Monday, October 20, 2014

A Fitting Tribute

New Release Review!

Band: Slipknot
Album: .5: The Gray Chapter
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Genre(s): Heavy Metal, Nu Metal
My Review: It's been quite some time since we've gotten new music from Slipknot, with their previous album "All Hope Is Gone" coming out back in 2008. But, they're back with a new album paying tribute to a former band member who left this world far too soon, bassist Paul Gray. This album features the band returning back to their roots, showcasing some of the trademarks of their early releases such as chaotic song structures, raw anger, and prominent use of turntables. Along with serving as a tribute to their fallen band member, they seem to use this album as a way to release all of the grief, pain, and anger that came with Paul Gray's death, evident in songs such as "The Negative One" which features extensive shouting from vocalist Corey Taylor. The album also sees Taylor bring back his rapping vocal style, and also like on Slipknot's old releases, the album is abound with profanity, which admittedly could be a deterrent. The songs on this album run the gamut, ranging from chaotic and aggressive songs like "The Negative One" and "AOV," to more melodic songs like "The Devil In I" and "If Rain Is What You Want," to the sorrowful and lamenting "Goodbye." The standout tracks on this album would have to be "The Negative One," "Skeptic," and "Lech," while the weakest links are "The Devil In I" and "Custer." Compared to the two previous records, this is a marked improvement and a great return to their roots, but still falls short of their earliest work. Nonetheless, it's the best Slipknot album in over a decade and an excellent addition to any metal fan's collection.
In Conclusion: ".5: The Gray Chapter" is Slipknot's best album in years and will make metal fans happy with a triumphant return to their early sound.
The Foundry's Score: 8/10
Bottom Line: You should by this album.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

RIP Layne Staley 1967-2002

Throwback Thursday!

I apologize for the long delay in posts. I've had a lot going on recently. But I hope to get back to regular posts and reviews with this fantastic TBT. Alice in Chains was at the forefront of the grunge scene in the 90s, even though they were hardly grunge. Their sound was more similar to Black Sabbath than Nirvana, and they were well known for being a tremendous live band. This TBT is a prime example, and is considered to be the band's best live performance. I'm talking about, of course, of their MTV Unplugged performance on April 10, 1996. Watching this performance, it's easy to see why the late, great Layne Staley had a major influence on many rock and heavy metal vocalists. He truly had one of the most emotional voices of all time, and although Alice In Chains is doing well with their new singer, it can never truly be AiC without Layne. His voice can never be replaced, and he is missed by millions of rock and metal fans.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

It's Good Metal, Eh?

Keep Your Eye On Them!

Band: Among The Betrayed
Formed: 2012
Origin: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Genre(s): Thrash Metal, Alternative Metal, Metalcore
Sounds Like: Shadows Fall, Chimaira, Killswitch Engage
Releases: 1 EP

Why you should check them out: This is a band that has seen a lot of success in a very short period of time. For only having been in existence for two years, and with only five total songs in their catalog, they've built a respectable fan base that often takes twice as long for bands to build. Since the release of their free EP "The Need To Make A Change" in June 2014, produced by Chris "Hollywood" Holmes who has worked with hard rock pioneers Korn in the past, their fanbase has grown almost exponentially, and people are starting to notice this hard-hitting Canadian quartet. The EP has gotten very positive reviews from underground music websites, praising the band's diversity, and their ability to seamlessly blend the ultra-heavy and ultra-melodic. Unlike many contemporary metal bands, vocalist Nikki Omen favors a raspy-clean vocal approach over harsh screaming, although he does make use of the latter style, most prominently in the song "Eraser," where the verses are screamed while the choruses are sung. Unlike bands like Chimaira, AtB uses screams more for effect in certain passages of songs rather than as the dominant vocal style, except in the example previously mentioned. The instrumentation deserves a mention as well for their ability to go for a full-speed-ahead thrash attack while keeping a strong emphasis on melody like in "Cold and Jaded," and for their ability to play more complex patterns like in "Save Me" and "Eraser." In fact, the only negative thing I have to say about the band is that they don't have enough songs! But, give them time. They've shown this early in their careers that they are more than competent, and with virtually no ceiling, who knows how far they'll climb on the metal ladder.
"Leading On Me"

"Save Me"


Monday, October 6, 2014

The Lighter Side

Top 5!
Because it's Monday and most of you are probably very angry today, we're going to mellow down a bit for this top 5, the category of which is Top 5 Power Ballads in Metal. Because ballads are far more common in rock, this top 5 is exclusively ballads by metal bands. 

5. Black Label Society - "In This River"

A tear-jerker in every sense of the word, this piano ballad contains Zakk Wylde's most emotional lyrics, which pay tribute to his childhood friend and legendary Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, who was murdered onstage in 2004. The accompanying music video makes it impossible to keep a dry eye while hearing Zakk mourn the loss of one of his closest friends, and one of the greatest men to ever pick up a guitar. 

4. Skid Row - "18 And Life"

While Skid Row was certainly well known for their high-energy songs such as "Youth Gone Wild," "Slave To The Grind," and "Monkey Business," a completely different side of them can be seen in this song. Featuring some of Sebastian Bach's greatest singing, this ballad tells the story of an 18 year old boy named Ricky, who accidentally shot his friend while partying and was sentenced to life in prison. While definitely not heavy by their standards, this song became Skid Row's biggest hit immediately upon release.

3. Queensryche - "Silent Lucidity"

While Queensryche's claim to fame is undoubtedly their 1988 album, "Operation: Mindcrime," this song from the followup "Empire" is one of the band's most recognizable songs. This song is about the concept of lucid dreaming, and with the help a full orchestra creates almost an ethereal or "dream-like" atmosphere to accompany the theme. This song was nominated for a Grammy in 1992, and the music video won the MTV Viewers Choice Award, and deservedly so, because this song is a timeless classic in the world of music.

2. Pantera - "Cemetery Gates"

Now this is something that is very bizarre; mellow Pantera. While this song certainly feels out of place on an album with "Cowboys From Hell" and "Domination," that doesn't mean it isn't a killer song. Telling the story of the death of a young woman and her lover contemplating dying to rejoin her in the afterlife, this song shows off the immense versatility of the band and especially vocalist Phil Anselmo. It's not the first song people associate with Pantera, but it's still one of the greatest in their catalog for sure, and another timeless classic.

1. Metallica - "Fade To Black"

When it comes to great composition in metal, it's hard to beat Metallica's first 4 albums. This song is off of Metallica's sophomore album "Ride The Lightning," and was their first (and greatest) power ballad. Metallica's ballads are famous for starting off very mellow, and gradually ramping up intensity to all-out thrash, which is why I consider them the masters of metal power ballads. This song is from the point of view of a man committing suicide, speaking his thoughts in the final dark moments of his life. Metallica's early efforts are almost untouchable in the metal world, and this song is one of their greatest compositions ever.


That is The Foundry's choices for the Top 5 Power Ballads In Metal. These picks will not reflect everyone's opinion, so I encourage you to post your own Top 5 choices in the comments.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

It's Y-Y-ZED! Not Y-Y-ZEE!

Throwback Thursday!

For this TBT, we will be taking a look at one of the greatest examples of musicianship in rock history. Legendary Canadian rock trio Rush is world-renowned for being arguably the most musically proficient trio in the history of music, and no song in their 19-album catalog exemplifies their abilities more than their famous instrumental, YYZ. This performance is from Rush's Hold Your Fire Tour, and is most likely the greatest performance of this song, because of something very special at the end. Instead of the song's normal ending after the synth break, Geddy and Alex step aside, and let drummer Neil Peart, aka "The Professor" do what he does best. With his drum solo to end all drum solos in this performance, Neil shows why so many musicians, critics, and fans proclaim him to be the greatest rock drummer of all time. Of course, that's not to take away from Geddy's bass playing and Alex's guitar work, because they also play in peak form. But then again, what else is to be expected from Rush other than sheer perfection? 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Now They Thrive

New Song Review!

Band: Machine Head
Song: "Now We Die"
Released: September 25, 2014
Genre(s): Groove Metal, Symphonic Metal
Single from the upcoming album "Bloodstone and Diamonds"
My Review: Machine Head burst onto the metal scene in 1994 with their highly acclaimed debut album "Burn My Eyes." Since then, and especially in the last ten years, they have improved their songwriting in leaps and bounds. Their 2005 album "The Blackening" contained two songs approaching ten minutes in length, and is considered their most aggressive and bombastic release up to this point. 2011's "Unto The Locust" saw them introducing more complex songs and introducing a greater sense of melody, while keeping all the aggression of their previous release. And if this song from their upcoming album is any indication, they've taken all those aspects, and taken them all to another level.

This is a 7 minute song, not unusual by the band's standards, and goes through drastic changes in mood throughout, making this arguably their most dynamic song yet. This epic song makes use of a string orchestra in the intro, choruses, and bridge, elevating the mood and giving the segments in which their used an anthem-like quality. Vocalist Robb Flynn's perfectly in-tune growls are abound with aggression, and the vocal melodies used in the chorus create a surprisingly uplifting mood in combination with the strings. Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn once again prove that they are one of the greatest lead guitar tandems in modern metal, with a guitar solo rich with twin harmonies that fit in perfectly with the bombastic nature of this song. After the guitar solo, the instruments all quiet down while Flynn utilizes the opposite end of his vocal range with the soft and cleanly sung bridge. Slowly, the strings pick back up, the rest of the band starts again, and the bridge builds and builds up, introducing the songs' grand finale. You've just completed another epic 7-minute journey with Machine Head.
The Foundry's Score: 9/10
The Foundry will be reviewing Machine Head's album "Bloodstone and Diamonds" after it is released on November 7, 2014.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Join the Legion of Thunder

Keep Your Eye On Them!

Band: A Sound Of Thunder
Formed: 2008
Origin: Washington, D.C., United States
Genre(s): Heavy Metal, Power Metal, Hard Rock
Sounds Like: Judas Priest, Doro Pesch, Warlock, Iron Maiden
Releases: 4 full-lengths, 1 EP
Why you should check them out: This band certainly brings the thunder and they bring it hard. A Sound Of Thunder blends a traditional heavy metal sound with modern progressive influences, fantastical lyrical themes of power metal, and the melodies of classic hard rock, and the end result is the most refreshing new metal act to emerge within the last ten years. The last two full-length albums, "Time's Arrow" and "The Lesser Key of Solomon" (2013 and 2014, respectively) have both received near-universal acclaim from music critics for the old school heavy metal sound that is delivered with a freshness and a hunger that is not just enjoyable, but laudable. The way the band is able to bring these classic elements in a way we haven't heard before shows a high level of musicianship as well as superior musical intelligence to even attempt such a daring approach to playing. They've left the comfort zone well behind them, and have never lost their footing venturing out into such dangerous territory. However, the highest praise for this band goes to vocalist Nina Osegueda. Standing just 5'2", she can belt out notes with the power of singers twice her size, and possesses a range matched by few metal singers. She blends the best elements of Doro Pesch, Rob Halford, and Bruce Dickinson, and packs them all into a petite, 'fun size' package. For the last 30 years, Doro has been the undisputed queen of heavy metal, but little Nina has a legitimate shot at usurping the throne from her, and stealing the crown. The band has recorded with former Iron Maiden vocalist Blaze Bayley(c. 1994-1999), and at the release party for their newest album, they shared the stage with legendary British heavy metal band Raven. So give this band a listen and let the thunder strike you. (Yes I know thunder doesn't strike, lightning does. I'm making a lame pun about the band name) You will NOT be disappointed, and you may just find your new favorite band.
"Kill That Bitch"


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hallowed Be This Band

Throwback Thursday!

For this TBT, we're going back to Iron Maiden's Powerslave tour for a performance from Long Beach Arena. In this video, the legendary heavy metal pioneers are performing their monster of a song, Hallowed Be They Name, often regarded as the most deeply philosophical song by the band. This song tells the story of a prisoner on his way to be hanged, reflecting on his faith in God as he is being led to his inevitable death. Is this truly the end? Is He really there? Why has He abandoned me? Bruce Dickinson's operatic singing style makes this song a true "epic," and in this performance you will see why this band has been named the greatest live band ever by many sources.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

F*** The Corpse

Keep Your Eye On Them!

Band: Walking Corpse Syndrome
Formed: 2006
Origin: Missoula, Montana, United States
Genre(s): Dark Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Sounds like: ???
Releases: One full-length album; second album in progress
Why you should check them out: Walking Corpse Syndrome is one of the rare bands that can truly be called "unique". Their music blends the organized chaos of melodic death metal with the atmosphere of Tool. The band is one of a kind in the sense that they utilize two drummers playing the same patterns in perfect sync to create a thick sound. It admittedly doesn't do much for the studio songs, but live it is both a spectacle and creates a much thicker sound than just one. The songs are more mid-tempo than most melodeath, but the result is a brooding and dark atmosphere. The band's vocals consist of either death growls or black metal-esque shrieks, and are delivered with a speed and cadence that is almost reminiscent of rapping. The band uses many unconventional elements in their songs, which makes them difficult to put into any definitive genre, and nearly impossible to compare to any other bands. Just this year they have opened for major bands such as Otep, Soulfly, and Decapitated, and have received limited, but strong acclaim for their music and live performances. They've been around for a while, but if recent events are any indication, they will be climbing the metal ladder quickly. Give them the support they need, they are a truly unique band with great potential to become a major force in metal.
"Walking Sacrifice Official Video"

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Announcement from the Depths of Hell

Readers of The Foundry, I promised in the first post of this blog that I would cover all the bases and keep everyone happy, and I am making good on that promise. Ladies and gentleman, boy and girls, dogs and cats, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the newest member of The Foundry's crew, Dez! Dez is a good friend of mine; he's an ancient demon from Hell who has been living among humans for several hundred years. Once you get past the demon thing, he's actually a pretty normal dude. Some of his antics take a bit of getting used to though, like how when he's bored he'll possess you and make you hit yourself going "Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!" He also belches and farts fire, which I gotta admit is pretty cool, but I digress. Dez is a big fan of music. More specifically, he really likes extreme music. He just NEVER shuts up about it, so I'm giving him his own weakly feature, "Dez's Dungeon," where he can vent all he wants about his extreme metal. He will be talking about the heaviest of the heavy, the blackest of the black, and all things brutal and goretastic. Just don't insult him if you disagree with his opinions, because he can possess you through your computer. Trust me, he's done it to me. Beginning this Friday, The Foundry will have its weekly "Dez's Dungeon" feature where Dez will spill whatever is on his mind in the world of extreme metal, and you know he'll be honest. Just don't take some of the stuff he says too personally. He is an ancient demon after all.

Monday, September 22, 2014

(Insert Pun About Getting Slashed)

New Release Review

Band: Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators
Album: World On Fire
Release Date: September 10, 2014
Genre(s): Hard Rock
My Review: Having played with bands such as Guns n Roses and Velvet Revolver, and influenced multiple generations of aspiring guitar players, Slash certainly has the established credibility of a living legend. Now that he's hooked up with vocal god Myles Kennedy, and the rest of their band, he's showing that he still has loads of gas in his musical tank. World on Fire is another very solid release in the guitar hero's catalog. Having listened to the album in its entirety, the thing most apparent is the consistency of the song quality. No song on the album strikes me as "great" or "bad," but every song is solid. It's hard to pick out a favorite because nothing stands out as spectacular, but I can't see myself skipping any songs on future listens. The musicianship doesn't stand out as spectacular either, but it does stand out as a near-flawless complement to Myles Kennedy's angelic voice. Everyone who knows who Myles Kennedy is knows that he is one of the greatest singers in rock today, and maybe even all time, but somehow the musicianship in the band elevates his voice even more, and vice versa. The sum in this case really is better than its parts.
In Conclusion: 'World On Fire' by Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators is a solid album that does not stand out as great, but will certainly keep just about any rock fan satisfied.
The Foundry's Score: 7.5/10
Bottom Line: You will enjoy this album. 
Buy the album on iTunes or the Amazon Music Store.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hostile Machine Takeover

The Essentials Collection

Band: Fear Factory
Album: Demanufacture
Year: 1995
Genre(s): Industrial metal, Extreme metal
Why You Need This Album: Some bands have been labeled by critics and fans as "pioneers," even though they weren't truly innovators in music. Fear Factory are not one of those bands. They broke ground in the early 90s with their debut album, 1992's "Soul Of A New Machine," being the first album to blend harsh and clean vocals, a style which has since been adopted by many metal bands. It was also the first album to blend metal with electronic elements, creating the genre of industrial metal. This album, Soul Of A New Machine's follow-up, is by far the band's crowning achievement, and a quintessential 90s metal album.

This is a concept album inspired by the hit movie, The Terminator, and tells the story of a man living in a country with a government controlled by machines, with each song being a chapter in his life. The story kicks off with the title track, with a blistering drum and guitar passage that still to this day is one of the heaviest song intros ever, and Burton C. Bells growls throughout fill the song with raw anger. The album then leads into "Self Bias Resistor," with yet another machine gun-like intro with Dino Cazeras's rapid palm-muted guitar and Ray Herrera's blistering speed and precision on drums creating a devastating sonic assault. The song also gives the listener a taste of frontman Bell's porcelain smooth clean vocals in the choruses, showing his immense vocal versatility. Another noteworthy song is the album's fifth track, "New Breed," which opens with a bass drop that could punch a hole in your chest if you weren't braced for it. The song is significantly shorter than the rest of the songs on the album, but despite the length, it manages to pack a more brutal punch than most other songs on there. The ninth track, "H-K (Hunter Killer)" is yet another slamming song with an intro describing a man on shooting spree from the perspective of a news reporter live on the scene. The eleventh and final song on the album, "A Therapy For Pain," is an eerie song laced with Bell's mournful singing that creates a creepy atmosphere with creepy lyrics to boot. This spine-tingler of a song is a perfect ending to a sensational album filled with vivid imagery which paints a picture that allows the listener to see all the events of the album playing out in their head. A true masterpiece of an album that every metal fan should own.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Welcome To The Foundry

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, dogs and cats, or whatever else you may be, you have found the one stop blog for all your rock and metal needs! This is The Foundry, a blog that I've created to cater to fans of the greatest music on Earth! In case you don't know, a foundry is a large and powerful furnace that melts down ore (rock) into metal. That is what inspired the name of this blog.

The Foundry will celebrate rock and metal from all eras, from their humble beginnings all the way to modern day. Here I will discuss the classic bands we grew up listening as well as new bands who will lead the charge for years to come. Almost all the bases will be covered so hopefully everybody will be happy. There is an inherent bond between all fans of this music, and here we will come together as a family to honor the music that brings us together.

Some of the features that will be included in this blog are:
- New Release Reviews: Self-explanatory; just reviews of new album releases.
- Classic Reviews: Reviews for albums at least 25 years old.
- The Essentials Collection: Albums from any era that every rock and metal fan should own.
- Keep Your Eye On Them: New or underground artists you should check out.
- Top 5: A list of the top five bands, songs, albums, etc. of a specific criteria.
- Throwback Thursday: Every Thursday, a classic song, live performance, band picture, etc.
- Anything else I can think of.

To kick things off, let's have a:
Top 5!
To celebrate the debut of this new blog, the category of the first Top 5 is Top 5 Debut Albums of All Time.

5. Metal Church: "Metal Church" 1984 

With the tight musicianship, raw sound, and shrill screams provided by the late, great David Wayne, Metal Church's self-titled debut left an immediate impact on the metal world. The blend of thrash with the more melodic New Wave Of British Heavy Metal make this album a standout from other metal albums of the era. Although the band has always been in the shadows of their thrash contemporaries, some would argue that they are one of the greatest of the thrash movement. This debut, along with their follow-up "The Dark," are among the strongest releases of the 1980s thrash scene, and are seen by some as landmarks in the genre. 

4. Slipknot: "Slipknot" 1999

When it comes to sheer "What the f*** is this?" factor, it's hard to top Slipknot's self-titled debut. That sentiment, though, is used in a very positive connotation. This album packs a raw power that took the metal community by storm at the time of its release, and brought them popularity beyond what they could have ever hoped for. Between the flagrantly over-the-top drumming, disturbing lyrical themes, and overall sense of chaos immediately cemented this band as one of the dominant forces in heavy metal.

3. Metallica: "Kill Em All" 1983

While on the topic of "What the f*** is this?" factor, Kill Em All by the thrash metal giants Metallica is one of the few debuts that can top the previous album in this Top 5. Just for sheer speed alone, this album was like nothing anyone else had ever heard at the time. Couple the blistering tempos with the high level of composition and musicianship, this album was the shot heard 'round the world for the thrash metal genre. This frenetic debut and subsequent releases have placed Metallica forever in the grand Pantheon of thrash bands.

2. Guns n Roses: "Appetite for Destruction" 1987

From the first time people heard the opening song "Welcome To The Jungle," the world knew that rock would never be the same. The opening riff, Axl's siren-like scream, the energy, and of course those famous words, kicked off a rock journey that the world had never heard before. The impact of this album was immediate and lasting, and to this day is considered one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded.

1. Led Zeppelin: "Led Zeppelin I" 1969

A band so ahead of their time, when they first came out, they were shunned by their critics and fellow bands of their era. In fact, the name of the band comes from what The Who drummer Keith Moon said about the band: "It'll go down like a lead zeppelin." Yeah, they sure showed him. This groundbreaking album revolutionized rock music, and was the first monumental salvo for what would be one of the greatest and most influential groups in the history of music. This album changed the way rock and roll would be played forever, and to this day new musicians are taking influence from the band. And to think people said their careers would never take off... Well, you can't be right all the time.

That is The Foundry's list of the top 5 debut albums of all time. These are my picks and they will not reflect everyone's choices, so if you have a different opinion on the top 5 debut albums of all time, post your list in the comments.