Support your local independent record stores or they will close and your city will be more boring for it.

The Skidmarks Reich character who usually curates and narrates this shitshow went and convinced a woman to let him impregnate her, and now he’s “out” on “paternity leave.” That means I’m skippering this junk for the week. I’ll tell you what, our current editor-in-chief is soft on his workers. Former editor and well-muscled ambulatory frown Doug Moore would never have let someone skip a due date for “having a baby.” Standard (dis)service will resume next week, probably.

If we screwed up (we did), peevishly correct us in the comments. And also tell us what you’re buying, in case it’s better than our choices. (It is.) Hopefully you discover something, though, or I’ll have written this for no purpose!

— Richard Street-Jammer & Skid Rÿche

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Anticipated Releases

Where Evil Follows - Portable Darkness (Moribund) - Why yes, they are named after an Onward song, because this is power/melodeath written by Tony Knapp! Into Eternity’s singer provides the vocals. I haven’t heard the full album, but I like these tracks quite a lot. The riffing and soloing is distinctively Knappian, especially towards the end of “Lifting the Veil.” But seriously though, “Portable Darkness?”

Ufomammut - Ecate (Neurot) - Ecate is a giant, fuzzy, brown, lump; take that as criticism, complaint, or compliment as you will. I expected to hate it based hating the band’s previous albums, but found myself enjoying it under specific circumstances. Probably best enjoyed and felt in a live setting while under the influence.

Antagoniste - The Myth of Mankind (I, Voidhanger)  - Caustic but melodic black metal which occasionally slows down to sludge things up. Strange vocals and vocal effects going on in some songs. I, Voidhanger has quietly become one of the most creative and consistent labels during the past few years, and bands like this are why.

Irreversible Mechanism - Infinite Fields (Blood) If you just cannot get enough of melodic but technical but (fairly) brutal death metal, this is for you. It’s not excessively wanky, but you will have to pay attention to appreciate it. An Ex-member of The Faceless drums on this record, and if you're a fan of that band's 2008 opus Planetary Duality then this is up your alley.

Inculter - Persisting Devolution (Edged Circle) - Thrash with a vintage inspired production. Reminiscent of Razor of all things, but not as unhinged or frantic as the Canucks, who always sounded like they were five seconds from needing a triple coronary.

Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Nuclear Blast) -  Is it merely a coincidence that this makes our “Anticipated” list when our current editor/tyrant loves Nightwish because they made him a metalhead? Floor Jansen sounds great, and the music’s very much Nightwish, so: far too precious and delicate for me. Large doses quickly cause insulin resistance.

Prong -  Songs From The Black Hole  (eOne Music) Here’s the thing about cover records: they’re pretty pointless unless the band is covering songs outside their genre. Generic power metal bands covering Iron Maiden’s not interesting, ya know? Prong at least gets the point, then. None of the songs covered are post-thrash/groove metal (OK, The Sisters of Mercy almost count). Most of the songs are punk or post-punk, but there’s a Neil Young cover, too.

Sulphur Aeon - Gateway To The Antisphere (Ván) Massive sounding death metal with an even more massive production. When this stuff works, it’s memorable without being too melodic, all while bowling the listener over. There seems to be a whole unacknowledged subgenre of death metal that sounds like Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, Gateways To Annihilation, and Demigod.

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Of Note

Abhor - Ritualia Stramonium (Moribund) Goblin-styled cinematic black metal.

Ad Nauseam - Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est (Lavadome) Deathspell Omega dissonance, straight death metal.

Ancient Rites - Laguz (Massacre) symphonic black metal with the aggression dialed back. Reps some of that epic/pagan/viking feel. See the Thurisaz album and the Fortid album below for more.

Arvas - Satanic Black Mysticism (ATMF) This Norwegian band’s 3rd album is a 2nd wave sendup to the devil. Orthodox in spirit but not in execution.

Black Flame - The Origin of Fire (Avantgarde) Well written black/death. Would be a solid contender for Behemoth album of the year except that there’s a bit too much black metal going on.

Blackout - Blackout (Riding Easy)  Someone has given this NYC band the stupid, stupid genre tag of ‘cave metal,' which is even more preposterous and made up than other genre names. It’s heavy and sometimes jammy, slumping between stoner metal and pre-prog/pre-power-pop Mastodon. Our Brooklyn Vegan overlords have the album streaming in full.

Tome Of The Unreplenished - Innerstanding (I, Voidhanger) - Melodic and majestic, not cheesy at all. If you miss Altar of Plagues’ early days, this might fill the void.

Fortid - 9 (Schwarzdorn) Will appeal to a similar group of fans as the Ancient Rites album above and the Thurisaz album below, but is a bit more mean and black metal than the others.

Infesting Swarm - Desolation Road (Art of Propaganda) I’d have bet money on this being a slam or brutal death metal album with kinda-sorta misogynistic lyrics, but it’s not! Leans towards the -post side of black metal without turning into genregaze.

Mor Dagor - Redeemer (Osmose) Chunky, modern black metal.

Murg - Varg & Bjorn (Nordvis) Their bandcamp only had one track available as of the date I wrote this, and they don’t show up in metal archives, so I’ll say this: their song “Nejderna Brinner” has a strong black 'n' roll sound channeled through a trebly production.

Nyseius - De Dviniatione Daemonum (ATMF) The sound of hell opening up and screaming...over a drum machine. Hyperintense, never lets up. In measured doses, a good record, but it’s over a goddamned hour long.

Predatory Light - MMXIV  (Pesanta Urfolk) Caustic but melodic black metal. Lenthy songs + slower, intense passages give the material some ambience. Nahemah fans should give this a few listens.

Spectral Darkwave - First Last Contact (Occidental) Your 15 year old trenchcoated self will love this. Reminds me a bit of Ram-Zet without being as weird.

Thurisaz - The Pulse of Mourning (Sleaszy Rider) Some symphonics, some black metal, some of that know it when I hear it epic/viking/pagan feel.

Tristana - Virtual Crime (Bakerteam) The good: chunky, chugging speed metal riffs. The questionable: piano, growls, clean vocals that are very European and clean.

Viper Solfa - Carving An Icon (Massacre) Veterans of other Euro bands come together to form a Voltron that mixes clean female vocals over aggro powerthrash and dudes screaming. Watch two YouTube players.

Wrathage - Discipline (MAA) Black/death that’s bombastic and dramatic like Akercocke, but not quite as skewed. Scattered, but interesting.

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Not-Metal For Poseurs and Wimps

 

Wino & Conny Ochs - Freedom Conspiracy (Exile On Mainstream) Wino and Conny Ochs go acoustic and folk. Not really my cup of tea, but safe for metalheads because it’s non-metal music being made by a metalhead. Earsplit has it.

 

Violent Reaction - Marching On (Revelation) - “Why is this here,” you ask, and “Don’t blame me, blame Skidmarks,” is my answer. I segregated it out, though, so you don’t have to get any wimpy poseur punk rock on you. The band bio claims they are straight edge but Oi!-influenced . . . and I can hear the Oi! influences in their hardcore. You can hear the whole record and it’s strong stuff. Also, Revelation is still releasing new records!?

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Treats For Your Eyemeats

Pentagram - All Your Sins DVD (Peaceville) Per the label release - so that you know this isn’t hard-hitting journalism - the DVD has archival footage from the band’s personal collection reaching back to the early days.

Katatonia - Sanctitude DVD/CD (Kscope) A concert film of the band playing acoustic/unplugged versions of their greatest (well, more like latest) hits at the Chapel Hall venue in the U.K. Choice quote from the trailer: “It wasn’t a rock show...it wasn’t the action that night. It was only the atmosphere.” Watch on YouTube.