DEMONSPELLS SONGS TO WATCH EXTREME FALL SPECIAL Written October 4-5, 2001 Greetings, devoted readers! This installment should make up for everyone who was disappointed with the near absence of extreme metal in the two editions I have written since the still all-encompassing disaster in NYC living in the shadow of ground zero definitely causes you to reevaluate your priorities. But as always, I intend to cover a strong diversity of artists, and this week I hope to begin a recurring feature in this column: The Progressive News, in which I will report on recent developments in metal that may have slipped under the radar. And now, the songs Agalloch Kneel To The Cross: The innovative melodic death act whose 1998 debut Pale Folklore attracted frequent Opeth comparisons. This song is from a recent EP of both old and new material called Of Stone, Wind, and Pillor, and expands upon the debut by including some clean vocals. Available at www.theendrecords.com Arena The Butterfly Man, Ghost In The Firewall: Progressive rock act whose songs are frequently dramatic, in large part due to Rob Sowdens expressive vocals and great keyboards from Clive Nolan, who displays his knowledge of his instrument on the latter track. The former is a haunting nine-minute composition Bruce Dickinson Silver Wings, Acoustic Song: After going through numerous changes in conception, the long-anticipated solo compilation has received great press from most. The former, available at www.bwbk.com, is the better of the two songs written for it, having an Aces High-like feel that Bruce admits is deliberate! The latter is much more thoughtful than its generic title hints at, and has some great lyrics. Dysrhythmia Orbiting, Circulatory System Overload: Instrumental prog act discovered through the Progradio.net stations. Again, I dont know much about them, but they do have an album called No Interference. Both songs are very good for their genre and feature well-executed arrangements. Emperor The Tongue Of Fire, In The Wordless Chamber: This falls most anticipated extreme metal release Prometheus: Discipline Of Fire is finally upon us, now available at The End. Both of these songs are among their best, the latter having an effective symphonic arrangement and the former having some great riffs, instrumental breaks, and a multifaceted vocal performance from Ihsahn. Gamma Ray The Heart Of The Unicorn, Lake Of Tears: No World Order has received mixed advance reviews, some are already complaining of Kais apparent regression. The album does have some great songs, but also its mistakes. The former is an especially obvious Painkiller ripoff. The latter ballad does have some good acoustic work and a decent chorus, but lacks the spirit of earlier albums. Immortal Solarfall, The Darkness That Embraces Me: Well-known black metal act who has advanced beyond the unrelenting and unlistenable approach of earlier releases in recent years but their famously bad English hasnt improved! Both of these songs feature some great riffs, especially the latter song from Damned In Black. Maudlin Of The Well They Arent All Beautiful, Bizarre Flowers/A Violent Mist: Avant-garde act best described as progressive doom metal, their simultaneous releases Bath and Leaving Your Body Map are among the years most innovative. The former song is among the more aggressive (as the sarcastic title indicates), while the nine-minute plus latter song is a great example of how they incorporate prog influences within a doom context, featuring an eerie midsection and a great instrumental break. Morgana Lefay Witches Garden, Alley Of Oaks: Dark-edged power metal act who disbanded last year as a result of continuing problems with alcohol and their former label. The Secret Doctrine and Maleficium are usually considered the best of the albums they left behind. The former song has a great heavy riff, while the latter is among their many great slower tracks. Nightingale Deep Inside Of Nowhere, Alive Again: Aside from Edge Of Sanity, the best known project from the hyper-prolific Dan Swano, who has released albums under over a dozen names. Both of these songs hail from The Closing Chronicles, the latter being a highly emotional track while the three-part latter composition has a great extended instrumental section. Pain Of Salvation Black Hills, Inside Out: Last years The Perfect Element did much to increase exposure for this highly innovative and extremely dramatic prog act. These songs are from the earlier and equally impressive Concrete Lake (my personal favorite), the former having a great extended instrumental section while the latter has a heavy lead riff and a memorable acoustic solo. New album Remedy Lane expected early next year. Paynes Gray The Duelists, Crystal Palace: Power/prog act I again dont know anything about except that they did a concept album about H.P. Lovecraft, which is definitely worth my attention! Both of these songs have some great arrangements. The former ten-minute track is not a cover of the underrated Maiden song Queensryche Last Time In Paris, From The Darkside: A pair of rarities from the band that nearly single handedly invented and popularized progressive metal. The latter track is from the RFO sessions and would have easily fit on that great enigmatic album. Im not sure of the formers origin, but it sounds more recent and has a great chorus. (it's a B-side from Empire. - ed.) Soilwork Machine Gun Majesty, Spirit Of The Future Sun: Melodic death act that has received many favorable reviews, although I dont care for much of their material. These songs from The Chainheart Machine are an exception however, featuring much sharper riffs and solos than most of the overrated Predators Portrait. Thales Solace, Pellucid Lake: Unsigned act discovered through this pages Opeth forum and unsigned spotlight page. Although both of these songs are instrumentals and sound like Opeth missing their vocal tracks, they are not entirely indicative of their direction and the band is currently seeking a vocalist. I eagerly await to hear the result. Both songs available at www.mp3.com Therion Ginnungagap Prologue, Jotunheim: The pioneering symphonic metal act returns this month with Secret Of The Runes, a concept album based on Norse mythology. Despite the title, the former track is a complete song at six minutes, featuring the great arrangements we have come to expect from Christoffer Jonsson. The former track is indicative of the heavier sound said to be on the album. Under The Sun Gardens Of Autumn, The Time Being: Progressive metal act discovered through the Progradio.net stations. The latter song is a ten-minute epic featuring several well-executed time changes and instrumental sections, while the latter has a powerful main riff and arresting vocals. Unholy Daybreak, Of Tragedy: One of several doom acts who uses counterpoint between ethereal female and guttural male vocals, at least on the few songs that I have heard. The former track is a lengthy composition relying on a repetitive but effective main riff. Fans of bands like Tristania should be interested. THE PROGRESSIVE NEWS, vol. 2 (the first was last weeks live album report): The big story has to be the postponement of the Judas Priest (Dumbolition is going over real well!)/Anthrax/Iced Earth tour. This has been one of the many consequences being felt in the metal community owing to the scum of the earth, Osama Bin Laden. Iced Earth has made the most out of the situation by joining the Megadeth tour (leaving one sinking ship for another?), unfortunately not in my area, and embarking on a short headlining tour speaking of Iced Earth, congratulations to Century Media, who in their ten years has grown from a tiny Florida label (IE being one of their first signings) into metals industry leader and has given us many of the best releases of the 90s. Lets hope they can survive, given that Iced Earth is leaving and there are rumours that Nevermore may soon follow Im not one to criticize changes in lineups and/or artistic direction before they happen, but some are occasionally so offensive to the listener that all hope disappears with the very suggestion. One would be the rumoured collaboration between a band that shall remain nameless (lets just say they have a Danish drummer) and a rapper. On a much smaller level of exposure, the Italian power/prog act Secret Sphere recently announced they were going to pursue a more glammy direction, thereby going from an extremely promising band (this years A Time Never Come is awesome) to a joke in waiting in less than a year, Ive also heard that Labyrinth might be breaking up, not good for Italian metals already damaged reputation. But then there are lineup announcements that cause enormous anticipation and awe in fans from the moment they learn of them. A recent example of this would be Arjen Lucassens latest project, which he describes as a heavy release (though not under the Ayreon name) featuring four vocalists: Russell Allen, Ayreon/Threshold veteran Damian Wilson, After Forevers Floor Jansen, and most intriguing of all the ubiquitous cult figure Dan Swano, in a meeting of two great progressive thinkers and multi-instrumentalists. Lastly, I have some bad news regarding what was until now one of my sources. The well-known metal mp3 page www.bestofmetal.net, a large and comprehensive database, a link to which frequently appeared in past installments, was shut down by industry associates this week it will definitely be missed.