’re their own genre altogether).


The album’s intro song, Anti-Pattern, comes out swinging with a rather eerie, frightening tone throughout. Heavy palm mutes are a staple in this tune, as they are in most work from After The Burial. The song also brings about very catchy verse segments, which one can easily bang one’s head to.

Immediately following the intro comes what are possibly the lowest, most devilish vocals on the album, inOf Fearful Men, with a return to the band’s old school sound (Rareform era). This style continues along for the majority of the album. 

Oddly enough, as often as bands try to go back to their roots, only to make a record that sounds like crap, and almost identical to the one they’re modeling it after, After The Burial have pulled off this feat, without sounding like a copy of their aforementioned 2008 record. This album sounds A LOT like Rareformbut after a few listens, it starts to sound more and more like Meshuggah, who I mentioned earlier as well.


With the third track, Pennyweight, the key changes drastically to one that almost reminds me of pop-punk bands nowadays. A brutal song with a key that can be described as “happy” sounds impossible, until you hear it. They also make use of other pop-punk-esque techniques in this song, such as crowd chants.


Disconnect, the fourth track, really “disconnects” from the momentum of the earlier songs, with a clean introduction that sounds a hell of a lot like Five Finger Death Punch. Of course this change of pace is only brief. This tune is rather progressive, and has a very obvious buildup theme to it. Intense, technical guitar makes its stand in this song.


We follow with Nine Summers, possibly my favouriteon the album. It’s a lot more catchy than most songs of this band’s style, and easy to tap your foot to, even if you’re more of a hard rock kind of listener. It shares many traits with the previous song, and has a similar feel to it overall.

Virga is next up to bat, speaking of hard rock, which makes excellent use of what can only be described as a 1980’s kind of tone. There’s less modern metal in this tune, and many more crunchy chords than usual. The band also features Nick Wellner on this song, who as you may know, was the frontman for the band back during their first record, Forging a Future Self. You should be able to tell his vocals apart from Anthony’s quite easily.

Neo Seoul begins rather slow, and brings a techno-sounding vibe with the staccato notes from the guitars, followed by a very heavy verse section, and complemented further by very dark, grim lyrics, which play a huge part in the entire album, for that matter. The darkness really comes out though, when accompanied by such a low, evil chord progression.

Next is Parise, another tune with those eerie melodies that just make you want to put on your evil smile along with your headphones. The staccato trend continues, followed by a rather strange bridge section, comprised largely of just bass and drums, that leaves the listener going “what?” only to progress immediately to the guitars jumping on board following the bassist’s lead, finishing off the song with that heaviness we crave.

Bringing up the rear, but certainly noteworthy, is the album’s pseudo-title-track (?), A Wolf Amongst Ravens, which, even in comparison to the rest of this album, just scares the shit out of me. The entire band takes a turn and changes the style of the whole album with this song. The heavy palm-muted, techno-like guitar comes back once more, but with high screaming vocals, accompanied byAttila-like rapping, and an overall much more evil, low sound than we are used to on this record. If this is a teaser as to what’s to come with future After The Burial albums, I’m rather excited.

All in all, this record leaves very little to be desired if you’re a fan of metalcore or death metal at all, or if you’ve listened to the band before, or even Meshuggah for that matter. Every member of the band is spot-on and dead-accurate in their performance on this album, and they brought back an old sound without screwing it up like everyone else does.

My recommendation: If you appreciate the heavier varieties of metal, check this shit out. It’ll please your eardrums and scare the shit out of your neighbours and mom.


- Carl “Edge” Middleton

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Trashed.Lost.Strung Out


    Today marks the day I finally get down to writing that blog about music that I’ve wanted to start for months now. 

The concept of this series of articles, collection of words, if you will, is to be an ongoing review and discussion of good music, old and new. 

Now that the not-so-formalities are out of the way, today marks an important day (Dec. 28), and that is the day four years ago that we lost a legend in the modern hard rock/metal scene. Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, known as the former drummer for the ever-growing, insanely popular metal powerhouse that is Avenged Sevenfold (aka A7X). 

Without getting into the details of his tragic departure, we can all remember Jimmy as, for lack of better words, one talented motherfucker. Whether it be the brutal thunderous kicks he brought to Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, or the intense, blinding speed and accuracy of his magical sticks in songs like Burn It Down and Trashed and Scattered from the City of Evil record, this guy clearly had something amazing to offer. His brothers in A7X obviously spotted this from the beginning, and that talent took the band sky high.

What many don’t know about this musical wizard is that he was more than just a drummer. He contributed vocals to a significant number of A7X songs, as well as piano. The song Fiction showcases both of these skills. Furthermore, not only did The Rev play piano, sing, and drum, as well as help found the band in the first place, but he also wrote a few of their better-known songs. Such tunes include Almost Easy and Welcome to the Family.

It is apparent that he was a well-loved and respected character, as well. If we think back to 2010, Jimmy had just passed away in December the past year, and in February, as A7X was struggling to record their then-latest album, Nightmare, without a drummer, who better to step in, than one of The Rev’s biggest influences, and someone widely known as the best drummer in the world next to Neil Peart, Mike Portnoy (Formerly of Dream Theater)?

And we all know what a fantastic record that was. 

Without a doubt, Jimmy’s incredible talent and attitude helped drive this band to be what it is today. Without him, they may not have made it past the garage. But with this being said, it is time to look forward. Avenged Sevenfold, while they took a tremendous blow in 2009, seems to be back on their feet with new drummer Arin (Formerly of Confide). He may have enormous shoes to fill, but he has stepped up and proved his worth. Their latest album, Hail to the King, is possibly one of the best modern records to come out with so much 80’s metal influence. It showcases every member of the band at their very best, and has noticeably pleased critics and fans abroad, topping the charts in the US, UK, Canada, and others, for weeks upon its release. If you haven’t heard it yet in its entirety, do yourself a favour. You will not regret it. Noteworthy songs are Hail to the King, This Means War, and Requiem.

-Carl Edge Middleton