For those who have been living under a rock for the past four months, the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival kicked off this past weekend in California. It’s only fitting, therefore, that three of this week’s new releases come from Mayhem bands. In its third year as a major touring festival, Mayhem has become the default tour for lots of metalheads. With Ozzfest still mired in gimmicks and Sounds of the Underground long buried and forgotten, Mayhem is now the best option. This year is no exception, carrying a second stage filled to the brim with talented bands. Tickets are still available for many dates, so you cave-dwellers out there that haven’t gotten yours yet know what you need to do.
The resurgence of one of the top nu-metal acts of the ’90s tops the release chart this week, with a huge list of awesome albums following behind. A few choice underground acts add some fresh blood to the list as well. You’re out of luck, though, if you expect me to mention this.
Korn, Korn III: Remember Who You Are (Roadrunner)
I’m not sure if there’s supposed to be some hidden meaning in this album title, but Korn needs to remember who they are if this album is to be a success. Their untitled 2007 album is best forgotten or avoided, but if Korn wants to prove they can last without David Silveria on drums, then Korn III needs to be a success. Hopefully the band’s recent crop circle performance and upcoming headlining slot of the Mayhem Festival will be an accurate predictor of the album’s worth. Only die-hard fans of the band need to bother with the special edition of the album, which features bonus tracks and a DVD of studio footage.
Hellyeah, Stampede (Epic)
Chad Gray and Greg Tribbett were busy for quite awhile on some no-name project, but now that they’re back, Hellyeah is ready to cause a ruckus once again. The special edition of Stampede offers a firsthand account of that ruckus, courtesy of the “Live in Dallas” DVD. The lead single off Stampede is entitled “Cowboy Way”, and it showcases an increased Southern rock and country influence in the supergroup (only amplified by the overabundance of cowboy hats in the music video). If this album is as infectious as their self-titled debut, then the band’s members should probably consider making Hellyeah their primary focus.
Soilwork, The Panic Broadcast (Nuclear Blast)
After leaving the band in 2005, Peter Wichers came back to Soilwork in 2008, resuming his lead guitar position and also bringing his new skills as a producer to the table. It will be interesting to see how he and Sylvain Coudret fill the shoes of Ola Frenning and Daniel Antonsson, both of whom left the band after 2007’s Sworn to a Great Divide. The Panic Broadcast is billed as being more technical than its predecessor, and if it lives up to that reputation, then longtime fans might finally have the follow-up to Natural Born Chaos that they’ve waited seven years for. Jump for the special edition if you want bonus tracks, studio footage, a hi-def video of drum wizard Dirk Verbeuren tearing it up, and much more.
In This Moment, A Star-Crossed Wasteland (Century Media)
This album will be a landmark in the band’s career because it will accurately show which side of their sound fans want to hear more. If reviews are positive, then In This Moment can safely stay to the heavier edge of their sound showcased on Beautiful Tragedy. If not, then Maria Brink and Co. can return to the more melodic sound of The Dream. The band’s performance on the Mayhem Festival will also determine if Brink can stick with wearing ball gowns onstage. If the new blue dress survives this tour, then she can keep it up for another year.
Halford, Crucible – Remixed & Remastered (Metal God)
The original release of Crucible in 2002 seemed to cement the reality into people’s heads that Rob Halford was not going back to Judas Priest. His decision to shatter that reality a year later was a massive mind-fuck for every Halford fan in the world, because this album is a masterpiece of The Metal God’s prolific career. This new version of the classic album features four bonus tracks, including two never before released in the States, as well as new artwork and plenty of other extras.
Norma Jean, Meridional (Razor & Tie)
It’s ironic that ex-Norma Jean drummer Daniel Davison is now playing in Underoath, especially when you examine the two bands’ careers side by side. In the same time period that Underoath has gotten heavier and more technical, Norma Jean has dropped much of their technicality and increased their melody. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues on Meridional, Norma Jean’s first album without Davison, and also their first album not released by Solid State Records.
Zoroaster, Matador (E1)
The Atlanta-based sludge trio has been making waves for three years, even getting Mastodon’s Brent Hinds to perform guest vocals on their last full-length. Armed with a new deal from E1, they will attempt to spread their influence even further with Matador. If you go to see them live, though, bring some earplugs or else stand in the back.
Edenbridge, Solitaire (Napalm)
Symphonic metal with a female singer? I think we’ve seen this formula before. However, Edenbridge at least goes the extra mile with the symphonic tag, as Solitaire is their second album recorded with the Czech Film Orchestra. This Austrian group also has a more progressive edge than most similar-sounding bands, so this album is worth a try if you find other symphonic metal releases to be formulaic. If you’ve already heard the band and enjoy their music, try the special edition digipak to get two bonus tracks and extra artwork.
Sybreed, The Pulse of Awakening (Listenable)
Two weeks ago on New & Noteworthy, I mentioned two albums being released that had already been out for several weeks in Europe. Sybreed is taking that one step further – as of this week, The Pulse of Awakening has been out in Europe for eight months. Musically, Sybreed treads the middle ground of industrial metal – not as heavy and blastbeat-intensive as Fear Factory, but not as melodic and catchy as Mnemic either. They have a good balance to their sound that most industrial metal fans will find refreshing and enjoyable.
Hell Within, God Grant Me Vengeance (Thorp)
This Boston hardcore group has been around for eight years, but God Grant Me Vengeance is just their third full-length release. Talk about a model of perseverance. After two releases on Lifeforce, Hell Within signed with tiny indie label Thorp Records for this album. They’ll need to continue their lifelong model of nonstop touring for this album to advance their career at all.
Next Week: The heaviest of the heavy come roaring out of the gates with new albums! Practice your moshpit techniques and get ready to throw down!