The title of this week’s column is only meant to be slightly referential to the winter weather that draws ever closer to us here at Metal Insider HQ. In actuality, its real significance is as a metaphor to the release calendar, which is in its final winding down stages of the year. One of the best autumn release periods that I’ve ever seen has come and gone, and as we begin to compile our Top 10 lists for an incredible year, the last few albums come trickling in for holiday shoppers. The beginning of the end of the 2016 release calendar awaits you below.
Trivium, Ember to Inferno: Ab Initio (Cooking Vinyl)
Surprisingly enough, Trivium did not just come into being as a juggernaut of the American metal scene. Their humble beginnings came in the form of a twelve-song album called Ember to Inferno, which was released by Lifeforce Records in the fall of 2003, when frontman Matt Heafy was just 17 years old. The band has decided to re-release this hard-to-find album for fans wanting to know their origins, but the most devoted Trivium lovers will want the Ab Initio version of this release. The Ab Initio bonus disc contains all the songs recorded for the band’s first three demos – Ruber, Caeruleus, and Flavus.
Ranger, Speed & Violence (Spinefarm)
Finnish speed metal outfit Ranger has been around since 2009, but they really broke out to the public eye with last year’s Where Evil Dwells. The group’s ability to channel the best parts of the ’80s while not sounding even the least bit cheesy is honestly quite wonderful, and it helped to make their Spinefarm debut a success outside of their native home. Less than a year later, Ranger is back at it again, and they haven’t lost any of their potency along the way. Check out the full album stream over at Noisey and hear it for yourself.
Crystal Lake, True North (Artery)
Japan’s metal scene has always been one of the most diverse in the world from a genre perspective, with everything from pop-infused alternative metal (Babymetal) to avant-garde black metal (Sigh) being at the forefront. As such, it makes sense for metalcore group Crystal Lake to now be in the spotlight of the Japanese scene, even as metalcore is in its death throes elsewhere in the world. Crystal Lake played at Knotfest Japan in 2014, and has toured with the likes of The Devil Wears Prada, We Came as Romans, and The Ghost Inside in recent years. True North is the group’s fourth album.
Hollow Earth, Dead Planet (Good Fight)
It’s difficult to describe Hollow Earth using any one adjective, but “tribal” seems to be one that comes up a lot. I’m not exactly sure what is meant by that, but what I do know is that Hollow Earth is heavy as all get-out. Effortlessly managing the intricacy and intensity of a veteran act like High on Fire is no small feat, but Hollow Earth have managed it on Dead Planet, and it’s quite a spectacle to listen to. I expect this album will sneak into a lot of Top 10 lists as a last-minute addition because of the enrapturing nature of tracks like “Of Steel and Stone”. Check out Metal Injection’s stream of the full album to be ensnared as well.