Aside from debating about what bands are better than others and why, no topic is quite as inflammatory among metalheads as organized religion. Some embrace it, others despise it, and plenty are ambivalent about it. 2010 has been a fairly even year in terms of releases on either side of the divide. The Christian metal scene has gotten a pretty high number of releases, but this week, the anti-religious bands return fire with several high-profile releases. The same thing will occur four weeks from now, so ready the corpsepaint for release weeks bookended by the biggest bands in black metal.
There are plenty of bands not involved in the religious debate also releasing albums this week. Chief among them are one of the most popular metalcore bands in the world and a veteran New York hardcore act, both with impressive new releases. Oh, and Phil Anselmo also makes an appearance. Get ready for a week that will hit your wallet with the hammer of Baphomet!
Dimmu Borgir, Abrahadabra (Nuclear Blast)
A Dimmu Borgir album without a three word title? Blasphemy! Although the greater concern of most fans will be how the album sounds with the band’s new lineup, which is without former bassist/clean vocalist ICS Vortex and former keyboardist Mustis. The epic saga of their firing last year, combined with the one-day Snowy Shaw membership event, has made the lead up to Abrahadabra‘s release a near parody. But don’t laugh now, because there is nothing light-hearted about this album. Look to the downright scary video for “Gateways” as proof of this.
All That Remains, For We Are Many (Prosthetic/Razor & Tie)
The Massachusetts group has kept their lineup intact from one album to the next for the first time ever in their career. Kudos to them for accomplishing that, and hopefully it indicates a greater level of consistency for them in the future. For We Are Many is an album that could either maintain the mainstream tendencies of its predecessor Overcome, or could revert back to the more intricate and technical nature of 2006’s The Fall of Ideals. No matter which way it goes, though, All That Remains has a ton of fans to please now. We can only hope that Phil Labonte and Co. can keep their career rolling like it has for the past five years.
Madball, Empire (Good Fight)
With the revolving door of drummers in Madball these days, one has to wonder how Freddy, Hoya, and Mitts have stuck it out for so long. Reality, though, is that Madball has been a constant struggle, and this band has endured for longer than almost all of their contemporaries. Legends of hardcore and influences for every band to enter the scene throughout the world, Madball will embody the spirit of their genre until their career is over. Thankfully, Empire is a sign that their career will continue for a long time to come, as the veterans sound just as intense and passionate as they do on their first releases.
The Crown, Doomsday King (Century Media)
The reactivated Swedish death-thrashers are renowned for having two veteran lead singers in their past lineups: Johan Lindstrand, the band’s original singer, and Tomas Lindberg of At the Gates/Nightrage/Disfear fame. However, neither of them will be appearing on Doomsday King, as Lindstrand is devoted to his new project, One Man Army and the Undead Quartet, and Lindberg has disappeared off the map since the last At the Gates reunion tour. Instead, the band has brought in God Macabre vocalist Jonas Stålhammar to take over singing duties. After the success of 2004’s Crowned Unholy and 2003’s Possessed 13, we’ve been long overdue for a new album from The Crown. Welcome back to the world of metal!
Arson Anthem, Insecurity Notoriety (Housecore)
Phil Anselmo’s crust-hardcore supergroup has waited two years to release their full-length debut, after building up a great deal on anticipation through their self-titled EP released in 2008. This is not the kind of group you’d expect to feature Eyehategod vocalist Mike Williams and famed multi-instrumentalist Hank Williams III on drums. Nonetheless, Arson Anthem continues in a harsher, faster, and more caustic tone from where Superjoint Ritual left off. This release will definitely appeal to crust-punk fans looking for a fresh sound.
Hail of Bullets, On Divine Winds (Metal Blade)
Fans of old school death metal will find a lot to love with Hail of Bullets. The Dutch supergroup features members of Pestilence, Asphyx, Houwitser, Gorefest, and Thanatos, which equates with a heaping slab of death metal that will crush all but the most stalwart fans. Their 2008 debut …Of Frost and War was a wake-up call to the death metal scene around the world, and On Divine Winds will likely provide the same high-energy, destructive music for the faithful.
Intronaut, Valley of Smoke (Century Media)
These guys have been making a lot of waves recently through some fairly high-profile tours with Cynic and Helmet. Their sound is highly progressive and they have lots of different genres worked into their music. Nachtmystium, The Ocean, and Burst fans will have lots of good things to say about Intronaut. And if you’re still skeptical, their debut album Prehistoricisms should convince you of their worth.
Raunchy, A Discord Electric (Lifeforce)
The Danish group scored a lot of points with critics on 2008’s Wasteland Discotheque, an album that displayed a lot of cohesion and inventiveness on the part of the band. They’ve progressed more and more in their sound as time has gone on, and if A Discord Electric succeeds in this trend, then Raunchy should finally start to get some widespread recognition in the States.
Angra, Aqua (SPV/Steamhammer)
This year has been plentiful for power metal fans, as a plethora of amazing records have dropped from the genre’s brightest stars. Brazil’s Angra have slipped under the radar with Aqua, which is surprising considering the fact that it’s been four years since their last album, Aurora Consurgens. Their progressive style and epic instrumentals have made Angra a staple in the underground scene. If Aqua can attract some new fans to the band, then Brazil might have more metal to offer than just Cavalera-related bands.
Spiritual Beggars, Return to Zero (Inside Out)
The “heavy rock” side project of Arch Enemy/Carcass axeman Michael Amott has seen huge success overseas, particularly in Japan. Armed with a new album and a new vocalist, Firewind singer Apollo Papathanasio, Spiritual Beggars is ready to bring their dominant style to US soil now. Don’t let the bright colors of the album art fool you – this album is heavy and groovy, with multi-faceted elements that give it lots of cross-genre appeal.
Circle of Animals, Destroy the Light (Relapse)
The duo of Sanford Parker (Minsk, Nachtmystium, The High Confessions) and Bruce Lamont (Yakuza) purportedly needed “a rotating cast of established drummers” to make Destroy the Light. This is not surprising, considering the progressive and often highly experimental music we’re used to hearing from this pair. Destroy the Light will be a favorite for metal fans looking to hear something that is the sonic equivalent of a collision of Cynic, Opeth, Porcupine Tree, and Meshuggah.
Negligence, Coordinates of Confusion (Metal Blade)
These guys get kudos from me simply for being the first metal band I’ve ever heard of that originated in Slovenia. Further proof that metal can come from anywhere as long as the heart is in it. Their brand of thrash is a throwback to some of the less well-known thrash acts of the 80s such as Heathen and Forbidden. This is a refreshing change from the Slayer copying that runs rampart among younger thrash bands. If the group gets a decent following, the members might actually decide to reveal their full names!
Donnybrook!, The Beast Inside (Eulogy)
By comparison to the other locations where hardcore is located, you don’t hear a lot of references to LAHC. However, Donnybrook! is trying to make hardcore a viable scene in Los Angeles once again. With an old-school hardcore DIY ethic and comparisons to famous acts like Death Threat, this group seems to be poised to make LAHC a household term among hardcore fans.
Titan, Sweet Dreams (Relapse)
This instrumental outfit from Brooklyn has an intense love for space rock, and they seem to be capable of opening for any band in any genre, ranging from Boris to Saviours and virtually everyone in between. After a brief stint on Tee Pee Records, Titan got their break with a signing to Relapse earlier this year. 2010 has been an excellent year for instrumental fans, and Titan looks to add to this list with Sweet Dreams.
Symphorce, Unrestricted (AFM)
This German power-prog outfit got some minor recognition in the US with their sixth album, Become Death. They hope to expand on that with Unrestricted, an album that shortens some of the compositions but maintains the high level of quality of its predecessor. Those familiar with Cedric Dupont’s work in Freedom Call know what kind of guitar wizardry can be expected here.
Manticora, Safe (Nightmare/RED)
Keeping with the epic power metal theme, Denmark’s Manticora is also on their seventh album, and looking to uphold their power-thrash style for wider audience approval. Recorded with producer Tommy Hansen (Jorn, Circus Maximus, Helloween), this album will be quite polished, showing off the best sides of each band member under a microscope. Both of these albums are worth checking out if you’re looking for some new power metal to try your hand at.
Lexia, Underground Sounds (Breaksilence)
Eyes Set to Kill frontwoman Alexia Rodriguez, amidst taking part in this year’s Warped Tour and recording her band’s fourth album, somehow found time this year to write and record her own solo record as well. Much like Leaves’ Eyes frontwoman Liv Kristine did on her solo albums, Lexia opted to take a lighter approach to her music on her solo material. Underground Sounds is a mixture of original songs with a decidedly more pop flavor to them, and Eyes Set to Kill songs performed in different styles. There is also a Radiohead cover included just to keep things interesting.
Various Artists, Covers of the Damned (N/A)
This EP somehow celebrates Atreyu’s current headlining run with blessthefall, Chiodos, Architects, and Endless Hallway. It features – you guessed it – five cover songs; two performed by Atreyu, one by Endless Hallway, and the other two featuring collaborations of members of all the bands coming together. It’s an interesting concept, although it admittedly doesn’t have a point that immediately jumps out. Still, though, those attending Atreyu’s upcoming tour should check out this EP if they have the chance.
TesseracT, Concealing Fate EP (Century Media)
The folks at Century Media have been raving about this band, even though they don’t have a single album released for the label yet. This digital EP is meant to give fans a brief taste of what they can expect on TesseracT’s debut album, One, due out next year. Anyone that enjoyed the newest albums from Periphery, This or the Apocalypse, and Protest the Hero should give TesseracT a chance, as they sport similar sounds and would attract the same fans.
Slayer, The Vinyl Conflict (Sony)
If you are a die-hard Slayer fan or a vinyl collector, this box is for you…as long as you have $200 lying around. This boxed set contains all ten Slayer albums, pressed onto 180-gram vinyl, with original reproductions of the old vinyl art. Truly, this set will be worth every penny of the humongous price tag it carries. This is, by far, the most complete compilation of Slayer materials in recent memory. However, you can register to win not only a copy of this awesome set, but also a guitar from Kerry King by going here.
Next Week: There are almost too few new releases for me to write about, but as always, I will find a way to deliver the goods. Let’s see what I can pull off for one of the shortest release weeks in recent memory.