Let's be honest. To the average person that hasn't been following along carefully, it's been hard to impossible to tell the difference between Drowning Pool and Soil for the last decade. Both have had multiple singers in their camp. Both have had Ryan McCombs as one of those singers. And both have released some fairly unmemorable work in the last 10 years. That said though, I'm the first to admit that I was a BIG fan of Soil with McCombs when they first came out. Their THROTTLE JUNKIES release was stellar, and while they traded down to be trendy on both their SCARS and REDEFINE releases, both were still enjoyable if you are accepting the musical style that dominated active rock radio in the early 2000s. Several releases with vocalist AJ Cavalier served as little more than times when people would hear their name and go, "oh, those guys are still around?" McCombs has returned, and the band has come charging back with WHOLE. While not as raw as their earliest days with THROTTLE JUNKIES or the EL CHUPACABRA EP, WHOLE is closer to the original sound than these guys have been in years.
I make no bones about it. I'm not a Dream Theater fan. To be blunt and to the point, I've always appreciated the immense talent they have as individual musicians, but I've always found them to be the single most undisciplined songwriters in the history of heavy metal. They have always written bloated songs that are more focused on getting everyone's individual parts into each song than on writing a cohesive 4-6 minute song that's digestible to the average metal fan (such as I am). That's just my opinion, and I'm sure the throngs of DT loyalists out there will react with their typical "you don't know shit, that's why they're brilliant" response. So be it. I won't convince you, and you won't convince me...so we leave it there. That said though, I've been a big fan of vocalist James Labrie's solo efforts since he started putting them out. Specifically with his release ELEMENTS OF PERSUASION which featured the killer song "Freak", Labrie has proven to be solid for a more traditional listener such as I am. With IMPERMANENT RESONANCE, Labrie has once again put forth a solid effort.
So, what were you really expecting? Did you think that just because vocalist Dez Fafara spent the Winter and Spring touring around with Coal Chamber that the next Devildriver release would be softer and more full of nu-metal elements? It's amazing to me how many times prior to this release making it's rounds that I read just that online. Fans really can be stupid sometimes. For those that need a revisionary lesson in history, Fafara formed Devildriver to be as brutal as possible and as "anti-Coal Chamber" as anything he could make. The odds are that Devildriver will never even resemble Coals Chamber, nu-metal, or anything with the word "soft" in it for as long as they are a band. WINTER KILLS is a seriously intense effort from the band I feel is the best extreme metal band of the last decade. Start to finish, WINTER KILLS does just that - kills.
So many 80s hair metal bands have come back unnecessarily. I mean, let's face it...some of them just didn't make enough of an impact back in the day to warrant a reunion now. I think for most of them, there's a record company offering a check to these guys that are now plumbers and carpenters, and they see it as a quick opportunity to finish a bunch of tunes that were left laying around when their short run back in 1989 crapped out. For most of them, the reunion records have been far less than good, for the simple fact that the magic of the moment has long since gone away. For a few of those bands though, there was still significant fire left in the tank. I'd say that King Kobra is one of those bands. While never bigger than a 2nd tier hair metal band back in the day, they created solid music then. With their reunion album, and now with II, they are not only rock solid creatively, but might just be better than they were back in their day.
There's just something about Philip Anselmo that most metal fans don't get. In fact, I would go as far as to argue that even most of those hardcore Pantera fans don't fully understand the motives and direction that Anselmo takes half the time. More than just about any other musician in metal history, Anselmo is the single guy that has taken a lot of varied metal styles to the masses. Through his notoriety as a legend with Pantera, Anselmo has been able to introduce much more extreme types of metal to the majority of metalheads that would probably have never listened otherwise. Speaking only for myself, my first exposure to such varied music as Anal Cunt, Necrophagia, Christ Inversion, Arson Anthem and Superjoint Ritual all came SOLELY because of Anselmo's involvement with those projects. It has NOTHING to do with any music at all that I heard prior to picking up those releases. To be honest, I haven't liked all of it, but I don't think that's really what it's about for Anselmo anyway. To his credit, he lives and dies metal...all kinds of metal...and he is out to create as much of it as humanly possible.
About every two to three years, a band comes along that I have never heard of that absolutely overwhelms me. A few years ago, it was Volbeat that came out of nowhere and really struck a chord with me. Most recently, that Halestorm record just stays in my player and gets play several times a week. Following an impressive performance at ROCK ON THE RANGE as well as a very fun hang with them after their performance, a new band has jumped on my radar. That band is Scorpion Child. With interest, their self-titled release found it's way to me a week after ROCK ON THE RANGE, and it's been stuck in my player (and my head) ever since. As of today, July 9th, 2013, SCORPION CHILD is the metal album of the year in my eyes. A new band for me to follow religiously has been launched to the world.