The below is a guest review by Stryfe, who is a passionate fan of power metal and kindly offers his thoughts on the latest from Sabaton below. His first of hopefully many more to come! Enjoy!

Too Much of a Good Thing is Actually Bad

In the summer of 2012, Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton released their sixth studio album – Carolus Rex, and the listening metal world collectively took notice in awe as this group of head bangers proved that not only could they write one hell of a concept album, but they could do so while at the same time evolve and ripen their unique sound. Did I mention the group also had to replace 3/5 of their lineup in the middle of recording, and also released the record with both English and Swedish vocals? The improvements noted in Carouls Rex were a massive improvement over their 2010 release, Coat of Arms, which, while having several memorable moments, felt like a bland rehash of the band’s earlier work. Now, the bombastic ensemble returns and presents the heavy metal world with their seventh release, Heroes. Unfortunately, the new release falls short in areas similar to Coat of Arms, and leaves the listener yearning for something more.

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Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Blood Lust (2012)

Of all the bands I saw at MDF 2014, this was the one that was the biggest surprise, in a good way. While other acts tried their damnedest to bludgeon you to death with heaviness and speed, here was Uncle Acid, whose music is the music of grainy horror movies, foggy graveyards, and dark, smoky pubs.

Their restrained, loose, medium approach to doom metal was a distinct break fro the rest of the festival, the kind of band our parents would have gone to see. And it wasn’t just because they use vintage equipment.

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In these still-early days of My Dying Bride’s career, the term “gothic doom metal” was becoming a more apt description of the band. Not everyone could pull off heavy metal music with piano and violin.

Frontman Aaron Stainthorpe’s deep study of the British Romantic poets as well as his favorite bands like changed his life, granting him the ability to paint an atmosphere of despondency and gloom better than most.

My Dying Bride is a prolific group, and discovering where to start in their extensive catalog is a challenge. But you can’t go wrong with their 3rd studio effort here, Angel and the Dark River.

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Monsieur Luc Lemay of Gorguts is a scholarly-looking Quebecois gentleman who sports a magnificent beard and glasses.

“We all have a man crush on him, he’s the nicest guy ever,” a Season of Mist record salesman told me at MDF 2014.

Not a description you’d expect for a death metal star, who had already steered his band through a progression from a brutal, straightforward death metal act in the early 90s to an even more technically accomplished group over the next 10 years. After driving that, what’s next?

Go on hiatus and come back with Colored Sands.

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I have a confession to make…I was not always a fan of doom metal. Before receiving this album as a Christmas gift, I was uninterested in doom metal, believing it to be just a rehash of things that Black Sabbath and Pentagram had already done.

You can guess what my attitude was after my first listen to “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus.”

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When I drove into the parking area around 12:30pm before the MDF festivities, I noticed a woman (who looked Vietnamese to me) in a maroon velvet dress making her way toward Edison Lot. I assumed she was just a fan who got dressed up for her favorite band.

Nope. She ran the Thai food vendor for the entire day, flipping dozens of skewered chicken slices over a huge open grill and dishing out huge portions of pad thai.

That was my afternoon snack.

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The single biggest factor for my decision to visit Baltimore was Candlemass.

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Every Memorial Day weekend for four sweat-drenched days, metalheads take over the city of Baltimore.

Every Baltimore location I had visited leading up to the festival had at least one or two (frequently many more) heavy metal fans present with their leather, band shirts and long hair.

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