It’s not fun to be a music fan as of late. It seems like the mainstream music press only wants to fawn over preprocessed beats with a usually illiterate sounding guy talking really fast, boring techno, horribly pathetic whiny guys (screw you James Blunt), or “I’m depressed that nobody loves me so I’ll kill myself, if this wasn’t just a ploy for attention” style emo dreck. However, there have a been a few new releases that are worth your time. I’ll review three of my favorites of this year’s releases.
RUSH – SNAKES & ARROWS
Rush releases their best album since the 80’s with a heavy sound that still has a lot of the progressive sounds that hearken back to the Farewell to Kings and Caress of Steel days. The first single, “Far Cry” is one of their best songs featuring a great chorus. This is also the Rush album with the most instrumental songs at three. “The Main Monkey Business” is their second longest instrumental, behind only “La Villa Strangiato”, “Hope” is a short classical guitar piece by Alex Lifeson, and finally is “Malignant Narcissism” featuring Geddy Lee on a fretless and Neil Peart on a four-piece kit. It has a lot of the same tones as the last album, Vapor Trails, but important on this album is Lifeson seemingly remembering “Holy Crap, I can play guitar well!”
SHADOWS FALL – THREADS OF LIFE
To appease people who say that because I find few new bands enjoyable, here’s one of my favorites, Shadows Fall. These guys are at the top of their game and are easily the best of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. The start track, “Redemption” is the standard heavy, crushing riff they are known for, featuring another of Jon Donais’s great guitar solos. “The Great Collapse” is a great acoustic piece showcasing both Donais and Matt Bachand’s versatility, and then the next track goes right back to heavy metal. I love this album because it has a great mix of NWOAHM and classic metal, along with amazing guitar solos, which was absent for far too long from metal.
FISTS OF PHOENIX – SAVE THE SWANS
Fists of Phoenix are a progressive, experimental band from Cape Girardeau who put on a hell of a show and feature some of the most impressive musicians I’ve ever met. At the last show of theirs I went the singer,when talking, had noticable sore throat and voice problems, yet took the stage and still performed like it was nothing. These guys deserve a major label deal.
Full Disclosure: The ugly bass player is my little brother.
Three good ones so far is impressive, and I suspect there will be more. I’ve got Ozzy’s new cd Black Rain, yet I haven’t listened to it all the way through yet. I’ll probably give it a review later.