Sunday, September 12, 2021

Review: Avatar, "Hunter Gatherer"

It’s not often these days that I’m a latecomer to a band. All the music in the world is at my fingertips, and I’m pretty much willing to give anything at least one listen. But somehow, I missed the boat on Avatar.

Back in my newspaper days, I remember them playing a local club. I checked them out, thought it wasn’t my cup of tea, and moved on. I’m not sure what album that was or what songs I listened to, but having spent the past couple of weeks catching up on their catalog, I feel a little silly.

The song that sent me down the Avatar rabbit hole was “Child” from their latest release Hunter Gatherer. I’m not sure what made me click on it after steadfastly ignoring the band for years, but I’m glad that I did.

The super-creepy little ditty about a young child whose mother has been buried alive bounces between a manic, showtune-like verse and a bashing, screaming bridge that leads to an infectious chorus melody straight out of a horror movie – the good kind. It was love at first listen for me, and after running through the song a few times, I had to hear the rest of the record.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Review: Anti-Mortem at the Rail Club (July 25, 2021)

Under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn’t have made the four-plus hour drive to Forth Worth for less than a bucket-list concert. But these aren’t normal circumstances, are they?

Still, this one will certainly go down as a show I’ll never forget for a few reasons. The first is simply that it had been almost two years since I’d had the chance to abuse my eardrums with some live heavy metal. The second is that Anti-Mortem’s debut New Southern was one of my favorite albums of the last decade. It’s still in regular rotation nearly 10 years later, and until recently, I was bummed that I thought it would be the last music we ever heard from them. Even with those two factors, I still would have been hesitant to take this trip, but it was my son who spotted the show online and really wanted to go. That sealed the deal.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Review: Alestorm, "Curse of the Crystal Coconut"

To say that I anticipated this album more than any other in 2020 would be an understatement. Through five albums with Alestorm and three with Gloryhammer, Christopher Bowes has never disappointed me – and the band’s last outing, 2017’s No Grave but the Sea, was its best to date. I’ve sung the praises of Bowes at the top of my lungs, and his music has been a source of great joy for me for more than a decade. So it pains me to write this, but the magic just isn’t here on this one. It’s not a bad album by any means, but it’s just not on par with what they’ve done in the past.

Curse of the Crystal Coconut was always going to have a hard time following No Grave but the Sea. That release was near perfect. Bowes and crew were performing at the height of their piratical prowess on that one, and three years later, there’s not a song on it that gets the skip button. But the strong melodies and catchy hooks of No Grave are traded in here for a collection of middle-of-the-road songs that lack much of the charm I’ve come to expect.