If death metal is the metal subgenre that the music industry continually tries to ignore, then grindcore is the bastard child that the industry has flat-out disowned. No subgenre is as abrasive, aggressive, or downright assaultive as grindcore, and it has been that way since its very beginning 25 years ago. The genre has changed and evolved in many ways since then, but the principle is pretty much the same – play as loud, as fast, and as down-tuned as possible, and get your message across as quickly as possible. Napalm Death and Terrorizer were masters of that when they popularized grindcore in the early days, and they do it just as well now as they did then. With both groups releasing new albums today, this is a great day to be a grindcore fan!
Then again, today it’s a great day to be a metal fan in general, because we have a monstrous list of new albums coming out today! Covering virtually every possible subgenre of metal, today’s list is a gift for every single metal fan out there, especially coming so early in the year. We will see a list of equal size and quality in exactly a month, but let’s cross that bridge when we get to it, and instead enjoy the excellence that we have right in front of us!
Napalm Death, Utilitarian (Century Media)
2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Scum, Napalm Death’s first album and what many consider to be the first true grindcore album ever created. A quarter-century and fourteen albums later, Napalm Death is still a brute force of misanthropy and malice around the world. Utilitarian is the group’s fifth album with Century Media, and will also be the fifth consecutive album of relentless destruction that is without filler and nigh flawless. And while many consider the group to be closer in style to death metal than grindcore in recent years, Napalm Death remains a grindcore outfit to most of their fans and a picture of consistency in the metal world. As long as “You Suffer” endures as the world’s shortest song, Napalm Death will remain the heart and soul of grindcore.
Terrorizer, Hordes of Zombies (Season of Mist)
If Napalm Death is one side of the grindcore coin, Terrorizer is surely the other. Whereas Napalm Death’s career has been stalwart from beginning to end, Terrorizer has been plagued by inconsistency, breakps, and other struggles since their formation. While 1989’s World Downfall remains one of the most beloved grindcore albums of all time (right after Scum for most), Terrorizer had already split up by the time the album was released, with Pete Sandoval and David Vincent heading off to Morbid Angel and Jesse Pintado joining Napalm Death, ironically enough. The group reunited in 2005 to record Darker Days Ahead, but that album was tainted by the death of Pintado just five days after its release, as well as the less-than-stellar reviews that critics gave it. Now, though, Terrorizer has reunited for a second time, with both Sandoval and Vincent participating this time. And although it’s still not a complete reunion of the living members of the original lineup, this revitalized version of Terrorizer has the chops to bring back fans that left the group in recent years.
Corrosion Of Conformity, Corrosion Of Conformity (Candlelight)
Corrosion Of Conformity left a big void in the stoner metal world when they commenced their second hiatus in 2006, while Pepper Keenan recorded and toured with Down. Their absence was only made more apparent by the high degree of excellence found on 2005’s In the Arms of God, an album that received wildly positive reviews and debuted at #108 on the Billboard charts. Thus, the 2010 announcement of COC’s reunion was cause for celebration all over. The reunion of the Animosity-era lineup to record Corrosion of Conformity marked a number of firsts for the veteran group. The most prominent of these is that this is the first album in 25 years to not feature Keenan on guitar and vocals, thus also making it the first time since Animosity that the band has recorded as a three-piece. More positively, though, it marks the return of founding drummer Reed Mullin, making In the Arms of God the only COC album on which he did not play drums. The seven years since In the Arms of God came out also marks the longest passage of time between album releases for COC, which should only increase the attention that this excellent album receives.
Eluveitie, Helvetios (Nuclear Blast)
The folk metal scene continues to grow in strength and recognition with each passing year, but very few bands seem to be able to ride the wave of success with consistency. PaganFest does well to expose the newer bands over time, but it seems like Eluveitie is the only act that continues to grow as time passes and new bands are introduced. It may be because their music is more unique than that of contemporaries like Korpiklaani, Finntroll, and Turisas. It may also be because the band openly embraces the dual nature of their sound, encompassing light, acoustic sections and full-force heavy metal parts in equal measure. Whichever it is, Eluveitie are smart enough to keep riding the fame as long as they can. Helvetios reportedly shows off the heavier side of things, most likely as a contrast to the upcoming second acoustic album, Evocation II. Considering how well 2010’s Everything Remains (As it Never Was) charted in Europe, I think it’s a safe bet to believe that Helvetios will outperform all of Eluveitie’s previous albums on the charts around the world.
Veil Of Maya, Eclipse (Sumerian)
The technical death metal/djent group is returning to Michael Keene of The Faceless for production on this album, but only for the vocals, unlike the full slate of production that Keene did on The Common Man’s Collapse and [id]. The instrumental production is being handled by Periphery mastermind Misha Mansoor. And considering the excellent job he did producing his own band’s album, Veil Of Maya made an excellent choice with Mansoor. Eclipse will likely be a key album in determining Veil Of Maya’s long-term future, mostly because the first tour supporting this album is also the group’s first European headlining tour. If you liked the band’s previous output, Eclipse should already be one of your top priorities.
Caliban, I Am Nemesis (Century Media)
Your mileage may vary on German metalcore standard-bearers Caliban, depending entirely on how you view their development from 2001’s Vent to their last album, 2009’s Say Hello to Tragedy. If you’re a fan of the band, then I Am Nemesis will delight your senses as some of the best material the band has ever written, making up for the mediocrity that occurred at some points on Say Hello to Tragedy. If you’re not a fan, then this album likely won’t change your mind, although you never know until you try it. No matter what your opinion is, though, I Am Nemesis marks the return to consistency that Caliban fans were missing on the last album. That makes this album well worth checking out for all metalcore fans.
Death, Vivus! (Relapse)
This two-disc collection is actually a re-packaging of two previous releases as one comprehensive release instead. Disc one is the album Live in L.A. (Death & Raw), while disc two is the Live in Eindhoven album, both of which were released by Nuclear Blast in 2001. If you didn’t get these albums when they were released, now you can have both in the form of Vivus!. This new release also features new liner notes from Richard Christy and Eric Greif, as well as new photos of the band “recently discovered” (also known as “finally being released after so many years in the vault”) just for this album. If you’re a fan of the band or a collector, then this should appeal to you in some fashion. And if you hurry, you might just be able to win a free copy of this double live album from Metal Insider.
Also being released this week:
UFO, Seven Deadly (Steamhammer)
Autopsy, All Tomorrow’s Funerals (Peaceville)
Christian Mistress, Possession (Relapse)
Freedom Call, Land of the Crimson Dawn (Steamhammer)
Asphyx, Deathhammer (Century Media)
Slaves On Dope, Over the Influence (Rocket Science)
I the Breather, Truth and Purpose (Sumerian)
Lay Down Rotten, Mask of Malice (Metal Blade)
Savage Messiah, Plague of Conscience (Earache)
The Safety Fire, Grind the Ocean (Century Media/InsideOut)
Vengeance, Crystal Eye (Steamhammer)
T.R.A.M., Lingua Franca (Sumerian)
Desaster, Arts of Destruction (Metal Blade)
Synapses, Expiation (Deepsend)
Opera Diabolicus, +1614 (Metalville)
Awaken Demons, Awaken Demons (Siege of Amida)
Cianide, Hell’s Rebirth (Deepsend)
Ingested, The Surreption (Megaforce)
Dyscarnate, And So It Came to Pass (Siege of Amida)
The Chills, Horrendous (Dark Descent)
My Heart to Fear, Into the Maelstrom (Aftershock)
Abominable Putridity, The Anomalies of Artificial Origin (Brutal Bands)
Clutch, Blast Tyrant [Double vinyl deluxe edition] (Weathermaker)
Next Week: Good times and fun music abound with one band’s return to the spotlight! Dying to know who it is? Come back next week and see for yourself!