Exactly one month ago, we had our first flood of new releases of 2011, as 22 albums debuted for the metal fans. This week, we get another flood, with only a few less albums and a lot less name recognition. The underground rules the release charts this week, as many of the bands releasing albums are either young guns introducing themselves to the world for the first time, or else longtime unknowns trying to break into the foreground. Only two mainstream metal acts are on today’s list, and both are sliding in at the bottom with live DVD releases. This week, it is truly time to dive into the waters of the underground and take a shot on what’s new and exciting in the metal world.
If you regularly explore the metal underground, there are a few names you might recognize here. Chief among them, we get the resurgence of one of deathcore’s first big artists, the reunion of another veteran deathcore group, the coming of age for a German melodic death metal act, and the consistent impressiveness of a Finnish grindcore unit. All that comes with a heaping helping of new and excellent debuts, so check out what’s waiting on this intriguing list!
As Blood Runs Black, Instinct (Mediaskare)
As Blood Runs Black hit the scene in a big way with 2006’s Allegiance. One of the biggest deathcore records to drop before the scene’s explosion in 2007 and 2008, Allegiance set a very high standard for other bands to follow. Unfortunately, in the mist of constant lineup changes and inner turmoil, fans have been kept waiting almost five years for Instinct. With only drummer Hector “Leche” De Santiago left of the band’s founding members, and only bassist Nick Stewart left with Leche from the Allegiance lineup, Instinct has some high standards to meet and big shoes to fill.
Deadlock, Bizarro World (Lifeforce)
Even more than 2008’s Manifesto, Bizarro World is already fragmenting Deadlock’s fan base. Many are pleased with the new focus on Sabine Scherer (formerly Weniger) on vocals, while others are decrying the band for relegating Johannes Prem to essentially backup duty. Personally, I see this as the continuation of their sonic evolution, and while Deadlock is absolutely an acquired taste for many metalheads, they have reached a new level of maturity and understanding in what they want to do with their music on this album. That aspect makes this album a good listen for anyone looking for something slightly different from the rest of the melodic death metal terrain.
Salt the Wound, Kill the Crown (Rotten)
After 2009’s Ares, Salt the Wound disbanded due to touring exhaustion, despite their steadily increasing popularity. However, the Cleveland-based group is back, with original vocalist Kevin Schaefer returning to the fold as well. Schaefer was considered by many to be the band’s best vocalist, and his return to the group should serve as a good springboard to get them back into public notice. The mystery, though, is who the remaining members of the band will be, as Schaefer, founding guitarist Jake Scott, and drummer Brandon Tabor are the only members of the band listed in most locations. Regardless of the personnel, though, Kill the Crown will be overloaded with heaviness and violence.
Rotten Sound, Cursed (Relapse)
Rotten Sound and Nasum were the biggest grindcore bands to debut in the ’90s, following in the footsteps of Napalm Death. Although Nasum is sadly no longer active, Rotten Sound has stepped up and been very aggressive in spreading their music to wider audiences. The band has participated in a number of high profile tours in recent years, and their albums Exit and Cycles helped to advance their career by leaps and bounds. Cursed goes even further in that effort, and the new songs the band is performing on their current tour with Finntroll and Ensiferum are garnering rave responses.
Trap Them, Darker Handcraft (Prosthetic)
On Trap Them’s Prosthetic debut, the New Hampshire-based group justify the massive hype that has been generated for them. Mixing punk, grindcore, and experimental metal in equal measure, Trap Them has a very unique sound that puts them in the upper echelons of extreme metal. Their sound on Darker Handcraft is fine-tuned by the production of progressive metal savant Kurt Ballou, better known as the guitarist for Converge. With Ballou at the helm and vocalist Ryan McKenny roaring through this fast-paced album, Trap Them is on the fast track to widespread success.
Funeral for a Friend, Welcome Home Armageddon (Good Fight)
The Welsh post-hardcore outfit is moving back towards their early style on their fifth full-length album, while still retaining the better parts of their latest albums. They’ve been all over the sonic map in the past few years, but last year’s EP The Young and Defenceless showed some solidification in their sound. Welcome Home Armageddon continues that process, as Funeral for a Friend find ways to integrate their influences into one cohesive style.
Kvelertak, Kvelertak (The End)
These Norwegian experimentalists hit stores last June overseas, and the nearly-unanimous approval that the group earned with their self-titled debut spread to the States very quickly. Featuring guest performances from Taake vocalist Hoest, Ryan McKenny of Trap Them, and a number of other prolific metal artists, Kvelertak is a ferocious mix of hardcore, prog, and black n’ roll that is sweeping through the metal world like wildfire. The US version of the album features four live tracks and two demos as bonus material, making this album even more appealing to us here with its later release.
Mastodon, Live at the Aragon (Reprise)
Filmed in October 2009 at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom, this live performance was part of the craze of live performances of full albums. At this concert, Mastodon played their newest album Crack the Skye from start to finish, as well as tracks from their older albums and a cover of the Melvins’ “The Bit”. This release carries a CD and a DVD of the live show, allowing for a complete experience of this historic night. With a new album still in the works, Live at the Aragon is a perfect intermediary release.
Cannibal Corpse, Global Evisceration (Metal Blade)
Filmed during their 2010 tour with 1349, Skeletonwitch, and Lecherous Nocturne, Global Evisceration chronicles two Cannibal Corpse headlining shows, one from Colorado and one from New Mexico. There is also a full documentary on the touring cycle for the Evisceration Plague album, including the band’s stint on the 2009 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. Totaling to over two hours of live footage and behind the scenes material, Global Evisceration is a deep and interesting into the touring life of the veteran Florida death metal group.
Also being released this week:
Weedeater, Jason… The Dragon (Southern Lord)
Onward to Olympas, The War Within Us (Facedown)
Across the Sun, Before the Night Takes Us (Metal Blade)
Mamiffer, Mare Decendrii (Sige)
Assaulter, Boundless (Metal Blade)
KEN Mode, Venerable (Profound Lore)
Wreak Havoc, Abandon Everything (Rotten)
I Am History, Visions (C.I.)
Next Week: A few veteran acts hit the charts with new releases, but one debut album from the next big act in prog threatens to top them all. Who’s the new upstart? Check back next week and see what’s waiting for you!