At the end of last week’s column, I stated that there were no new releases on tap for this week. As per usual, that was proven to be inaccurate by the end of the week, but it’s still a very short list for today. What makes this week even more irregular, though, is that there are no releases today from the major metal record labels. In all the time that I’ve been writing this column, I can say with a fair degree of certainty that there have been no other weeks where that has happened. It’s strange that none of the labels took advantage of having this release date to themselves, especially considering the number of days in the coming two months that are completely overloaded with new releases. All the same, here we are, and we’ll work with what we have.

The most prominent releases today come from two very different acts. The first is a band that falls somewhere between a side project and a supergroup, with members coming together from very disparate acts. The second is a long-running metal group from the land of the rising sun, releasing a combination of two albums that will allow American fans to hear some rare tracks for the first time. Peruse this list with an eye for surprises and unexpected new favorites.


North Korea, Basement Tapes Vol. 2 (Self-Released)

North Korea is a collaboration of drummer Billy Rymer from The Dillinger Escape Plan with vocalist Ryan Hunter and guitarist Brian Byrne, both of the now-inactive Envy on the Coast. Rymer also recruited bassist Michael Sadis from his side project The Rivalry to play in North Korea. The group is based out of Long Island, NY, and musically, they are very similar to the post-hardcore and alternative scene that spawned Envy on the Coast. The biggest attraction of North Korea, though, is that their music is entirely free. Basement Tapes Vol. 1 is already available for free download at this location, and the download link for Basement Tapes Vol. 2 will be posted on the group’s Facebook page today. Check it out to hear if this unlikely group can appeal to you.


Loudness, Lightning Strikes/Loud ‘n’ Rare (Wounded Bird)

This combination of two discs on one combines the Japanese group’s best-selling album of all time with an extremely rare compilation of B-sides. Lightning Strikes peaked at #64 on the Billboard charts after its debut in 1986, and it’s probably the most widely-known album from Loudness’ career. The appropriately-named Loud ‘n’ Rare was released in 1991, and contains a number of rare tracks culled from their EP’s and singles. Purchasing a brand-new copy of Loud ‘n’ Rare by itself as an import will cost you an arm and a leg, so this new album is a great opportunity for those without exceptionally deep pockets.


Also being released this week:


Davidian, Our Fear is Their Force (Massacre)


When Waters Rise, When Waters Rise (Ear One)


Constrictor, Constrictor (Distrophonix)


Fist Fight in the Parking Lot, Fist Fight in the Parking Lot (Innervenus)


Starseed, Peace Machine (Self-Released)


Next Week: I think next week is supposed to make up for the shortage of artists on this week’s list, as we get a ton of new albums coming out. Chief among them are a pair of grindcore albums that will blow up your speakers with just one listen. Get ready for the grind assault!