This week’s top release, the sophomore album from ex-System of a Down singer Serj Tankian, was originally supposed to come out two weeks ago, but Tankian ordered the album pushed back when the plant manufacturing the liner notes ran out of tree-free paper, a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional wood-pulp paper. This action is just another in a growing list of examples of rock and metal performers adopting a cause or fund to support. The environment has been a pet project for Tankian for a long time – both of System of a Down’s last two albums, Mezmerize and Hypnotize, as well as Tankian’s solo debut, Elect the Dead, were printed on tree-free paper. The environment is a hot topic for support in the metal community, but the causes some musicians adopt can be as simple as helping teach others to treat people fairly. No matter what the cause is, seeing the metal community rise up in support of current issues is always a beautiful thing to see, and I hope we see it more often in the future.
Besides Tankian, there are only a few other artists releasing albums this week, giving us another brief respite before getting into October, a month that is positively oversaturated with new releases. This week will likely have prog fans excited, so read on to see the slim (but still top-notch) picks for this week.
Serj Tankian, Imperfect Harmonies (Reprise/Serjical Strike)
The oddity that was Elect the Dead Symphony seems to have affected Tankian more deeply than the majority of those that listened to it, as Imperfect Harmonies seems to take a left turn towards symphonic rock. Tankian has also alluded to using more jazz and electronic elements on this album, which will likely distance his solo work from System of a Down quite a lot. If Tankian is seeking to establish himself completely as a solo artist independent of his old band, then Imperfect Harmonies is the album that will do that.
Torche, Songs for Singles (Hydra Head)
Where does one place Torche in the classification of stoner metal, exactly? They’re too heavy to be grouped with Clutch and the more mainstream stoner metal scene, but they’re not sludgy enough to be grouped with Crowbar and Down, nor do they have the progressive side of Neurosis and Isis. Torche lies somewhere in the middle of these three points on the spectrum, and they have aspects within their music that will appeal to fans of all three styles at different times. Much like Baroness, Torche has a little something for everyone that likes the Southern metal vibe.
Methods of Mayhem, A Public Disservice Announcement (Loud & Proud/Roadrunner)
In the past eighteen months, Roadrunner’s imprint Loud & Proud has gone out of their way to sign a lot of established, veteran bands whose careers seemed to be heading downhill. And while the label has done a good job revitalizing most of these artists, the biggest head-scratcher of the group is Methods of Mayhem, the nu metal band formed by Tommy Lee in 1999. Although the initial run of Methods of Mayhem was short, Lee re-formed the band in 2009 and tried to give it a new image. A Public Disservice Announcement features contributions from people all around the world that wrote parts based on the song stems posted on The Public Record. As such, it’s a safe bet that this album will either be a smash-hit success or a colossal flop, depending on the caliber of the submissions chosen.
Dawnbringer, Nucleus (Profound Lore)
This progressive metal group is fronted by ex-Nachtmystium bassist Chris Black, who writes and performs almost all of the music on their studio albums. Much like Nachtmystium, Dawnbringer draws from a number of different styles to create their sound. However, Dawnbringer is a bit more focused and cohesive – the music can best be described as a fusion of NWOBHM and black metal, with touches of thrash and melodic death metal mixed in for good measure. Progressive black metal fans will adore this record, and fans of both aggressive NWOBHM and melodic black metal will also find lots to enjoy on Nucleus.
Opeth, In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall (Roadrunner)
If you are like me and were lucky enough to attend Opeth’s “Evolution XX” tour this past spring, you already know just how special and unique those six concerts were. Those that did not manage to see this incredible tour will now be able to witness the show that took place in London on April 5th. This double-DVD set will feature both sets from the concert – the entirety of Blackwater Park played first, followed by a collection of the band’s hits from their other albums. True devotees can also get the special five-disc edition which includes three CD’s of the concert’s audio recording.
Next Week: DVD’s, reissues, and special collections flock to the store shelves, but all will bow before The Metal God. You know where to be next Tuesday!