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What a week. So I wasn’t really able to touch on David Bowie’s untimely passing since I write these columns a few days in advance, but I would like to throw in my two cents. I, like many people in my generation, grew up listening to David Bowie. There were many family road trips spent listening through The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (my father has since gifted me his LP copy and it is one of my prized possessions), late nights listening to the heady, challenging B-side of Low, parties with Heroes in the background...he was a constant. It is a shame that we lost the Thin White Duke. His mark on music and the influence he left on me is undeniable. Here’s to you.

In other, lighter news, I get to write about Abbath, Borknagar, and Ulver in the same column. Fifteen year old me is squealing with delight.

Below are a handful of metal albums slated for release between January 17 and 23 of this year (2016). Seeing as I’m one man, I can’t really cover every release, so do me a favor and nicely fill in any gaps in the comments. I won’t bite, just don’t be a jerk. We can rise above the YouTube comment level, I just know it.

—Jon Rosenthal

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Abbath - Abbath | Season of Mist | Black Metal | Norway

The master shows he’s just as well off after the, erm, "Immortal debacle." I know, I know, most of us outgrew following the "heavy hitters" a while ago, I openly admit to hesitation upon good ol’ Abbath announcing a band (even though it was with King ov Hell, who wrote my favorite Gorgoroth material [fight me]), but we seem to forget just how solid our old friend’s body of work is. With his solo debut Abbath’s unique, powerful "Teutonic thrash"/black/heavy metal approach is as strong as ever, pummeling and sharp, but with a distinctly melodic backbone which is distinctly his. Shades of Abbath’s I project, whose Between Two Worlds turns ten this year, make their way through, especially in the bouncing "Winter Bane", which really drives this album home for me. I mean, it’s a solid, serious metal album with musicianship to back it up, but it’s still fun and corny enough to merit a strange sort of nostalgia upon listening. And, in classic style, Abbath lets us know it really is him by making the cover his face. Goddamn I love that man.

Stream Abbath’s debut solo album via Metal Injection here.

Obduktio - Obduktio | Caligari Records | Death Metal/Grindcore | Finland
I really don’t have a ton to say about Obduktio, but that doesn’t make them bad. Remember Xysma? That was a good band. Finland remembers Xysma, and so does Obduktio. I’ve been dying for some classic, completely psychotic Finnish death/grind, and Obduktio definitely fills that void.

Ehnahre - Douve | Kathexis | Avant-Garde Death/Doom Metal | United States

From last week’s premiere of “I See You Disappearing”:

Continuing the avant-garde/modern classical approach cemented in their previous three full-lengths, the 90-minute beast Douve is a searing whirlwind of music theory textbooks and razor blades. One of this intimidating block of sound’s most consistently metallic moments, the oppressive “I See You Disappearing” is metal at its loosest. One might remember Chaos Echoes’s flirtations with improvisation and loose structuring on last year’s Transient, and yet Ehnahre’s “ebb and flow” approach is all the more intimidating. Ehnahre’s impenetrability throughout Douve reaches an apex in this track, and repeated listens still leave me bewildered. Welcome to 2016, metal.

I wonder when (and hope that) we might see an Ehnahre split with Jute Gyte someday.

Nekrasov - Negative Temple | Independent/Digital | Black Metal/Ambient/Noise | Australia
At long last, the fabled forthcoming Nekrasov album is here. I’ve waxed poetic about Nekrasov and Rebel Wizard mastermind Bob Nekrasov a few times in here, but I’m still so relieved to see he’s active once more. Nekrasov’s harsh, mechanical, oppressive mutation of atmospheric black metal is not an easy listen, the distortion is harsh, the layers of noise are grating, and the wall of sound never really stops, but therein lies Nekrasov’s character. Repeated listens are a must, as there is some really cool guitar work in here, be it strangely harmonized arpeggios or hard-hitting riff work, it just might take a little dissection for an untrained listener. I kind of equate Nekrasov to scaling a mountain: it’s exhausting, but the view is exhilarating.

Borknagar - Winter Thrice | Century Media Records | Progressive Viking/Folk Metal | Norway
I have a cognitive dissonance about this new Borknagar album. On the one hand, it isn’t very good. It’s super polished, inoffensive, and pales in comparison to earlier Borknagar albums (I’ll even go as far as Origin). There isn’t anything inherently wrong with new Borknagar albums, they’re just kind of, you know, there. However, I want to talk about the title track for a minute (you can watch the video below). Here we have a viking metal song featuring vocals from Lars "Lazare" Nedland, Simen "ICS Vortex" Hestnaes, Vintersorg, and Kristoffer "Garm" Rygg (yes, Rygg’s first vocal appearance on a metal album in eons). I get chills just thinking about that four-headed metal god hydra. Unfortunately, they’re about a decade too late for this Viking metal equivalent of the hip-hop posse hype track, but, man, to be a fly on the wall in the studio that day.

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Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Arc | Relapse | Sludge | United States
Former Salome singer Kat Katz takes the spotlight on Arc the first of a series of EP’s each focusing on a single member of this seminal drum machine grind outfit. ANb used to make some of the shortest, fastest songs around, but this one comes in slow and low. Scott Hull does his best Kirk Windstein impression while Katz leaves the humor behind in favor of crushing confessionals.—Joseph Schafer

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OF NOTE

Jesu/Sun Kil Moon - Jesu/Sun Kil Moon | Caldo Verde/Rough Trade | Doom Metal/Shoegaze/Slowcore | England/United States
Cognitive dissonance seems to be the secondary theme this week. On the one hand, Justin Broadrick delivers a phenomenal instrumental performance, as always. Perhaps trying to meet his collaborator, slowcore/indie rock godfather and overall bastard Mark Kozelek, in the middle, Broadrick dials the volume back, eschewing his usual waves of distortion for something a little more minimal. It kind of sounds like if he was trying to write a Red House Painters album, which actually works pretty well. Unfortunately, the beautiful, nostalgic music is just a backing track for Mark Kozelek’s newfound logorrhea. Somehow the man who once crafted heart-wrenching lyrics and lasting melodies just kind of meanders. I suppose it could be endearing in a sort of Wesley Willis sort of sense, but it just seems so lazy on his part.

Latitudes - Old Sunlight | Debemur Morti Productions | Doom/Post-Metal | England
To put it bluntly, these guys sound like Pelican back when they were in their prime. I always liked Australasia and The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw, and apparently these guys do, too. I’d say this style is overdone, but so many "post-metal" bands go for the "wall of sound" approach perfected by Neurosis and Isis (the band) that a nice set of atmosphere-bent riffs is pretty cool with me.

Ectovoid/Sabbatory/Trenchrot/Cemetery Filth - 4 Doors To Death | Unspeakable Axe | Death Metal/Death Metal | United States/Canada/United States/United States
So much old school death metal. When does one band end and another begin? Why is it four bands if they each contribute so many songs? At least it’s a fun listen, so old school death metal wins this round.

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

that means things which aren’t metal

David Bowie - Blackstar | Columbia Records | Art Pop | England
Oh man, what can I say about this album? I feel so stupid for missing it last week, but I really didn’t have a chance to listen to it. For a final album and an artistic epitaph, David Bowie couldn’t have gone out on a higher note. The introspective, textured Blackstar unveils a darkness not seen in David Bowie’s music since his collaborations with ambient pioneer Brian Eno, but darkness is all too fitting a theme for a man who knows he is going to die. Bowie’s ear for texture is as intriguing as it is invigorating, crafting these beautiful song sculptures out of so many sounds and rhythms. It almost sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it’s just so velvety-smooth and catchy that all the pieces fall together in a gorgeous display, but that’s why David Bowie has always been a master...and why I haven’t been able to stop listening.

Ulver - ATGCLVLSSCAP | House of Mythology | Experimental/Krautrock/Ambient | Norway/England
So I haven’t heard this entire album yet, but it seems like Ulver has been on an upward swing since the beautiful Messe album. From what I can tell, Ulver seems to be pursuing much more of a "krautrock" sound with this incomprehensibly-titled album, which is much more fitting than their attempts at sounding like The Red Krayola.

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FROM THE GRAVE

Abyssal - Perichoresis | Godz ov War Productions/Exitium Productions/Third Eye Temple | Black/Death/Doom Metal | England
All three Abyssal albums on cassette in a big wooden box. Count me in, but I might need a Xanax.

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OTHER RELEASES

The Resistance - Coup de Grace | earMUSIC | Death Metal | Sweden
Jesper Stromblad plays guitar in this? Talk about a fall from grace. I suppose you’d like this if mediocre SweDeath is your type.
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