The name of Ronnie James Dio is synonymous with the very essence of metal. One of the greatest ambassadors for the genre around the globe, Dio made it okay for anyone of any persuasion to like metal. He even gave us the most widely-used symbol for metal representation, and the metal community can never thank him enough for all he did in his career. Now, six months after his tragic passing, the world can see Dio’s final recorded stage performance, courtesy of this week’s leading new release. Nothing should be bigger than this, and nothing else will be bigger than this for the remainder of the year.
A few other releases are also hitting shelves this week; chief among them being the fourth album from one of post-hardcore’s leading bands. But the main attraction has already been identified. This should be an easy week for music purchases.
Heaven & Hell, Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven & Hell – Live at Wacken (Eagle/Fontana)
What’s not to like about this? It’s Heaven & Hell playing to an audience of several thousand rabid metal fans, singing along with almost every single word of every single song. The setlist has an amazingly well-balanced group of classic Black Sabbath songs and newer tunes from The Devil You Know. There may not be any bonus materials or backstage antics, but who needs to see that? When Dio is onstage, there is nothing else necessary to make this is a sellable item. And those not interested in the video portion can still pick up the live CD, which has the entire live show captured in glorious audio. Simply put, why haven’t you bought this already?
A Day to Remember, What Separates Me from You (Victory)
The band that made it cool to mix pop-punk with metalcore continues to chug along with their fourth album. As with last year’s Homesick, the album was produced by Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory, who turned out some excellent production for the California kids. Much like Escape the Fate (whom I mistakenly left out of New & Noteworthy a few weeks ago – oops), A Day to Remember is garnering a larger fanbase all the time. And while many outsiders don’t understand the band’s popularity, the fans will just keep coming with every record they release.
Killing Joke, Absolute Dissent (Universal)
This marks the first full-length album since 1982’s Revelations that features the band’s original lineup. Obviously that makes Absolute Dissent a vital release in Killing Joke’s discography, along with the fact that it marks their 30 year anniversary as a band. Initial critical reception has been highly positive, meaning that the band is in good form even after so many years in the industry. What will likely draw in a lot of fans is the 2-CD deluxe edition, which features a second disc of Killing Joke covers performed by the likes of Metallica, Helmet, Foo Fighters, Fear Factory, Amen, Dead by April, and many others.
Allen-Lande, The Showdown (Frontiers)
In the wake of announcing their huge North American tour in April, how does Symphony X frontman Russell Allen decide to celebrate? With the third release from his amazing side project with Masterplan vocalist Jørn Lande, of course! The Showdown follows in the same vein as its predecessors, The Battle and The Revenge, delivering melodic power metal with amazing vocals. Combining two of the best power-prog singers in the world is practically a guaranteed formula for success. If you’re a fan of either Symphony X or Masterplan, or even other bands with similar sound, then Allen-Lande is the hidden gem that needs to find its way into your library of music.
Jesu, Heartache & Dethroned (Hydra Head)
Apparently Justin K. Broadrick wasn’t content with re-releasing Godflesh’s classic album Streetcleaner this year, because he has more old material to unleash on the masses. This release encompasses the band’s first EP, Heart Ache, and the lost demo Dethroned, which has never been released before. The first two tracks are each around twenty minutes in length, while the other four hover around the seven-minute mark. Post-metal and experimental metal fans ought to be all over this for the historical significance of it.
Volumes, The Concept of Dreaming (Mediaskare)
Newly signed to Century Media imprint Mediaskare, Volumes is a seven-piece group from Los Angeles playing the same style of progressive metalcore that has become popularized by Periphery, This or the Apocalypse, and a few other bands in the past two years. This style is quickly exploding in the American metal scene, so the bands that distinguish themselves early on will be the most likely to last. Volumes draws on a lot of technical metal influences like Despised Icon and Blood Has Been Shed, while throwing Whitechapel-esque breakdowns into their sound as well. It’s an interesting combination that could give this band a large following very quickly.
Next Week: We enter the final week overloaded with releases before the holiday shutdown. Be ready for the most eclectic list you’ve seen in a long time!