Author: Megan Kennedy

Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem
BS Records
Street: 10.27
Dethklok = Dark Throne + Cryptopsy
Yup, this is a literal rock opera. It threw me off too. Working as a soundtrack to the Metalocalypse special, this album covers in Broadway-style fashion the aftermath of the abduction of Toki Wartooth and his girlfriend, the Doomstar prophecy of the Church of the Black Klok, and the band coming to the realization that they must save their brother or face the wrath of the media and fans who are looking for him. Brendon Small reaffirms his musical prowess by delivering some seriously excellent theater songs mixed with ’80s pop, orchestral epics, chorus, and of course death metal, providing most of the vocals himself and working with Bear McCready of Battlestar Gallactica fame on the orchestra arrangements. Listen up for cameos by Jack Black, Malcom McDowell, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, and Mark Hamill. This isn’t a death metal album, but if you have enough humor to enjoy the show, the album is worth it. It’s extremely well written, and epic as all hell. –Megan Kennedy

East of the Wall
Redaction Artifacts
Translation Loss Records
Street: 10.29
East of the Wall = BTBAM + Intronaut
Other reviews for this record toss around words like “progressive masterminds” and even a “top album of the year,” but I don’t feel it. This album is one big derivative showcase: I hear a shit-ton of Opeth, Tommy Giles, Mastodon and The Ocean among others, so there’s an element of comfortable familiarity when I listen, but that familiarity is at the expense of any originality the band might be capable of. I enjoyed the musicianship more than the vocals, which seem somehow out of place—or maybe strained—within the compositions. If you’re looking for prog metal with smooth, jazzy moments, mathcore-style acrobatics and heapings of transitions, I can give you a generous list of bands doing it better than East of the Wall. Prog and post-metal have never been bigger, so there’s no reason to settle for mere competency. The album’s technically positive and even worth the listen, but definitely lacks coherency and soul. –Megan Kennedy

Guys! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Crucialfest 6 has kicked the door down and face-melted its way into the summer sunshine, bringing its biggest lineup ever and extending to four days over three venues, including the Art Garden and Metro Bar, and Urban Lounge for the evening acts. Some astounding locals are on the bill, including Making Fuck, Exes, Despite Despair and Subrosa, joined by national badasses like InAenona, Sol, Ape Machine and Helms Alee, among many others. Heavy music is the foundation of Croosh, but mixed in with all that brutality this year are chill bands like Your Meteor and spoken-word artist Greg Bennick, making for a more varied and exciting mixed bill. With two of the three venues right next door to each other, it was a perfect setup to wander around and enjoy all the music one could handle—as well as getting out of the blazing sun for a few minutes. Wander upstairs to the art gallery at Metro Bar and get an eyeful of even more great local artists—visual this time—as you enjoy the music. The Bischoffs have worked harder than ever to bring this fest to SLC, and it only gets better and better.

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A Lily Gray
Waiting Room
Street: 11.29.13
A Lily Gray = Ashes Divide + Karnivool
Polished, local alt-rock group A Lily Gray returns with another teaser of an EP that will get you salivating for a full album from this quintet. I am a huge fan of the melodies this band is able to build on tracks like “Gone Away” that are simultaneously uplifting and sorrowful. The track “Velvet Letter” is, overall, the weakest of the four (a subjective measurement, certainly), sounding somewhat repetitive aside from the sweet ripping guitar solo bridge. David Lynn’s vocals continue to impress with his clear and passionate delivery, made all the more powerful by his band’s ability to construct thoughtful composition around him. These guys just flat-out know how to make a beautiful, self-aware rock album. –Megan Kennedy


Psalm Zero
Force My Hand
Last Things Records
Street: 11.19
Psalm Zero = Godflesh + Big Black
This is a short, two-song EP from this NYC-based duo, who use mostly electronic instruments like synth and drum machines to achieve their dark sound. It’s tough to rate the band on this debut single, because one of the two songs is a cover of Today Is The Day’s “Willpower,” which they transformed from its distorted, noise-metal roots into a gothic dirge with what the band calls “medieval vocal harmonies.” It was an awful, droning mess. The titular track is decent enough, but didn’t at all get me jazzed to hear a full album’s worth of material. The percussion is repetitive, its riffs are mind-numbing, and the vocals are dull, but at least until the distorted screams arrive halfway through to provide some black metal frosting to the production. One can only hope the full release has a little adrenaline in it, as well as a better sense of what exactly the band is out to accomplish. –Megan Kennedy

Copyright Megan Kennedy //

Anime Banzai 2015 was a blast! Check out these photos of the event, and also take a look at our other Anime Banzai coverage.

Gloria Morti
Lateral Constraint 

Metal Blade Records
Street: 02.05
Gloria Morti = Negator + The Forsaken

This band’s past work was far more brutal and creative in a single song than in this entire album. Song structure is a melodic death metal paint-by-numbers and includes quite a bit of repetition, which took a lot of power away from what could have been some sweet atmosphere. There was hardly any experimentation or risk taken with the song-writing. The probably-triggered drumming is speedy as fuck, but so stupidly formulaic that it makes the result as dull as a brown paper bag. Vocally, this somehow reminds me of a consistently rougher Randy Blythe, but a lot less dynamic in both expression and range. The vocals are made all the more unimpressive by the so-often-repeated lyrical themes of how religion sucks and people are mindless idiots. There’s just no heart in it, and as such, it’s almost immediately forgettable. If your curiosity about this band must be sated, check out their past albums instead; they’re both heavier and less boring. –Megan Kennedy

Empire Before All
Street: 12.10.13
Empire Before All = It Dies Today + Bleeding Through
I sure love independent EPs that come from left field and kick you in the face. Empire Before All have some fantastic bravery with regard to vocal variation, including guest appearances by Ricky Armellino of This Or The Apocalypse and Carson Slovak of Century; they shake up the sound and give each song its own interesting flavor. Their style harkens back to the golden days of metalcore, albeit a little more on the thick end, grabbing influence from the generation bands like Emmure and The Dead Lay Waiting. The melody, the rage, the swampy breakdown, and the smart licks all add up to an addictive listen. They add some electronic flavoring, which I could do without, but that’s just personal preference, and the band uses it sparingly. It’s a short album, but I think these dudes are demonstrating maturity in their songwriting and production far ahead of some of the peers in their genre. –Megan Kennedy