For better or worse, there are some bands in metal that persist no matter how much hate is thrown at them. It doesn’t matter if they have no original members left, their sound has changed completely, their genre has been out of popularity for ages, or their core group of fans is only a fraction of what it once was. These bands soldier on, continuing to put out albums and play live shows. And no matter what your opinion is of these bands, you have to admire their perseverance and be glad for their dedication to heavy music.
This is the best possible description for California deathcore artisans Winds of Plague. The group has been bashed by listeners, reviewers, labels, other bands, and even by our friends over at MetalSucks on a near-constant basis. However, for every person in each of those categories that despises Winds of Plague, there seems to be another person that loves them, or at least doesn’t actively dislike them (for the record, this writer thinks Winds of Plague is okay at times). No matter how you feel about them, though, you have to be glad that their albums sell well and their touring opportunities have increased, as is the case with their upcoming appearance on the entire summer run of Warped Tour. In the end, it’s all about the heavy music doing well and continuing to thrive in the hostile environment of the modern music industry. That is why the new album from Winds of Plague and the rest of the new releases for this week are worth your attention.
Winds of Plague, Against the World (Century Media)
There are two major factors that have significantly contributed to the excitement about this album. One, this is the first album recorded with keyboardist Alana Potocnik, who replaced the infamous Kristen Randall in 2009 and has made a solid impression on the band’s touring circuit thus far. Two, the list of guest personnel on this album has an unprecedented degree of star power. There are contributions from Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta, For Today’s Mattie Montgomery, and a number of other members from hardcore and metal bands from all over the spectrum. On top of that, there is also a spoken word contribution by former wrestling superstar The Ultimate Warrior, whose inane promo spots and ridiculous comic books are the stuff of geek legends.
Norther, Circle Regenerated (Century Media)
Norther has changed a great deal since the release of 2008’s N. Vocalist and lead guitarist Petri Lindroos left the band in 2009 to become the full-time frontman of Ensiferum, also taking a big part of the group’s songwriting core with him. The group has adapted very well, though. Rhythm guitarist and clean vocalist Kristian Ranta has taken over the bulk of the songwriting, and it sounds just as good as the band’s older material. Replacing Lindroos on vocals, meanwhile, is Aleksi Sihvonen, singer for now-defunct melodic death metallers Imperanon. Norther also added Naildown guitarist Daniel Freyberg to the mix, contributing a ton of great solos to Circle Regenerated. This is a good sign that the lineup changes won’t hold Norther back.
Septicflesh, The Great Mass (Season of Mist)
This Greek death metal unit had their two-decade anniversary last year, albeit without a great deal of fanfare. 2011 marks another twenty-year milestone – this one being the anniversary of their first release, the Temple of the Lost Race EP. In that time, Septicflesh (who were once known as Septic Flesh) have learned to dabble a little in black metal and a lot in symphonics, resulting in torrid, gripping albums like 2008’s Communion. The Great Mass promises more of the same, stunningly epic and huge compositions that have the same dark, foreboding edge that the band has retained throughout their career. If you enjoy bands like Keep of Kalessin that feature grandiose and sinister songs, then Septicflesh is well worth your attention. And if you’re upset that only the digital version is available today, have no fear – the CD version will surface in the States in just two weeks.
Sylosis, Edge of the Earth (Nuclear Blast)
Sylosis also endured some changes in recent years that forced them to alter their approach to their music. Singer Jamie Graham departed the band in 2009, following the release of the critically praised Conclusion of an Age. However, rather than expand in the way that Norther did, Sylosis has contracted inward to manage the missing elements. Lead guitarist Josh Middleton has taken over vocal duties for the English thrash group. His performance on Edge of the Earth is solid, and the adaptation to a four-piece lineup hasn’t affected the band in a live setting. Hopefully the success that Sylosis enjoyed on Conclusion of an Age will be replicated on Edge of the Earth.
Graveyard, Hisingen Blues (Nuclear Blast)
Graveyard is not a band you’d expect to see on Nuclear Blast’s roster under normal circumstances. The label known for bringing the world some of the heaviest death, black, thrash, and technical metal seems an unlikely place for stoner-blues rock group. However, Graveyard has made it work against the odds and established themselves within the Nuclear Blast family. They’ve played live with Electric Wizard, Witchcraft, and Clutch, and they’ve been well-received by almost every crowd they’ve played for. Give these guys a shot if you’re looking for a good blues groove with heavy, well-played stoner rock mixed in.
Sabaton Re-Issues (Nuclear Blast)
For a band whose lyrics mostly cover World War II, it only makes sense that Sabaton’s re-issues are dubbed “Re-Armed Editions”. And the Re-Armed versions of Primo Victoria, Metalizer, Attero Dominatus, and The Art of War are well worth the purchases, as each one is stocked with demos, instrumentals, live tracks, covers, and B-sides that have never been available before. Given how difficult it is to find Sabaton’s albums in the States, your best bet to pick one of these up is by attending the band’s current North American tour with Accept. Spoiler alert: I was at the tour’s NYC show with Overkill headlining this past Saturday, and the whole show was AWESOME!
Also being released this week:
Periphery, Icarus EP (Sumerian)
The Plot in You, First Born (Rise)
Ghost Thrower, Get Miserable (Equal Vision)
Divinefire, Eye of the Storm (Liljegren/Phantom Domestic)
Lower Than Atlantis, World Record/Far Q (Sumerian)
Cynthesis, DeEvolution (Sensory)
Symfonia, In Paradisum (Eagle)
Taletellers, Radicalizer (Metalville)
Next Week: A flood from the underground threatens to overwhelm us with new artists and unheard-of talent. Be ready to check out all the new and interesting groups that we have to offer! See you next time!