Two years ago this week, this column was published for the first time. Each week has had its own unique challenges, struggles, and triumphs. After two years of writing for you fine people, I feel nothing but pride in what we have accomplished together. Thank you all for your support, kindness, and continued readership as we move into the third year of New & Noteworthy!
Ironically, I’m going to start off year three by contradicting myself. Last week, when I stated the top albums for today’s list, I left off what is likely one of the most important albums to be released in the first half of 2012. The prog community would hunt me down and kill me if I left this album off of today’s list, so I’m glad I caught this particular mistake ahead of time. Now, let’s just cut to the chase – here is our two year anniversary list for your perusal!
Rush, Clockwork Angels (Roadrunner)
The first studio album since 2007’s Snakes & Arrows has been in the works for a long time. Rush first began work on the album just over two years ago, bringing on co-producer Nick Raskulinecz once again after his work on Snakes & Arrows. The album was delayed a couple of times by the Time Machine Tour, undoubtedly frustrating and infuriating fans that were hearing “Caravan” and “BU2B” time and again during the Time Machine Tour. The album is apparently not a concept album, which is not surprising but also not unexpected, as Rush have made a career of doing the unexpected. In a fun nod to the band’s past, the album artwork displays the time of 9:12, which, when translated into military time, reads 21:12. What a reminder of how far Rush has come in a career lasting nearly 45 years.
Miss May I, At Heart (Rise)
One of the youngest and fastest-rising metalcore bands of the past few years, Miss May I have taken the middle road among genre crazes during their rise to fame. Borrowing from but never fully committing to post-hardcore, deathcore, and djent, the Ohio-based group has found a great deal of success with their catchy melodies, harsh breakdowns, and positive-leaning lyrics. The band found lineup stability after 2010’s Monument, leading directly into At Heart. It’s going to be a busy summer for Miss May I, as they’ve signed on for the duration of Warped Tour. If they manage a good showing there – and they are likely to do just that, with their electric live show – then At Heart is likely to be a landmark release for the group.
Judas Priest, The Complete Albums Collection (Sony Legacy)
The “classic” Judas Priest lineup consists of vocalist Rob Halford, guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, and bassist Ian Hill, accompanied by various drummers along the way. That lineup was responsible for the vast majority of Judas Priest’s discography, and now, every single full-length album from that lineup is available in one giant box set. Comprising fourteen studio albums and three live albums, The Complete Albums Collection is much more than just a bunch of CD’s in a box. Each CD is held in a replica mini-LP sleeve that features the original album artwork, and the set comes with a 40-page booklet of liner notes, album credits, and pictures from the band’s inimitable history. Perhaps best of all, for audiophiles such as myself, both Rocka Rolla and Sad Wings of Destiny have been remastered into the best possible sound quality that can be managed. Truly, this box set is a must-own for any true Priest fan.
Also being released this week:
Madball, Rebellion EP (TheBlacknBluelabel)
Municipal Waste/Toxic Holocaust, Toxic Waste Split EP (N/A)
LATER THIS WEEK: New & Noteworthy takes a look at 2012 so far, as we approach the halfway point of the year. Join us for a retrospective on the biggest releases, biggest surprises, and biggest failures from the metal community thus far, along with a preview of what the second half of 2012 has to offer.
Next Week: A slew of enormous albums from well-known bands take the charts by storm. Come back for yet another essential week of new and exciting metal!