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Here are the new (and recent) metal releases for the week of February 16 to February 22, 2020. Releases reflect proposed North American scheduling, if available. Expect to see most of these albums on shelves or distros on Fridays.

See something we missed or have any thoughts? Let us know in the comments. Plus, as always, feel free to post your own shopping lists. Happy digging.

Send us your promos (streaming links preferred) to: editors@invisibleoranges.com. Do not send us promo material via social media.

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Surprise Releases + Things We Missed

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Lifetaker -- Night Intruder | Blackened Death Metal | Germany

Belligerent, savage shit with undisputed attitude and a whole lot of knife. Yes, "knife metal," as it is now known, sounds like Night Intruder. The riffs are angular and sharp, the production is ear-slicing, and the short-format songs are a quick shank each. Lifetaker thrives on the hunt for the mean and heavy.

-- Andrew Rothmund

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Anhedonist + Spectral Voice -- Abject Darkness / Ineffable Winds | Dark Descent Records | Blackened Death Metal + Doom | Washington + Colorado

Two giants of the underground merged forces to create this two-song slapper of a split. Both Anhedonist and Spectral Voice sound wonderful on their own, but side-by-side, they offer each other dark compliment. Expect the full gamut of fast and slow on this one -- these bands are as efficient as they are compromising and heavy.

-- Andrew Rothmund

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Upcoming Releases

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Saturnalia Temple -- Gravity | Listenable Records | Doom | Sweden

I don't believe there is a public preview of this one yet, but trust me, it's worth listening to if you've an ear for esoteric and excessively atmospheric doom.

-- Andrew Rothmund

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Lugubrum -- Plage chômage | Those Opposed Records/Aphelion Productions | ??? | Belgium

Where do I even begin with Lugubrum? The "Carrot Cult" has roots in raw, uncompromising, weird black metal in the early 1990s, but the semi-newly-dubbed "Lugubrum Trio"'s new effort is a journey into the Uncanny Valley. This seems like what they usually do, at least in spirit, but… it isn't at all. The weird, progressive, experimental approach taken on Plage chômage is Lugubrum incarnate, or its quintessence, without actually ever setting foot in the realm of metal. The intricately composed, hypnotic sounds found within somehow expound upon Herval and Wakar Cartel while being extraordinarily separate from those two albums. This is one to experience on its own, but is also the worst "first Lugubrum album" to experience. My take? Listen to everything by Lugubrum, then try to take this one in if you can. You won't know what to do with it.

-- Jon Rosenthal

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Xenobiotic -- Mordrake | Unique Leader | Death Metal | Australia

Slick riffage backbones Mordrake, but it's the album's tense and always-in-motion atmospherics that keep me returning to its 11 songs. Most death metal in the more technical vein finds itself without the sonic aura that permeates other genres of metal -- here, though, Xenobiotic go full wall-of-sound at just the right moments to really saturate your head.

-- Andrew Rothmund

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Demons & Wizards -- III | Century Media Records | Power Metal | United States (Florida)

The enduring power metal supergroup is back with another volley of sea-crossing shredding that pulls a little bit from the variants of the genre that exist across the globe (being a collaboration between Iced Earth's Jon Schaffer and Blind Guardian's Hansi Kürsch). It's got all the staple elements you expect from the core genre -- guitar wizardry, strong vocals -- but puts its own spin on things in a way that's been hard for anyone else to replicate.

-- Ted Nubel

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On Thorns I Lay -- Threnos | Lifeforce Records | Doom | Greece

A matured and dense doom album from a band whose history spans nearly three decades. On Thorns I Lay carry forward the gothic rock tinge that brings their brand of doom to a special level of ominous. This doom is less about anxiety and more about sorrow and beauty; for that reason, it's a peaceful and supple listen despite its mournful atmosphere.

-- Andrew Rothmund

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Throne of Iron -- Adventure One | No Remorse Records | Heavy Metal | United States (Indiana)

From Ted Nubel's premiere of "The Fourth Battle of the Ash Plains":

In the vein of bands like Manilla Road and Riot, the Indiana group plays traditional heavy metal with a fervent lethality, but also incorporates nods toward role-playing’s past. For out-of-practice players like myself, it’s tough to hear Adventure One and not entertain a few thoughts of filling out a character sheet, but even the unacquainted have plenty to gain from this encounter. The band has spun fantastical tales that don’t focus on dice rolls or skill checks -- and anyway, their burly riffs need no explanation.

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Icon of Phobos + Katheksis -- Primal Death Rites | The Elegy Ensemble | Black Metal | United States (California)

Icon of Phobos is perhaps one of the most underrated black metal acts out of Los Angeles, a band whose profile will hopefully be increased with releases such as this and more in the future. I've witnessed them a few times live: they’ve often upstaged touring bands they’ve opened for, especially with vocalist E.R.M.’s tortured theatrical performances. On this split contribution, with new track “Detriment and Dominance,” the band flies out of the gates at a full assault for most of the track, though attentive listeners will pick up standout moody bass lines and melodic guitar atmospherics that bring the track a more regal flavor to its militaristic battery. The flip side of this split features newcomers Katheksis who take a more thrash-laden approach to their blackened menace on “I Am Death.” The track slows down halfway through allowing the listener to focus upon anguish and torment screamed to the heavens. And any new converts to Katheksis’ path will rejoice to know an EP is slated for release sometime within a few months from now.

-- Joseph Aprill

[There do not appear to be any early streams publicly available.]

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Deathmaze -- Eau Rouge | Throatruiner Records | Post-Punk | Belgium

Extra-nocturnal post-punk with plenty of suave vocals and punchy beats. This is a duo project utilizing a drum machine -- sometimes that combination can lead to the resulting music feeling prototypical. Not here, though: Eau Rouge feels full and lush and well-thought out. Actually, I wish it was a bit longer, because I want more of what Deathmaze is putting down here.

-- Andrew Rothmund

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Wrekmeister Harmonies -- We Love to Look at the Carnage | Thrill Jockey Records | Drone + Doom + Ambient | United States (Illinois)

Musing vocals, soft guitar, strings, and more intermesh with occasional surges of amplification in the latest release from Wrekmeister Harmonies, a duo joined by a few collaborators for this iteration. It's somehow both the perfect material for a thoughtful dedicated listen as well as the ideal zone-out music for a heads-down afternoon at work. I'd suggest giving it a spin in both contexts.

-- Ted Nubel

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Sightless Pit -- Grave of a Dog | Thrill Jockey | Industrial + Experimental | United States (Rhode Island)

Weird, and if you're in the right mindset/mood, wonderful. Think of Grave of a Dog as one big breathless, eternal, fever-dream soundscape to transport your mind into unknown realms. Bad vibes warning ahead, but for some, this might actually resolve quite smoothly on the palette.

-- Andrew Rothmund

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Cult of Fire -- Nirvana + Moksha | Beyond Eyes Records | Black Metal | Czech Republic

Seven years ago, the Czech Republic’s own Cult of Fire made massive waves in the world of black metal as they shifted their entire concept, including albums and live performances, from the rather common European occultism/satanism within the scene to instead focus on the darker aspects of the Vedic/Hindu traditions of the Indian subcontinent. This year, Cult of Fire returns to quench the thirst of their disciples with a packed offering found on two simultaneous albums Moksha and Nirvana. Any fans of the band’s previous work won’t be surprised when they hear familiarly warm, quick-paced, and melodic black metal paired with delicate flourishes of Indian string and percussion instrumentation. Conceptually, the albums explore interesting spiritual concepts -- Moksha and Nirvana being similar metaphysical goals to attain liberation from the cycles of reincarnation, with the former focusing on the radically ascetic and taboo breaking path of the Aghori with the latter focusing on the esoteric Tantric Buddhist path. American audiences will get the opportunity to witness Cult of Fire’s latest call to enlightenment most appropriately in sin city Las Vegas at the Psycho Las Vegas Festival in August.

-- Joseph Aprill

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Runescarred -- The Distant Infinite | Power Prog | United States (Texas)

Haha, hell yeah, The Distant Infinite rips. Is it prog, is it power, is it melo-death? Who the fuck knows, this band has both a powerful edge and the party spirit. A winning combination, especially with those gnarly vocals.

-- Andrew Rothmund

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Reissues and Re-Releases

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Sorceress -- Beneath the Mountain | Stoner Rock + Doom | United States (Oregon)

Featuring Hell's M.S.W. and Mizmor's A.L.N., this throwback stoner album is a fucking blast and a half from a decade ago. It's the same great energy as most top-shelf stoner rock/doom these days, but with that added edge on the instrumentation. Not quite proggy, but not quite ordinary, this one deserved to see the light of day again. Looks like it's a limited CD release of 100.

-- Andrew Rothmund

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Lugubrum -- De Ware Hond | Those Opposed Records/ Aphelion Productions | Boersk Blek Metle, Brown Metal | Belgium

It's Lugubrum, so take everything with a grain of salt (or a liter of beer). De Ware Hond was a point in this Belgian band's discography where things went from horrifically disgusting (read as: actual sound clips of people taking watery shits -- super Breugelian) to astoundingly strange. If you are curious: this is a good first Lugubrum album.

-- Jon Rosenthal

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