Woods of Ypres is a doom/black metal band from Ontario, who split up in 2011 because of tragedy. Co-founder, guitarist, lead singer, and front man David Gold passed away in December after a car accident. The band released the album Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Lights posthumously. Currently, the band is no more, but Joel Violette (lead guitarist of Woods of Ypres) said this in a statement following Gold’s death:
“David and I planned out many projects for Woods of Ypres in great detail. It would be a shame for none of them to come to fruition, and David would have wanted his fans to hear them. So I will examine these, discuss them with Earache [their record label], and endeavour to complete what can be completed given the circumstances”.
Woods of Ypres has a very unique sound, and I hope these projects do come to light in some fashion.
So this week is more a ‘things I think are important’ rather than a discovery. I’ve known about these bands too long to call it a ‘discovery’. With that out of the way, let’s get started.
First, and I can’t believe this is my first time mentioning them here, is the band Ghost. Ghost came to huge popularity only recently with their first album Opus Eponymous, which was released in 2010. The band is from Sweden, and was an underground band until critics gave them such positive reviews, causing their popularity grew at (what I think) an unprecedented rate in metal. I think that stems from their accessibility and easy sound as a band, yet they write extremely satanic and masterful songs. Do I think this is a bad thing? No. Metal has enough hard to reach and underground acts to let one slip through, especially one that sounds so good. Ghost has been compared to Blue Oyster Cult mixed with Mercyful Fate, something I think should not be taken lightly. But go ahead followers, take a listen and see what you think. Last note: Their second album is expected to come out in June of this year, so you’ll be seeing more of these guys soon.
Second, I want to talk about another thing that happened recently in the metal world that really bothers me. Last week, Mikael Akerfeldt said in an interview that he would no longer be doing lead vocals in Bloodbath (Swedish death metal). Akerfeldt, the lead singer, guitarist, songwriter, and mastermind behind Opeth, also did vocals for nearly every Bloodbath release. What does this mean in metal, you might ask? My guess is that my suspicions were true- that he can no longer create death metal vocals successfully. He has stepped down from his true death metal band, and Opeth’s last album featured entirely clean vocals. To me, all signs point to Akerfeldt continuing away from extreme metal into the progressive rock/fusion genres. I’m sure Opeth will continue to be successful, but I really will miss their unique brand of style.
This week, we return to some more subterranean metal, with Nile:
Sometimes, you’re in the mood for some dark and angry sounds. And Nile delivers just that. A death metal group formed in 1993 and from South Carolina, they write mostly Egyptian themed lyrics. From the sands emerges this behemoth of a band, mixing sounds of thrash and early death metal together. Their founder, Karl Sanders, was in an 80’s thrash group and ended up opening for a lot of early American death bands (like Morbid Angel), he combined this musical background with an intense interest in Egyptian mythology and history to create the very unique sound that comes from Nile. If you want to take a step into some great death metal, I would recommend their third full album In Their Darkened Shrines, which features a four part epic about an uprising against the Egyptian Sun God, Ra.
I love joke bands. Metal is so easy to make fun of, especially the fringe genres. Still a new listener to black metal, I know enough about it’s history and sound to find this band, The Black Satans, completely hysterical.
Formed in 2005, they have no albums and only a few songs. But their video’s are really where they shine. Many “underground” black metal musicians take themselves way too seriously. And when anyone does that, they are instantly targeted for mockery. Guys in black, with a layer of corpse paint, dancing in the snow like fools? Yep. Showing off viking weapons and torches? Yep. Do they both occur in actual black metal videos? Yep.
Black metal. The genre that is equally both dark and dumb in music. The Black Satans just want to bring that to light. Speaking of light, check out their most brutal and dark video:
One of the greatest feelings is when you find a new favorite band. I found a great one this week. Okay, what do you get when you mix great thrash riffs with the vocals/imagery of black/death metal? Skeletonwitch. 2, 3, GO!
Skeletonwitch is from Ohio, and formed in 2003. They have released four full studio albums. The two I would advise are Beyond The Permafrost and Forever Abomination. It’s funny to look at the evolution of my favorite bands. Black Sabbath, Metallica, Mastodon, Opeth, and now Skeletonwitch. Each progressively is more intense. Skeletonwitch has a really dark tone, something I picked up liking through Opeth, but they have the speed and riffs of Mastodon and Metallica. This band is the perfect mix for me, and they are on my watch-list for fastest rising metal group in popularity right now.
Alestorm hails from Scotland, and dubs their music as “True Scottish Pirate Metal”. What is pirate metal, you ask? Aye, the strangest sub-genre in metal if there ever was one, me hearties! Okay, seriously though, it is hard to pin down. Running Wild is credited with the creation of ‘pirate metal’ in 1987 with their third album Under Jolly Roger, forming many spin off bands that emulated the mix of power and folk metal with pirate themes in sound and lyrical content.
Alestorm has put out three studio albums, though Black Sails at Midnight is probably their strongest effort. This kind of metal is fairly accessible to most listeners, and if given enough attention, is honestly fun to listen to.
Fair warning followers, my next discussion is going to strain your ears.
So you guys might have heard me talking about a little game called Brutal Legend, quite possibly one of my favorite games of all time. No game is as beautifully metal as this (making a grown man laugh and cry is not something that comes easy here). Also, the soundtrack and original score is something that is badass by itself. If you haven’t played this game, get on it. If you want some good metal, listen to it. I can’t make it any more simple than that.
Iced Earth has always gotten a lot of criticism, but they have put out some really solid albums. One of them being Horror Show, an album I just listened to seriously this past week. Imagery inspired by one of my favorite things. Old school monsters. And not just Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman. But Jekyll/Hyde, Creature From the Black Lagoon, the Mummy, and The Phantom of the Opera, among others. It was released in 2001, and is considered one of the band’s only Power/Thrash albums. If you are a horror fan or want some great clean metal, I suggest you listen to this album. Another record from Iced Earth I would recommend would be Night of the Stormrider (1992).
Pallbearer set their debut album Sorrow and Extinction up with NPR to stream, in full, before it’s release on the 21st of this month. I just finished listening to the entire album, and damn is it gloomy. Pallbearer is a doom metal group from Arkansas, and I could tell from the start this was something great. Just under 50 minutes, Sorrow and Extinction is light on drums and speed, replaced with the doom essential: sadness. The doom genre is currently undergoing a “return to metal roots” transformation, and I am a big proponent for that. The vocals are a little soaring for a modern doom outfit, but the crawling guitars and simplistic drums keep the overall sound grounded. If you are in the mood for a little extra melancholy, I strongly suggest you give this band a listen.