Sucker For Punishment

Sucker For Punishment: Housecleaning – I Mean, Gift Guide!

November 26, 2014 Adrien Begrand

As a Canadian I can’t help but marvel at American Thanksgiving. The sheer brilliance of it: make it a Thursday holiday, which’ll in turn compel people to take Friday off, and just like that you’ve got a four-day weekend. Unless Remembrance Day or the February statutory holiday falls on a Thursday, we don’t exactly have…

Sucker For Punishment: Grand and Morbid

November 19, 2014 Adrien Begrand

Anguish, Mountain (Dark Descent): What I get most out of the second full-length by the Swedish doom band, aside from the lovably goofy cover and the simple yet enjoyable music therein, is just how well vocalist J. Dee enunciates. It’s a lost art, especially in extreme metal, and even though the lyrics are your usual…

Sucker For Punishment: Game Over!

November 12, 2014 Adrien Begrand

Anatomy of Habit, Ciphers + Axioms (Relapse): Featuring members of Tortoise, Indian, and Bloodyminded, this Chicago noise rock supergroup has joined forces with producer Sanford Parker to create a spellbinding two-track, 40-minute opus that expertly blends dissonance and melody, aggression and introspection. The overall effect is not unlike that of Psalm Zero’s excellent debut from…

Sucker For Punishment: Blackest of Times

November 5, 2014 Adrien Begrand

The year is starting to wind down, but a smattering of noteworthy new metal releases are still trickling in over the next month, including a couple this week. Read on! Apostle of Solitude, Of Woe and Wounds (Cruz del Sur): More people should be getting excited for the first new Apostle of Solitude album since…

Sucker For Punishment: Blinded By Fandom

October 29, 2014 Adrien Begrand

As music writers learn when they hit their late 30s and head into their 40s, nostalgia is very powerful, to the point of being irresistible. Whenever a revered artist or band returns from a very long absence with a record that’s been hyped to the nines, you’re going to have certain critics whose attachment to…

Sucker For Punishment: A Septuagenarian Stew

October 22, 2014 Adrien Begrand

Metal scenesters have always had a problem with artists that “dabble” in metal. In a way, that’s easy to understand: heavy metal is an all-or-nothing style of music, one whose audience embraces as not only as a diversion but a lifestyle, and they fully expect the same kind of dedication to the music, art, and…

Sucker For Punishment: Fight Like It’s 1985

October 15, 2014 Adrien Begrand

After parting ways with vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza in 2004, Exodus took a huge risk in hiring the unknown Rob Dukes as the band’s new frontman, but it was a risk that paid off well. The confrontational, provocative Dukes injected the band with a level of manic energy not seen since the classic Paul Baloff…

Sucker For Punishment: Burning Like a Flame

October 8, 2014 Adrien Begrand

It’s got to be a surreal adjustment for certain popular metal bands who headline huge festivals in Europe and come over to North America to play venues the tiniest fraction of the size. For some bands, you can tell they’d rather be egotistically drinking in the adulation of 75,000 people in a field in Germany…

Sucker For Punishment: Needle Groper, Pinkeye Poker

October 1, 2014 Adrien Begrand

The situation surrounding the release of Witch Mountain’s latest album is not one you see very often. It’s one thing for a metal band to lose a singer – a real test of a metal band’s greatness is how difficult it is to replace the singer – but to see a band whose career was…

Sucker For Punishment: Is That All There Is?

September 24, 2014 Adrien Begrand

There were around 60 new metal releases last week, but this week we’re scraping the barrel. This silly industry is weird that way. In my digging I realized that the new Divider album is terrific, well worth investigating, but aside from that, it’s as bleak as it gets. Next week though; hoo, boy. Aside from…

Sucker For Punishment: Fire Up the Chain Saw!

September 17, 2014 Adrien Begrand

When a veteran band finds its second wind working with a certain producer, it’s totally understandable if they decide to stick to that same collaboration for an extended period. Cannibal Corpse went through it in the wake of the stunning success of 2006’s return-to-form Kill; realizing they had found a perfect partner in producer Erik…

Sucker For Punishment: Dig Your Fingers In

September 10, 2014 Adrien Begrand

For some crazy reason the Canadian province of Alberta is on one hell of a roll when it comes to metal these days. The underground extreme side is thriving, yielding death metalers Revenge, primitive thrashers Blackrat, grind aces Wake, and old-school speed metal upstarts Gatekrashör. The Weir delivers first-rate noise, Chron Goblin excel at stoner…

Sucker For Punishment: Full Ascent

September 3, 2014 Adrien Begrand

There are certain bands I’ve only seen in specific settings, and in some cases it’s something where I’d like it to stay that way. I’m sure some readers might relate. For instance, I’ve seen Sodom four times, all on a cruise ship, and it’s gotten to the point now where the notion of seeing the…

Sucker For Punishment: Eleventh Observation

August 27, 2014 Adrien Begrand

Last week I mentioned how writers like yours truly like to cart out the phrase “fully realized” upon hearing an album we deem to be a creative zenith, as if to immediately negate anything the artist might have in store in the future. Nope, sorry, this is as good as it will ever get. If…

Sucker For Punishment: Worlds Apart

August 20, 2014 Adrien Begrand

I was among those critics lavishing praise on Pallbearer’s debut album Sorrow & Extinction in February 2012, marveling at its surprisingly graceful take on doom metal. However, as the year went on, I felt I had to pull back from the praise of the critical hive mind, because the more I let that record settle,…

Sucker For Punishment: Tumbleweeds

August 13, 2014 Adrien Begrand

It’s another light week for new releases, and mercifully so for yours truly, who is currently recovering from a hot and loud weekend at Heavy Montreal, where the likes of Metallica, Slayer, Twisted Sister (who totally ruled), Voivod, Municipal Waste, Exodus, and dozens more bands played to around 40,000 people over two days. Fellow Decibel…

Sucker For Punishment: Godsmack Day Edition

August 6, 2014 Adrien Begrand

Happy Godsmack Day to all you Boston readers. You must be so darn proud. Anyway, on with the show: Alestorm, Sunset on the Golden Age (Napalm): What grades did the pirate get in school? HIGH SEAS!!! Belphegor, Conjuring the Dead (Nuclear Blast): A merciless return to simple, blasphemous black metal, the Austrian veterans keep it quick…

Sucker For Punishment: I Got Hurt Feelings

July 30, 2014 Adrien Begrand

Extreme metal bands withholding lyrics is commonplace, something we writers have learned to constantly deal with, to the point now that even though we’re never given the complete album experience, it’s pretty much taken for granted that we have to give readers an even and thorough assessment of a record even though we have literally…

Sucker For Punishment: Le Doom

July 23, 2014 Adrien Begrand

It’s a fairly eventful week, thanks in large part to Season of Mist and Prosthetic using this week as a dumping ground for several new releases. Considering next week is a bit on the slower side, wouldn’t it have been a better idea to spread things around more? Give an album a chance to stand…

Sucker For Punishment: Heavy Metal Breakdow-ow-own

July 16, 2014 Adrien Begrand

This was a week where the heavily hyped albums and hive mind faves were few and far between, forcing a metal critic to – gasp – do some actual digging. And there is indeed some interesting stuff out there, including work by some old German veterans I’d counted out long ago, a children’s deathcore band…

Sucker For Punishment: Buying Time is Here

July 9, 2014 Adrien Begrand

When it came to new metal music in the first half of 2014, personally I feel it was mediocre at best, with only one album, Triptykon’s Melana Chasmata, deserving of the adjective “exemplary” a rung or two higher than a small handful of releases that qualify as being “very good”. However, this year’s release schedule…

Sucker For Punishment: Hail Sateen

July 2, 2014 Adrien Begrand

With the way the metal scene leaps on to musical trends can be hilarious and frustrating, how labels will get a whiff of a fresh sound, whip themselves into a signing frenzy, beat it to death and beyond, and strip the music of all the charm it had in the first place. So it’s understandable…

Sucker For Punishment: Taking the High Road

June 25, 2014 Adrien Begrand

As a metal writer you often meet young bands that are so desperately hungry to get out on tour and live the road dog life in their van, going from city to city, crashing wherever they can. Just to live the live of a touring metal band and do what they love to do most…

Sucker For Punishment: Kill Everyone Now, Metaphorically

June 18, 2014 Adrien Begrand

Way out here in Western Canada KEN Mode is an institution, always good for a pair of shown in your city annually, having built up a loyal following over the past decade. It’s been rewarding to see the Matthewson brothers turn this little noise/metal hybrid into something Decibel readers have become fans of, indie scenesters…

Sucker For Punishment: Our Cup Runneth Over

June 11, 2014 Adrien Begrand

Review enough metal albums, and the process can be pretty simple, especially when it comes to those bands that stick to the specific characteristics of one particular subgenre. Each style has its own specific requirements and criteria, and as a critic, you’re basically asking yourself a) if it captures the essence of what this subgenre…

Sucker For Punishment: What is and What Should Always Be

June 4, 2014 Adrien Begrand

If you’re a metal fan, you have to know your history, know where the music you like comes from. It’s funny, though, when you find yourself digging through the lesser-knowns of “proto-metal” if you will, the Sir Lord Baltimores, the Buffaloes, the Pentagrams, you can lose sight of the forest for all those darn trees….

Sucker For Punishment: WeloveEyehategod

May 28, 2014 Adrien Begrand

I remember chatting on the phone with Mike Williams about Eyehategod’s follow-up to 2000’s Confederacy of Ruined Lives, how it was going slowly as he was dealing with his incarceration issues, his health, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the difficulty of getting all five members in the same room together. There was no firm…

Sucker For Punishment: When Less Equals Way More

May 21, 2014 Adrien Begrand

The Canadian/American collaboration between singer/bassist Elizabeth Blackwell and guitarist Mat Davis bowled me over three years ago with the shockingly good Blacklands album. It was a big improvement on their 2010 debut In Witch Order, a clever blend of NWOBHM influences and the classic doom sounds of Pentagram. Not unlike Witchfinder General, only highlighted by…

Sucker For Punishment: Snakes ‘N’ Balls

May 16, 2014 Adrien Begrand

Few bands, metal or otherwise, have built a reputation over the last 15 years as sterling as Agalloch has. Ever since the 2002 landmark The Mantle the Portland band has put a very unique spin on extreme metal, its blend of folk/pagan influences and atmospheric black metal yielding startlingly beautiful music that many didn’t dream…

Sucker For Punishment: Malaise Forever

May 7, 2014 Adrien Begrand

Any metal critic worth his or her salt listens to hundreds of new albums in any given year. In the past couple years I topped 600 releases heard, while this year’s deliberate paring back – to preserve my sanity – will still see me listen to at least 500. Looking back at the numbers at…