Last week, when I was forecasting for today’s list, I was expecting to have one big-name group topping a moderately-sized list. I was not expecting to see five big-name releases leading off a list of almost twenty albums. Just goes to show that you never know what you’re going to get when it comes to new metal releases – there are always surprises! Let’s jump right into the list and see what some of those surprises are!
Demon Hunter, Extremist (Solid State)
The Christian metal stalwarts have a lot riding on them due to their last album’s performance – 2012’s True Defiance debuted at #36 on the Billboard charts, the highest that the group has ever charted. To that end, Demon Hunter has already released three singles from Extremist – “Artificial Light“, “The Last One Alive“, and “I Will Fail You” – while employing many other promotional tools to increase the buzz surrounding their seventh album.
The Pretty Reckless, Going to Hell (Razor & Tie)
The buzz surrounding a former Gossip Girl releasing a rock album was enough to ferry The Pretty Reckless’ debut Light Me Up to #65 on the Billboard 200, but the band’s musical ability and Taylor Momsen’s powerful voice kept The Pretty Reckless in the spotlight and prevented them from being a one-hit wonder. On Going to Hell, the band has delved into darker subject matter while giving their music a much heavier edge, which should appeal to metal fans wanting to hear what else Momsen and Co. can do.
Hark, Crystalline (Season of Mist)
Welsh trio Hark have put out one hell of a debut album. It’s very Mastodon-ian in scope, but will also appeal to fans of Clutch. In fact, they’ve even enlists Neil Fallon to sing on the album-closing “Clean Light Of…” This is one of MI’s favorite debut albums of the year and will probably show up on a year-end list or two.
Converge, Live at the BBC (Deathwish)
This new EP from Converge was recorded in the same studio in which the John Peel Sessions were recorded. Those sessions were responsible for unique and rare recordings by The Cure, Carcass, Napalm Death, and many other notable artists. Live at the BBC features three staples of Converge’s discography, but the real gem is the EP’s full-electric version of “Hanging Moon”, a track that was done entirely with acoustic guitars on the “You Fail Me” album.
Earth Crisis, Salvation of Innocents (Candlelight)
Salvation of Innocents is the eighth album for hardcore legends Earth Crisis. It’s also their third since reuniting in 2007, and their first for new record label Candlelight, following a two-album stint with Century Media. Earth Crisis has maintained their stellar lineup better than almost any other currently active hardcore band – excepting temporary touring substitutions and their hiatus from 2001 to 2007, the band’s lineup has been the same since 1998.
Ringworm, Hammer of the Witch (Relapse)
Continuing the trend of hardcore bands with new labels, Ringworm’s sixth full-length studio album is their first for new label Relapse, although the band did release the EP Bleed through Relapse last year. Regardless, Hammer of the Witch is the follow-up to 2011’s Scars, the final album of the band’s decade-long tenure with Victory Records.
Menace, Impact Velocity (Season of Mist)
Menace is a new supergroup that counts within its ranks Napalm Death members Mitch Harris and Shane Embury, as well as Dragonforce bassist Frederic Leclercq and ex-Hate Eternal drummer Derek Roddy. All of the band members play under stage names for reasons unknown, although it might have something to do with Menace sounding absolutely nothing like any of the members’ main projects. Grindcore, power metal, and death metal are all absent from Impact Velocity – instead, you will find here a unique blend of modern hard rock and progressive metal.
Iron Savior, Rise of the Hero (AFM)
One of the more popular power metal groups to emerge from Germany in the ’90s, Iron Savior is the brainchild of founding vocalist/guitarist Piet Sielck, the only founding member remaining in the band’s lineup. Rise of the Hero, which was released on February 28th in Europe and is only now seeing a US release, is the band’s eighth studio album, and continues the band’s melding of futuristic science fiction with European mythology and fantasy.
Stormwarrior, Thunder & Steele (Massacre)
Like Iron Savior, Stormwarrior got their start in the burgeoning German power metal scene in the ’90s, building out of the scene that Helloween, Blind Guardian, and Gamma Ray created. However, unlike Iron Savior, Stormwarrior’s lyrical focus has almost always been on Viking tales and Norse mythology. Thunder & Steele is their sixth album on the subject.
Conan, Blood Eagle (Napalm)
If you’re expecting testosterone-fueled power metal war anthems from a band named Conan, you’re sadly mistaken about all of it – except for the war anthems part. Filled with drone-doom-stoner metal goodness that will fill any Sunn O))) fan with dark joy, Blood Eagle is the anthem of soldiers slogging from one battlefield to another, ready for the next destructive fight.
Savage Messiah, The Fateful Dark (Earache)
Savage Messiah has flourished during their tenure with Earache, quickly growing to become known on the international scene. Although classified as a traditional heavy metal band with thrash tendencies, the British group has cut their teeth touring with artists all over the spectrum, including Overkill, Death Angel, Queensrÿche, Sylosis, Skeletonwitch, Wintersun, and many others.
Buried in Verona, Faceless (Artery)
Buried in Verona has slowly been making its way onto the international scene outside of their native Australia. The band did their first tours of Europe and North America in 2012, supporting their most diverse and mature album to date, Notorious. Faceless follows in the same vein, advancing the band beyond their straightforward metalcore roots into more varied sounds and styles.
The Bunny The Bear, Food Chain (Victory)
Food Chain is the fifth full-length album from this experimental post-hardcore group. Their previous three albums have all charted on the Billboard Heatseekers list, but none have broken into the Top 200 yet. This could be a chance for The Bunny The Bear to finally get over that last hurdle and make a statement to a larger audience.
Nervosa, Victim of Yourself (Napalm)
Nervosa needed only one demo in 2012 to score a deal with Napalm Records, proving their talent level on just three songs. Victim of Yourself is the debut full-length from this Brazilian thrash trio. There will obviously be lots of comparisons to old Sepultura, given the band’s origin, but fans of older Exodus, Testament, and Slayer will also want to give this a shot.
Assassins, War of Aggression (eOne)
Hailing from Detroit, Assassins is the latest technically-influenced metalcore group to follow in the footsteps of August Burns Red and We Came as Romans. War of Aggression, their debut full-length album, features a guest appearance by Chris Roetter, lead vocalist of Liks Moths to Flames, on the second track “The United”.
Coffinworm, IV.I.VIII (Profound Lore)
Mixing the filthiest styles of music that they could muster, black metal and sludge, Coffinworm was born in 2007 in the basements of Indianapolis. The band members only identify themselves by single initials to create an aura of mystery around their music. Highly recommended for fans of Wolvhammer, Thou, and Indian.
Vampire, Vampire (Century Media)
Vampire is a death/thrash band from Gothenburg, eschewing the traditional style that their area is known for in favor of the older Swedish death metal heard in the early and mid-’90s. Following in the footsteps of other recent bands like Bastard Priest, Morbus Chron, and Maim, Vampire is spearheading a new scene of death/thrash in Sweden.
Hopeless Youth, Disgust (Candlelight)
Hopeless Youth is very new to the metal world, only formed in 2012. The Montreal-based quintet has played nonstop in and around their city, no matter what the setting. It only took a year of playing for them to catch Candlelight’s attention and get signed for their debut full-length.
Ageless Oblivion, Penthos (Siege of Amida/Century Media)
Ageless Oblivion is a British group that plays technical death metal, described by the band as a mixing of Nile, Morbid Angel, and Gojira. Penthos is the group’s second full-length, the follow-up to 2010’s Temples of Transcendent Evolution.
Next Week: We get a shorter list with prog and a classic re-issue topping it all off. Come back in seven days for more great new metal!