Um, where did everyone go? We’ve been inundated with releases for weeks now, and suddenly everyone decides to take a week off? Did new releases from Shakira and the cast of Glee really scare all the metal labels away? Well, believe what you read, because the metal world is on release vacation today. After a few busy weeks in recent memory, combined with the last big push leading up to Black Friday, I suppose this is the industry’s way of taking a moment to catch their breath.

A fair amount of this week’s releases are digital-only, signifying the increasing departure from CD production (much to the dismay of those with large CD collections, such as myself). I’ve also included a couple of import albums from bands that are gaining large followings overseas, just because this list needs some extra fresh blood. Enjoy this brief reprieve before the chaos returns next week.

Baptized in Blood, Baptized in Blood (Roadrunner)

Savvy fans of these Canadians know that they self-released a self-titled EP in 2006, making Baptized in Blood the second Roadrunner band to release a self-titled album after a self-titled EP this decade (how many more times could I use the word ‘self’ in that sentence, I wonder…). The bigger news, though, is that the band is now managed by labelmate and legend Dave Mustaine, whom they met in August during Megadeth and Slayer’s Canadian Carnage Tour. Being managed by one of metal’s most recognizable icons is one way to ensure that your band gets lots of recognition, something that Baptized in Blood deserves.

UnSun, Clinic for Dolls (Eagle/Fontana)

This gothic metal group from Poland was formed by ex-Vader guitarist Maurycy “Mauser” Stefanowicz as a side project, but it became a full-time group following his exit from Vader in 2008. Their debut, The End of Life, came out on Century Media that same year, but it didn’t get a lot of attention. One can only hope that Clinic for Dolls gets a little more notice, since lead singer Anna “Aya” Stefanowicz has a phenomenal voice that is perfect for their style.

The Fucking Wrath, Terra Fire (Tee Pee)

Our friends over at MetalSucks say that these guys play a lot of “taco riffs”, a concept that I am still completely mystified by. Even the explanation from Justin Foley of The Austerity Program still doesn’t clear anything up for me. Nonetheless, these crust punk/hardcore/sludge dudes from California bring a lot of rage to the table in their songs. They’re worth checking out if you’re into the alternating slow and fast riffage that they picked up from Helmet and other pioneering bands.

Destrage, The King is Fat’n’Old (Coroner)

I won’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of this Italian group. Their debut, Urban Being, came across my radar after they signed with Coroner Records in 2009. Both that album and The King is Fat’n’Old were produced by Ettore Rigotti, the mastermind behind Disarmonia Mundi and one of the fastest-rising producers in Europe. While the song titles may be a little confusing, their music is well-executed with some very unique styles and progressions.

The Michael Schenker Group, Live in Tokyo: 30th Anniversary Japan Tour (In-akustik)

Even after three decades, MSG still kicks pretty hard, and fans love seeing the former Scorpions and UFO guitarist shred and wah-wah through song after song. The return of founding members Gary Barden and Chris Glenn makes all the difference in this release, as the group sounds tighter and stronger than they have in several years. This tour of the land of the rising sun was a tremendous success for the band, and if you’re looking for a good live album with plenty of MSG hits, this album is the one you want to pick up.

Next Week: Fire! Death! Shadows! Monsters! Grails! Nuts! No, I’m not explaining this seemingly random string of words. Figure it out yourself by getting back here next week’s massive list of new releases.