In a declining recording industry, special editions, re-releases, and deluxe packages are now the norm rather than the exception to it. And on these expanded releases, more often than not, bonus tracks will appear, usually in the form of either cover songs or B-sides that didn’t make it onto the initial album. It’s rare to see those B-sides appear on separate individual releases, though. Sure, Iron Maiden did it back in 2002, and more recently, Disturbed released one just last year. But both of those examples are B-side collections spanning the full careers of their respective bands. There is no possible way that the B-sides from just one album can be considered a separate release, right?

Think again, folks, because Metallica decided to do just that. Can you guess what happened? A release that most would deign as superfluous or unnecessary shot to #32 on the Billboard charts when it was released digitally last month. This is even more impressive when you consider that the release had almost nothing by way of promotion done for it (which is why it didn’t appear on New & Noteworthy at that time). The physical release date for this unheralded EP is today, and for its accomplishments, it earns the top slot on today’s list.


Metallica, Beyond Magnetic EP (Warner Bros.)

Apparently when Death Magnetic was being recorded in 2007 and 2008, there were fourteen songs recorded for the album. Obviously, only ten made it onto the record, and they’ve been drilled into our collective conscious for the last three-plus years without end. What about the other four, though? Well, they all appear here in very rough mixed form. The song titles are just as over-the-top as those on Death Magnetic, and the music is just as good, even if the mixes aren’t pristine. This is worth picking up just because it’s new material to hold the interest of listeners while we wait for Metallica to get off the road and back into the studio.


Bleeding Through, The Great Fire (Rise)

2010’s Bleeding Through wasn’t exactly an auspicious debut for the Orange County metalcore vets at their new home, Rise Records. It wasn’t a bad album by any means, but the inclusion of deathcore elements on some songs detracted from what could have been an excellent album. The group is taking some chances with The Great Fire that could be either hugely successful or disastrous. For one thing, the album was self-produced by the group, which is a first in their long career (although it doesn’t break their precedent of having a new producer for each new album). Additionally, the symphonic black metal elements that appeared on Bleeding Through return on The Great Fire, which may further the comparisons to Abigail Williams that Bleeding Through have started to receive. Time may be the most telling factor with this album and, ultimately, the band’s continued success.


Blind Guardian, Memories of a Time to Come (Nuclear Blast)

As one of the preeminent power metal groups in the entire world, it’s shocking that Blind Guardian haven’t released a greatest hits collection in a quarter-century of existence. This year, the band’s 25th anniversary, they have finally put out a compilation of what they deem their “most worthy songs”, and it is quite an amazing compilation at that. Not only does Memories of a Time to Come span Blind Guardian’s entire career, but each of the songs has been re-recorded specially for this release. In some ways, that almost makes this a release of new material from the group, as not one of the songs sounds exactly the same as its original version. It’s not a ground-breaking concept to do this, but for a group of Blind Guardian’s caliber, it certainly wasn’t necessary. The fact that the band took the time to meticulously re-create sixteen songs when they could have easily thrown the originals onto two discs shows a level of dedication to their fans that is not often seen and less often appreciated in modern music.


Cirith Ungol, Servants of Chaos (Metal Blade)

It’s time for another edition of “albums that have been out in Europe for a while but are only getting released in the US now”. Lord of the Rings fans will likely recognize the band name as an infamous location in the land of Mordor, but we’re talking about the band Cirith Ungol here, not the tower. For those unfamiliar with them, Cirith Ungol was a doom metal band from California that was active from 1972 to 1992. They were heavily influenced by Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, and Iggy Pop and the Stooges. By modern comparison, they’re close in sound to Angel Witch, Saint Vitus, and The Gates of Slumber. Servants of Chaos was a rare-track compilation released in Europe in 2001, and it’s finally found its way to the US more than a decade later. Metal Blade has sweetened the deal with this pressing by adding a DVD with the entire live performance of the group at a 1984 show at the now-defunct Country Club in Reseda, California. This is a big deal for doom metal fans!


Also being released this week:


Katatonia, For Funerals to Come (Peaceville)


God Seed, Live at Wacken (Prosthetic)


Ram, Death (Metal Blade)


Astral Doors, Jerusalem (Metalville)


Liberteer, Better to Die on Your Feet Than Live on Your Knees (Relapse)


I Exist, II: The Broken Passage (Prosthetic)


Vendetta, Feed the Extermination (Soulfood)


Lord of War, Celestial Pestilence (Unique Leader)


RiotGod, Invisible Empire (Metalville)


Nekromantheon, Rise, Vulcan Spectre (Prosthetic)


King Giant, Dismal Hollow (Path Less Traveled)


Next Week: One of death metal’s best-kept secrets unleashes a new album of vicious destruction on us. Be ready to slay when next week rolls around!