Posts Tagged “Hardcore Fans”

Setting the bar high for your career via fan and critical acceptance can sometimes be a bittersweet compromise. On one hand, your career gains the respect you feel it deserves, but on the other hand, it requires you to eternally reach those heights in order to continue creating good music. While other sub-par bands may receive critically acceptable reviews, if you release an album full of better than average tunes, but not quite living up to the notch set by earlier material, than the critics have a field day kicking your balls around a soccer field. Which brings us to the new album by Protest the Hero, Scurrilous, set for release in a couple of weeks on Vagrant Records. As the follow up to 2008′s absolutely amazing, album of the year worthy Fortress, Scurrilous delivers a fine display of technical wizardry, with some stand out moments that really remind us why we are PTH fans, however, it suffers from one major set back…it sounds almost EXACTLY like Fortress.

The focal point of the similarities lie with vocalist Rody Walker who, while having an immensely original voice (especially in the world of metal), is VERY limited in his range on the band’s recorded pieces. His vibrato and upper register range is very entertaining and fits the chaotic nature of Protest the Hero, but in terms of melodies and pace and just overall general style, Rody has put on an almost identical performance to what we have all heard on Fortress, and this is a hefty drawback to the enjoyability of a new album from a band that is considered one of the forefront progressive metal acts in North America today.

The rest of the band, of course, is absolutely brilliant and spot on with their performance, yet still, the style is still very similar to the output on the band’s previous albums. I know hardcore fans won’t see anything wrong with this, but Protest the Hero isn’t Judas Priest or Motorhead where creating similar works time and again to produce straight forward metal is their forte. Protest the Hero are progressive juggernauts, and pushing the boundaries of what it means to bee “progressive” is absolutely essential. Of course, with the talent level possessed in a band like Protest the Hero, there will always be moments of brilliance and originality. Songs like “Moonlight” provide some awesome new melodies, and classic duel guitar work that is almost reminiscent of Savatage, all performed at a very warm pace that produces a loungy atmosphere, despite being unmistakeably metal. “Tapestry” molds into Dream Theater style which is very entertaining, especially with Rody’s style of singing, and of course the unexpected hardcore moments of “Dunsel” are a treat.

Scurrilous is, to all intents and purposes, a good output. This album provides a full breadth of incredible progressive metal that can rival most bands in terms of technical expertise, but chops aside, there needs to be more in order for it to excel. I will certainly continue to listen to this album, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually grows on me as I’m able to absorb more and more details of this very complex output, but as it stands now, I am left wanting.


Similar Artists: Sikth, Between the Buried and Me, Converge, Norma Jean, The Human Abstact, Dream Theater

1. C’est la Vie

2. Hair-Trigger (feat. Jadea Kelly)

3. Tandem

4. Moonlight

5. Tapestry

6. Dunsel

7. The Reign of Unending Terror

8. Termites

9. Tongue-Splitter

10. Sex Tapes (feat. Chris Hannah)

Arif Mirabdolbaghi – Vocals, Bass

Luke Hoskin – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard

Moe Carlson – Drums

Tim Millar – Vocals, Guitar

Rody Walker – Vocals

Vagrant Records

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Ah, Tool. A band that is totally outside of any industry standards or trends. A band that has produced four albums over their twenty year existence of high quality music filled with great lyrics, instrumentals, album packaging, the whole deal. The band reeks of consistency. The band also has one of the all time most annoying fan bases, and the biggest discrepancy between quality of music and quality of fan. The fact of the matter is that a majority of Tool fans resemble the baaaing sheep they supposedly despise.

Just to clarify, I think Tool is a great band. I first heard the band when I was a freshman in high and I heard a track on the radio, and then after googling the lyrics (which completely disturbed my 14 year-old-mind), I was hooked from there. And while, like with all bands, my attention or favor towards the band has wavered up and down since then, I have always felt and will always feel that they’re a truly talented progressive metal band. I even have a poster of the Tool dick tool at left above my bed. There is no debate that I do very much enjoy the band, and I don’t have some bizarre vendetta against the band for selling too many records or something.

That being said, so many of their hardcore fans are garbage, and not in the sense that they’re not loyal enough or they’re fair weather fans. I mean that they’re too loyal, and they give way, way too much credit to the band. A quick glance through Tool’s page reveals this.

Yes, many Tool fans believe that the band is insanely smart and are running around with IQs above 200 and that their music is some sort of embodiment of this high level intelligence. Granted, Maynard writes good lyrics, but please. Half of their music can be directly tied to drug use (a completely separate topic I have absolutely no interest in discussing), and even their guitarist has noted the benefits of DMT on his life. So, is Tool smart? Maybe. Does Tool have some higher level understanding of life and existence? No.

Then there’s the outright worship of the band. Last June I was at the final Isis concert in Hollywood before their break up (yes, I’m cool). Up in the sealed off area on the second floor where the band and their guests were hanging out, there was a guy with shoulder length brown hair that looked quite a bit like Adam Jones, the guitarist. However, any doubt that it was him was erased when the guy standing next to me with a tattoo on his shoulder of the third eye looked up and then literally started bowing down to him. He then turned to me and yelled “that’s Adam fucking Jones!” The literal worship was bizarre to me. From the tattoo to the actual bowing, it’s incredibly strange. And off base. Adam is a great guitarist, but does anyone really deserve to be bowed down towards?

Of course no discussion of Tool worship can go without at least touching on the complete and total reverence for vocalist Maynard James Keenan. This idea that Maynard is some sort of prophet is a theme that is pretty constant amongst the irritating Tool fan base. As said earlier, Maynard writes good lyrics. But that’s pretty much it. The rest of his time is spent making wine and participating in sub par side projects like Puscifer.

Really, it’s all just so overblown. There’s the Fibonacci sequence track listing for Lateralus, the constantly commented on five year gap between between Tool albums and how mathematically it is supposed to somehow guarantee or ensure a new record this year. This constant clinging to the idolized versions of the band members and the higher power that dictates their music and album release dates and secret tracks really wears down on the image of Tool as a band. And while by no means does it ruin the actual music, it does have an impact on the perception of the band by both good fans and prospective fans. There is a negative impact when quality, grounded fans have to defend the work of a band due to the ignorance and idiocy of the majority of the fan base. In the end it’s summed up best by the post below, and I left their username visible so everyone can go to their page to congratulate them on their intelligence.

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So it’s been awhile since I have done one of these, however, my stacks of music have been doing just as this segment suggests…piling up. Since most of what is produced on AMR is from lil ole’ me, it’s almost impossible to keep up with all albums that are sent to me on a timely basis. I know this isn’t ideal, but this is a fantastic way to cover multiple albums at once so as to avoid having to write up 250-500 words for each review. Just two tonight, but expect more around the range of 5. As always, if you have any suggestions, leave me some feedback!

Pro-Pain – Absolute Power (2010)

Standard issue Pro Pain here, which probably means you’ll either love it, or could care less. Pro-Pain are a polarizing group that have been playing their brand of metalcore for years. However, unlike many of their contemporaries, they haven’t evolved really all that much over the course of their career, which has resulted in the hardcore fans remaining just that, but also those listeners who have grown tired of the constant battering riffs that seem to be very similar from one album to the next. I don’t mind Pro-Pain, and this album is no different; it’s nothing impressive, but doesn’t fail to evoke the occasional head nod and imaginary fist pump. I would, however, enjoy getting bruised at a Pro-Pain show which I have yet to experience. (Similar Artists: Sick of It All, Hatebreed, Terror) NOT BAD

Lightning Swords of Death – The Extra Dimensional Wound (2010)

I find myself more and more enthralled after I listen to every new American black metal album that comes out. For years, nay, decades even, black metal was a dirty word to American metal fans save for a small loyal base. Today though, black metal is a common denominator amongst Americans, and I love our new found acceptance of this often maligned and misunderstood form of music. Lightning Swords of Death have brought us a very Euro vibe with downtuned guitars that remind me so much of Sweden’s death and black metal scenes. Unlike many of their American counterparts, LSoD don’t worry so much about the progressive sound, instead going the route of extreme brutality, with riffs and beats that combine the ferocity of thrash and metalcore. Unfortunately, where they come up short is when they break into the traditional black metal sound. Most of the songs on this album begin with an awesome thrashy intro that gets your blood pumping, but that is somewhat extinguished by the odd injection of a stereotypical black metal onslaught. I won’t say what LSoD have done something “bad” here, but it sounds more cut and pasted than organic, and that hurts the record’s overall effectiveness.  (Similar Artists: Absu, Grimfist, Dark Funeral, Watain) GOOD

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Playing to a somewhat smaller audience than they probably deserve, Finnish folk metal pioneers Amorphis take to the stage amongst a sea of dry ice and launch into a performance designed to please both hardcore fans and newcomers alike. Looking surprisingly tanned for a group of Finns, the band appear to be in good health and push plenty of energy into the songs, vocalist Tomi Joutsen in particular becoming a blur of flailing dreads and pumping fists. Hitting Black Winter Day and other classic material from their groundbreaking late-nineties period, the group throw in enough new material to showcase their current sound, ably bridging a gap between their two incarnations.

Following Devin Townsend – or Devin Town Send as the big screen captioning would have it – is no easy task but thankfully Fear Factory are blessed with a stellar sound that makes their material sound positively apocalyptic. While their Sonisphere set was a sometimes embarrassing spectacle due to fraility of Burton’s clean vocals, their appearance here today is infinitely more convincing, and the decision to end the set on with a handful of numbers from their career best Demanufacture means that thing end on a high.

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For the first time ever, Canadian rock legends RUSH have helped develop a fun and useful application for the band’s hardcore fans.

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From Mastodon:
Heavy rock iconoclasts MASTODON will release their new album, CRACK THE SKYE on March 24, 2009. However, hardcore fans will have the opportunity to pre-order a very special Deluxe Limited “Tunnel Book” Edition […]

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