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“Higher. Further. Faster.” is the slogan that follows all of the marketing for Captain Marvel, but what it doesn’t tell you is that it’s going to squander all the potential it has going for it in a lowly, fractionally, and slowly moving manner, dragging you through a meandering second act that takes away the appeal of the character’s strengths. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is billed as one of – nay, the – the strongest Marvel characters put on screen, and while it’s clear that her power level rivals that of Thor and possibly the insidious Thanos, what she isn’t strong enough to overcome is clunky and uneven writing and bland acting that ultimately show blemishes on a franchise that has routinely... 

Oh boy, here we go.  

Flash back to Rockstar’s Mayhem Festival about ten years ago. Every year I would attend this all-day event and the tour would cycle in newer bands to open the show up. Sometimes you’d get lucky and some memorable acts would come out of this touring circuit, and yet some years you’d get a band that was only getting their time to shine for five minutes. If you were lucky they’d return another year or go on to do another tour with one of the headliners again during the fall, but that was a rare case. Such is the worry I had with Astronoid, as I’d feared that their first album would be the peak for the band. What with their dreamscape-style atmospheres and adrenaline-charged riffing, it was hopefully not going... 

It’s been a while since Ensiferum have graced North America with their presence. Three and a half years, to be exact. For any band that’s an eternity, but Ensiferum’s fans are patient and the waiting has finally paid off. The band have finally made their return in a time when most European bands find themselves forced to cancel tours and settle for their loss, and the fans came out in droves to see the band be welcomed back knowing that they have actually touched down in America. Their return to New York was nothing less than a triumphant return.  

With how 2018 was for rock music, it’s no wonder so many are spelling doomsday for the scene. There’s no mainstream attention or innovation for rock currently, and your atypical rock bands are just aping on what’s expected from the genre. Except Clutch. Let’s be real, love them or hate them, Clutch are doing the exact opposite of literally everyone else and doing well for themselves, too. The near-sold out show at Starland Ballroom can attest to that. I’ve  only been to one post-Christmas show, so I was honestly nervous that the turn out would have been a small one. Quite the opposite, as I’ve stated, as Clutch have a serious draw in New Jersey. Nor have I seen Clutch before, so... 

Death in a band is a struggle to overcome.For the UK’s Architects, the loss of guitarist and founding member Tom Searle was a massive blow to the group. Still, this band pushes on. It’s the opening track “Death is Not Defeat” on their eighth studio album, Holy Hell, that really sends the message that this is the start of the next – albeit unexpected – chapter in the band’s history. There’s a veil of anguish that’s hanging over Holy Hell and Architects have pulled out all stops in releasing what might be the most crucial album of their career.  

There’s no introduction necessary. At the Gates are a band that have stood the test of time. Still as relevant as they were in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the resurrection of this band has been nothing short of a phoenix rising from the ashes. The band’s latest two albums, At War With Reality and To Drink from the Night Itself, have been critically acclaimed. Is it appropriate for them to opening for Behemoth? With how they carry themselves live, you’d have sworn it was a co-headliner.  

If there’s one way to describe Daughters, it’s “enigmatic.” The grindcore-turned-noise rock outfit rears its head once again, coming back from the grave in full form. Granted, they reformed in 2013, but still… It’s only now that they’re putting an album out. If they weren’t doing anything then, this is the biggest deal for fans of the band since then. After their appearances with The Dillinger Escape Plan at the end of last year, Daughters went from being an underground act to… an… upper tier underground band? It’s hard to explain, but all of a sudden there were plenty of people who suddenly knew who this band was and were anxious for something new. Having not done anything but record since... 

It literally doesn’t stop. Death metal as far as the eye can see in 2018, and it just doesn’t get any better. I’ve rambled enough this year, but you get the idea that this is a great year for the definitive, extreme metal genre. To the point, here’s a few more of this year’s releases coming your way.  

30 years ago, I wasn’t even a thought to my parents. Having just celebrated my 24th birthday, age is creeping up on me and feeling very much apparent as I’m slowing falling into seniority. To think that for the entirety of my lifetime (and then some) that Paradise Lost has been hustling and exploring the sonic landscape of gothic, doom-laden metal, is astonishing. Yet here I find myself, camera in hand, as the band makes their first New York appearance in six years to celebrate the extensive history of their band.  

I guess I’ll eat my own words this time. I’m a vocal fan of Omnium Gatherum, one of Finland’s more seasoned and refined melodic death metal bands. Last I saw them, they were opening for Sonata Arctica in New Jersey, and flash forward nearly two years later and they’re opening up a hell of a line-up: Other than themselves, they shared a stage with Moonspell, Dark Tranquillity, and Amorphis. They worked perfectly with Sonata Arctica last time, and the likes of Omnium being paired up with Dark Tranquillity isn’t unheard of. But Moonspell and Amorphis? A dream line-up if I’ve ever seen it.  

A horror cinematic universe is not unheard of, but in this day and age of comic book movies it seems like a fresh initiative among all the superhero attempts we’re seeing every few months. With 2013’s The Conjuring, the world shook in fear as the Warrens took down a demon terrorizing a family, but spawning a sequel and two spin-offs under the Annabelle line, Warner Bros. decided to venture out and greenlight more films to expand upon other demons in the universe. Enter Valak, the Nun from The Conjuring 2, in its own spin-off. An antagonizing figure that struck fear into many, no doubt a movie focusing exclusively on the Nun as an antagonist would be a safe bet at the box office.  

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