Weeks like this one are what make this column a joy for me to write. When there are so many high-quality albums debuting in a single week, I often don’t know where to begin, because I’m so excited about it all. I certainly hope you all enjoy this list as much I do!
Down, Down IV – Part II (Down)
Well, apparently I lied back in 2012, when I said that Parts 2 through 4 of Down’s fourth album would all be released in 2013. At least now Part 2 is done, and we will let you know as soon as word comes out about Parts 3 and 4. This EP will be the first recorded material from Down to not feature Kirk Windstein, who left the band last year to focus completely on Crowbar. If you want to hear what Down sounds like without Windstein, you can listen to the full stream of Part 2 right here.
Agalloch, The Serpent & The Sphere (Profound Lore)
It’s hard to argue with the success of a band like Agalloch. On the one hand, both their previous album Marrow of the Spirit, and this one have been streamed by NPR, which is about as close to the mainstream as you can get without being on a top 40 station. On the other hand, all of Agalloch’s albums since 2006’s Ashes Against the Grain have appeared on almost every Top 10 list that I’ve seen for the years of their release. I guess that coverage from NPR doesn’t exclude a band from being called “metal” anymore, which I take as a welcome sign of evolution in the genre.
Killer Be Killed, Killer Be Killed (Nuclear Blast)
How does a lineup like this one even get assembled? I mean, I’ve used the term “supergroup” many times before in situations like this, but I don’t think that term properly describes Killer Be Killed. The lineup consists of Troy Sanders (Mastodon), Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan), Dave Elitch (ex-The Mars Volta), and Max Cavalera (Soulfly/Cavalera Conspiracy/ex-Sepultura). The combined resume of these four performers would include some of the greatest material that has ever been released in the metal realm, and it defies the imagination to think of all four of them playing together. If you want to hear how it sounds when it all came together, check out the album stream that is live now.
Prong, Ruining Lives (Steamhammer/SPV)
Prong has been a powerful force in the metal scene for almost three decades now. 2012’s Carved Into Stone was one of the best albums in the band’s long and storied career, and Tommy Victor has delivered more of the same high-quality material on Ruining Lives. You can listen to the whole album on Spotify now, and you can also read our interview with Victor right here for insight into both this latest album and the band’s history.
Mushroomhead, The Righteous & the Butterfly (Megaforce)
Mushroomhead is eight albums into their career, as of today. I never would have guessed that. Among the nu-metal bands that rose to prominence during the late ’90s, only Korn has released more material than Mushroomhead, and Mushroomhead has certainly been the most consistent in their style. This album will be a landmark for the group, though, as it will be their first to feature three main vocalists. You can catch Mushroomhead on this summer’s Mayhem Festival to see the three-singer performance on stage, as well.
Sworn Enemy, Living on Borrowed Time (Rock Ridge)
Sworn Enemy has changed a lot since the last time we saw them, 2009’s Total World Domination. Aside from Sal Lococo, the band’s lineup is totally different. However, the ethos of the band is still the same, and fully representative of the New York hardcore scene that they have been part of for their entire career. Loudwire has the entire album available to stream for your listening pleasure, and if you’re going to the Black n’ Blue Bowl this weekend, you’ll get to see Sworn Enemy live.
Bane, Don’t Wait Up (Equal Vision)
Bane’s last release was 2005’s The Note, an excellent album that cemented the Massachusetts hardcore band onto the scene. However, it’s all coming to an end, as Don’t Wait Up has been declared as Bane’s final album. While the band still intends to play many shows before calling it quits for good, it’s still sad to see such a talented group’s career end. You can stream the whole album right now over at Alternative Press.
Hour of Penance, Regicide (Prosthetic)
The Italian metal scene has always been a bit underrated, escaping the radars of many people that pay more attention to the output from Germany and the Scandanavian region. Hour of Penance is one of many reasons why Italy deserves the metal world’s attention. This technical death metal quartet has been active since 1999, and Regicide is their sixth album. Check them out if you like Origin, Decrepit Birth, or their countrymen Fleshgod Apocalypse.
Structures, Life Through a Window (Sumerian)
Canadian progressive group Structures is young and on the rise, with a fair amount of djent in their guitars and a lot of passion in their live show. The band was a hit during their run on last summer’s version of The All Stars Tour, and they’re poised to make some more big moves after the release of their sophomore LP. Life Through a Window is recommended if you like Volumes, Stray from the Path, Veil of Maya, or other modern progressive metal bands that are on the same rise.
Avatar, Hail the Apocalypse (eOne)
This Swedish band has dabbled in the melodic death metal that their country is known for, but recently they’ve become very successful playing hard rock and alternative metal. Touring with the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, Lacuna Coil, and Sevendust in just the past year, Avatar is quickly gaining a foothold on the international scene. Hail the Apocalypse is the group’s fifth full-length album.
Vallenfyre, Splinters (Century Media)
A supergroup formed in 2010, Vallenfyre features Paradise Lost guitarist Gregor Mackintosh and drumming legend Adrian Erlandsson in its lineup, among others. Mackintosh created the group after the death of his father in December 2009 due to lung cancer. Splinters is the sophomore effort from the group, and is recommended for fans of Demonical, Morbus Chron, and Vorum.
Glamour of the Kill, Savages (eOne)
Since releasing their debut full-length The Summoning back in 2011, Glamour of the Kill has managed a lot of high-profile touring. Fortunately, the UK-based post-hardcore group has been around since 2007, and they’re no strangers to the road lifestyle. Savages expands on the style that the group has already displayed on their debut and the preceding EP’s, which should make it a hit with fans of Escape the Fate, Blessthefall, and I See Stars.
Sylar, To Whom it May Concern (Razor & Tie)
This Queens-based five-piece has a lot of raw talent and a diverse skill set, allowing them to play with everyone from Born of Osiris to A Skylit Drive, along with anything in between. Recorded with producer Caleb Shomo of Beartooth, Sylar is on the cusp of a breakthrough in their scene. Recommended if you like Fit for a King or Buried in Verona.
Thine, The Dead City Blueprint (Peaceville)
Thine has been around for close to twenty years now, but they’ve been relatively obscured in their scene by heavyweights like Anathema and My Dying Bride. However, Thine is now ready to take it up a notch and deliver some powerful music that will make it impossible to ignore them any more. You can stream The Dead City Blueprint over at the A.V. Club for a taste of what’s in store.
The Beards, The Beard Album (N/A)
Few things are more metal than having a great, hulking beard hanging off your chin. And although you may not have known it before, now you know – there is a band that wants to celebrate just that thing. The Beards are an Australian group that has done one thing over the course of their career – praise and glorify the wonders of the beard. If you want to experience the beard love for yourself, go check out the album stream at this location.
Next Week: A DVD from America’s king of shock-horror leads off the list. Come see who it is next time on New & Noteworthy!