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Upcoming Metal Releases 06/28/2015 – 07/04/2015

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Hey guys, why is everyone so mad about Brent from Mastodon not liking metal? Do you really need you tastes to be validated, like, all the time? I’m surprised so many people are letting the guitarist of a major label rock band invalidate their taste in music. It’s okay, friends. I probably think most of the music you like is complete garbage, too! If only the people who took the time out of their day used their passion on cooler stuff. Right? Right?

—Jon Rosenthal

Metal stuff (or otherwise) which comes out between June 28th and July 4th. This article got a little long, so I had to trim a few things. Tell me about what I missed in the comments. The “what did you have for lunch?” thing went over pretty well (and also got me through a boring day at the office), so let’s keep that going, too!

ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Vorde/Predatory LightVorde / Predatory Light | Fallen Empire Records/Psychic Violence Records | Atmospheric Black Metal | United States
You don’t really see a lot of split releases make their way up to the “Anticipated Releases” section of this column. Don’t get me wrong – I like splits and own way too many, I just tend to find them to be incomplete representations of different bands’ sounds pitted against each other…. which is what makes this particular split so very, very interesting. Most of you have probably been made aware of Vorde and Predatory Light, who both rather recently had material released on Fallen Empire and Pesanta Urfolk, respectively.

Admittedly, Vorde’s brand of black metal did not catch me immediately, however the split material shows a drastic increase in quality from last year’s self-titled debut. Boasting Fell Voices and Vanum’s M. Rekevics in their lineup, Vorde’s astral-sounding black metal is as uncomfortable as it is majestic – a claustrophobic display of churning, melodic murk featuring deep, throated vocals, devoid of any raspy harshness which resemble those of a mad, hermetic monk, chanting in complete solitude. A much rawer, rough-around-the edges sound lends itself to Vorde’s side of this split, whose self-titled album was way too “clean and wet” sounding for my liking.

This isn’t my first round with the Predatory Light material on this split, which was initially released as a non-studio rehearsal entitled Death Essence in the latter half of last year. Powerful and Eastern-tinged, Predatory Light’s spidery and dense guitar work is a refreshing take on the long-since-stagnated “guitar-heavy atmospheric black metal” sound. Yet another brilliant new projects spearheaded by Ash Borer and Vanum’s (hey, both of those guys were in my column last week) K. Morgan.

Both Vorde and Predatory Light will be performing at the Dissociative Visions festival, where they will share the stage with an impressive collection of Fallen Empire and Terratvr Possessions acts.

Stream Vorde’s half below:

Blaze of Perdition – Near Death Revelations | Agonia Records | Black Metal | Poland
It’s no secret that I’ve missed the immensity of Shining’s V – Halmstad. Poor Niklas Kvarforth has tried again and again to recreate that album’s perfection with each subsequent Shining full-length, but who knew that its intensity would be perfectly captured just over a thousand miles away in Poland? A little less on the “cock rock” side of things, but still just as chunky, reckless, and emotionally damaged. Probably not the greatest thing in the world to center my blurb around how this sounds like another album, but hey…it sounds like a really good album.

Mutoid Man – Bleeder | Sargent House | Experimental Rock/Hardcore | United States
I’m not even sure what’s happening here, but I like it. Bleeder sounds like putting on your coolest leather jacket and taking the bike for a spin. I never really thought that “technical, hardcore-tinged arena rock” could be a thing, but here I am trying to figure out how to headbang to the odd time signatures behind some of the catchiest guitar leads this side of Motley Crue… played by current/former members of Cave In and Converge? Mastodon definitely lost me after Blood Mountain, but if they logically moved into a bouncy, energetic, chaotic rock sound like this instead of the long-form drug freakouts of Crack the Skye, I would have been so much happier. I made the mistake of ignoring Helium Head, but I might have to add both of these to my “Summer Jams” list. [Hey, Crack the Skye is awesome… but this is cooler than everything since—Ed.]

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OF NOTE

Alda – Passage | Bindrune Recordings | Atmospheric Folk/Black Metal | United States
The Washingtonians return after a semi-lengthy slumber (because let’s be real, four years is a long time in the internet age) with an enjoyable new album. Building upon the metallic, pastoral sound they perfected with Tahoma, we see Alda move deeper into the verdant Cascades. The tasteful songwriting and stellar musicianship aside, there is one negative aspect which nips at my heels with each listen: the clean vocals. For some odd reason, drummer and vocalist Michael Korchonnoff opts for a slightly Irish-tinged accent during the album’s quieter moments…which caught me off guard. Why? In Novemthree, a folk band in which he sings and plays bodhran, his clean voice is completely devoid of any accent. Is it forced? Is he forcing the plain voice in Novemthree? Too many questions.

Deathhammer – Evil Power | Hell’s Headbangers Records | Thrash Metal | Norway
“This is the return of darkness and evil!” Completely unhinged, raucous, rocking thrash metal. I grow rather weary of the “too serious for you”/super political thrash out there, so Deathhammer’s tongue-in-cheek, hyper-Satanic brand of thrash metal goes down like a cool glass of water. God, these riffs are so great. Satan is back, and he loves this (Fenriz probably does, too).

Negative Mantra – A Hymn To Disappointment | Independent | Black Metal | United States
This release certainly came as a quite literal surprise; a Bandcamp link posted to the Abigail Williams Facebook page without any fanfare. I know a lot of people give the AW camp a lot of flak (I know I have), but guitarist Jeff Wilson and drummer Charlie Fell’s (who has recently taken over vocal duties for Cobalt) latest project should appeal to the most weathered of black metal fans. A visceral, enraged slab of minimal black metal aimed to stomp your face into hamburger meat. Craft fans should take note.

Azavatar – Azavatar | Art of Propaganda | Black Metal | Germany
Intense, plodding, claustrophobic black metal. I guess this album conceptually deals with the cycle of rebirth into an uncaring, wretched existence. Existential reincarnation? That’s a new one.

Demoncy – Empire of the Fallen Angel (Eternal Black Dominion) [Re-Recording] | Forever Plagued Records | Black Metal | United States
Here’s a bit of a wild card: it’s not very often you see a black metal band completely re-record a studio album, and yet legendary cult Demoncy threw caution to the wind and revisited the classic Empire of the Fallen Angel. Armed with a full band under his wing, founding and generally-sole member Ixithra steps back, handling drums and vocals. The only issue is that, aside from the cleaner production and execution, nothing has really changed. The music was already written and recorded, Ixithra just has other people playing it now. Of course, I’m a sucker for Demoncy’s hypnotic, murky brand of black metal, so I’ll take what I can get.

Infera Bruo – In Conjuration | Bindrune Recordings | Progressive Black Metal | United States
Perfectly capable and well-executed “new-school” atmospheric black metal. I can’t really speak to Infera Bruo’s staying power, as the music tends to move from “part which sounds like X” to “part which sounds like Y” in an almost tessellated fashion, but it’s still a nice listen.

FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

that means things which aren’t metal

Kevin Hufnagel – Kleines Biest | Handmade Birds | Experimental | United States
Perhaps better known in metal circles as the guitarist for Dysrhythmia, and, more notably as of late, Gorguts, Kevin Hufnagel has actually spent the past few decades weaving a complex tapestry of solo guitar and ukulele works, ranging from the crystalline ambiance of Transparencies to the “prepared” works found in Songs for the Disappeared (a longtime favorite of mine) and Ashland. Hufnagel’s latest solo outing, the already sold out Kleines Biest (don’t let that deter you), is an entirely different monster. Whereas previous electric works received post-production treatment which enhanced the original composition, Kleines Biest finds itself more aligned with “chopped and screwed” music rather than meditative, nighttime ambiance of previous electric works. It’s as if Hufnagel has composed and recorded the most grandiose, heart-wrenchingly beautiful electric guitar ambiance album in existence, only to hack it into a million pieces and create various angular shapes out of the opalescent sound. Bound to turn heads, tunes like “Ran Visions” energetically hop between a deep noise churn and what can only be described as a “carnival-like” bounce. Most of the time I find myself forgetting that this was all initially recorded on guitar! This might be a little too far down the rabbit hole for some, but it is a complex insight as to the inner workings of one of the most creative minds of our age.

Brother/Ghost – Buried | shelsmusic/i.corrupt Records | Post-Rock/Slowcore | United States
The return of Brother/Ghost was as surprising as their initial emergence in the summer of 2009. The glacial Black Ice EP was an instant favorite, a powerfully minimal, reverb-drenched bout of bleak Americana-tinted slowcore which warranted back-to-back playtime in the years thereafter. Then, as most bands are wont to do, Brother/Ghost held true to the second half of their name and disappeared into the ether, much to the chagrin of young bloggers like myself. A wave of relief washed over me when their long-neglected Facebook page showed activity, announcing a new album on…shelsmusic? Man, at that point I don’t think I had listened to the label house band *shels’s album Fields of the Purple Buffalo since my sophomore year of college, so I must admit I was a little concerned. All concern was washed away within the first 30 seconds of album opener “Satan.” In their absence, not only did Brother/Ghost find a new drummer (Chicago hardcore veteran John Olds), it looks like they found confidence, evidenced by a stronger array of dynamics and an extremely powerful voice. Don’t get me wrong, the Black Ice-era Brother/Ghost is hidden in the beefy, shimmering ephemera, they’ve just transformed. Indie rock detractors will eat crow.

OTHER RELEASES

Kekal – Multilateral | Independent | Experimental Extreme Metal | Indonesia
As far as I can remember, Indonesia’s Kekal has made my head hurt. They’re obviously talented, but the constant genre-hopping and amateurish vocals would always lead to me wondering why I even downloaded the album in the first place. This time around, Kekal features semi-extensive use of a VOCALOID character, so you can imagine my reaction.

Valdur – Pathetic Scum | Bloody Mountain Records | Death Metal | United States
You like riffy, slightly blackened old school death metal? You’re in luck.

Demon Lung – A Dracula | Candlelight Records | Doom Metal | United States
“Don’t get mad, Jon. Witchy throwback metal can’t actually hurt you.” To Demon Lung’s credit, A Dracula is certainly heavier than the other throwback doom bands on the market.

Amiensus – Ascension | Independent | Progressive Black Metal | United States
Memorable, catchy melodic black metal, just a little too heavy on the goofy keyboard patches for my tastes.

King Giant – Black Ocean Waves | Graveyard Hill Recordings | Southern Metal | United States
Sun-baked, “top-down-with-a-beer” Southern metal. I am no fan of Southern metal, but I can at least admit this is probably a great time if you’re drunk.

FROM THE GRAVE

Blasphemy – Fallen Angel Of Doom | Nuclear War Now! Productions/Ross Bay Cult | Black/Death (“War”) Metal | Canada
The cult reborn, swimming in blasphemous afterbirth. The impetus of the “no fun” look: sunglasses and a black hooded sweatshirt at all time, many detractors like to criticize “war metal” for its apparent heralding of aesthetic over quality, but listen through “Ritual” and tell me you didn’t want to sacrifice your loved ones to the Dark Lord. Now I can actually own a legitimate copy of this album instead of feeling bad about the mediocre bootleg I (shamefully) have on my shelf.

Ysengrin – Liber Hermetis | Nuclear War Now! Productions | Black/Death/Doom Metal | France
A revisitation of Ysengrin’s debut album Tragedies – Liber Hermetis, complete with long-sold-out 2010 demo Alchimete, serving as a teaser to Ysengrin’s upcoming full-length. You liked To Endotaton, so now’s your chance to dig a little deeper. Hermitic dark metal of the highest order.

Ataraxie – Slow Transcending Agony | Weird Truth Productions | Funeral Doom/Death Metal | France
I have distinct memories of listening to Slow Transcending Agony shortly after it came out. I was 16 and had just moved across the country. I would spend the lunch period wallowing in my own self-pity, leaving this album on repeat. Ten years later and Ataraxie’s ataraxia has not lost its potency. Word has it this new edition has a cover of diSEMBOWELMENT’s “The Tree of Life and Death,” so I might have to bite the bullet and import a copy from Japan. Goddammit.

Human Bodies – MMXIII-MMXIV | Caligari Records | Black Metal/Punk | United States
The entire* Human Bodies discography, conveniently pressed on CD for all you youngin’s who don’t know what tapes are. A blasting collection of visceral, stomping black metal, overflowing with bilous hate for all life.

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