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I’d normally write something snarky up here, but I’m too exhausted from all the work I’ve been up to as of late. I hope your 2016 started nicely.

Below is a brief list of metal-and-related slated for release in the first full-calendar week of 2016. There isn’t much this week because I am sleepy. Did I miss anything? Is my opinion objectively wrong? Did you miss me during my absence? Leave a comment!

—Jon Rosenthal
send Jon your promos at jon@invisibleoranges.com

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Krallice - Hyperion | Independent/Digital/Avantgarde Music | Progressive/Technical Black Metal | United States
Continuing their "surprise!" approach, Krallice quietly uploaded the Hyperion EP to Bandcamp on January 1st, which makes things difficult for me. How’s a guy supposed to keep up? Recorded in 2013, Hyperion is the missing link between the melodic, Slavic-tinged black metal ephemera found on Years Past Matter and last year’s radically different, almost Anata-like Ygg Huur. Though the melodic sound presented here definitely leans more toward their earlier works, a few passages strewn throughout these three tracks show this New York-based "supergroup" attempting to progress beyond their then-canonical sound. The finger-snapping, head-spinning musicianship is all the same, and Krallice still fail to disappoint, even when looking backward (in the case of this EP).

The Clearing Path - Abyss Constellation | Avantgarde Music | Progressive/Atmospheric Black Metal | Italy

The Clearing Path left quite a mark with Watershed Between Earth And Firmament’s short shock of intricate, progressive-minded atmospheric black metal, so having a "sequel release" in hand within the same calendar year as its predecessor could be worrisome. Fortunately, there is nothing to worry about regarding the brief Abyss Constellation. Cut from the same cloth as Watershed…, this new two-track EP shows sole member Gabriele Gramaglia pushing the envelope, including a stronger sense of technicality and what can only be described as a "jazz-influenced" melodic approach. Though decidedly more "blackened" in sound than its more hardcore-inspired prequel, Abyss Constellation’s sixteen minutes form a brave statement from the bright mind of a young musician.

Xibalba (Itzaes) - Ah Tza! | Nuclear War Now! Productions | Black Metal | Mexico

Xibalba gained notoriety in the mid-to-late ‘90s due primarily to their location. When black metal was ruled by the Scandinavian peninsula, the quality bout of Darkthrone-y black metal which is Xibalba’s 1994 debut Ah Dzam Poop Ek swiftly kicked the groin of anyone who doubted that non-vikings could succeed in the then-burgeoning genre. Unfortunately, Xibalba quickly faded into obscurity and eventually broke up. After a lengthy bout of reunion shows, tours, and festival appearances, Xibalba (now Xibalba Itzaes) makes a triumphant return with the short-yet-effective Ah Tza 7" on Nuclear War Now! Productions. As far as the music goes, this trio sounds like they picked up right where they left off some twenty years ago - a fiery maelstrom of riff-centric black metal buzz and dripping vocal vomit. Some might make the argument that a band should probably evolve over two decades, but I, personally, don’t listen to Xibalba to think about it being 2016.

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OF NOTE

Talvi - Yksi elämä, yksi pakotie | Tour de Garde | Folk/Black Metal | Finland
If you’re like me, you might love Moonsorrow’s recent foray into progressive rock-guided black metal, but prefer their earlier albums. Apparently Talvi feels the same way, and they spent the last five (!) years crafting the epic, expansive Yksi elämä, yksi pakotie as a fitting tribute to Finland’s beautiful landscapes.

Cauldron - In Ruin | The End Records | Heavy Metal | Canada
I tend to make the "sounds like motorcycles" analogy whenever a heavy metal album in the classic style makes its way to my desk. Cauldron is no different, so expect Dokken riffs in droves, and maybe a few '70s prog sensibilities here and there. My one complaint resides within Jason Decay’s vocals, which don’t quite match the powerful standard which defines heavy metal.

Anecestors Blood - Hyperborea | Naturmacht Productions | Pagan Black Metal | Finland
Whereas Talvi celebrated Finland through plodding, calculated black metal, Ancestors Blood does so through epic, bouncing atmospheres. Though much more distorted and obscured than the above, Ancestors Blood’s decidedly "viking" sound is a fun alternative for all the super serious pagan black metal out there.

The Lion’s Daughter - Existence is Horror | Season of Mist | Progressive/Blackened Sludge Metal | United States
Despite their peripheral connection to fellow St Louis-ites Fister, I never really checked out The Lion’s Daughter. Existence is Horror, their Season of Mist debut, is a raucous romp of post-hardcore-directed, blackened sludge metal. The Lion’s Daughter maintains a high level of energy, which is a welcome departure from sludge’s oft-sluggishly performed direction, but, at the same time, the jumping between metalcore, doom, black metal, and post-hardcore comes off as scatterbrained. It’s hard for me to follow. The ideas are all there, I just wouldn’t mind seeing The Lion’s Daughter utilize a central focus next time around.

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

that means things which aren’t metal

Venomous Concept - Kick Me Silly - VC III | Season of Mist | Hardcore Punk/Grind | International
People in famous grindcore and metal bands play paint-by-numbers hardcore. ...Awesome.

Stream "Leper Dog" via Noisey here.

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FROM THE GRAVE

The Wanderer… - Aura Nocturnal & Mysterium | Tour de Garde | Atmospheric Black Metal | Australia
This caught me by surprise. A blind purchase from Tour de Garde, this CD collection of Australia’s anonymous The Wanderer…, a band whose cassettes I’d seen floating around the online stores I frequent, is some gorgeous, washed-out black metal ambiance. No doubt inspired by Russia’s Blazebirth Hall and fellow countryman Striborg, the soft, melodic fuzz and occasional, distant, clean chanting found within this collection have cemented The Wanderer… in my "new favorites."

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OTHER RELEASES

Aborted - Termination Redux | Century Media Records | Death Metal | Belgium
The last thing I wanted to start 2016 with was a new Aborted album. Wake me up when they make a new Goremageddon.

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