Halloween is right around the corner, which means that a huge marketing blitz is looming on the horizon. With Chrismahanukwanzakah in the not-so-distant future, a plethora of labels will be flooding the market with new releases to be obtained as presents or purchases with digital gift cards. We will once again be alternating between heavy weeks and light weeks with release volume, starting with an extremely heavy week today.
When looking over today’s list, there are two characteristics that immediately stick out. First, this is one of the most diverse lists of new releases with regard to genre splits. Second, unlike previous intense weeks, no hugely prominent names from the current metal scene are on the list with full-length albums of new material. We have some reissues, EPs, and live material from a few big names, but for the most part, the new material comes from second-tier metal bands on the verge of big breakouts or veteran bands trying to make a comeback. Choose wisely with what albums you choose to support this week, because the big name acts are coming back soon.
Ill Niño, Dead New World (Victory)
Signing with Victory Records, a label better known for hardcore and screamo bands, seems like a strange move for the Latin-themed nu metal group. However, they’ve needed a permanent home since their split with Roadrunner in 2006, so Victory seems like as good a place as any. 2008’s Enigma didn’t get quite the attention it deserved, so if you’ve missed out of these guys, check out this album and see just how far they’ve come. Vocalist Cristian Machado is still one of the most unique and versatile singers in the scene, and drummer Dave Chavarri outdoes himself once again on this new album.
Firewind, Days of Defiance (Century Media)
To be honest, I’ve been getting sick to death with the way some sites (not Metal Insider, thank goodness) have made it seem like being Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist is Gus G.’s primary position, and that Firewind is just a side project. Many people are not aware that Firewind has been around for over a decade, and that Gus G. quit several other bands in 2005 in order to make Firewind his main focus. Even with the notoriety that his new gig affords him, I’m sure that Gus still considers Firewind to be his most important musical endeavor, and Days of Defiance has the chops and skill to showcase that. Guitar enthusiasts and power metal fans will likely consider this album to be one of the best of the year.
Kylesa, Spiral Shadow (Season of Mist)
The Georgia sludge outfit is practically the definition of a “slow burn”. Time Will Fuse Its Worth is when the buzz started, and Static Tensions increased the hype a fair amount. Through it all, the band has toured relentlessly with a multitude of metal’s elite bands. Kylesa is the snake in the grass among metal bands, waiting for their moment to strike and finally become the massive force they are capable of being. Spiral Shadow may be the moment when the strike finally comes, and that venom will taste oh so sweet when it hits.
Neaera, Forging the Eclipse (Metal Blade)
Neaera is the unsung hero of Germany’s younger metal scene. While Heaven Shall Burn and Caliban have been making names for themselves around the world, Neaera has quietly amassed one of the most consistent and impressive discographies in their country this decade. 2008’s Armamentarium was a masterpiece album of melodic death metal destruction, and while last year’s Omnicide – Creation Unleashed wasn’t quite as perfect as its predecessor, it still delivered heavy, assaultive metal in Neaera’s tradition. Forging the Eclipse continues the trend of excellence as the fastest album the band has ever written. If you’re a fan of Caliban, Heaven Shall Burn, or any other young German metalcore/melodic death metal bands, then Neaera is required listening for you.
Dååth, Dååth (Century Media)
If anyone doubts the technical proficiency of this band, take a moment to listen to Avalanche of Worms, the instrumental album put out earlier this year by Dååth guitarists Eyal Levi and Emil Werstler. One spin of that record is all it will take to convince you that these two are among the most technically-minded musicians on the planet. The band’s previous two albums, The Hinderers and The Concealers, set the stage for them to break out in a big way with this album. Now it’s time for Dååth to join technical metal’s highest ranks.
Monster Magnet, Mastermind (Napalm)
After exiting SPV Records last year, the New Jersey rockers signed on with Austrian label Napalm Records and started their efforts to rebuild the band’s legacy. Mastermind seems to be a step towards doing just that, as reviews thus far have been very positive. If you long for the glory days of Spine of God or Powertrip, then Mastermind is a must-buy for you. The lead single “Gods and Punks” is already making impressive waves in rock radio.
Senses Fail, The Fire (Vagrant)
I’m not sure if I just wasn’t paying attention or what, but I had no idea that both 2006’s Still Searching and 2008’s Life is Not a Waiting Room broke the top 20 on the Billboard charts. Hell, I wasn’t even aware Senses Fail had put out any new material since Let it Enfold You. Chalk that up to my distractibility…and the fact that, like many metalheads, I just don’t see the appeal in these guys. Regardless, The Fire is the band’s fourth album with Vagrant, a testament to good business practices and loyalty, both of which seem to be dwindling in the industry these days. Thank you, Vagrant, for setting a good example. Post-hardcore kids will definitely be rejoicing over this album.
Your Demise, The Kids We Used to Be… (Rise)
These hardcore youngsters from the UK proved to be quite impressive on their last album, Ignorance Never Dies. They’ve picked up a strong following through tours with Misery Signals, The Devil Wears Prada, and many others, and they are poised to continue that on their current European trek with Parkway Drive. The band shows no signs of awkwardness with new vocalist Ed McRae, and they appear to be on the fast track to hardcore superstardom.
Withered, Dualitas (Prosthetic)
This band has so many influences that it’s often hard to tell where their music is going from one song to the next. Drawing on sludge metal, black metal, crust punk, and death metal, Withered is a wild ride for the uninitiated listener. 2008’s Folie Circulaire had a lot of potential for success that was never realized. Hopefully Dualitas manages to fix that for the Georgian quartet.
Conducting from the Grave, Revenants (Sumerian)
I got hooked on these guys after seeing them destroy the third stage at 2009’s New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, and their Sumerian debut When Legends Become Dust convinced me that they were the real deal. It’s easy to mistake Conducting from the Grave for a deathcore band, but in reality, they’re one of the best bands in America’s new young melodic death metal scene. If you skipped out on When Legends Become Dust because of the initial sound, give Revenants a few listens, and be amazed at how quickly your opinion changes.
Kill the Client, Set for Extinction (Relapse)
This Dallas-based grindcore outfit clearly worships early Napalm Death and Nasum, as this is their third album with over 15 tracks. I remember being impressed by the musicianship on the track “Wage Slave” from their debut Escalation of Hostility, and there were more than a few standout tracks on the follow-up Cleptocracy. If you’re feeling impatient waiting for new albums from Pig Destroyer or Agoraphobic Nosebleed, then Set for Extinction will likely whet your appetite for grind.
The Red Shore, The Avarice of Man (Mediaskare)
The best way to describe The Red Shore is that they are the illegitimate love-child of fellow Australian bands Parkway Drive and Psycroptic. Blending a violent death metal base into a hardcore/deathcore-influenced accentuation, replete with breakdowns and throat-shredding vocals, The Red Shore takes their sound as close to deathcore as they can get without actually stepping over the line. For those death metal fans with guilty pleasures among the “forbidden” genres, The Red Shore is worth checking out.
Holy Grail, Crisis in Utopia (Prosthetic)
Get the Monty Python jokes out of your system now, because there is nothing comical about this band at all. They take their brand of power metal seriously, as one could only expect with three members of White Wizzard in the lineup. They’re also touring with Blind Guardian next month in North America, a testament to just how intense this band is. Knowing how rabid and opinionated the average Blind Guardian fan is, not many new bands would willingly step into the lion’s mouth like this. Kudos to Holy Grail for having the courage to take part in this tour.
(hed)P.E., Truth Rising (Suburban Noize)
Oh look, the original rapcore band is back again! I’ll bet most of you didn’t know they released an album last year, and in 2007, 2006, 2004, and 2003 as well. It’s certainly an odd state of affairs when your band is three times more active than Tool in a decade, and yet they still end up in the press more than you. Nonetheless, you have to give (hed)P.E. credit for sticking to the same style years after it lost popularity. If you’re a fan of their work or just enjoy them as a guilty pleasure – and let’s face it, all of us nodded our heads to “Bartender” at least once – then Truth Rising is an album you could borrow from a friend for a preview listen.
Cough, Ritual Abuse (Relapse)
Newly signed to Relapse, Cough fits in with other new Relapse signings such as Black Tusk, Tombs, Howl, and Minsk – sludgy doom metal with no twists or tricks. It’s nice to see bands playing classic sounds without trying to gimmick them up at all, so a big thanks to Relapse for promoting genuine, tried-and-true sounds that never get boring. Ritual Abuse is chock-full of thick riffage and towering structures, just what every sludge-doom metal fan wants to hear. If the scene doesn’t become oversaturated by all the young talent being signed, Cough could become a household name among sludge and doom fans.
The Wretched End, Ominous (Candlelight)
With the demise of Zyklon and no further Emperor reunions planned in the immediate future, guitarist Samoth has found a new way to produce amazing metal. After meeting guitarist Cosmocrator of Mindgrinder during their tenure in Norwegian-American supergroup Scum, the seed of The Wretched End was planted. With Cosmo providing guitar, bass, and vocals, Samoth on guitar, and ex-Dark Funeral drummer Nils Fjellström (aka Dominator) added to complete the lineup, a new death metal trio was born. Knowing what Samoth is capable of writing, this album will be a huge hit among black metal fans for sure.
Witchsorrow, Witchsorrow (Metal Blade)
Yet another doom metal band on the list, Witchsorrow is a doom trio from the UK with an impressive touring resume. They’ve opened for some of the biggest names in their genre, such as Orange Goblin, The Gates of Slumber, Electric Wizard, and others, as well as a stint at Bloodstock Open Air in 2008. They play very traditional doom metal, as slow and as heavy as possible. If this style appeals to you, then you’re in luck, considering how few bands perform it well in the modern scene.
Tangents, One Little Light Year (Restricted Release/Angle Side Side)
Tangents was originally supposed to be a side project for Derek Kerswill, so that he could have an outlet for his love of alternative and indie rock. However, due to his unfortunate split with Unearth that was announced yesterday, Tangents is now a full time project. Also featuring singer/guitarist Dave Witham, this duo plays psychedelic alt-rock with extreme precision. Recommend this album to all of your non-metal friends, because any progressive or ambient rockers out there will love this album. Lots of metal fans will also find this to be a good “quiet” album to listen to on the side, and any fans of Kerswill’s top-notch drumming will get the full experience of his skill set on One Little Light Year.
Star One, Victims of the Modern Age (Inside Out)
As if Arjen Lucassen wasn’t creating enough experimental metal for us. The Ayreon frontman has reactivated Star One after nearly seven years of hiatus, which will be a pleasure for those looking hear some excellent guitar work and great guest vocal appearances. Also, the songs on this album are purportedly based on a lot of movies and TV shows, mostly from the sci-fi genre. Those that enjoy interesting metaphors mixed with mind-bending compositions will find Victims of the Modern Age to be quite entertaining.
Deez Nuts, This One’s for You (Mediaskare)
It’s pretty clear that founder/drummer J.J. Peters (ex-I Killed the Prom Queen) likes rap a lot, what with the name of his band being based on a joke skit by Long Beach rapper Warren G. Granted, there are worse names Peters could have picked, but not many. This hardcore group loves the tour aspect of life quite obviously, and their blend of hardcore and rap could potentially soften people up to the idea of rap-metal coming back slightly.
Triptykon, Shatter: Eparistera Daimones Accompanied (Century Media)
I was blown away by the sheer power and strength of Triptykon’s debut, Eparistera Daimones. It is, in my opinion, one of the best pieces Tom Gabriel Fischer has ever recorded. This EP is a companion piece to that album, featuring two B-sides from the recording sessions, a remastered version of the song “Crucifixus”, and two live Celtic Frost covers. If you were as impressed by Triptykon as I was, then this EP is a necessary purchase for the full experience of the band.
Control Denied, The Fragile Art of Existence (Reissue) (Relapse)
Fans of Chuck Schuldiner know that this is the last piece of recorded material he finished before his tragic passing in 2001. Relapse is now reissuing the album with a second disc of previously unheard bonus material, in celebration of Schuldiner’s legacy. There is also a three-disc deluxe reissue only available through the Relapse webstore and limited to 1000 copies. Be prepared, as well, for the upcoming release of Control Denied’s second album When Machine and Man Collide, which was unfinished at the time of Schuldiner’s death.
Every Time I Die, New Junk Aesthetic + Shit Happens: The Series? (Epitaph)
Four years ago, the good-humored Buffalo metalcore outfit released the original Shit Happens DVD, much to the praise and amusement of fans. This year, the band has been releasing a sequel via webisodes on Vans.com and other locations. Now, all those webisodes are available on one disc, packaged with their 2009 album. If you didn’t pick up New Junk Aesthetic when it came out, this is the edition you want to buy now. The webisode series has been side-splittingly funny, and viewing it all in one sitting is one of the best musical comedy experiences a person can have.
Shadows Fall, Madness in Manila: Shadows Fall Live in the Philippines 2009 (Everblack Industries)
Recorded in April 2009, this DVD chronicles the band’s headlining appearance at the Pulp Summer Slam. The setlist for this performance is one of the strongest I’ve ever seen from the Massachusetts veterans, spanning their older material and newer songs in equal coverage. If you’ve been wanting a new DVD from Shadows Fall in the five years since The Art of Touring, then you will be happy with this one. Shadows Fall could not have picked a better performance to record. Although, as a side note, the Pulp Summer Slam promo poster is one of the weirdest pieces of artwork I’ve ever seen.
Transatlantic, Whirld Tour 2010: Live in London (Metal Blade)
The lesser known “other” group of Mike Portnoy, Transatlantic made waves at the start of the decade with their albums SMPT:e and Bridge Across Forever, before disbanding suddenly so that vocalist Neal Morse (ex-Spock’s Beard) could start a Christian rock career. However, the band got back together in 2009 to record The Whirlwind, and followed the album up with a massive world tour. This DVD covers the spectacular London show, a three and a half hour performance of top-notch progressive rock. It’s also available as a three-disc CD set and a three-CD/double-DVD deluxe edition. Check this out just to see the epic performance of the song “The Whirlwind”, a twelve-part 77-minute opus that puts Meshuggah’s I, Edge of Sanity’s Crimson I and Crimson II, and every other single-song album in existence to shame.
Next Week: The biggest release comes from four bands at once. This shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. See you in November!