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As we enter our second (and final) week of regular columnist Jon Rosenthal’s vacation, we coincidentally enter one of the most stacked release weeks of the year. For some reason, for two years in a row many of my favorite albums have been released in April, and this year looks to make it a hat trick.

Seriously, there’s so many front-to-back bangers in the "Anticipated" section that I get a little glandular just thinking about them. Hell, some of the "Of Note" releases are bullseyes for me as well, but Street-Jammer and I needed to compromise.

I’m back from a brief vacation to the Bay Area as well, lining up my column for tomorrow, as well as Decibel Tour coverage and other goodies. The takeaway here is that we are living in a silver age for metal music, even if Street-Jammer and I complain about new stuff not meeting our overly-exacting standards. The time to bang your head is now.

—JS

We know we missed some stuff, including *GASP!* the first solo Zakk Wylde album since his ejection from Ozzy’s band (it’s actually his first ‘solo’ album in 20 years, but who’s counting?). Poor Zakk, what ever will he do without our encouragement? Pinch harmonics, probably. Tell us what we ignored in the comment threads. Bonus points if you can scoop Aildrek.

—Richard Street-Jammer & Joseph Schafer

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Ihsahn - Arktis | Candlelight Records | Progressive/Black Metal/Sophisti-Pop | Norway
Here’s our editor on "Pressure":

It’s got...many hooks, but takes a little more brainpower to parse. In just under 40 seconds, the song progresses through three distinct musical segments without stopping, one prog, one black metal and one bright and catchy. All three elements exist in balance on Arktis.

And that’s pretty much how I feel about the song, too. It’s the first Ihsahn material since After that has really got me excited. When Ihsahn’s on his game, whether in Emperor or on his solo recordings, he’s melded grandiose, memorable melodies with black metal’s grit. Arktis. shows every sign of being another display of Ihsahn’s skill and talent.

—RSJ

Wode - Wode | Broken Limbs | Melodic Black Metal | United Kingdom
When we premiered Wode’s "Plagues of Insomnia," I called it "a ripping 9-minute black metal roller coaster. [...] Melodic, thrash-inflected and more interested in riffs than atmosphere," and that describes the rest of the band’s self-titled debut LP as well. It’s always a pleasure to hear a young band borrowing from the Swedish black metal tradition and prizing riffs over ambience. Read: substance over style. More impressive, they manage to write songs that hover around the 10 minute mark but hold my attention throughout.

—JS

Palace of Worms - The Ladder | Broken Limbs | Progressive Black Metal/ Avant-Garde/Gothic Metal/Bizzarre | United States
Palace of Worms is the kind of band that I started reading Invisible Oranges to discover. The third solo album by Nicholas "Balan" Katich, The Ladder uses a loose interpretation of black metal as a template for thick layers of melody, atmosphere and multitracked vocals. Katich is something of a man about town, and that town is San Francisco: he’s clocked time in The Botanist and Ordo Obsidium, not to mention his splits with Mastery and Thoabath, and members of most of those bands make guest appearances on The Ladder, which we will be streaming in its entirety tomorrow. I’ll let Rosenthal dissect it further, but suffice it to say that The Ladder is already one of my favorite releases of the year. When I get in spats on the comment thread about wanting more daring experimentation from bands, what I mean is that I want more bands with the adventurous spirit that drives Palace of Worms.

—JS

Ragehammer - The Hammer Doctrine | Pagan Records | Black Metal/Thrash Metal | Poland
The Hammer Doctrine is Ragehammer’s debut. They’re Polish. They play black/thrash. There are bits of early Bathory and Morbid Tales riffing, but mostly, you should pay attention this if, a) you like high aggression black/thrash and, b) you think the new Destroyer 666 album is too melodic and laid back.

—RSJ

Geryon - The Wound and the Bow | Profound Lore Records | Technical Death Metal/ Drum and Bass/Literal Interpretation | United States
The Wound promo tracks are fascinating stuff. Just bass and drums, played respectively by Nicholas McMaster and Lev Weinstein from Krallice. It all comes off like Colored Sands without guitar parts. The bass lines manage to be both melodic and rhythmically interesting but the vocals are good but sort of just there, neither adding nor detracting. Heavy metal without distorted electric guitar is always a dubious proposition, but Geryon sounds refreshing without the extra layers. I hate relying on a cliche like ‘less is more’, but it’s so true here: with so much less to focus on, all of that intricate playing is emphasized, leading to a far richer listening experience than if it were all mixed together with a pair of guitars noodling away.

—RSJ

Inherit Disease - Ephemeral | Unique Leader Records | Brutal Death Metal/Technical Death Metal/They’re On Unique Leader, What Did You Expect Them To Sound Like? | United States
If Wormed’s Krigshu isn’t the best brutal/technical death metal album of the year, then this probably will be. It’s been six long years since Inherit Disease’s previous album, which was and is a highlight in the brutal/technical death metal subgenre. They don’t rely on slams, but the tunes aren’t quite as listener friendly as Dying Fetus’ best material nor as demanding as peak-era Suffocation.

—RSJ

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OF NOTE

Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas - Mariner | Indie Recordings | Post-Metal/Atmospheric Sludge
This album won’t be for everybody. Richer Street-Jammer can’t stand it. Personally I’m surprised that I enjoy this as much as I do. Cult of Luna were always also-rans in the NeurIsis marathon, but maybe I ought to revisit their back catalog and reevaluate that judgment. I know some of our staff writers (Ian Cory) hold them in high regard. Teaming with former Made out of Babies vocalist Julie Christmas was a smart move. Her voice lends a dynamic, unpredictable element to Cult of Luna’s determined songwriting style.

—JS

Boss Keloid - Herb Your Enthusiasm | Black Bow Records | Southern Metal/Gaja | United States
If the album title wasn’t enough of a giveaway, Boss Keloid plays southern/sludge/stoner metal. Blind and Deliverance fans should check it out. Different vocal style though; Boss Keloid is only doing the sing-scream thing whereas Pepper Keenan blends in actual singing.

—RSJ

Desaster - The Oath of an Iron Ritual | Metal Blade Records | Black Metal/Thrash Metal | Germany
Desaster’s sound is changing with this album. The ripping black metal aspect from their old songs is gone. The new stuff is slower and adds in some traditional heavy metal. Sataniac’s vocals have dropped in pitch again and now he’s nearly growling. I’m giving the band the benefit of the doubt, but honestly, the Ragehammer track from up higher on the page is much better.

—RSJ

Burning Hatred - /Carnage | Vic Records | Death Metal/HM-2 | Netherlands
Burning Hatred becomes the millionth band to take a shot at the Swedeath classics. The one track we’ve heard isn’t going to get the job done. It’s solid, and some people just can’t get enough of that sound, sooooo yeah, this one’s for the fans. It’s going to take a lot to make me play this rather than Dismember, though.

—RSJ

Sourvein - Aquatic Occult | Metal Blade Records | Southern Sludge | United States
Sourvein play sludge metal. Sourvein sound similar to Eyehategod. My approach to Eyehategod-esque bands is The Highlander: There can be only one. The one is Eyehategod. Regardless, we have an interview with them going up later this week.

—RSJ

Insulter - Crypts of Satan | Witches Brew | Thrash | Germany
Crypts of Satan is exactly what you’d expect from a thrash band signed to Witches Brew, so sloppy, fast thrash with an ‘80s style production. There’s a specific audience for this stuff, e.g. your average Maryland Deathfest attendee, that will eat it up. (Myself included.) Vektor, this is not.

—RSJ

Blaze Out - Backlash | Blood, Fire and Death Music, Promotion &
Entertainment
| Groove Metal/Thrash Metal | Catelonia

Blaze Out sound like a mixture of Nevermore’s groove oriented elements and a heavy metal leaning thrash band such as Metal Church. I was pleasantly surprised by this song/video, as anything tagged ‘groove’ has an uphill battle to quality.

—RSJ

Bog of the Infidel - Asleep in the Arms of Suicide | Eternal Death Records | Black Metal/Fuck You | United States
Bog of the Infidel are American, but play black metal with corpse paint and spiky armor on. They are also playing an album release show with Haxen. This should tell you everything you need to know about whether or not to listen to their music. Also, one of the guitarists in the band goes by "Architeuthis" which, considering I am currently reading China Mieville’s Kraken, really rustles my jimmies.

—JS

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