APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2016

VirusAnother strong year is in the books for heavy music, so strong that making a year end list seemed unfair to every release that we did not include in our lists.  The underground continues to thrive with releases from legendary bands such as DARK FUNERAL, VADER, and NEUROSIS that will stand the test of time. Actually, most of the long running bands did not fail to meet or exceed expectations.  Thrash metal pioneers, MEGADETH, VOIVOD, and TESTAMENT, certainly released excellent records.  What is more important is that 2016 saw a lot of great releases from less trendy, more obscure bands.

Trees of EternityThis past year is personally notable as lost a dear friend and contributor, Brandon Stratton AKA rocknro11chef13.  As a small tribute, we’ve included albums that he would’ve likely picked for his year end list.  Life is short, my friends.  Embrace it.

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Get Progged Out with the Title Track from OPETH’s Sorceress

For those who enjoyed the direction that OPETH have been going with recent albums, the title track for their new one, Sorceress, is sure to please.  Check it out below:

The band’s twelfth album is set for a September 30, 2016 release via the band’s imprint label Moderbolaget Records with Nuclear Blast Entertainment.

Here you go kids! Here’s the title track, ‘Sorceress,’ combined with the now obligatory lyric video. Why not eh? We’re happy with the tune. It’s heavy, a bit ‘meat and potato,’ but what the hell…we love it! Hope you do too!” – Mikael Åkerfeldt

Video of the Day: OPETH Mesmerizes Milwaukee Metalfest 2000 in First Ever U.S. Show

Back in 2000, the, now, juggernaut known as OPETH was only known by the most devotee followers of underground metal.  While the first three albums were released domestically in the U.S. via Century Black (AKA Century Media Records), the newest one at the time, Still Life, was available as an import only.  You had to throw down $20+ dollars for that album but it was well worth it.  The lack of an official U.S. release for Still Life for many years really hurt that album’s exposure to fans.   It was like the final chapter on the early OPETH sound.

Lucky fans got to witness the band’s U.S. debut at Milwaukee Metalfest 2000 (Remember those awesome fests?).  Check out this video of their full set, complete with rental equipment.  So damn cool.

STORM CORROSION – Storm Corrosion

STORM CORROSION is the much hyped, much talked about collaboration between two of modern prog rock’s heavyweights in OPETH‘s Mikael Akerfeldt and PORCUPINE TREE‘s mainman Steven Wilson. If you were to judge an album based on its cover art, one might expect a virtual labyrinth of complex, involved music to serve as a soundtrack to acclaimed Swiss artist Hans Arnold‘s richly detailed and intricate artwork. But sadly you would be wrong.  So what exactly do the masterminds behind STORM CORROSION have to offer? Would the duo take a modern approach and craft a record along the lines of TOOL and modern day RUSH meeting up with PORCUPINE TREE? Or would they dig deep in to nostalgia and profess their love for all things CAMEL, NEKTAR and KING CRIMSON taking us all on a mindblowing prog rock odyssey? Or would the group take us on a smoke induced psychedelic journey heavy on the HAWKWIND and PINK FLOYD? Sadly all of the above scenarios are far more imaginative than what one will actually receive with STORM CORROSION.

Beginning with lead track “Drag Ropes,” our protagonists make it abundantly clear that less is more, and that they will seek to offer the listener collectively less than they ever have before. Super subtle, understated vocal lines by Mikael are backed by an assortment of gentle background ambiance that tries very hard to create a mood, but leaves the listener feeling flat. Five minutes in, the guys thrown in some off kilter vocal harmonies in attempt to mix things up, which leads in to some light guitar work which might be some of the most musical material on this album. But it unfortunately comes across as an afterthought as opposed to something substantial.

The title track follows with some dainty folk singing and strumming before arriving at a soothing yet not particularly inventive “solo.”
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APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2011

2011 was a very productive and enjoyable year for extreme music, perhaps the best in years. Thus, it was not an easy task choosing what we enjoyed best since they were just so many. 2011 also gave us unforgettably bad albums by LOU REED and METALLICA, flops by THE HAUNTED as well as controversial ones by MORBID ANGEL.

We look forward to another strong year in 2012 in which we will celebrate our 10 years online. Cheers for all of your support in 2011! Radikult!!
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OPETH – Heritage

Progressive not only describes OPETH‘s music, it also describes the slow shedding of their death metal stylings. Heritage is OPETH‘s fruit that falls furthest from the extreme metal tree, save for the “soft” Deliverance album which was an explicit experiment released in near parallel to the “heavy” Damnation album. Let it be known that Heritage is a straight up OPETH-style 70’s progressive album (just look at the album cover).

Death metal growls are nowhere to be found–Åkerfeldt utilizes his passable yet characteristic clean singing for all vocals. Though his clean singing continues to improve. The octave shift when he sings “God is dead” on “The Devil’s Orchard” is impactful and outstanding considering that his usual vocal patterns are low in variety.

Guitars too see a distancing from the heavy gain. Distortion is significantly scaled back. The result, however, is still a producing a nice 70’s psychedelic rock warmth. Acoustic guitars play an obligatory role as well. The prominent presence of hammond organs greatly adds to the vintage flavor.

Heritage starts out very subdued and largely remains that way except for fourth song, “Slither,” which is the album’s sole uptempo song. Throughout Heritage, it’s clear that the band is exploring new territory and feeling things out. There are plenty of quiet passages with acoustic guitars, pianos, and even flutes and bongos, intermingled with busier sections with slithering electric guitars/bass and tasty drumming that can be heard throughout. Jazz influences and nods to Åkerfeldt‘s prog heroes can be heard as well. Songs like “Famine” traverse at a very slow and somber pace. “The Lines in My Hand” feature African/Latin-influenced percussion accompanied by classical guitars. The second half of “Folklore” comes out of left field with its ominous choir synthesizers and lead guitar.

Heritage is richly textured and expansive in construction while maintaining solid fluidity, unlike its predecessor Watershed, which was dark, diverse, and (arguably their strongest since Still Life). Fidelity is never over-cooked, perhaps under-cooked, but the results are grand. (Roadrunner Records)

Videos of the Day: A Little Dose of OPETH for the Soul

Sure, everyone and their mothers gush over OPETH, but that wasn’t necessarily the case 10+ years ago. Back in the band’s earlier days, OPETH was a semi-obscure band who didn’t quite catch on with the masses of metal fans, at least in the U.S., until Blackwater Park. Thankfully, Century Black (aka Century Media) released the band’s first three albums in North America. Unfortunately, a new European label for the band and subsequent business deals led to their fourth album, Still Life, to be an import-only release in the States for quite a while before an official release. But hey, when has the import-only nature of a record ever stopped a hardcore metal fan?

Anyways, all fans of the band know that few things are as soothing and soul warming as a good OPETH song. Let us now sit back and enjoy two live songs from Damnation and Watershed, respectively.

In My Time of Need“:

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OPETH & KATATONIA to Tour U.S. Fall 2011

Good friends, OPETH and KATATONIA, will team up for the U.S. Heritage Tour starting this September. Guitarist Anders Nyström issued the following statement in anticipation of the tour:

“Both you and we know that North America damn well deserves to see more of KATATONIA, right? So how could we possibly resist heading back to the states this fall when OPETH are giving us the opportunity to be their special guests? It was just a matter of time before it had to happen again. Yes we toured together in the same formation ten years ago in Europ,e and not only was that tour very well received by both bands’ fans, but we also shared a great ride together as long time friends. Some people have even been calling this bill their ‘dream line-up’, so it’s only fair that the loyal fans in North America now get their piece of the cake too! So come out and see us on this great tour and remember we’re playing headlining sideshows as well! Looking forward! Cheers!”

Tour dates:
Sept. 19 – Worcester, MA – The Palladium
Sept. 20 – Hartford, CT – Webster Theater
Sept. 21 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
Sept. 22 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
Sept. 23 – Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero
Sept. 26 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
Sept. 27 – Louisville, KY – Expo Five
Sept. 28 – Nashville, TN – Cannery Ballroom
Sept. 29 – Charlotte, NC – Amos’ Southend
Sept. 30 – Atlanta, GA – Center Stage
Oct. 01 – Lake Buena Vista, FL – House of Blues
Oct. 03 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
Oct. 04 – Austin, TX – Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
Oct. 05 – Dallas, TX – Granada Theater
Oct. 06 – Kansas City, MO – The Beaumont Club
Oct. 07 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
Oct. 08 – Winnipeg, MB – Burton Cummings
Oct. 10 – Edmonton, AB – Edmonton Events Centre
Oct. 11 – Calgary, AB – MacEwan Hall Ballroom
Oct. 13 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
Oct. 14 – Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory Concert House
Oct. 15 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
Oct. 16 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theatre
Oct. 18 – San Francisco, CA – The Warfield
Oct. 19 – Los Angeles, CA – Mayan Theatre
Oct. 20 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
Oct. 21 – Pomona, CA – The Fox Theater
Oct. 22 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre
Oct. 24 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex
Oct. 25 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
Oct. 27 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
Oct. 28 – Chicago, IL – Vic Theatre
Oct. 29 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrews Hall
Oct. 30 – Guelph, ON – Guelph Concert Theatre
Oct. 31 – Millvale, PA – Mr Smalls Theatre
Nov. 01 – Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live!