Starting a solo project is difficult work for all but the most veteran musicians (and those that can’t find a band, but that’s another story). Making time for the solo project, while ensuring that the main band doesn’t fall out of focus, is quite the balancing act. There is also the complication of finding musicians to join your solo act purely as backup (and only when absolutely needed). Writing all of your music on your own is no easy task either (unless you’re used to such an endeavor). Bearing all of that in mind, it’s usually very easy to tell which musicians are capable of taking on a solo project and which ones are not.
Quite a few solo projects have been sighted on New & Noteworthy this year, although very few have led off the weekly list. This week is different, though, as we start with not just one, but TWO solo projects at the top of the group. These two endeavors are very much the opposites of each other. One is a decade-old group, led by a hardened veteran of the metal world with two other bands occupying much of his time. The other is a brand-new, but long-awaited endeavor from an all-star journeyman of modern metal. One thing is certain, though – the new albums from both of these solo projects are sure to galvanize the hearts and minds of their respective fans.
Jorn, Live in Black (Frontiers)
Norwegian vocalist Jørn Lande could have taken 2011 as a vacation year, given how busy he was last year. The beginning of the year was devoted to Masterplan’s new album Time to be Kind, the middle spent on the solo tribute album Dio, and the end focused on the new Allen/Lande album The Showdown. After all that, one could say that he deserved a break. But Lande has never been one to rest on his laurels. Live in Black is a 2CD/1DVD set that recounts Jorn’s performance at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2010, where the group performed an 84-minute set to 20,000 wild power metal fans. Featuring songs from all across Jorn’s existence and some outstanding between-songs soloing, Live in Black captures a timeless moment for one of power metal’s greatest performers.
ICS Vortex, Storm Seeker (Century Media)
Another of Norway’s most high-profile metal figures, ICS Vortex (real name: Simen Hestnæs) dwells in the darker side of metal, far from the power metal and symphonic metal realms of Jørn Lande. Be it his twenty-year-old doom metal band Lamented Souls, his tenure as the lead singer of prog metallers Arcturus, his prominence with black metal titans Dimmu Borgir, or his explosive beginning and recent resurgence with extreme metal icons Borknagar, Vortex is as prolific as they come in the dark art of heavy metal. Vortex’s solo debut is considerably lighter than his standard fare, as Storm Seeker concentrates more on progressive rock than any metal genres. All the same, though, Vortex can be proud about his current state in the metal world, with his solo debut finally appearing and his re-entry into Borknagar as their full-time bassist and co-lead vocalist.
Black Tide, Post Mortem (Geffen)
The young post-hardcore group showed a clear affinity for thrash on their 2007 debut, Light from Above. The group picked up a considerable following while crossing the world on numerous tours with some of the biggest names in metal. Black Tide benefits from having a fairly wide-spanning sound that can reach fans of numerous bands, ranging from Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet for My Valentine; to All That Remains and Trivium; to Escape the Fate and A Day to Remember. Post Mortem benefits immediately in the publicity area from the band’s spot on the Uproar Festival, which starts this week and crosses North America until mid-October. After such a long break from the road, though, Black Tide had better be ready for the intensity of a national arena tour if they want Post Mortem to exceed Light from Above.
Indestructible Noise Command, Heaven Sent…Hellbound (Candlelight)
One of the many casualties of grunge, I.N.C. hung up their guitars in 1990 despite a very promising debut. Their first two albums, Razorback and The Visitor, were very strong thrash records with enough clout to land the group touring spots with Megadeth, King Diamond, Exodus, and many others. But like so many of their brethren, the turn of the decade spelled doom for I.N.C. Luckily, the Connecticut-based group decided to mount a comeback last year, spurred on by a creative surge from founding guitarist Erik Barath. Expanding their lineup to a five-piece and signing on with Candlelight Records, I.N.C. is proving the popular ’80s adage, that “thrash never dies”.
Also being released this week:
Ghost Brigade, Until Fear No Longer Defines Us (Season of Mist)
Krum Bums, Cut the Noose (People Like You/Century Media)
Bloodthrone, Minushuman (Season of Mist)
Leprous, Bilateral (InsideOut)
Next Week: We close out this outstanding month of metal with a set of fantastic underground releases that you’ll have to hear to believe. Get ready for the grand finale of August, readers!