Here is a brief rundown of some of the albums that come out today:
Dream Theater – Distance Over Time
There are several versions of this release, with limited edition artwork, a deluxe box set with CD, Vinyl, DVD and BluRay. One thing that hardly varies, is the band’s die-hard audience, this is the band’s 14th album, and the first for Inside Out Music, a label gobbled up by Sony in their acquisition of Century Media. You can debate all day who started the progressive metal movement, was it Queensryche, was it Dream Theater with Images And Words? Even if you don’t think Dream Theater kicked things off, they probably have impacted the subgenre more than any other band, with many other bands pointing to them as the reason they decided to follow the progressive side of things. The album takes the best elements of the band, and mashes them together, it is their shortest album since the aforementioned Images And Words, and you could argue it is their heaviest, and least progressive as a result. The last nine years have not been easy for the band, the departure of Mike Portnoy who was a key contributor to the band, seemed to impact the band more than they’d like to lead on. Not knocking the last two albums, as they’ve had moments of brilliance, but Distance Over Time seems to find a band righting the ship, and bring things back to a place that not only their core fanbase will love, but also the borderline followers of the band.
Overkill – The Wings of War
The New Jersey thrash juggernauts return with their 19th album, marking their first release with their new drummer Jason Bittner. This is the first time the band has actually gone out and brought in a “big name” into their lineup. Bittner had been playing with Flotsam And Jetsam, as well as a few other projects, but is most known for his work with Shadows Fall. Given the band’s longevity, and all of the great musicians that have come and gone over the years, people will always debate which lineup is best, what album or era is the greatest, etc. But there is no denying that from Ironbound to now, the band hasn’t put out a bad album, and that’s not saying that they ever have. The Wings Of War is on par with band’s last four albums, so if you enjoy any of their recent releases check this album out, you’ll more than likely enjoy it. Overkill much like Motorhead have gone through incremental changes, you know who they are once you hear Blitz’s voice, and D.D.’s bass, much like you knew who Motorhead was once you heard Lemmy’s vocals, and bass. Although the band has experimented over the years, and has always kept things interesting for fans, they have never really strayed far from what got them to the dance.
Candlemass – The Door to Doom
Heralded by many as an instant doom metal classic, the album marks the return of the band’s original lead singer Johan Langquist, who left thirty three years ago. He bailed on the band after singing on their’s debut Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. The album features a collaboration with Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, on the cephalopod inspired track “Astorolus”. Sabbath was obviously a huge influence on the band, and the whole doom metal genre, so to have Iommi on the track is a huge get for the band. To find out more about the album, check out previous posts on Talking Rock, where we initially discussed its release in December, and posted a video for the track “The Omega Circle”.
Tora Tora – Bastards of Beale
Mark Strigl recently spoke to Keith Douglas, the band’s lead guitarist, you can check out that interview here. Bastards Of Beale marks the first studio album released by the band in 1992’s Wild America. Those that know the Memphis band’s story, are aware that they did record an album called Revolution Day in 1994 that had never seen the light of day, until 2011, thanks to record label politics. I can’t say that I was big on the band back in the day, because my love was waning for anything that MTV was adding to Headbangers Ball, that remotely looked like an L.A. strip band. This was an error on my behalf because I bundled Tora Tora into a category where they may have looked a certain way given what was going on around them, and not really giving their music a shot. Everything I’ve heard off of this album is just killer, there is no other way to put it. If you’re a fan of hard rock music, check this album out.
Last in Line – II
This was an album I was very much looking forward to checking out, given how much I loved Heavy Crown, and think Starmaker is one of the best tracks of the last few years. But I can’t lie, I have soured on this album big time, given the whole Pledge Music debacle. People can point fingers all they want, but I’m out $80, for a vinyl album that I will probably never see. The band did a really poor job handling this situation, when they essentially bailed on all of the fans that pre-ordered the album via pledge. They’re not the only ones, Queensryche did the exact same thing. At the end of the day, the fans are the big losers, I was supposed to have at least a download of this album, and had an autographed vinyl on the way, instead I’ve heard and read plenty of ambiguous statements by the band, saying “oh this is easy, just dispute the charge with your credit card company”. It shows they’ve never had to do that, nonetheless dispute a charge you willingly made four months ago. I’ve heard Phil Soussan say “no big deal, you’ll have your money back in 30 to 45 days”, while the bank is telling me “you may never see this money again”. So I am currently looking at being out that money, and not getting my hands on the vinyl I ordered. Bernie Tormé, who is currently in the intensive care unit of a hospital released a statement how pledge screwed him also, but wasn’t going to turn around and screw his fans. He was delivering every last piece of merchandise fans purchased, and then his lawyers would try and recoup the money from Pledge Music. This, in my opinion is how this should have been handled. Instead I royally annoyed when it comes to thinking about this album, because all of the nonsense I have to put up with now in order to finally get it. Which again, given the circumstances, I don’t think I ever will. The band has to factor in that some people are in a difficult financial situation, perhaps a few months back could afford to back the project, and so, pre-ordered and paid for an album months ago. Fast forward to now, the money is tied up between the bank, and Pledge Music, you’re waiting to recover that money, so you can repay for something you should already have in your possession. Because at the moment your out that money, but the band thinks its easy, “just pay us again”, and fight your credit card company for the next few months, because we’ve already washed our hands in the entire situation. Point the figure all you want at Pledge Music, but at the end of the day, the band dropped the ball, I understand, they’re looking to recoup their investment, but should it be at the behest of your core audience? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to tell people not to pick up the album, it is solid from top to bottom, and I know people will say, who cares what happened to anyone that pledged, I just want to hear it. I know people that pledged will say, the band let me down, but I still want to hear it. I’m just hoping for all of this to get resolved, and the band comes through and honors what they originally offered. Because let’s be honest, we all pledged for the band, not the service. So in good faith, we backed them, followed them, supported them. The platform didn’t honestly matter, we all had the band in mind when deciding to make our purchase, when deciding to help them out.
Other releases that may interest you:
As I Lay Dying – An Ocean Between Us (Vinyl)
Attila – Villains
Delain – Hunter’s Moon DVD/CD
FM – The Italian Job DVD/CD
Pretty Maids – A Blast From the Past Box Set
Rhapsody Of Fire – The Eighth Mountain
Spirits Of Fire – Spirits of Fire
The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South Of Reality
Visions Of Atlantis – The Deep and Dark: Live @ Symphonic Metal Nights
Westbound – Volume 1