This is it, folks. After today, 2011 is over with regards to new releases. It’s been a pleasure bringing you all my first full year of new releases. Writing this column every week for 48 weeks of the year is a gift that I am eternally grateful for. To those of you that are devoted readers of New & Noteworthy or of Metal Insider in general, thank you for your support! You make this site what it is, and I couldn’t be doing this without all of you. Keep reading, please!
Now that I’m done being a huge sap, here are your only new releases for this week:
Rammstein, Made in Germany 1995-2011 (Universal)
Metal Insider contributor Melissa Myers already included this greatest hits collection in her list of top albums for 2011, and she was right to do so, judging by the track list. Featuring almost every song that made Rammstein into the musical juggernaut that they are, this collection is basically the essential guide to the German sextet’s career. The only notable absences from the compilation are “Bück Dich” and “Mann Gegen Mann”, and those two songs being excluded is a minor complaint when you consider the scope of the collection. Those wanting more can get the Deluxe Edition, which features eleven remixes done by the likes of Faith No More, Devin Townsend, Meshuggah, Clawfinger, Junkie XL, and other rock and metal elite. If you still can’t get enough, try to find the Super Deluxe Edition, which features three bonus DVD’s that have all 23 of the band’s music videos (including the hilarious “Mein Land” video) and a Making-Of segment for each of them.
Doro, Merry Metal X-Mas (Nuclear Blast)
As if Germany wasn’t pummeling us enough already today, former Warlock vocalist and outstanding solo performer Doro Pesch recently took a break from recording her new album, which is expected for the summer of 2012, to put together this holiday piece. Doro states that she “wanted something loud and funny”, and she delivers just that on this awesome single. To top it all off, Doro decided that having one member of German metal royalty on the track wasn’t enough, and thus we get some awesome vocals from “Onkel” Tom Angelripper, better known as the frontman for legendary blackened thrashers Sodom. Something tells me that, when we look at the best metal Christmas songs next year, this song will make an appearance on the new list.
And that is it! No more new releases for 2011! However, I want to mention a few other albums before I close out the year, because there are some underground and unsigned artists that I feel deserve your attention. So I encourage you to take some time out of your holiday schedules and check out these releases when you have a chance:
Universum, Mortuus Machina (Riot!)
These guys are unsung heroes of Australian metal. In a country where Parkway Drive has locked down the biggest spotlight and a platoon of death metal bands carry the remaining fame, Universum is bridging the gap with their modern brand of melodic death metal. Showing heavy influence from Soilwork and Scar Symmetry, Universum first made waves with their 2008 debut Leto Destinatus. On their sophomore album, the group really comes into their own with some extremely high-caliber performances. They also put together an excellent list of guest performers, including Solution .45/Miseration singer Christian Älvestam, ex-Soilwork guitarist Ola Frenning, myGrain vocalist Tommy Tuovinen, and Nightrage guitarists Marios Iliopoulos and Olof Mörck. Check these guys out if you want some fresh new melodic death metal to check out.
myGrain, myGrain (Spinefarm)
Speaking of myGrain, this Finnish group finally finished their third album this year and once again impressed me with their material. They’re part of the wave of groups melding industrial metal with melodic death, and fit in right beside Mnemic, Raunchy, Naildown, and the plethora of other groups in that scene. Both 2006’s Orbit Dance and 2008’s Signs of Existence showed extremely high potential, and I waited very anxiously for the next album to start realizing that potential. The group’s self-titled album didn’t disappoint, as myGrain found even more exciting ways to bring their two inspirations together into a new and exciting style that continues to grow through the tremendous bands practicing it. Expect this scene – and hopefully, myGrain and the other bands that are part of it – to become huge in the next year or two.
Downcast Theory, Downcast Theory (self-released)
These Jersey rockers have impressed me greatly each time I’ve seen them play, and they’ve certainly earned a great deal of notice during the past few years. Opening up for bands like Nonpoint, Cold, Drowning Pool, Powerman 5000, and Taking Back Sunday, Downcast Theory is a group that knows how to play hard rock without getting lazy. Their compositions are all original, gripping, and instantly catchy, and on their second album, the group has perfected their formula. Unafraid to take risks, the group features the smooth clean singing of rhythm guitarist Matt Simon contrasted with the harsh growls and screams of lead guitarist Jake Raynor, an approach that is usually eschewed from radio-friendly hard rock. These guys put heart and soul into their music, most of all, and it’s very clearly evident on this album. Give it a try if you’re tired of hearing the same old stuff from radio rock, and you might just find your new favorite band.
Triphobia, When One Wakes (self-released)
If Sevendust and Porcupine Tree had a baby, Triphobia would be that baby. Mixing equal parts alt-metal and prog rock into their sound, these kids are a welcome treat amidst a scene that is oversaturated with groups trying too hard to blend sounds that don’t belong together. I say “kids” purposefully because, if you can believe it, all five members of Triphobia are still in high school. Many may scoff upon hearing that, but if Trivium and Black Tide have taught us anything, it’s that musical talent in the rock and metal world doesn’t discriminate based on age. Triphobia is the latest example of that, judging by their intricate compositions and stirring lyrics. Singer Kevin Yapaola has a very bright future with his gripping vocals, and guitarist Dave Bellman already has the songwriting chops of music veterans twice his age. Check out Triphobia for an interesting new take on progressive hard rock that’s more mature in its tone than most could possibly believe.
And with that, I am closing the book on 2011’s new releases. I hope you enjoyed my column this year, and look forward to 2012 with a great deal of anticipation! I’ll be appearing occasionally during the next few weeks with other articles, but for now, New & Noteworthy is signing off! Horns up, brothers and sisters!