It’s not often that a list as short as today’s evokes a great deal of insight from me. But today, I’m reminded of three vital facts about metal and metal fans when I look at today’s release schedule. First of all, for all the crap that metal fans can sometimes get about being open-minded and accepting, we really do enjoy and appreciate artists who expand their style into other genres, and can even learn to accept completely non-metal artists once we recognize their contributions to music. Second, we see just how enduring and resilient metal can be, having survived and even thrived in an era when much of the world turned completely away from metal in favor of other, “safer” styles of music. Third, and related to that, we recognize that despite much of the world shunning metal, we can find and appreciate the little bit of metal influence that nearly every style of rock music carries. It may not be much, but a little recognition is all it takes.
All of that leads us into what uninformed readers would likely consider to be one of the most non-metal lists they could find on this site. We have a prog group that has stepped further away from their death metal roots than ever before, one of the seminal post-hardcore groups of the past decade, and (as promised last week) the album that nearly ended metal at the beginning of the ’90s. I promise, we haven’t lost our minds! Read through and you’ll see that these albums are here for a reason.
Opeth, Heritage (Roadrunner)
2008’s Watershed was a turning point for Opeth, although the band’s fans didn’t know it at the time. Since the releases of Deliverance and Damnation, Opeth has incorporated greater progressive and classic rock influences in their music, slowly moving away from the death metal that spawned them over two decades ago. Mikael Åkerfeldt has never made secret his affection for ’70s prog acts like Rush and Yes, and that appreciation shines through clearly on Heritage. The fact that the band has moved into considerably lighter territory has brought them to the attention of larger groups, as evidenced by the fact that Heritage is streaming in its entirety on NPR Music. There is also the two-disc special edition that comes with numerous bonus tracks and 5.1 Dolby mixes of every track, among other goodies.
Thrice, Major/Minor (Vagrant)
Over a decade of pumping out the biggest post-hardcore hits have made Thrice into a household name among fans of the post-hardcore and screamo scenes. But after 2009’s Beggars, it’s safe to say that the veteran group is trying to expand their horizons. Vocalist Dustin Kensrue has stated that the group tried to draw on their math metal and hardcore influences for their new material. Unlike Beggars, not all of Major/Minor was recorded at New Grass Studios, the recording studio built in the home of guitarist Teppei Teranishi. Instead, the group worked with Dave Schiffman, the producer of 2005’s Vheissu, in his Red Bull Studios in Los Angeles. Those who pre-ordered the album received the acoustic version of the song “Anthology”, while iTunes pre-orders got the acoustic version of “Promises”.
Nirvana, Nevermind [2-CD Deluxe Edition] (Geffen)
Grunge was nearly the death blow to metal, and Nevermind was the album that began the downward trend. Kurt Cobain’s masterpiece is still one of the most beloved albums for two generations of rock fans, and now, after two decades of non-stop appreciation, Nevermind is finally getting the deluxe treatment it so richly deserves. The two-disc reissue adds live versions of numerous tracks, previously unreleased studio mixes, tracks recorded during the band’s sessions with the BBC, and much more. The die-hard Nirvana fan will be looking for more, though, and they’ll get it with the 4-CD/1-DVD Super Deluxe Edition. This enormous package, limited to 10,000 copies in the US and another 30,000 worldwide, includes much more studio and live material exclusive to the Super Deluxe edition, as well as a 90-page book of photos, documents, and more. There are some metal fans that will always hate Nirvana for having nearly destroyed the genre, but for the many metalheads that do enjoy the grunge stars, this will be a welcome purchase.
Also being released this week:
The Atlas Moth, An Ache for the Distance (Profound Lore)
Betraying the Martyrs, Breathe in Life (Sumerian)
Bloodsoaked, Death of Hope (Comatose/101 Distribution)
Next Week: We conclude the monstrous September calendar with the long-awaited follow-up to one of the best albums of 2007. Does it stand up to its predecessor? You’d better believe it! Find out more in seven days!