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February 2019 Release Roundup

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February’s news cycle kicked up some interesting releases for later this year. Sunn O))) announced two studio records for 2019, one titled Life Metal for an April release and a “meditative” counterpart called Pyroclasts for later this year. Meanwhile, Tool actually seems to be in agreement for once that they’re releasing a new record this summer, which I will listen to (and so will you, even if you’re pretending you’re mad at Tool right now.)

Inter Arma dropped two tracks off their coming record Sulphur English that blend their primitive brand of crushing death metal with meditative acoustic music suited for the woods, marking possibly one of the better records of the year, if they can keep that up. We’ll find out in April. Oh, Nile announced a tour for November. So here’s hoping that’s in support of the record they seem to have been cooking up for just about ever now.

In more amorphous upcoming release news, Cynic frontman Paul Masvidal appears to be wrapping up his series of solo records called Mythical Human Vessel that he initially promised for Fall 2018. I like to think the new Cynic record took precedence for a little while, especially considering how good “Humanoid” was. Speaking of not knowing what the hell is going on, Fear Factory vocalist Burton C. Bell announced the band would finally release their new studio album Monolith this year. Bell revealed Monolith’s artwork saying, “It’s done. It’s delivered to the label.” Yet guitarist Dino Cazares took to Twitter to respond to a fan asking about the record saying, “Not sure what your [sic] talking about.” So let’s file Fear Factory’s Monolith as monolithic question mark right now.

Perhaps two of the coolest bits of new release news that came out this month have to do with past collaborations resurfacing. Intronaut teased they’ll release a follow-up to 2015’s The Direction of Last Things this year, and revealed that they’re working with guitarist Ben “Cloudkicker” Sharp on the record. Intronaut served as Cloudkicker’s backing band on his only-ever tour in 2014, and there’s even a live album with one of their performances. It’s worth noting that Cloudkicker and Intronaut haven’t collaborated on new material prior to this effort, so it’ll be exciting to see where this goes. Intronaut still hasn’t announced a replacement for drummer Danny Walker, who split with the group in 2018.

The other bit of collaborative news that deserves attention is Black Earth. Black Earth is Arch Enemy’s 1998 lineup who have been touring Japan for a few years performing the band’s first three records. Black Earth recently announced they’ll release a compilation of remastered songs from those records, alongside two new songs recorded in 2019. Personally, I really hope Black Earth ends up doing more material under that name and reissues the first three records. It’s not like early Arch Enemy and current Arch Enemy have a ton of overlap.

One more thing — if you didn’t hear that new Deafheaven song “Black Brick,” go listen to it now. It is absolutely nothing like Ordinary Corrupt Human Love and sounds more like a proper black metal track. It rules.

Now let’s get to some albums we can listen to in full.

— Greg Kennelty

Beastmaker
Eye of the Storm
February 21, 2019

I don’t get it, man. Guitarist and vocalist Trevor Church put out ten Beastmaker EPs in 2018 alongside a new Haunt record. Now it’s March, and he’s already got a new Haunt EP and album under his belt, as well as a new Beastmaker EP. All of the aforementioned are varying combinations of classic heavy metal and retro-doom that kick all types of ass, and Eye of the Storm is no different. It’s also interesting that Church has blended his sounds so well with Beastmaker’s new stuff, as the older releases were more along the lines of a cleaner, more stripped down Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. Let’s just accept that Trevor Church is slowly going to be the overlord of modern heavy metal.

Coltsblood + Un
Coltsblood / Un Split
February 15, 2019

Coltsblood and Un’s split is the aural equivalent of a slow march between planes of existence. The crossing of the shimmering border between life and death, only to find that what appeared to lie just beyond the veil was a lie. There is nothing where you’re trapped now. Only the irreversible void and the suffocating silence. Coltsblood and Un don’t need to beat you into submission with a barrage of riffs and relentless growling – the gloomy, freezing atmosphere they collectively conjure speaks volumes. Like the world in the midst of a nighttime snow storm, Coltsblood / Un is stillness and muted light before there is a sweeping, quiet nothingness.

Dream Theater
Distance Over Time
February 22, 2019

Distance Over Time is the record that defines the Mike Mangini era of Dream Theater. It effortlessly combines all the band’s straightforward heaviness with healthy doses of modern progressive metal that not only foil for the catchier, bigger moments, but that Dream Theater manage to spin into their own odd brand of earworms. Distance Over Time was written in a brief period of collaborative spontaneity amongst all the band’s members, and it shows. The record sounds like Dream Theater is genuinely having a blast, instead of trying to remember challenging passages constantly. It also helps that Distance Over Time is one of the band’s best-sounding records production-wise in their entire catalogue. All hail modern Dream Theater.

Bonus: Check out Langdon Hickman’s full review of Distance Over Time .

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Ossuarium
Living Tomb
February 1, 2019

On their debut album, Ossuarium blends the rising tides of death doom, the classic sounds of both Floridian death metal and its crustier Swedish counterparts, and a few keyboard passages into a potent brew that is promptly consumed and vomited back out on the proverbial canvas. Living Tomb is a dim trip through endless crypts — some leaking the rot of centuries, some cleanly engraved with poetic remembrances, and some containing the reanimated dead that will try to kill you. For a debut album, Living Tomb sounds like the pinnacle release from a band who’ve tried out a few sounds over the years and have finally come to their masterfully logical conclusion. If that were the case, of course.

Bonus: Read Chris Rowella’s words on the album and stream it in full over at our premiere article.

Primitive Man + Hell
Primitive Man / Hell Split
February 22, 2019

I always assumed the apocalypse would be a drawn out event — the glacial splitting of the earth, the pestilence and insufferable weather, the years of suffering, and then the eventual mass passing of everything and everyone. Some of those happening simultaneously. Primitive Man and Hell made it all happen in 22 minutes. The duo’s collective three songs are entirely pissed off, performed slowly as if under torturous duress and should be played at no less volume than one threatening to destroy all the drivers in your speaker cabinets. The split’s runtime makes little use of dark ambience, and instead relies almost exclusively on punishing riffs to properly hollow out your mind and bring forth your personal end of days.

Bonus: Check out Thomas Hinds’s full review of the split here.

Zao
Decoding Transmissions From the Möbius Strip
February 8, 2019

Zao disappeared for six years after their 2009 record Awake?, and they haven’t shown signs of doing it again since. Decoding Transmissions From the Möbius Strip is two tracks and nine minutes of steamroller riffs, unsettling harmonies, and vocals that’ll make your throat bleed by association. “Transmission 1: I Saw The End” evokes visions of an inescapable death with its midpaced grooves and unsettling harmonies, while “Transmission 2: I Saw The Devil” sounds like the garbled, horrid visions of someone who really did come face to face with Satan himself. Decoding Transmissions From the Möbius Strip is essentially nine minutes of horrid fever dreams painting blurry pictures of the end of everything.

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