APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2015

motorheadWhen looking back at 2015, the only thing that seems to matter is the passing of Lemmy Kilmister. Of course losing Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor in November was sad but Lemmy was on another level – one of the pillars of the entire rock ‘n roll universe. Thankfully, he left a voluminous legacy for us to enjoy for eternity, including some of music’s best interviews and quotes possible. Cheers, Lemmy.

Other than that, 2015 was a remarkably strong year for the pioneering, long-running bands in the metal scene.  Everyone from KILLING JOKE, MY DYING BRIDE, FEAR FACTORY to AMORPHIS put out fantastic records. This past year also saw some very good super groups in TAU CROSS and FIRESPAWN make their debuts.  You’ll find that many of them made it to our respective lists.

Additionally, we’ve recruited some fresh blood in Charles Elliott, Andrew Sample, and Jeff Wagner. These industry vets have been in the trenches with us for years and years, and have helped bring you many of the greatest records ever released for the past 20+ years.
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APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2013

carcass.surgicalsteelOnce again, another fruitful year in extreme music draws to a close.  We saw some long awaited comebacks by legends, three quarters of the original SABBATH line up, VOIVOD and CARCASS.  The godfathers of U.S. death metal had a healthy year with strong releases by SUFFOCATION, DEICIDE, and IMMOLATION.  We also saw young superstars, GHOST B.C. and KVELERTAK, release good sophomore albums.  Perhaps the most polarizing and criticized album is SATYRICON‘s self-titled album, which was roasted by the majority of the media and fans.

Among the mountains of releases, there is one album that we’ll gush about again and again, and that’s CARCASS‘ comeback album, Surgical Steel.  There are always good and interesting albums coming out all the time, and then there are the untouchable albums that only the legendary bands could create.  Surgical Steel scorches everything in its path and clearly shows that in the pantheon of active bands, they are at the top.

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Finnish Super Group BARREN EARTH Post Video for “The Rains Begin”

Finland’s BARREN EARTH, featuring members of SWALLOW THE SUN, MOONSORROW, KREATOR, and ex-AMORPHIS, have posted the latest video, “The Rain Begins,” online.

The song comes off the band’s latest album, The Devil’s Resolve, which was released this past week via Peaceville Records.

AMORPHIS Provide Update on New Album

Finland’s AMORPHIS are currently hard at work recording their as-of-yet-untitled follow up to 2009`s Skyforger release. Expect a May 27th release in Europe. Guitarist Esa Holopainen offered the following update:

“Dear Fans,

“A little updating on what’s happening in camp AMORPHIS. The album recordings are running smoothly (whatever that means). We are now working with vocals and again we have Marco Hietala producing Tomi. This time everything else has been done at Sonic Pump Studios except vocals which are currently under work at Marco’s home studio in Kuopio.

“We are coming out with roughly 15 new songs and for the album there’s most likely going to be 10-11 tracks. Again it’s a great feeling to start to realize that the songs and ideas which have been in our heads are finally going to see the daylight.

Pekka Kainulainen has worked really hard with lyrics. The album is going to tell the story of the most important character of Finnish mythology and folklore. He is the Finnish god Väinämöinen who was described to be an extremely powerful old wise man who had a magical voice. Some believe that Väinämöinen was creator of the world; an ancient hero and very influential shaman.

“Having a subject as strong as this it was pretty obvious that making music for the album was going to be a challenge. There are lots of musical elements which have been heard on previous albums but there are much more. Needless to say that we are keen to give all the material over to Mikko Karmila who is going to start the mixing at the end of this month.

Travis Smith is currently working with the album cover and the coming art looks so far no less than amazing.

“Stay tuned folks!”

Check out a studio video here: http://royalartistclub.com/amorphis/blog/2011/01/24/recording-vocals

AMORPHIS – Magic & Mayhem – Tales from the Early Years

Re-recording old songs as a full length album isn’t a new idea as ARCH ENEMY, HYPOCRISY, and various others have done it in the past, but whether it’s because members have changed, old, but classic songs needed some tweaking and updating, or just because it’s a cool idea for another album, it’s an interesting thing – newer fans get to hear older songs that they might not have known about or heard before, and older fans get to hear some classics updated with better production and recorded with the current lineup.

By compiling songs from the early albums – The Karelian Isthmus, Tales from the Thousand Lakes, and Elegy, the band finally appeases the old fans who have dismissed the newer, lighter side of AMORPHIS. While the songs from those albums are classics in their own rights, and have the unique magic and sound stamped from that era which can never be replicated, these re-recordings are a nice way to show that the band can still revert back to “old school death metal” if they wanted to.

The Karelian Isthmus songs were simplistic and raw, but captured the pure death metal sound that AMORPHIS were looking for at the beginning of their career. “Vulgar Necrolatry” was aggressive in its original form, but the new version amplifies the aggression with tighter playing, excellent production, and vocalist Tomi Joutsen utilizing his lower growls in top form. “Sign from the North Side” is another classic from the debut album which is played in down tuned form, which is both extremely heavy and brutal, with plenty of chugging guitar riffs.

Tales from the Thousand Lakes offered some amazing songs rich in melody with a doomy death metal feel, such as the opening to “Into Hiding” – original clean vocalist Ville Tuomi had a higher pitch in the old version, and it takes a short while getting adjusted to Tomi’s lower clean vocals, but it all works out. The original “Black Winter Day” had a magical sound to it, and while the new version is excellent, this is one track that should have remained untouched. Rounding out this era, “The Castaway” and “Drowned Maid” sound refreshed and updated, without much alteration.

The Elegy tracks have not been changed much either, and stay pretty true to their original form. Tomi’s death metal growls on tracks like “On Rich and Poor” and “My Kantele” are more powerful and enunciated than original Elegy vocalist Pasi Koskinen’s, but his clean vocals also replicate Koskinen’s vocals very well. The original “Light My Fire” cover was a fun track the band decided to record during the Tales recording session, and the new version is a fun way to close out this brutal and satisfying album.

Magic & Mayhem – Tales from the Early Years is definitely a must own for all AMORPHIS fans, old and new alike. The Tales and Elegy songs probably could have been left alone, but the Karelian tracks are a refreshing upgrade and sound great. Old fans who have been clamoring for years about the band never going back to the old style can finally rest, as this compilation sums up how great the songs were on their respective albums, and still stands strongly with the test of time. Turn this up, reminisce about the “old death metal days”, and enjoy. (Nuclear Blast Records)

AMORPHIS Hit the Studio to Record New Album

Finnish progressive metallers AMORPHIS recently entered the studio to record the follow-up to 2009’s Skyforger. The release of the bands as of yet untitled tenth album is planned for an early to midyear 2011 release. Check out a clip of the band goofing around in the studio here.

AMORPHIS will release Magic & Mayhem – Tales from the Early Years on October 26th in North America. It will feature 13 re-recorded classic tracks from the band’s first three albums as well as the Privelage of Evil EP.

New AMORPHIS DVD, CD Companion Coming this Summer

Finnish progressive metallers, AMORPHIS, have revealed the cover artwork and tracklisting of their forthcoming DVD package entitled Forging the Land of Thousand Lakes. The DVD will be released on June 25 (Europe) and June 23 (Finland) and not on June 4th, as announced earlier. A July/August release is expected in North America. The tracklisting can be found here.

AMORPHIS’ latest effort Skyforger was certified gold in Finland for sales in excess of 15k. Their previous albums, Eclipse and Silent Waters, were also certified gold.