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So Jon is away and has once again left me the keys to the Upcoming Metal Releases kingdom. A lot of new stuff to get to this week, so let’s skip the preamble and get to it…

Here are the new metal releases for the week of October 2, 2016 – October 7, 2016. Release dates are formatted according to proposed North American scheduling, if available. Expect to see the bulk of these records on shelves or distros on Friday unless otherwise noted or if labels and artists get impatient.

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

-Clayton Michaels

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Ur Draugr/Harr - Split | Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum | Death/Black Metal / Progressive/Atmospheric Black Metal | Australia/Scotland

Less than a year after releasing the stellar With Hunger Undying, Ur Dragur is already back with new music. They only contribute one song to this split, but it’s a hell of a song – nearly 20 minutes in length, “The Vista Profunda” is a Lovecraftian labyrinth of a track that is everything that was great about With Hunger Undying dialed up to eleven. The songwriting is so tight that its 20-minute run time seems like barely half of that, making it the perfect starting point for anyone not already familiar with Ur Draugr. The Harr half of the split is really enjoyable, too, and should appeal to anyone who enjoys a heavy dose of dissonance in their metal, a la Gorguts or the most recent Withered album.

Gatecreeper - Sonoran Depravation | Relapse |Death Metal | United States

I’m not the biggest death metal guy in the world, but Gatecreeper totally hits the spot for me. This is HM-2 worship done right – killer riffs, tasty leads, and at a crisp 33 minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Also, it was mixed by Kurt Ballou at God City, so you know it’s going to sounds fantastic.

From Rob Sperry-Fromm’s premiere of the track “Craving Flesh”:

Scratching a similar Entombed-loving itch as contemporaries Black Breath, but doing it a bit faster and blastier, this song hits all the beats one could want from this. It races through d-beat, blast-beats, and closing slow crush with an agility and skillful riff-mongering that often eludes bands of this ilk.

Mouth of the Archiect - Path of Eight | Translation Loss |Post-Metal | United States

I’ve got a soft spot for Mouth of the Architect, even though they’ve never really been at the vanguard of post-metal. I have to admit, though, that I didn’t love their last record, Dawning; I felt like the songs were too long and it just sort of meandered. Fortunately, Path of Eight is a nice return to form. The songwriting is a lot more focused—only one track even breaks the seven-minute mark—and they’ve extended their sonic palate beyond the traditional post-metal tropes and added a few more melodic elements that really help make this record sound fresh. It’s also kind of mellow, which is a nice change of pace.

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OF NOTE

Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason | Nuclear Blast |Progressive Groove Metal/Djent | Sweden

Okay…I realize I’m probably going to irritate some folks with this, but I feel like Meshuggah have officially reached the point of diminishing returns. Don’t get me wrong – the run of albums from like Chaosphere through obZen are damn near untouchable, and a lot of the reason for that is: the band was clearly taking risks and evolving and refining their sound from one album to the next. But I think that iteration of the band peaked with obZen , and now they kind of sound like they’re on autopilot. Which isn’t to say that The Violent Sleep of Reason is a bad record, but it’s one that I’ve heard from them before. I don’t know…maybe a few more spins will reveal some nuances that I’m just not picking up on yet.

Watchtower - Concepts of Math: Book One | Prosthetic Records |Progressive/Technical Thrash| United States

I know quite a few people who got really excited when they heard that legendary proggers Watchtower were finally getting ready to physically release new music for the first time since 1989. Calling it ‘new’ music might be a bit misleading, though; there’s really only one track on this EP, “Mathematica Calculis,” that hasn’t already seen digital release: “The Size of Matter” was released in 2010, and the three other tracks came out last October. For me, the strongest of the tracks is “M-Theory Overture,” and that’s because it’s an instrumental. Musically, the whole thing skronks and shreds just like I want my progressive metal to do, but then the vocals kick in and I totally lose the thread. It’s probably just me; I have the same problem with pretty much every prog metal vocalist who isn’t Russell Allen. I expect that fans of the band will eat this up while they patiently continue to wait for the long-gestating Mathematics to finally see the light of day.

Hanging Garden - Hereafter | Lifeforce Records |Melodic Death/Doom | Finland

This sounds exactly like what I would expect a Finnish melodeath/doom band to sound like – it basically splits the difference between Insomnium and Swallow the Sun. I actually really like both of those bands, but this isn’t doing a whole lot for me. It’s enjoyable enough, but it kind of lacks a personality of its own. They don’t really do themselves any favors, either, by enlisting Swallow the Sun’s Mikko Kotamäki to provide guest vocals on a couple of tracks.

Vanhelga - Ode & Elegy | Talheim Records |Depressive Black Metal| Sweden

I am an absolute sucker for depressive black metal when it’s done right, and Vanhelga definitely does it right. Lifelover is the obvious point of comparison here, even though it doesn’t look like ex-Lifelover vocalist 1853 is with Vanhelga anymore. At first blush this actually reminds me a lot of Shining’s V – Halmstad, which is probably my favorite record in the genre. It sounds both deceptively pretty and deeply tortured, which is always a winning combination. If you liked that Numenorean record that came out a couple of months back but thought it sounded a little too cheerful overall, give this a spin.

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

 
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Cell Phone Bikini | Ipecac | Progressive/Avant Garde| United States

This is the seventh of twelve albums of archival material that ORL will be releasing between now and the end of the year. I’m actually a bit surprised at how good all of the albums have been thus far; I keep waiting for him to put out something totally self-indulgent and unlistenable—like that awful Mars Volta live album, Scabdates—but each album in the series thus far has been remarkably cohesive and enjoyable. Cell Phone Bikini is another set of pre-Bosnian Rainbows material, this time featuring Teri Gender Bender providing all the vocals and lyrics. As much as I like the stuff with Teri, I am still hoping that there’s going to be at least one album with his long-time collaborator Cedric Bixler-Zavala.

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FROM THE GRAVE

 
Skogen - Svitjod | Nordvis Produktion |Black Metal| Sweden

Originally released in 2011, Skogen’s second full-length gets the reissue treatment. I remember giving this band a shot when I Döden came out, and for some reason that record didn’t grab me. I’m really digging this, though – it’s pretty much exactly the kind of melodic, folky mid-tempo black metal that I generally go for. Fans of Falls of Rauros or even Agalloch will find plenty to like here.

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OTHER RELEASES

 
Sonata Arctica - The Ninth Hour | Nuclear Blast |Power Metal| Finland

Sonata Arctica is a thing. It is not my kind of thing.

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WHAT WE MISSED

Brain Tentacles - Brain Tentacles | Relapse |Progressive/Avant Garde| United States

I am a total mark for pretty much anything Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Bloodiest, Corrections House) puts out, especially when he’s playing saxophone. With Brain Tentacles, which also includes Dave Witte (Municipal Waste, ex-Discordance Axis, ex-Burnt By the Sun, etc.) on drums and Keelhaul’s Aaron Dallison on bass/synths/vocals, Lamont’s sax is front and center on what has to be one of the strangest, most difficult albums Relapse has ever released. I’m not quite sure how to describe Brain Tentacles; they’re coming out of the same tradition as John Zorn’s Naked City, but they’re definitely a metal band as well. Imagine Rashaan Roland Kirk or Ornette Coleman in his free jazz phase playing doom, and that’s a pretty good starting point. This record is hella weird and not at all listener-friendly, but it’s endlessly fascinating and pretty much essential listening for anyone who likes challenging music.

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