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Confession time: I didn’t spend a whole ton of time listening to new music this week. A power surge-related calamity about a year ago led to me losing my entire music library. Considering it was teetering on the verge of a terabyte in size, I was devastated. A miracle last Sunday led to me regaining access to my whole library, so I’ve been doing a ton of re-exploring. It’s glorious. Anyway, here’s new music I’ve been dabbling in.

Below is a list of new metal (and related) releases slated for release this calendar week. I follow official release dates, so no leaks (that means you, Aildrek!) or reactionary release dates (that means you, Fallen Empire!), but there is still plenty to choose from. If I did miss anything which was, and I re-iterate, officially released, if you want to forewarn me of an impending album, or if you think my brief meditation on a metal album is wrong: leave a comment!

—Jon Rosenthal

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Chthe’ilist - Le Dernier Crepuscule | Profound Lore Records | Technical Death Metal | Canada
From the first few notes of their debut demo, whose title I couldn’t pronounce, let alone type, Chthe’ilist’s reverence for the old Finnish death metal scene might as well have been branded on their wrists. Though decidedly "old school" in tone and adherence to rhythm, Chthe’ilist’s monstrous technicality and overall intensity really harkens back to that one particular Finnish monstrosity (you know the one). Multi-instrumentalist Phil Tougas is more than accomplished, and his dizzying, dazzling guitar and bass work (there’s even slap bass!) impresses. A lot of people use flowery language when discussing this album, but, I don’t know… the most I can really say Chthe’ilist is really good death metal. Good enough that I keep listening, which is more than I can say for a lot of the newer stuff out there (until the Wormed album hits). I also greatly appreciate the Predator vocals, which are not pitch shifted.

Wildernessking - Mystical Future | Grimoire Cassette Cvlture/Sick Man Getting Sick Records | Post-Black Metal | South Africa
South Africa’s Wildernessking is one of the few newer "post-black metal" bands (a genre whose connotation has been shifted from "your favorite Solefald album" to "loud post-rock with blast beats") to really impress me. Though Mystical Future definitely carries the power of its predecessor, it seems to have "genre-homogenized" much more. What really sold me on The Writing of Gods in the Sand were the moments of strangely voiced chord progressions, almost akin to mid-era Katatonia’s pioneering "dark metal" work, which seems to have all but disappeared on Wildernessking’s latest, making way for a much more standardized… Deafheaven-like approach.

Conan - Revengeance | Napalm Records | Stoner/Doom Metal | England
Conan’s Horseback Battle Hammer still reigns as one of the absolute heaviest things I’ve ever heard. Their sound is pure "bottom heavy," like they managed to string industrial steel cables on their somehow invincible instruments and use them as weapons of mass tinnitus. It was beautiful, well, beautiful in a "bowel voiding" sort of way. Now, that EP came out nine years ago, so there’s been a big gap in my Conan listening, and, while there is a decent amount of Torche-inspired "sludge pop" to their new album, I still enjoy it. Even almost a decade later, it’s nice to know that Conan is consistently, devastatingly heavy, but in a way which is both listenable and enjoyable.

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OF NOTE

Ketzer - Starless | Century Media Records | Black/Thrash Metal | Germany
The new wave of "rocking," 80s metal-influenced black metal seems to be lost on me. I didn’t really enjoy the new Tribulation album (which is a shame, as their previous albums were amazing), and it seems that German blackened thrashers Ketzer have followed down a similar path. It isn’t bad, in fact, the album’s single is surprisingly catchy and memorable, it just isn’t really my thing.

Spektr - The Art to Disappear | Agonia Records | Experimental/Industrial Black Metal | France
What a horrendous disappointment. I like to think of myself as a decent Spektr fan, I even own a few records and a shirt, which leads me to pose the question: what the heck happened? Spektr was always challenging, noisy, crushing, claustrophobic industrial black metal, but that chaos seems to have disappeared. This whole album just seems so formulaic: open with a Twin Peaks sample, put heavy delay on the last syllable, then dump the annals of the unused riff bank on top. I don’t think there are even any vocals on this thing. C’mon, man...

Black Tusk - Pillars of Ash | Relapse Records | "Swamp Metal" (Sludge Metal) | United States
It seems like every time a sludge band which has been around since the initial "Hydra Head ‘god tier sludge label’ heyday" puts out a new album, I have to add that they sound like that particular era...but it’s true! Black Tusk’s motorcycle-y, Touch & Go-influenced brand of rocking sludge is that perfect sort of it’s-2005-and-I-love-Amplifier Worship fodder. Riff on.

Dream Theater - The Astonishing | Roadrunner Records | Progressive Metal | United States
Wow, when did Dream Theater decided to turn into Rush? Pro tip: I don’t like either band.

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OTHER RELEASES

Vorkreist - Sacrifice | Agonia Records | Black/Death Metal | France
Heavy, albeit conservative, blackened death metal. I’ve waded through so much "war metal" that I’m mildly taken aback whenever I hear a band which is actually "blackened death metal." The drums could be a little more on time.

Avantasia - Ghostlights | Nuclear Blast Records | Symphonic Power Metal | Germany
Avantasia has always been pretty standard "I’m riding a dragon to save the Princess" power metal cheese, but they are also stupid fun. I do wish Tobias would have nixed the use of melodyne pitch correction on this new album; I always hate how sterile it renders a surprisingly powerful voice.

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