This has been quite a year for progressive metal, and it continues right into the halfway point of 2012. However, looking at how the prog scene over the past few years, the shifts that have occurred will likely mystify metal historians for many years to come. The most unexpected of these changes is the concentration of bands on a particular label in recent times. Roadrunner Records, starting out in the US by helping more than half of the great American death metal bands in the late ’80s become famous, has now become the home for a great number of prominent progressive metal bands from all across the spectrum. Boasting a roster that includes Rush, Dream Theater, Opeth, Porcupine Tree, and Storm Corrosion, Roadrunner can now be considered the destination for progressive metal, much in the same way that they used to be the mecca of death metal.
Today, Roadrunner’s latest prog acquisition releases their new album after four years away from the studio. Now essentially the biggest metal band from France, Gojira has a worldwide following and the universal respect of their colleagues that few bands can attain and every band craves. Their newest album is a powerhouse release that will leave everyone just as impressed as their previous albums did, if not more so. And even though it likely won’t be the highest-selling rock album this week (as you’ll gather later down the list), it’s still surely going to be the most highly-enjoyed metal release that we get this week. Read on and see what’s in store!
Gojira, L’Enfant Sauvage (Roadrunner)
Translated to mean “The Wild Child”, L’Enfant Sauvage is already receiving incredible reviews. In the Headbanger’s Brawl review of 2012 so far that we did a week and a half ago, Kodi described this album as “career-defining” for Gojira, and I’m inclined to agree. Joe Duplantier says that he was inspired a reflection on what freedom is, and that the album reflects many of these questions – but not any answers. He also says that the band’s sound on this album is “more mature”, but then elaborates to say that there is “more intensity and simplicity at the same time”. I’m not sure what exactly that means, but I know this – after The Way of All Flesh, I expected that Gojira had reached the height of intensity, with tracks like “Adoration for None” and “Vacuity” scorching my ears. I was dead wrong. This album is absolutely magnificent and will defy any limits you may think that Gojira has.
Memphis May Fire, Challenger (Rise)
Taking cues from bands like Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, He is Legend, and The Showdown, Memphis May Fire plays the always-difficult style of Southern-influenced metalcore with flare and intensity that few young bands can match. I was highly impressed with 2009’s Sleepwalking, and their continual development over the past couple of years is impressive, to say the least. Their only problem has been maintaining a stable line-up, which they can hopefully begin to do starting now. That said, Challenger is another solid offering from a young band with lots of potential. In a year already filled with younger bands showing just how talented they truly are, Memphis May Fire might not stand out all that much, but when you factor in how hard it is to play in their particular genre, it is clear that they deserve all the credit in the world for their success. If you haven’t heard these kids and enjoy cross-genre blending, then Challenger should be the record you take a chance on this week.
Linkin Park, Living Things (Warner Bros.)
Many of you are probably wondering why I’m mentioning this album at all, given that this is a metal site and it’s been close to a decade since Linkin Park played anything even close to metal. Well, there are three reasons that I’ve included it here. First, like it or not, this album will undeniably be one of the top five albums sold this week, if not #1, and any rock album that sells that well is worth mentioning. Second, my path to becoming a metalhead started with nu-metal bands like Linkin Park, progressing to heavier alt-metal bands like Sevendust and Nonpoint, before finally landing in full-fledged metal such as In Flames, Soilwork, Killswitch Engage, and others. There are many other metal fans who walked a similar road, and I’ve found that it’s not a bad thing to be reminded of your roots every once in a while. Finally, Linkin Park has shown yet again that they desire to be more well-rounded, mature, and forward-thinking musicians on this album, much as they did on A Thousand Suns. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, Linkin Park is showing a progressive style in their music, and that means they deserve a spot on our list that’s all about progression and outside-the-box musical thinking.
Also being released this week:
Old Man Gloom, No (Hydra Head)
The Night Flight Orchestra, Internal Affairs (Coroner)
Burning Point, The Ignitor (Scarlet)
Def-Con-One, Warface (Scarlet)
Stone Temple Pilots, Alive in the Windy City DVD (Eagle Rock)
The Devil Wears Prada, Dead & Alive CD/DVD (Ferret)
Next Week: We will be overrun with death metal releases and other extreme metal subgenres, but the biggest album will be from (once again) a prog group, this time the most prolific band in the djent scene worldwide. Be ready for one hell of a release list!