For the last decade, all I’ve heard was criticism of the modern music scene. Whether it’s metal or rock, people looked at music with pessimism. While many people believe that good music is a thing of the past, and that innovation died with the rise of the 21st century, that is certainly not true. Some of the greatest most innovative music was released in 2018 and we will cover 5 Albums that we consider to be the most innovative Albums in 2018!
The albums are shared in no particular order.
Most Innovative Albums In 2018
Alkaloid – Liquid Anatomy
Christian Muenzner strikes again with a Prog Death Masterpiece, possibly the greatest. This album combines the composition and innovation of progressive music with the brutality/riffage of Technical Death Metal. Imagine YES meets Nile, yet with further depth to the music somehow. Alkaloid‘s Liquid Anatomy is a true masterpiece.
This is not only one of the greatest pieces of music this year, it has such great cinematic elements that it should just be labeled “Art”. While concept albums are perhaps a thing of the past, Ostura have somewhat refined the idea of a concept album and twisted it into a series of mood swings trapped within the different vocalists/characters. And although it may seem that the guitars try to overshadow the rest of the instruments in metal, in this album, the guitars actually served the composition and the rest of the “symphony”.
I don’t even know what the genre is anymore, it is so innovative and refreshing that I found myself checking if I was still listening to Polyphia. The fusion of Jazz, Djent, and Prog Rock all into one style, Polyphia possibly created a new genre of music. It will come as no surprise to me if a new wave is born as a result of such a sound. Mark my words, Polyphia have given birth to a new beast!
28 years ago, Jason Becker was diagnosed with ALS and was given 3-5 years to live.
Yet here it is, another masterpiece of a record. Jason composed the entire album using nothing but his eyes, yes he is that good. The album isn’t a rock album by convention, for its composition sets it apart as classical music. Featured on the record are some of the world’s greatest axemen such as Steve Vai, Marty Friedman, Jeff Loomis, Paul Gilbert, and countless more!
Last but not least is Revocation’s latest endeavor into the experimental realm. This is by no means your run of the mill tech death album. It is layers of Jazz and Fusion hidden under distortion and blast beats. The album is sheer proof of Revocation’s progress from a thrash metal band from Boston to a mature band with a unique sound.
These were our 5 most innovative albums in 2018. The selection wasn’t limited to Metal but also included more rock-based styles. We hope you liked our selection, and if you have any albums that you think should have made the list, kindly suggest them in the comments section below.
2019… give us your best shot.
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After the intensifying rush of Beirut Metal Fest back in September, the scene was once again gifted with a sick line up of a gig. And the best part about it? It was completely free!
Organized by the Skull Session team, Skull Session 2018 was held at The Palace, Hamra, on November 17, 2018. In case you don’t know who Skull Session is, they have been around for around 3 years, and have been working towards bettering our scene every year. They hosted the first free concert in 2016 (Read review here), which proved to be a very successful start. In 2017, they brought British thrashers Onslaught (read review here), and today they have again given our scene a free gig to enjoy.
As always, they never fail at giving us a great event, making sure that everything goes smoothly, and try to maximize comfort for both the crowd and the bands. Adapt’s guitarist, Mohammad Yatim, posted this on his Facebook page as proof of this “…not only was it professionally executed, the treatment was excellent. Not a single request was denied, and while we were merely an opening band you guys supported all of us since day one and worked hard to get all people to watch us.” So props to that!
First off, I would just like to take a moment to appreciate the location. A really big thumbs up to the venue. It was big and spacious, and there was pretty good ventilation. Smoking was allowed inside, and my eyes began to burn a little bit, but that’s normal. It was still more tolerable than any other venue I’ve been to which allowed smoking. The stage was big and could be seen clearly from anywhere you decided to stand, thanks to the venue’s stair structure. That could, however, also be considered a bad thing since people move a lot in Metal concerts and when they were moshing, it was a bit scary watching them because I was worried that someone would fall and hit their head on the edge of the stair or something. They did say moshing was not allowed, but hah, yeah right! I also found that the location of the bar was convenient, it was at the back of the venue, right as you walk in, with lots of space around it so it wasn’t crammed and you could enjoy the view of the stage from the back. Speaking about that…the sound wasn’t so good back there.
The sound was overall very good, and I think the sound was improving as the event went on, since there were constant tweakings here and there. However, I felt like it wasn’t uniform, as the back of the venue sounded too bassy and instruments were not as clear. But as you got closer to the stage, the sound got better, specially mid way, where the sound was best.
To accompany sound, lighting was cool. Nothing too fancy, but I did love the screens on the stage and the fire machines. Those were the highlight of my night. They made me laugh at times because every time a flame would pop up and a band member would be headbanging, it would look like their head was on fire.
The event started a bit late, and the doors opened around 7 p.m. , but people went in to find a screening of the first episode of Sam Dunn’s series Metal Evolution. By 7:30, it was time for the first band – Adapt. Adapt is a new band in the scene, and Skull Session was their first appearance! So, to introduce you to them they are Mario Ghadban (vocals), Mohamad Yatim (lead guitars), Jack Khamo (rhythm guitars), Sergio Ashjian (bass) and Samer Baghdo (dums). They played Gojira covers and they were fucking awesome! All the members are really talented musicians, and they were able to deliver a very solid show. I also liked that Mario had his own thing going on with the bloody makeup, many bands usually disregard stage props/outfits/image, but I think it is really important and I’m glad that they did take that into consideration. He also pulled out an axe when they performed their last Gojira cover of “The Axe”, which he used as a mic. I cannot judge them harshly, because as I mentioned it was their first appearance, and I am not sure if they have had previous experience individually on a stage before, but they should be more comfortable on the stage and try to move around some more. Their musicianship is excellent, so their comfort on stage would compliment that perfectly. I can see great things happening with this band, I can’t wait to hear some original material! Adapt, you kicked ass! Best of luck to your future.
DeathTone was the second band to perform. It’s really sad that they don’t have any recorded material out, but I guess that makes their shows special and something to look forward to. Most of the people in the crowd knew their songs from previous events, so they were singing along and moshing and having a pretty good time. Their performance was great, specially their front man, Anwar, who was engaging with the crowd all the time. His stage attitude is one of my personal favorites when it comes to local bands. The only thing that bugged me was that the left side of the stage was empty since the guitarist and bassist were standing on one side. I would have liked to see the other members move around a little more, but overall it was pretty neat. Record your shit, DeathTone! We can’t keep waiting for you to go live. *cries*
What was really cool was that the bands went off and on stage so smoothly, and didn’t make you wait for ages for the next band to start. That’s usually rare. Thumbs up to time management! I did step outside for a few minutes before the next band went on, and I couldn’t help but notice that there were a lot of new and fresh faces who came to see the show. That is always something positive and I hope that we keep seeing even more people attending metal concerts.
Nocturna were on next, and their symphonic melodies were a perfect refreshment. I think that it was my first time watching them, and I found them to be really good. The style is not my favorite, but as a band in their genre I think they are very good at what they do. Their stage presence is also very strong and crowd engaging. Something went wrong with the sound during their 3rd song I believe, and there was only one guitar that could be heard playing. The problem was solved in a few seconds, however, and it was great to see that the crowd reacted positively and actually cheered rather than complained. They also played Amon Amarth’s Twilight of the Thundergods which was bomb and got everyone excited!
AM I BLAAACKyum! What can I say? Like I don’t even need to review this band. Their drummer warms up to Meshuggah’s Bleed. The coolest thing though? They performed a new song called Rise of Canaan, which was really catchy and had some awesome riffs. But that’s not all. They surprised us with a little something called a video clip, which was being shot right there! I don’t think anyone didn’t get excited about that, and it’s such an awesome thing that they decided to do it in their home land. They also payed a tribute to our lost brothers and sisters in the metal community with their song We Who Are Dead. It was emotional looking at their photos on the screen, but it’s such a beautiful way of bringing them back, to a place they would have loved to be in, and I thank Blaakyum for that. Speaking of screens, they had snippets from parts of The Lord of the Rings movie, which I didn’t quite understand and thought that they were odd. And why the hell was there fire and smoke near Hassan (drummer)? I thought he was gonna suffocate. I asked him about that later, but he said “Nah, but I was worried about the electrical wires because they were so close”. Yeah, that shit is scary! Blaakyum are such an amazing band to watch live, their presence is so in-capturing and Bassem is such a funny man, always making jokes and making the crowd laugh. I’d watch them all night and never get fed up. So much love and respect to them!.
Finally, the last band of the evening was Phenomy! To be quite honest, I was really surprised by their performance. I heard their 2nd album T.W.O when it first got out and I thought it was a pretty good album, but lacked some elements that I usually look for. But watching them during Skull Session made me want to re-listen to the album, because they were pretty amazing. Oh, and let us not forget the awesome percussionists on the djembes who played during Threaten World Order, Fear Not, and Dance of the Wounded Souls! They added such an awesome dynamic to the whole performance, and it was something new for our local scene. And those breakdowns, boy did they break all hell loose. And I would have jumped into those intense moshpits if it wasn’t for my fear of the stairs (mentioned at the beginning of this review) haha. What I love about Phenomy on stage is that they always look like they’re having fun, like even when Sam is trying to look like a badass, he’ll pull a goofy face once in a while. I also have to point out that Sam’s performance as a front man has improved tremendously, and his voice has gotten so good! I remember watching him the first time with Phenomy in 2016 during the Christmas Mission at Quadrangle, where he was a guest vocalist, and was singing kind of a soft clean song. I did really like his voice back then, but felt like maybe he wasn’t very comfortable. There has a been a huge improvement on his part, and I commend him for his awesome advancement, and feel like he completes Phenomy. And as I mentioned before, bands who take into consideration their stage image always have the advantage. They had some pretty wicked stage props, the voodoo dolls hanging from the ceiling and their little Tiki mic stand with glowing eyes looked so cool! They were all hand made by Lourdes Mehanna, who is such a talented artist! They also had mini voodoo dolls that they threw out to the crowd to catch at the end of their show, which was super neat! Phenomy were my favorite band that night. Love love love.
Lastly, I would like to thank Skull Session for this beautiful experience and their hardworking efforts to keep this scene alive and strong. We are all grateful to have such people who care and support our local bands. Until next year!
Lebanon’s biggest Metal Concert in recent years is back with its third edition, Skull Session 2018 – The Underground. This year’s installment will feature five local bands. Four of which are well established bands and one fresh out of the oven as the opening act. Continue reading
Hard Rockers POINT OF VIEW are one of the most active and long lasting bands in Dubai. Formed in the year 2005 on the desert dunes of the UAE, POINT OF VIEW’s career was full of milestones. One particular milestone started in 2011 where the 5-piece ensemble built a strong relationship with Legendary Hard Rock icons Guns N’ Roses. Continue reading
KILMARA have released a single & music video for “Out From The Darkness“. The song is taken from their fourth album ‘Across the Realm of Time‘, out August 31, 2018 via ROAR Rock Of Angels Records. The album was produced, recorded, mixed, & mastered by Roland Grapow (Lords of Black, Masterplan, Squealer, Black Majesty, Eagleheart…). Artwork made by Didac Plà.
Guests on the album are Jordi Longán (ex-Ipsilon) keyboard solo on Principles of Hatred, Roland Grapow (ex-Helloween, Masterplan) start guitar solo on My Haven, background vocals on “Crawling From Darkness” and “Out From the Darkness”, Viktorie Surmøva (Surmatra, Rosa Nocturna, Victorius) vocals on I Shall Rise Again.
The powerful melodic metal band KILMARA present their new masterpiece “Across the Realm of Time“. After three critically acclaimed albums, the debut “Haunting Dreams”, the work that put them on the world map, “Don’t Fear the Wolf”, and their fantastic third album “Love Songs and Other Nightmares”, it was time for KILMARA to make their fourth album, the most important of their career. With the incorporation of the American singer Daniel Ponce and the virtuoso Argentinian guitarist Miguel Laise, KILMARA return to revolutionize their sound being now more melodic, faster, and powerful, but without losing the class and mastery that characterize them. “Across the Realm of Time” is the definitive work and consecration of KILMARA, a new step to conquer all lovers of quality metal.
KILMARA has created a collection of incredible songs that are inspired by melodic heavy metal and European progpower metal, always looking for a modern and elegant sound. KILMARA is today one of the most powerful and innovative bands to consider in the modern metal scene. With a past-present-future concept as a basis, this is a circular work in which to submerge and let yourself be carried away by the passion that exists in each topic from beginning to end.
In the midst of all the hype of the international bands set to tread Lebanon, it is important to remember to support the local metal scene. And as it usually goes, Rock InSight has organized yet another event dedicated to supporting home territory, That One Night IV.
While the original lineup consisted of Nocturna, Hatecrowned, Apathia, and FreeFall, Nocturna had to apologize due to a car collision that guitarist Michel Kammouj was a part of. But fortunately they were directly replaced by DeathTone.
Starting off the event were FreeFall, a unique band in the event due to their clean vocals and relatively newer type of metal. With covers ranging from Killswitch Engage’s rendition of Holy Diver to Bullet For My Valentine, Metallica and Ozzy. The vocals were very well executed and the performance was relatively tight other than a couple of mistakes here and there.
Up next were Tripoli-based Groove Metallers Apathia. Announcing this was their last performance together, the band shook the crowd with covers of Lamb Of God, Sepultura and many more. Apathia’s final show was emotional as they featured for the last time as well their first vocalist as a guest. Unfortunately, their show didn’t pass without problems, as the rhythm guitarist broke a string mid song and had to switch guitars. Nevertheless the moshing and headbanging didn’t stop!
As Black Metal band HateCrowned stepped the stage, it was clear that the mood got darker. Kicking off the show with Mayhem’s Freezing Moon, the performance was reasonably flawless with a couple of minor mistakes. The vocals were hauntingly screeching and instrumentally the sound was creepy. Everything you’d expect from a Black Metal band.
Ending the show were Melodic Death Metal band DeathTone. However, the vocalist and lead guitarist dislocated his shoulder and there was a bit of delay. But the delay was worth it as DeathTone put on the finest performance of the evening with everything from originals to Children Of Bodom Covers. The vocalist and main axeman was highly energetic and his shredding was spot on. This performance also included the first Wall Of Death of the night, consisting only of females due to the band’s request. Prominence guitarist Matt also participated on a couple of songs.
The entire show was hosted by the highly sarcastic Charbel Haddad of Eden. And many prizes were announced varying from Beirut Metal Fest tickets to free tattoos from Saturn Tattoo shop. The sound and lights were great with no major issues. The only problem with the venue (Metro Al-Madina) is the lack of space for moshpits, otherwise the bar prices aren’t too bad and the location is remotely accessible.
Review by our reporter: Mohammad Yatim
Photos by our photographer: Hashem Ismail
Saturday 21 July 2018
Doors open at 8:00 PM
Concert starts at 8:30 PM
Tickets: 20.000 L.L.
For Free Transportation from Tripoli kindly contact: Fawaz Tabbaa
FreeFall, a clean vocals uprising band, working their way to success in the Lebanese Metal Scene with Majd Al Roumi on vocals, Albert Obeid and Sarkis Tchalekian on guitars, Mark Ghosn on bass guitar, and Mark Bitar on drums. With many covers of the best metal songs, and with their new originals, FreeFall is a potentially powerful band that will hit the stage hard on 21st of July on That One Night IV.
Apathia is a groove/new wave of thrash metal band from Tripoli. Formed in 2011, the band covered Lamb of God, Sepultura, and Pantera.
DeathTone is a melodic death metal band. They’re well known for their ear-piercing melodies, fast-paced technical riffing, and the intensity they bring to the stage.
DeathTone are: Anwar Habib (Lead guitar/Lead vocals), Charbel Saade (Bass), and Joe Nassar (Drums).
Hatecrowned is a black metal band founded in 2011 and was based in Tripoli. The band independently released their first EP “Warpact-In Black” in 2013, and 2 years later in 2015, they released their first full-length album “Newborn Serpent” via Russian Label Sathanas Records. The band has been away from the stage due to shortage in reliable live members and now they are back with full force, evil, and hatred.
Sound engineer: Lara Nassar
Stage Manager: Lara Nassar
Stage technician: Hagop Jinbashian & Farah Khoder
Metro Al Madina
Hamra, Saroulla Building(-2)
Ticketing: +961-76309363Mondays to Saturdays: 10 to 9 pm, Sundays: 2 to 9 pm
During Hellfest, we had the chance to sit down and talk to Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal from Sons Of Apollo about the current tour, the new album, and so many other things, you can read the whole conversation below and view the photos from their performance.
Metal Bell: Thank you so much for this opportunity to chat during the first show in Europe, it was a great show, congratulations.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Thank you so much.
Metal Bell: So how does it feel to play your first show at Hellfest?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Oh it is a great way to start a European tour, that’s for sure, no better way to start so we are very happy, to start a tour in front of 30,000 people I guess it’s ok (laughs).
Metal Bell: Have you ever played Hellfest before?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Yeah six years ago with Guns, we headlined it, it is nice to be here doing it with people that are close to you, friends with whom we wrote together, we recorded together, and it’s great.
Metal Bell: Your tour started in February, how is the reception so far?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Oh it is wonderful, this is our 42nd show I believe, it’s been great. We started off on the cruise to the edge, and then from there we went to the east coast and did like a week and a half of shows. And then April and May we did a big US tour, actually, we did South America, Mexico, Canada, and all around in the US. Nothing beats getting on the road, that’s what every band used to do to become who they are, being together every night and do it.
Metal Bell: How do I put this question, tell me how did
you come up or assemble The Avengers of Prog?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: (laughs) That was very easy, we all knew each other and played together over the years.
Me and Billy were playing for years doing these jams with Ray Luzier from KORN and with Mike. Me, Mike, and Billy would be this core band and we’d play like big events in New York, with guys from Anthrax and Kiss joining us. I laid guest solos on Metal Allegiance’s first album with Mike and another album that Billy produced for Madame Mayhem, a great artist that I laid 4 guitar solos for her album.
Me, Mike, Derek, and Billy played together at Prog Nation 4 years ago, so we all have this background and we’ve done things together, so it was a no-brainer. When Mike wanted to do this band, he sent me an email, it was January 2017, he said: hey, how we always talked about putting a band together! Well me and Derek have this idea and we want to go into the studio in March and just write on the spot, record on the spot, we all play together and mark it, record it the way bands used to do it, the right way, it’s the real thing. And we’ve written spontaneously, we did that, we spent 10 days at the studio, we wrote, recorded and made the album in 10 days.
So it was me, Mike, and Derek in the studio, and then Billy cut off his Mr. Big’s tour halfway through and joined us, then we all just recorded. Jeff finished his touring, then he recorded his vocals at my studio where I laid my
guitar solos on everything, and that was it. And then we just waited for the right moment to go out and announce the band and put out the album. The label is wonderful (Inside Out), they’ve been a fantastic record label, so supportive and really a good team.
Metal Bell: So basically You, Mike, and Derek wrote the majority of the album?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Yeah it started with us and then Billy joined, then Jeff wrote everything you hear sung, that’s Jeff, he was really the key ingredient to turn it from a cold prog album to songs, things you can sing along you know, melodies that stick, that’s what Jeff does, he’s the guy.
Metal Bell: Today the band is less than a year old, considering all of your projects and involvements, will Sons Of Apollo be a long-term project?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: That’s the question everyone has, is this another quick project or is it a band that’s gonna be around.
Our intentions are for it to be a band that’s gonna be around, but at the same time, we can’t completely neglect everything else we have, we can’t do that. It is also not fair for the other people in our life that are waiting for us so we still have to do other things. This year we’ll do a lot of Sons Of Apollo, next year we’re gonna have to do some other things, but you know we are already writing for the second album, it really goes down to business, not amongst each other, but we can’t just afford to be in a start-up band, put everything else aside, and get this off the ground. We are not 20-year old kids in a van you know, so it’s tough, but we are giving it our best and our intentions are to be a band that puts out a lot of albums and keeps on going and going. So as long as everyone on our team does the right thing, you know we are depending on managers, the label and on each other, all it takes is one person to fuck it all up and then we are all screwed, it could be anybody that we are depending on if they don’t do the right thing.
What we want for this band is to continue and we are doing everything possible to keep that going even when odds are against us, we want to keep going, we do.
Metal Bell: We do hope so too, you know how prog fans are so attached.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Sure yeah, and we made a pact with them, we said this is a band, we are obligated to keep our words to them and to ourselves.
Metal Bell: The history between Derek, Mike, and Dream Theater, would you ever consider a tour with them?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: I would love to do it, I have such tremendous respect for Dream Theater as a band and individuals. I love John Petrucci, we’ve met before, we’ve chatted, he’s a wonderful guy. I also played on Jordan’s solo record in 2009, he was just incredible. That would be a wonderful thing.
And honestly I feel like there would be no Sons Of Apollo if there was no Dream Theater, you know you have to respect where this came from and everything that leads up to it, the influences and the history, and I do, I tremendously do.
It’d be wonderful to play together, I doubt it would ever happen, that would be really something interesting to the fans to see that. I would love it to be taken not as a competition in any way, we are all branches of Dream Theater’s tree and I’m grateful to them, I respect and admire them.
Metal Bell: Your second album is called Sophomore, is there already a date in mind?
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Well I mean Derek has written things, he sends me videos and things like hey check out this riff I came up with, and we’ve talked to the label about it but nothing is definite yet. Right now, it’s just let us finish up what we have here and once it’s all clear and done, everything goes ok, we will then think about the next step. Even though now is the time to think about it, we are just staying focused and looking ahead, so we are thinking about this leg of the tour, then the next leg, and the leg after that so there’s no definitive time. We’ve talked about November going into the studio but I know Mike has something to do in November so it might be January, but hopefully not too far too long.
Metal Bell: Well thank you very much for the chat, it’s been wonderful talking to you and the best of luck for the rest of the tour.
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal: Thank you very much. It was an absolute pleasure.
Metalocalypse creator Jon Schnepp is on life support following a “catastrophic stroke.” His partner, Holly, confirmed the situation in a post on Instagram. “While everyone is desperate for updates on his condition, we ask for your understanding on giving us the privacy we need over the next few days as we deal with the difficult concerning Jon’s care,” she wrote. “Please keep him in your prayers, and in your heart.” Continue reading