12 Days to Find a Home
Chris Weingarten once wrote of today's music critics having "fairly pronounced predispositions for anything that reminds us of the golden-era hip-hop and grunge-era alternative rock of our youth (probably why we've been championing Killer Mike and Japandroids, respectively)." I understand and play into that sentiment, as a fan of both of those artists, but metal is different to me. As much as I enjoy neo-thrash bands like Skeletonwitch, Warbringer and Municipal Waste, I never feel much desire to listen to them when I already have the Big Four. I prefer metal bands to honor their heroes with innovation rather than imitation--to my ears, the Dillinger Escape Plan pays more tribute to Metallica than Machine Head does.
Likewise, you can keep your DragonForce and your Nightwish as long as I get to keep Blind Guardian. For about 30 years, these German badasses have been updating the Priest and Maiden formulas with more speed, pomp and symphony, complete with the songs to make it work. Most of their songs seem to be inspired by Valhalla and/or Tolkien, but "Carry the Blessed Home" is a wonderful piece of bombast that turns Stephen King's Dark Tower series into Legend of Zelda music from Asgard. If that doesn't sound up your alley, there's always the Decemberists.