Upcoming Metal Releases 3/25/2018–3/31/2018
Hey everyone, I'm back. I hope you were nice while I was out.
Here are the new metal releases for the weeks of March 25, 2017 – March 31, 2018. 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 the coming Fridays unless otherwise noted or if labels and artists get impatient. Blurbs and designations are based on whether or not I have a lot to say about it.
See something we missed? Goofs? Let us know in the comments. Plus, as always, feel free to post your own shopping lists. Happy digging.
As a little bit of a challenge, include your own opinion about anything you want to add. Make me want to listen to it!
Please note: this is a review column and is not speculative. Any announced albums without preview material will not be covered. Additionally, any surprise releases which are uploaded or released after this column is published will be excluded.
Lychgate - The Contagion in Nine Steps | Blood Music | Avant-Garde Metal | England
The follow up to 2015's masterful An Antidote for the Glass Pill doesn't tread on its manic predecessor's discord. Rather, Lychgate continues to morph into a new being with each unveiling. Unexpectedly, The Contagion in Nine Steps veers into more (present-tense) modern territory, and suddenly Lychgate maintains the posture of a progressive black metal band. Majestic and impassioned, moving from church cathedrals to lore-imprisoning castles and the Medieval madness from within. In becoming more overtly melodic and (relatively) straightforward, Lychgate loses immediacy, and, oddly enough, needs to be dissected further to find a similar merit as their sophomore album. Contagion isn't as brash and horrific, largely due to the band refusing to rest on the same sort of "discord as dynamics" logic, and ultimately results in an album which deserves a little more time and effort to appreciate on a deeper level. The musicianship and incredible talent is all there, but the insanity which drew many to Antidote is all but gone.
Angantyr - Ulykke | Northern Silence Productions | Black Metal | Denmark
How long has it been since we last heard from Ynleborgaz's incredible black metal solo effort? Six years? More? It seems longer, but Angantyr's frigid black metal perfection, this Danish, folkish music of olden times and legendary beings, still sounds like it was made in the '90s. Granted, my more analytical brain recognizes that, yes, maybe Ulykke sounds like the weight of ages has chipped away and eroded what has been a pinnacle in the more romantic, majestic end of black metal, and, yes, the first decade of Angantyr yielded some of Ynleborgaz's most powerful works. All that being said, Ulykke still casts an incredible shadow on most new music in the black metal world. There are many pretenders who could only dream of making a lesser Angantyr riff.
Primordial - Exile Amongst the Ruins | Metal Blade Records | Folk/Black Metal | Ireland
The legendary Primordial returns once more, but at what cost? Suddenly, and to great horror, Exile Amongst the Ruins sounds less like Primordial and more like...every other metal band. Looking back, there is a great arc which defines their existence from Imrama through Where Greater Men Have Fallen, slowly becoming a greater, anthemic being with a sound all their own. Now? Gone are the tragic Celtic melodies and balanced riffwork, replaced with parboiled "traditional metal riffs", some of which sound like the neighborhood dads jamming in a garage. Exiled among their own ruins, indeed.
Convocation - Scars Across | Everlasting Spew | Atmospheric Death/Doom Metal | Finland
In a world of death/doom metal which preoccupies itself with Autopsy and Incantation's filth and cave-dwelling darkness, Convocation's debut communicates through pure, tragic emotion and a kaleidoscope of psychedelic colors. It's the kind of "pretty" doom which doesn't rely on "classic quotations" or rote emulation, and Scars Across exists purely as a communicant for the duo's inner feelings and despondency.
Ascension - Under Ether | World Terror Committee | Black Metal | Germany
I had so much hope for Ascension when the Deathless Light EP was released -- a rare example of maximizing atmospheric and imposition while still maintaining a larger, catchier sense. Unfortunately, that single featured the only truly memorable song off of The Dead of the World. I suppose there was a glimmer of hope for Under Ether. Maybe they would remember to be catchy. Maybe they would avoid the trappings of triangle-and-snake orthodoxy. Unfortunately, no, and so Ascension slowly loses themselves to the ages.
This is refreshing, especially when it seems that technically proficient musicians (especially guitarists) are ubiquitous. With enough time and hard work, complex music can be arranged and its performance mastered; however, if complexity is the sole goal of the creator, the result will be sterile and artificial. Despite the market for rinse-and-repeat tech-death, nobody will actually remember the soundalikes. On the other hand, the complexity that naturally results from other considerations (e.g. songwriting) helps serve the album, making it distinct and therefore special. Such is the case with Illusive Golden Age, a unashamed tech-death album which becomes one with its eccentricity.
Vallendusk - Fortress of Primal Grace | Northern Silence Productions | Atmospheric Black Metal | Indonesia
The "atmospheric black metal" genre tag is a world of glut, reducing a variety of emotions into a stream of washed-out uncertainty and indecipherable sound. At least there are bands like Vallendusk who manage to inject even a small amount of energy and clarity into what I can now damn as a "Bandcamp genre".
Eagle Twin - The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn) | Southern Lord Productions | Doom Metal | United States
Eagle Twin is back, which is cool to some degree. Unfortunately, the band's penchant for long-form, La Monte Young-meets-stoner-doom songwriting leaves me wanting, I don't know, riffs?
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
Book of Sand - Sun Going Down | Atrocious Gnosis | Experimental Folk | United States
Notable black metal outsider and experimental wunderkind dcrf steps far, far outside the box with this one. Those who recall the blackened mania of Occult Anarchist Propaganda will find themselves confused in the apocalyptic blues and stumbling, electric transience found within Sun Going Down. Ever one to avoid definition, this mysterious artists hides many twists and turns within this surprise release -- quiet and sluggish enough to lull any listener into a false sense of security, but beware the slight moments of terror. When asked for comment, dcrf stated, "if you who liked _Occult Anarchist Propaganda_, you won't like this! :*"
Each of Cy‘s lengthy tracks travels from hushed silence to roaring horror and back again, taking detours into a drunken shuffle on “II” and past the metallic clang of workers in the field on “IV.” Cy is a small and strange, but complete world unto itself. Whether or not you read the signs, each home is occupied. Don’t trouble your mind with what goes on when the sun sets. The sounds tell all you need to know.
Inhumankind - Self-Extinction | I, Voidhanger Records | Extreme Chamber Music? | Spain
This is bizarre, but more of a novelty than anything else. Inhumankind would make for a very odd death metal band on their own, but Self-Extinction is entirely unplugged, eschewing electricity for acoustic resonance and chambered sustain. I'd be lying if I said I didn't hate it at first, but the most I can really do is respect their singular existence.
FROM THE GRAVE
Grandiose Malice - The Eternal Infernal | Hells Headbangers Records | Black/Death Metal | United States
The final work of former Black Witchery riffmaker Tregenda before his tragic fate. A testament to his legendary craft.
Leechfeast - Neon Crosses | Dry Cough Records/Rope or Guillotine | Sludge/Doom Metal | Slovenia
I happen to have a massive soft spot for bands who sound just like Grief. Leechfeast sounds like Grief, which is great… but also: listen to Grief.
Onirism - Falling Moon | Naturmacht Productions | Symphonic Black Metal | France
There was a lengthy period of time when "symphonic black metal" was worse than insulting someone's mother. The sudden increase in the noble Casio keyboard's popularity is endearing, but mostly a surprising insight into the black metal community's fluid value judgment. On Onirism: this is perfectly fine, and a few moments on Falling Moon err on the "magnificent" side, but I also can't help but wonder how this would have been received a short ten years ago.
Precaria/Deathspiral of Inherited Suffering/Dominus Ira - Metamorphosphoros | I, Voidhanger Records | Black Metal | Mexico/United States/Russia
Remember the "triangles and snakes" style I happened to mention earlier? This is a tour de force in "orthodoxy and dissonance", featuring three bands who sound vaguely similar.
Barren Earth - A Complex of Cages | Century Media Records | Melodic Death/Doom Metal | Finland
Every once in a while I am reminded of the phenomena known as "Opeth metal". You know the type: bands who try their hardest to sound like the Blackwater Park era to the point of losing any type of personal identity. Barren Earth is the most popular example of "Opeth metal", but maybe with more vocal melodrama. Either way, the most I can really say about this band is that they like another.
Cân Bardd - When the Spirit Finally Opens | Northern Silence Productions | Atmospheric Black Metal | Switzerland
Anno 2018 must be the year of "bands who want to sound like Summoning and sound better than their new album" or something.