In a week where the Big Four not only played shows together, but even joined together for a one-off live cover song, this week is surprisingly devoid of thrash news. Maybe the awesomeness of the Big Four being in the same place at the same time was just too much for the rest of the thrash world to handle. However, I tend to think it’s more of a reaction to the amazing thrash releases of 2010 thus far (Overkill, Exodus, and Annihilator leading the way) and anticipation for the thrash albums on the horizon (Death Angel, Flotsam & Jetsam, and Accept are the biggest names). Either way, thrash fans have slim pickings this week, but everyone else has plenty to get excited about!
This week sees a ton of albums getting re-released, either as limited vinyl pressings or special edition CD’s. Fans looking for collector’s items will be salivating over the names listed. But there’s no shortage of good new releases this week either. Read on to see what’s coming your way!
Parkway Drive, Deep Blue (Epitaph)
The young Aussies have returned with the long-awaited follow-up to 2007’s breakout smash Horizons. The irony of Parkway Drive is that their success seems to be built on their ability to walk the line between two of metal’s most overdone subgenres – metalcore and deathcore. They’ve blurred the line between the two and created a totally unique sound from it. This album will be defining for them because it’s their first one not handled by super-producer Adam Dutkiewicz. If Deep Blue can hold up to the excellent quality of Horizons, then Parkway Drive may be the new leading band in both metalcore and deathcore very soon.
Rhapsody of Fire, The Frozen Tears of Angels (Nuclear Blast)
With the European release of this album already a few months behind us, most Rhapsody fans (translate: every single one of the armor-wearing, face-painting, dragon-loving diehards) have at least heard this album already. For the few power metal fans that haven’t heard the album yet or aren’t aware of its release, The Frozen Tears of Angels offers plenty of excellent power metal from one of the scene’s best veteran acts. Plus, actor Christopher Lee reprises his role as the spoken word narrator from Triumph or Agony, proving that his involvement in metal goes beyond strange symphonic metal projects.
Candlemass, Ashes to Ashes (Nuclear Blast)
This CD/DVD release covers two live concerts from the doom metal group. The CD portion features their entire set from the 2009 Sweden Rock Festival, while the DVD covers their set from an October 2009 concert in Athens. The only drawback here is that the Athens setlist has everything from the Sweden Rock setlist plus more, except for a cover of the Rainbow classic “Kill the King” that was only played at Sweden Rock. Still, this is a great collector’s item for fans of the band.
Haste the Day, Attack of the Wolf King (Solid State)
The Christian metalcore quintet will be under close scrutiny on this album, as it is their first without founding drummer Devin Chaulk and founding guitarist Brennan Chaulk. In fact, bassist Mike Murphy is the only founding member left in the lineup of Haste the Day. However, vocalist Stephen Keech has proven himself admirably through two albums, and that trend is likely to continue here. Fans will want to get the special edition of this album, which comes packed with the feature-length DVD The Ends of the Earth.
Mastodon, Jonah Hex: Music from the Motion Picture (Warner Bros.)
The movie has been panned by critics thus far, which isn’t surprising considering the female lead of the film. It’s a shame, though, because many potential fans of Mastodon will pass this EP over based on the movie. Current fans of Mastodon should know better, and they will likely snatch this up while avoiding the movie altogether. The EP contains the film versions of four new songs, as well as alternate versions of two of the songs featured in the movie. It’s practically a guarantee that this EP will be the best part of Jonah Hex.
Severe Torture, Slaughtered (Season of Mist)
Dutch death metal act Severe Torture has stayed busy since their 2000 debut Feasting on Blood. The three years between Slaughtered and its predecessor, Sworn Vengeance, is the longest break they’ve had between releases. Armed with a new contract from Season of Mist, this album should be another crushing, violent effort from a group that is well-known for their consistency.
Witchery, Witchkrieg (Century Media)
The most significant thrash release of the week comes from Swedish group Witchery, a group that features Patrik Jensen (The Haunted), Sharlee D’Angelo (Arch Enemy), and Martin Axenrot (Opeth) in its lineup, among others. With such a star-studded cast, what’s not to like? Fans of traditional American thrash might be slightly turned off by the blackened vocals of Legion (ex-Marduk, ex-Devian), but if you enjoy the blended thrash styles of European bands like Susperia, The Crown, and Dew-Scented, then this album is for you.
Sabaton, Coat of Arms (Nuclear Blast)
This is another album that showed up in Europe several weeks ago, but Sabaton doesn’t have quite the established fanbase in the States to make it popular before its release here. The World War II themes on this album are somewhat darker and more serious than on previous albums, with “The Final Solution” being the most obvious example of that. However, that won’t diminish from the music at all, as Sabaton can craft a soaring, galloping power metal song around any lyrics. This album is definitely worth a look from history buffs and power metal fans alike.
Emarosa, Emarosa (Rise)
Post-hardcore fans have something to be happy about with the self-titled sophomore album from Emarosa. I’m still wondering if there’s a single post-hardcore band in the world capable of creating song titles that are somehow relevant to the actual song. Emarosa clearly isn’t bucking the trend, with such gems as “Share the Sunshine Young Blood”, “Truth Hurts While Laying on Your Back”, and “The Weight of Love Blinds Eyes”. You should already know if you’ll like this album or not just by reading those sentence fragments between the quotation marks.
Knut, Wonder (Hydra Head)
It’s been almost five years since Knut’s last album, Terraformer. The sludge-mathcore fusionists have never taken such a long break, but the time off won’t have crimped their style. There are very few groups with similar styles to this frenetic band, so they’ll likely take some getting used to if you’ve never heard them before. But by the same token, the band also has a very wide range of appeal given their diverse compositions.
And Hell Followed With, Proprioception (Earache)
This young deathcore act has a lot of experience with adversity, seeing as most of the members come from suburban Michigan, where the recession has hit hardest. As such, they understand the deeply personal nature that some fans feel towards music, and are willing to defend it at all costs, as evidenced by this incident in Spokane. I like that attitude a lot, and even though “proprioception” isn’t a word, nor would I know what the hell it meant if it was one, I still think this band deserves support for knowing why metal fans care about the music as much as they do.
Children 18:3, Rain’s ‘a Comin’ (Tooth & Nail)
This Christian punk-ska outfit, comprised of three siblings from Minnesota, is one of the more lyrically intelligent bands on Tooth & Nail’s roster. There are plenty of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic images throughout their discography, which shows a lot of maturity for such a young band. There isn’t a lot of aggression to be found here, but if you’re a fan of Project 86, Spoken, and other similar Christian bands, then these guys (and girl) should be on your radar.
Angelus Apatrida, Clockwork (Century Media)
One of the leading bands in Spain’s growing thrash scene, Angelus Apatrida is finally getting some wider notice after ten years together as a band. Clockwork is their first album on a worldwide contract with Century Media. Their first two albums earned rave reviews from Spanish critics, so hopefully they can make a similar impact internationally.
Yngwie Malmsteen, Raw Live (Rising Force)
If you ever wanted to know how the guitar wizard got started, this DVD is for you. Spanning Malmsteen’s career from 1981 to 1999, it covers his early musical career in Sweden, the massive success of his solo beginnings, and personal behind-the-scenes footage to give viewers a closer look at what makes the man tick. Guitar enthusiasts will likely try to use this DVD to pick up tricks from his playing style, but if you’re a less rabid fan of Yngwie that just wants to know a little more about him, this DVD will be perfect for you.
Hirax, Noise Chaos War (Season of Mist)
This compilation features 3 EP’s from the band – 2000’s Barrage of Noise and 2007’s Chaos and Brutality and Assassins of War. Hirax is one of the many Bay Area thrash bands that didn’t take off to the success they’d hoped for in the ’80s, but unlike many others, they just never quit. Finding their material isn’t always easy, but if you see this compilation, give it a try, as you’re unlikely to find the actual EP’s in most stores.
Century Media Special Editions
Century Media is re-releasing three of their biggest albums from last year with bonus DVD’s and extra material. Interestingly, two of the three feature performances of the respective bands on Fuel TV’s “Daily Habit”. Collaborative effort much? In any case, here’s what you’ll find if you pick up one of these albums:
- 3 Inches of Blood: Here Waits Thy Doom There are three bonus covers included with the main album, and the DVD has a music video and their full appearance on “Daily Habit”.
- Iwrestledabearonce: It’s All Happening This edition is probably the best value you’ll get. There’s a second disc featuring the entire album in remix format, with each sing remixed by a different person. Most notable is the remix of fan favorite “Tastes Like Kevin Bacon”, which is handled by Ben Weinman of The Dillinger Escape Plan. The DVD features a variety of video footage from all over, as well as two music videos and stems to two songs so fans can make their own remixes.
- Suicide Silence: No Time to Bleed The so-called “Body Bag” edition of this album has no extra songs added on, but there are videos of eight songs performed live, including two from “Daily Habit”. And the whole thing comes in a black plastic zipper bag that will likely end up as a collector’s item.
Relapse 12-inch Vinyl Releases
The label is re-releasing four albums and also putting out one “preview” album for one of its newer signings, Circle of Animals. There are all only available at Relapse’s online store as of now. If you’re a vinyl collector, then these will be right up your alley.
- Circle of Animals: Invisible War This is the new industrial collaboration of Sanford Parker (Minsk, The High Confessions) and Bruce Lamont (Yakuza). This preview EP also features cameos by Justin Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu), Jeff Morgan (Rwake), and Dave Witte (Burnt by the Sun, Municipal Waste) among others. With an all-star cast like this, you can’t really go wrong.
- Mastodon: Leviathan What hasn’t already been said about this amazing album? Each pressing will feature multiple color options, including some in 180-gram vinyl, giving collectors many choices.
- Today is the Day: Supernova, Willpower, and Today is the Day
These are re-releases of the three albums the band put out on Amphetamine Reptile Records in the mid-90s. Each one comes with a free download card and bonus tracks, making them perfect for fans looking to get the full Today is the Day experience.
Next Week: More reissues, more special editions, and…Tony Danza and Trent Reznor? Come back next week for an explanation!