This week is loaded with high-quality music. It will also likely be the last week we have in 2014 with this many top-notch albums. Savor it while you can, and enjoy all the excellence that we have here!
Devin Townsend, Z2 (Inside Out)
The continuation of Ziltoid’s saga is something that Devin fans have been clamoring for for a long time. Of course, Devin gave the fans even more than they wanted, in the form of a multi-disc release. The first disc, Sky Blue, is a standalone album by The Devin Townsend Project, while the second disc, Dark Matters, is Devin’s continuation of the story begun on 2007’s Ziltoid the Omniscient. The overarching theme of the double album is apparently “Ziltoid against the world”, which could mean any number of things. Regardless of the theme, though, the entire album will be a wild ride, and hopefully the fans will be satisfied.
At the Gates, At War with Reality (Century Media)
Ask any metal fan what the defining album of the Gothenburg scene is, and 99.9% of the time, the answer you’ll get is Slaughter of the Soul. Nineteen years later, At the Gates is back with an album that might actually top their magnum opus. At War with Reality is just as punishing and brutal as its predecessor, if not more so. Nearly two decades of being apart have done nothing to dull this band’s vicious technicality, as they have delivered an album that will have both longtime Gothenburg fans and complete newcomers clamoring for more. It’s good to have the kings back.
Obituary, Inked in Blood (Relapse)
Inked in Blood is Obituary’s ninth overall album and their first in five years. Despite being one of the most successful death metal bands in the world, the Tampa-based act has never once broken into the Billboard 200, only ever appearing on the Heatseekers chart. There’s a good chance that could change now, though, as the buzz for Inked in Blood is strong. Obituary has only gotten better with time, so you can expect to hear the absolute best of their classic death metal style on this album. Check out “Visions in My Head” for proof.
Unearth, Watchers of Rule (eOne)
Unearth’s sixth album is their first for eOne, following a highly successful tenure with Metal Blade Records that lasted nearly a decade. Dubbed “the Slayer of metalcore” by our buddies at MetalSucks, Watchers of Rule is certainly an album making them worthy of such a title. With all the technicality and mosh-worthy breakdowns that are hallmarks of every Unearth release, Watchers of Rule is yet another consistently excellent album from the Massachusetts group. Now if only someone could tell us what happened to bassist Jon “Slo” Maggard, who hasn’t toured with the band for over a year now, I’d be satisfied.
Sister Sin, Black Lotus (Victory)
The fifth album from the self-proclaimed “old-school” metal band out of Gothenburg features more of their signature brand of classic metal, heavily inspired by the greats like Iron Maiden and Accept. The video for lead single “Chaos Royale” debuted yesterday on Loudwire, and we also had some exclusive behind-the-scenes pictures for you from the video. Black Lotus follows 2012’s Now and Forever, which fell short of appearing on the charts when it was released. The band is hoping that Black Lotus will be their first release to break into the top 200.
Anaal Nathrakh, Desideratum (Metal Blade)
This British extreme metal act has managed to fuse together a number of different styles to create their own unique sound. With elements of black metal, death metal, industrial, and grindcore all showing up, there is no single word that can be used to describe their sound except “chaotic”. Desideratum is the eighth album for the two-piece act. Anaal Nathrakh will play a few select shows in the UK to promote the new album, but the bigger news is that the duo will be appearing at the 2015 Maryland Deathfest.
Vesania, Deus Ex Machina (Metal Blade)
This Polish supergroup features current and former members of Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir, Vader, Decapitated, and many other high-profile acts. Vesania plays symphonic black metal in the same vein as Hate and Hermh, the other Polish acts not playing traditional or blackened death metal. Deus Ex Machina marks the band’s first release in seven years, due to the busy touring schedules of both Behemoth and Dimmu Borgir.
Abysmal Dawn, Obsolescence (Relapse)
Three years after their last album, Leveling the Plane of Existence, technical death metal squad Abysmal Dawn is back with their fourth album. The title of Obsolescence comes from the concept of “planned obsolescence”, which vocalist Charles Elliott will one day apply to all of humanity. If you’re a fan of Neuraxis, Decrepit Birth, or Spawn of Possession, then you’ll definitely be into Abysmal Dawn’s newest album.
Black Map, …And We Explode (Minus Head)
Black Map is a new supergroup featuring vocalist and guitarist Ben Flanagan (The Trophy Fire), guitar player Mark Engles (Dredg), and drummer Chris Robyn (Far). That may not sound like a very metal combination at first glance, but don’t let the primary projects of each member fool you. Black Map plays very heavy rock, almost nothing like the bands that spawned the project. Give them a try if you’re willing to experiment with something that’s heavy in nature, but most certainly not metal.