Upcoming Metal Releases 1/31/2016 – 2/6/2016
Hey hey, a nice release week! I missed these. Some of you might notice a few things which got digitally released a few weeks back either out of stubbornness or misrepresented PR blasts. So now your impatience will be satiated, I guess. I just follow a calendar!
Below you will find a brief (though this week’s isn’t quite so brief) list of notable (and not so notable) metal releases slated for release the week of January 31st through February 6th, 2016. Keeping up is hard, and I’m bound to miss stuff, so help me keep abreast of past, current, and future releases by leaving a comment in the neat little Disqus box all the way at the bottom. I also have an e-mail address, which is now part of my signature, so feel free to shoot stuff there. I won’t bite.
Fuath - I | Neuropa Records | Atmospheric Black Metal | Scotland
Oh man how I loved Askival. There was something so magical about someone making celtic-themed black metal—complete with folk tinges—without falling into the Crauchan-tinted depths of unbearable gaud. Andy Marshall eventually did create more music under the names Arsaidh and Saor, but the infinite layers of keyboards, folk instruments, post-rock guitar atmosphere, and lackluster vocals left me unimpressed. Fuath is what I expected from Marshall in his post-Askival career, and it, at least in my opinion, casts a great shadow over Marshall’s surprisingly large body of work (it took me a decade to find out he was the man behind In Vino Veritas). Claiming a desire to create cold, hypnotic, and melancholic black metal a la Vemod and Burzum, Fuath’s I is definitely on point, an icicle-coated, driving, absolutely majestic effort of black metal beauty. It has been a few years since an album has struck me quite like this one.
Naðra - Allir vegir til glötunar | Signal Rex/Vanagandr/Fallen Empire Records | Atmospheric Black Metal | Iceland
I haven’t really given the Icelandic scene that much of a chance. Bands like Misthyrming and Mannveira never really moved me, but I guess I grew up with Icelandic black metal in a different context. Iceland, at least to me, is the embodiment of big, folky melodies and a strong sense of triumph, but, then again, my first experience with "Icelandic metal" outside of Potentiam was Falkenbach (Vratyas Vakyas, as I later found out, only spent part of his childhood in Iceland. I was heartbroken.). Upon my first listen of their debut full length, Naðra excited me. They embodied all those qualities which made Icelandic metal, well, Icelandic. Lost in a scene rife with monotony and half-baked dissonance, Allir vegir til glötunar is an exciting, well-executed, memorable black metal (which leaves me with a wanting to listen to Bergtatt and Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk).
Ecferus - Pangaea | I, Voidhanger Records | Atmospheric/Technical Black Metal | United States
I wasn’t really expecting a decent black metal to come from Indiana, home of lots of corn and Typhus, nor did I really expect a decent full-length to come from the previously unremarkable Ecferus. Now I have egg on my face. Pangaea is a challenging, technically proficient display of thoughtfully composed and tasteful modern black metal. You can read more of my thoughts in my premiere of "Reciprocity of Disrepair" here.
Bosque - Beyond | Dunkelheit Produktionen | Funeral Doom Metal | Portugal
Bosque has been sort of a back-seat constant in my listening habits over the past decade. After a powerful introduction by way of Texas "torture doom" nihilists Senthil, I was deeply enamored by Bosque’s romantic, glistening, clean brand of funeral doom metal. As things go, and as capricious as my taste is, I found myself forgetting and revisiting Bosque many times as the years went by, and DM only got better. What is especially interesting about Bosque’s recent works lies in the vocals - I’m more of a "big and monstrous" or "gross and vomitous" harsh vocals guy when it comes to funeral doom, myself, but the very fragile, distant, tragic clean sung voice brings about a different character to Bosque, if not funeral doom metal itself. Beware: you will feel miserable.
Bhavachakra - Bhavachakra | Independent/Digital | Experimental/Technical Black Metal | United States
Whoa, where the hell did this band come from? It goes without saying that the whole "dissonant"/post-Deathspell Omega sound in black metal has been more than oversaturated. It’s true, don’t deny it. Luckily, we have bands like Bhavachakra who give us not-so-gentle reminders that there is always new ground to be covered, and their completely bonkers, grindcore-inspired take on the new-classic sound. The whole record sounds so punchy and energetic, which is more than I can say for most newer black metal bands nowadays. Kudos to you, Bhavachakra.
Voidcræft - Ἕβελ | I, Voidhanger Records | Experimental/Atmospheric Black Metal | Germany
This is going to sound really condescending, and I usually mean it in a condescending way, but not this time. File under: good bands who sound like Deathspell Omega. To Voidcræft’s benefit, there is a larger sense of harmonic adventure and general progressive nature to his music which really aids in making Ἕβελ a fun listen. Though I doubt I will find myself listening to this album all that much, it was enjoyable.
At Dusk - Live MMXII | Black Oak Productions | Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal | United States
Funny this would see release following the multiple, lengthy comment threads concerning live albums in last week’s Upcoming Metal Releases column. As a rule of thumb, I tend to shrug off live albums as unnecessary or fanboy fodder. Unfortunately for me, I happen to be a longtime At Dusk fanboy (At Dusk received very early coverage on my previous music press incarnation), and this live album is likely to be the only way I will ever get to experience At Dusk’s Bethlehem-y black metal in a pseudo-live setting. Interestingly enough, At Dusk took on a much more sinister, atmospheric sound in the releases following this 2012 performance.
Obscura - Akróasis | Relapse Records | Technical/Progressive Death Metal | Germany
Welp, the "technical/progressive" part of the tag above might be an understatement. I wonder if these guys can play slower than 200 bpm.
Rhine - An Outsider | Independent/Digital | Progressive Death Metal | United States
Layered, extremely self-indulgent progressive death metal which sadly teeters on the verge of instability at what are intended to be its peaks. An unfortunate misstep in composition for what are obviously very talented musicians.
The Wakedead Gathering - Fuscus: Strings of the Black Lyre | Death Metal | United States
Haunting, super spooky dark death metal from one of my new favorites. In case you can’t tell by now, I normally find myself pretty burned out on the whole "cavernous death metal" thing. It’s just so overdone and everything is just a carbon copy of Blasphemy’s "Ritual," but The Wakedead Gathering writhes and turns in such unique ways. Fuscus carries haunting melodies and unique, jarring rhythms with a distinct musician’s touch. I’d hate to call something so gross graceful, and yet...
Eucharist - Endarkenment | Iron Bonehead Productions | Black/Death Metal | Australia
So this is definitely not the Eucharist I was thinking of. Note that this Eucharist is from Australia, not Sweden. This Eucharist embodies the now very stale Blasphemy worship I referenced above.
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
Aluk Todolo - Voix | The Ajna Offensive | Krautrock/Noise Rock | France
What a bear of an album. Ever the masters of their abstract, blackened craft, Aluk Todolo’s singular melding of black metal’s frigid terror with the sonic adventurousness of krautrock and RIO (Rock in Opposition) has granted them a seat in the "Jon’s forever favorites" throne room. An ever progressing beast, Voix is an effective condensing of the vast jam sessions found on its predecessor, 2012’s Occult Rock. With this condensing comes a stronger representation of each musician’s pedigree, each coming from a black metal background (see: Diamatregon and Vediog Svaor), and the result is absolutely chilling. Voix is a jagged, bizarre album, rife with tight, locked grooves and nightmarish guitar noises (how does Shantidas make those?!) - it is undeniably, and very effectively, Aluk Todolo. No one does it quite like they do.
FROM THE GRAVE
Reencarnacion - 888 Metal | Nuclear War Now! Productions | Black/Thrash Metal | Colombia
You might remember a lengthy piece we ran concerning the punctuated birth of idiosyncratic extreme metal, otherwise known as "Ultra Metal," based out of Medellin, Colombia. Now have a listen to one of their most prized bands, who have actually reformed within the past few years. Note: do not listen to their music past 888 Metal. Seriously.
Our Spanish-speaking readers can watch a pretty neat documentary concerning Reencarnacion on YouTube here. Thanks to VoidCult on the NWN! forums for bringing this to my attention.
Amoral - In Sequence | Imperial Cassette | Power Metal | Finland
I was actually excited to hear Amoral was putting out a new album, but I guess I missed the memo when they switched from weirdo technical death metal to power metal some seven or so years ago. So here’s some power metal.
Fleshgod Apocalypse - King | Nuclear Blast Records | Symphonic/Technical Death Metal | Italy
Read what I said about Obscura above. Fleshgod Apocalypse resides somewhere between newer Dimmu Borgir and the fabled third Necrophagist album. Take from that what you will.
Textures - Phenotype | Nuclear Blast Records | Progressive Metal/Metalcore | Netherlands
I actually have some pretty fond memories of listening to Textures’s Drawing Circles when it first came out a decade ago. There was a nice sort of jazzy post-hardcore feeling to it, like if Meshuggah was a Touch & Go or Dischord band (with a modern metalcore feel, I guess). Lineup changes and a further polishing of sound leaves me sadly unconvinced, but hey, I still have those memories.
WHAT WE MISSED
Villainy - Villainy II: Dim | Listenable Records | Blackened Crust/Thrash Metal | Netherlands
I actually found this album mildly annoying, but you guys liked it! So here it is since I so carelessly forgot it last week.