Here we go. Some lists for 2022.
From Sweden, they hit onto a particular metal style with the “Hymns For The Broken” (2014) album and “The Storm Within” (2016) and they have been living in that world for over a decade now. “A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)” is their latest album, on the backs of “The Atlantic” (2019) and “Escape Of The Phoenix” (2021).
As a fan, I cannot complain at being exposed to 5 studio albums and 1 live album in an 8 year period.
This album has something for everyone.
It’s got heavy melodic rock, with “Call Out The Dark” and “Heartless”, moody atmospheric with “Wildfires”, groove metal with “Save Us” and “Midwinter Calls”, progressive metal with “The Orphean Testament” and “ “, doom metal with “Ominous”, melodic Metal with “Reawakening” and “Blindfolded” and their special brand of metal with atmospheric vibes with “The Great Unwashed”
As a guitar player, the album is full of guitar hero moments from vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund and guitarist Henrik Danhage.
From the United States.
After the departure of drummer Dave McClain and guitarist Phil Demmell in 2018, Robb Flynn kept the Machine Head brand going with stand-alone releases with “Do or Die” (2019), “Circle the Drain” (2020), The “Civil Unrest” EP from 2020 which featured “Stop the Bleeding (feat. Killswitch Engage’s Jesse Leach)” and “Bulletproof”.
Robb Flynn got hooked on the anime show “Attack On Titan” and wrote a concept story called “Of Kingdom And Crown” set in a futuristic wasteland which revolves around two characters, Ares and Eros, who both go on their own respective killing sprees following the death of their loved ones.
What an album.
The first 3 minutes of “Slaughter The Martyr” is essential listening as they build it up with great melodic vocals from Robb and bassist Jared MacEachern.
When the fast riff kicks in at 3.10, it’s time to break some desks. And that intro section comes back in at the 8.20 mark where it smacks me in the face with its sadness.
My favourite songs are “Unhallowed” (that head banging riff, plus it is the first song in the album sequence that has a co-write from new lead guitarist Waclaw Kiełtyka), “Arrows In Words From The Sky” (a masterpiece), “My Hands Are Empty” (the vocal melody) plus additional song writing by original MH lead guitarist, Logan Mader “Kill Thy Enemies” (the main Chorus riff plus check out that bridge section at 2.40) and “No Gods, No Masters” (the whole song is a masterpiece).
Long Distance Calling
The names of Dave Jordan and Florian Funtmann on guitar, Janosch Rathmer on drums and Jan Hoffman on bass are virtually unknown.
From Germany, it’s all instrumental and I was tuned in the whole time. This isn’t instrumental like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani. It’s different. There is always a groove and a riff which form the foundation. Then they decorate. But it’s not a 1000 notes per second decorating. It’s melodic, sometimes it’s just a single note droning across the different bars of the riff. And the drummer by Janosch Rathmer is superb.
After a haunting music box minute intro they kick into the riff heavy “Blades”. But it’s the moody songs like “Kamilah”, “Sloth”, “Blood Honey” and “Eraser” (that section from 4.50 to the end, a masterpiece) that really connect with me. Also check out the riff at 4.30 in “500 Years”, the intro section to “Giants Leaving”, and that melodic riff in “Landless King” at 1.30 or that clean tone section from 3.30.
I don’t like to label them with other bands names because their soundscapes are unique to their own but people like to have that association. Pink Floyd were classified as progressive rock, so is King Crimson, so is Tool, so I
And I want to make mention of the title track “Eraser”. There is a video done in conjunction with Greenpeace which shows how much of the world humanity has erased. Check it out on YouTube. And if you are a fan of the band, you will note how the last track on the previous album “How Do We Want To Live?” had the spoken words of “Humanity is the virus”. In this case, there are no words spoken, but the YT video makes it clear that that “Humanity erases nature instead of living in equilibrium with it”.
The Butterfly Effect
From Australia, “IV” is their fourth album (“duh”) however it is their first piece of new music in over 14 years and what a triumphant return it is.
This album was also anticipated highly by me. You see “TBE” are part of a group of Australian artists like Cog, Karnivool, Birds Of Tokyo, Dead Letter Circus, Superheist and The Superjesus that I really got into between 2001 and 2012. One of the bands I was in opened up for Cog quite a few times.
Every song is strong.
“IV” is a raw, sad instrumental which leads into “Dark Light” and that pseudo melodic metal Chorus. I feel like I hear “Come Undone” in “The Other Side” and I like it.
“So Tired” sounds like a demented Guns N Roses in the verses and a section which reminds me of Aussie rockers “Powderfinger”. But make sure you stick around for the interlude section of the song (which also sees the song to the end). The music and the vocals of Boge as he sings “It’s not over now”. It’s unbelievable.
“Unbroken” is the most streamed song from the album at 458K streams. Its melodicism immediately infects me.
But closing track, “Visiting Hours” is a masterpiece to me. It is an accumulation of their first three albums into an atmospheric, progressive ballad.
Vocalist Clint Boge is one of the best in the business. Guitarist Kurt Goedhart is a riff-meister and he decorates each track expertly while bassist Glenn Esmond and drummer Ben Hall showcase why they are one of the tightest rhythm sections around.
Or in the case of the metal-esque song “Great Heights” one of the most expressive rhythm sections.
And in keeping with the Aussie spirit of sinking a few cold ones before a show, The Butterfly Effect teamed up with their favourite brewery, Green Beacon Brewing Co, to create an ‘Amplified Ale’, which was available to enjoy on their recent sold out tour.
I’ll drink to that.