Two weeks ago, we got to see a hard rock band top the charts on the week of their debut, marking the third time this year that has happened. Raise that count to four now, as Linkin Park has joined the 2010 #1 debut club with A Thousand Suns, the band’s fourth album and by far most experimental work yet. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: when it comes to actually buying music, rock and metal fans are the most devoted to their artists, and subsequently, the most willing to buy full albums. Keep it up, everyone! Make your favorite artists proud!
The industry seems to be in a format of heavy week-light week in terms of new releases. This week is jam-packed with reissues and DVDs, continuing that format heading into October. At the top is the solo project of metal’s biggest voice, releasing his fourth album before embarking on another enormous tour. Be sure to check out the rest of the list too – there are some great new releases hidden in this treasure trove!
Halford, Made of Metal (Metal God)
Apparently Rob Halford and Ozzy Osbourne got along during this past Ozzfest, because they’re doing it again in November and December. And don’t be discouraged if you’re on the West Coast and will therefore miss Ozzfest Redux – Halford has some solo dates lined up on California after the tour ends. All in all, this has been a great year for the Judas Priest frontman, and it will only be made better if this album sells well.
Enslaved, Axioma Ethica Odini (Nuclear Blast)
After the disastrous Vertebrae that had more people calling for the band to quit than singing its praises, the only place for Enslaved to go is up. This album does just that, getting heavier and inching closer to the band’s viking metal roots. It’s not a full shift back, but it’s a good start. Fans that have avoided the band for their last three albums might want to consider coming back for another try.
Abigail Williams, In the Absence of Light (Candlelight)
This is a very different band from the one that released In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns two years ago. With the departure of keyboard wizard Ashley Ellyllon (who joined Cradle of Filth last year), so also went the majority of the symphonic elements of the band’s sound. Abigail Williams is now a straightforward black metal band, making their worship of Emperor and Immortal quite plain. Traditional black metal fans will be pleasantly surprised by this album.
Powerglove, Saturday Morning Apocalypse (E1)
Never underestimate the power of nerds. These group of video game and cartoon lovers have earned a decent following on tour with the likes of Dragonforce, Sonata Arctica, Firewind, and Arsis, all while…wait, ARSIS? Yes, you did read that correctly. Powerglove will be main support for Arsis on the upcoming A Tour for the Sick, and will be preceded on stage by death metal upstarts Conducting from the Grave. Once you’ve realized that lineup makes for the weirdest tour you’ve ever seen, know also that the big draw of Saturday Morning Apocalypse is hearing Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica sing the themes from The Simpsons and Pokemon. If that doesn’t excite your inner geek, I don’t know what will.
Black Anvil, Triumvirate (Relapse)
Formed from the ashes of NYC hardcore group Kill Your Idols, Black Anvil is not what you’d expect from a bunch of hardcore kids. These guys have an obvious love for Sodom and other blackened thrash metal bands. Black Anvil actually has more in common with Skeletonwitch than they do with Terror and Hatebreed. Their style of thrash is somewhat slower than Skeletonwitch, but since so few young thrash bands are willing to take the leap and attempt blackened thrash, Black Anvil is definitely worth checking out.
Pro-Pain, Absolute Power (Regain)
For a band that got its start in the NYHC scene, Pro-Pain certainly took their time releasing this album in their homeland. Absolute Power has been out in Europe since last June, and the band gave local fans the cold shoulder for most of the summer touring cycle. However, all will be forgiven if Absolute Power upholds Pro-Pain’s reputation as a veteran hardcore act with plenty left to say. Also, a tour in the States might help.
Unearthly Trance, V (Relapse)
Our third group in a row from New York is on their fifth album of sludgy doom metal and isn’t losing momentum in the slightest. Instead of composing a smaller number of incredibly long songs, Unearthly Trance delivers thirteen short to mid-length tunes that weave and intertwine to create a multi-faceted full album experience. With the right exposure, these guys could easily stand alongside YOB, Sunn O))), and Rwake at the top of the drone-doom heap.
New Medicine, Race You to the Bottom (Atlantic)
If you got to the Uproar Festival early enough, you likely saw these guys opening the festivities and wondered who the hell they were. The group used to be called A Verse Unsung, but changed their name after some parts of the lineup shifted. Musically, they’re similar to the new wave of alternative/punk rock bands popping up all over the place recently (Eye Alaska, Drive A, and Since October all come to mind). They’ve got some pretty raunchy lyrics too – their first single is called “Laid”. Perhaps they’re studying at the Kroeger Academy of Lyrical Composition?
Mushroomhead, Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children (Megaforce)
You remember Mushroomhead, right? The band of Slipknot rejects that sounded very similar to them? They’re from Cleveland and they mostly released music that others had done before and better? Yeah, that band. Well, they’re back with yet another album of alternative metal. It is getting positive reviews thus far, but how fans receive it will be the true determining factor. They’re a guilty pleasure for lots of people, so we’ll give them a shot to prove themselves…again.
Sweet Cobra, Mercy (Black Market Activities/Metal Blade)
Whenever I say “sweet cobra”, I feel like some kind of surfer beach bum talking to a snake handler and watching his show, and it usually gives me a chuckle. However, these stoner metal newcomers are anything but lighthearted on their new full-length. They hail from the same group of stoner-doom bands that has already brought us Tombs, Black Tusk, Akimbo, and Keelhaul recently. Sweet Cobra fits right in with this group, although their music comes from a different emotional place. In November 2009, guitarist Matthew Arluck passed away after a long battle with cancer. This album is likely dedicated to his memory. May he rest in peace.
The Secret, Solve et Coagula (Southern Lord)
Similar in tone and style to Ed Gein, Gaza, Knut, and Engineer, The Secret is good noisecore through and through. They have technicality on a Converge-esque level, but without the experimentation or odd production values. They have the solid compositions of Unsane, but without the strong groove presence. The Secret are very unique, and there aren’t many other ways to accurately describe them.
Soundgraden, Telephantasm (A&M/UMe)
The reunion of Soundgarden has been one of the greatest stories of this year in music, causing grunge fans the world over to rejoice. And what better way to celebrate that reunion than a best-of collection featuring never-before-released material? The collection of songs on Telephantasm is a true recounting of the band’s hits, and the inclusion of the never-before-heard “Black Rain” will definitely draw plenty of attention. However, die-hard fans will get the best value out of the three-disc special edition, which adds another CD of music and a DVD of videos to the mix. On these bonus discs, amidst the other material, you’ll find four more unreleased tracks and a whopping sixteen unreleased videos.
Clutch, Robot Hive / Exodus [Reissue] (Weathermaker)
Easily one of the most memorable albums of Clutch’s career, Robot Hive / Exodus is a classic lesson in heavy rock n’ roll. Now the album that brought us “Burning Beard”, “Pulaski Skyway”, and “10001110101” is being reissued with a bonus DVD, new artwork, the video for “Burning Beard”, and much more. Check out this release for a history lesson on one of the greatest rock bands of the past twenty years.
Today is the Day, In the Eyes of God [Reissue] (Relapse)
Considered by many to be the best album of Today is the Day’s career, In the Eyes of God is also special because it featured future Mastodon members Bill Kelliher and Brann Dailor in the lineup. The 1999 release of this album gave the band many touring and festival opportunities, which they took advantage of. This reissue will include six demo tracks and a bonus DVD featuring rare rehearsal footage of the band’s lineup at that time. The rehearsal footage will probably attract a lot of Mastodon fans to this album.
These Swedish veterans have never gotten the recognition they deserve in the States, even though they are huge almost everywhere else in the world. Now, though, Metal Blade is shedding some light on this seminal group. The remastered editions of their first two albums will bring a heavy, blues-oriented tone of Black Sabbath worship through your speakers. Grand Magus know how to keep the music intense, that’s absolutely certain.
OSI, Office of Strategic Influence [Reissue] (Metal Blade)
Not content with just two reissues in one week, Metal Blade throws us a third, this time from OSI, or Office of Strategic Influence. This dynamic duo consists of Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos and Chroma Key vocalist Kevin Moore, and Office of Strategic Influence features Mike Portnoy on drums, along with guest spots from Cynic’s Sean Malone and Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson. There isn’t much more you could add to this to make it any more of a progressive metal album.
Slipknot, (sic)nesses (Roadrunner)
Dedicated to the memory of fallen bassist Paul Gray, this is Slipknot’s fourth DVD release, coinciding with them having released four full-length albums to date. The highlight of the DVD is the band’s headlining performance at the 2009 Download Festival, but there are also four music videos from All Hope is Gone to be viewed, along with a 45-minute documentary by percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan. This DVD promises to have some of the last bits of Paul Gray’s life in it, so Slipknot fans should hit the streets for this!
August Burns Red, Home (Solid State)
This DVD comes with a live CD of the performance where the DVD was initially shot, making this set a good double value. The concert in the band’s hometown of Manheim, PA was packed, and the band has recounted many stories of fans pouring out expressions of appreciation and support. It’s not as often as it should be, that you see a band showing such appreciation for their fans. August Burns Red definitely gets my support for having the respect to treat their fans with dignity, admiration, and gratefulness.
Alice Cooper, Theatre of Death – Live at Hammersmith 2009 (Bigger Picture)
Just as the title says, this concert was filmed at the legendary Hammersmith Apollo in London on the final night of Alice Cooper’s Theatre of Death world tour in 2009. Featuring 18 of the singer’s greatest hits, this DVD truly conveys the power of an Alice Cooper concert to those that have never seen it. And if that’s not enough, Blu-ray is still an option in this too, if you need hi-def that badly.
Next Week: As October comes, so do unspeakable horrors. And I’m not talking about Halloween here. Check back in a week to see what’s over the horizon.