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Much jelly-tugs owed to Dick Jam for covering for me last week while I was busy witnessing the most important moment of my life. Not sure when he is going to be able to cash in on them because I don’t have any clue when I am even going to have time to go to a show again, let alone MDF, but I’m sure our paths will cross again, and I will have a jar of Schmucker’s on hand. I won’t be tickling or nothing.

Pretty light week this week. I still haven't had a chance to really get on top of "things we may have missed" yet, so apologies to all who are missing that feature. Support your local independent record stores or they will close and your city will be more boring for it.

—Skid Rÿche

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Here are the new metal releases for the week of 3/22/2015 to 3/28/2015. 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 Tuesday unless otherwise noted. Blurbs and designations are based on available promotional material and perceived buzz.

See something we missed? Goofs? Let us know in the comments. Plus, as always, feel free to post your own shopping lists. Happy digging.


Anticipated Releases

Acid Witch - Midnight Movies EP</> | Hells Headbangers | USA | Doom | Death | Horror Movies

I’m a huge cult horror film buff and this is a seriously fun covers EP of songs that were featured in '80s horror films, nearly all favorites of mine. This is a 45 Grave cover of a song that was featured in one of the greatest goofball horror movies of all time (bordering on spoof) Dan O’ Bannon’s “Return Of The Living Dead.” Typically, I wouldn’t give the time of day to a “covers” EP, but this warrants a blurb and a stream. Acid Witch are currently touring Europe. Catch them at Roadburn this weekend if that’s in your Dutch vacation plans. They’ll be opening for Enslaved and Fields Of The Nephilim (Tuff! You lucky bastard! Get me a shirt.)

Agnostic Front - The American Dream Died | Nuclear Blast | USA | Hardcore

Getting tagged “the best AF album in years” is no small feat. It certainly has it’s nods to “Victim In Pain” era micro-blasts and (my favorite era) their shreddier late-'80s crossover thrash material. I haven’t kept much on them since “One Voice” but it seems to be nodding to all their eras, the aforementioned eras smashed right next to '90s gang chorus beatdown anthems as well as some street punk styled singalongs. I’m sorry if this isn’t metal enough for you, but Agnostic Front opening for Obituary on the “Complete Control” tour was my first concert ever, so they have always had a bit of a soft spot in my heart. I’ve long had trouble seeing the separation between '80s hardcore and metal.

Enforcer - From Beyond | Nuclear Blast | Sweden | Classic | Speed | Traditional Metal

I’ll admit, I totally skipped on the last Enforcer record. I don't think I even got a chance to listen to 30 seconds. It certainly had A LOT stacked against it following the near-perfect '1982-on-speed' assault of Diamonds. From Beyond has my head nodding like it does to my favorite W.A.S.P. records though. It sounds like they have moved forward nicely where they can relax and concentrate on assembling the measured and well thought out classic-influenced tracks that Diamonds was promising. That cover is badass as well. Enforcer have always been a fantastic speed metal band with brilliant chops and tons of potential.

Heidevolk - Velua | Napalm | Germany | Folk | Pagan
If doing this column serves me in any capacity, having to cram this much sound into my skull every week has only served to open my mind. Pagan metal has never done a whole lot for me. Not even Bathory's later stuff. I don't feel connected to any heritage when I hear this stuff. Many thousands of you do though, and so these entries are for all of you. I am not against it, I just never know what to say about it. Excellent teutonic mannerchör styled vocals, fellas.

Ill Omen - Compendium Melificarum: Esoterica | Nuclear War Now! | Australia | Doom | Death
For all you knobs yowling that I don’t post enough “underground” stuff: here’s your murky fix of cavernous, apocalyptic doom… This is a compilation of out of print and unreleased material from Ill Omen, side project of Desolate from Australia’s defunct depressive black metal legends Austere. NWN drops this today, but back in December, you may have missed that they dropped a remaster of the superior Remnant Spheres Of Spiritual Equilibrium EP as well as a full length of new material last year.

Malthusian - Below The Hengiform | Invictus | Ireland | Cavernous Murk | Death | Black

Further down into the underground . . . Malthusian dropped their brilliant “MMXIII” demo in . . . well . . . anno MMXIII. This is their debut EP proper and it is a truly foul belch of death, black and doom influences. Featuring the drummer from Altar Of Plagues, exercising his need to reign it back in after the last AOP full length where they took the music far out of orbit. Below The Hengiform may be my pick of the week.

Marriages - Salome | Sargent House | USA | Post Metal

Since this is my house, I get to stick whatever I want out there, including my shitty opinion on occasion. Extreme music is really boring and limiting if you only allow yourself to focus on one element. That’s why it takes acts like The Swans to shake the natural order of things a bit. While I don’t think any band gets the honor of being considered an “iconoclast” any more quite like Swans, I do appreciate when bands do just a little bit to redefine what it means to be heavy. “Extreme” metal has dialed it back a bit over the past few years as more and more acts explore new dimensions in extremity. The Swans can be as heavy as an anvil with an acoustic guitar and some lyrics. Marriages are as heavy as any sludge doom band because their literal sonic weight belies what they can impart as far as emotional gravity. More on that later, when we get to the Royal Thunder blurb. Darkness with haunting melody is still dark. Somewhere in between The Sundays, Slowdive and Jesu is where MARRIAGES is setting root. It’s not reinventing anything, and it would be fair to protest that is not metal, but it is still heavy in a different way and therefore deserves recognition.

Minsk - The Crash & The Draw | Relapse | Atmospheric Sludge
Chicago outfit Minsk drops their 4th album of Neurosis-influenced doom. I have never paid much attention to them because I sorta lumped them in with lots of other acts that kinda did the same thing around the time they came out. Maybe I was assuming too much because I am responding positively to this track.

Morgoth - Ungod | Century Media | Germany | Classic Death Metal Legends

The old school is always close to my heart, but I have to admit that for years, I didn’t tend to get excited when old favorites reformed and put out new albums… then Carcass changed that. I check them ALL out now. Was I stoked about Morgoth? They arguably went FURTHER out to sea from the death metal sound than Carcass did with their Killing Joke-esque excursions, so what direction was Ungod going to head in? Well, they took it back to 1989 basically. This is classic death metal made by guys who lived it, watched it curdle from scene saturation and tried whatever they could to fix it. Ungod is the sound of a band that knows how to use all the 90’s cliches of mid-paced death metal to their greatest effect, but by providing strong songwriting and hooky riffs, prove why they were no third string act.

Royal Thunder - Crooked Doors | Relapse | Doom

What can be said about this that isn’t going to be said in the coming few weeks, or hasn’t already been said by most of the big-dog tastemaker sites? In case you were wondering if the hype was true or just hyperbole, Crooked Doors is as brilliant as anyone says it is. This is music not made for metal fans, as it has a bit of a tepid delivery compared to your typical Black Witchery album, but it’s made for music lovers. It exudes pain and heartache with depth like no other album is going to this year. Not the cartoonish operatic goth-moaning of so many acts either. Expect lots of comparisons to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors because this is a breakup album in the most classic sense. A tremendous advancement from the debut album and a career-making turn.

Satanic Warmaster - Fimbulwinter | Hells Headbangers | Finland | Black Metal
It doesn’t get much more true, grim, or hateful than Satanic Warmaster. In my estimation, Finland doesn’t do much wrong, and despite Werwolf’s obvious affiliations with dodgy personalities and ideologies, SW do not change that estimation. SW are just as musically relevant and important as Horna or Beherit. Fimbulwinter may be a little more polished, but it is no less strong or direct than Nachzehrer or Strength & Honor.

Saturnalia Temple - To The Other | The Ajna Offensive | Blackened Doom | Psychedelic

For some reason, I wasn’t expecting this to be as reverby, spacey and fuzzy as it is. To The Other is one of those albums that probably needs some dope to really sink into it. It certainly sounds like some dope was helpful in it's creation.

Skyforger - Senprusija | Thunderforge | Latvia | Pagan
Damn, I wind up hearing to a lot of pagan metal for this column. I consistently forget just how much of it there is out there and just how popular it is, much like I do with country music. There are plenty of things that I do like about it, I just never seem to need to hear it.


OF NOTE

Apophys - Prime Incursion | Metal Blade | Netherlands | Death Metal
Not particularly technical or over the top in any remarkable way, but still very strong death metal.

The Crotals - Fuel! Flames! Blast! | Tenacity Music | Switzerland | Stoner | Doom
In another lifetime, I used to follow a pop band from Switzerland called Favez. I really liked them. They could write the hell out of a song and put a wry twist on it. Saw them live once in front of nobody, bought the shirt, and ten years later some of them moved on to a pretty impressive doom outfit with some quirky leanings.

Délétère - Les Heures de la Peste | Sepulchral | Canada | Black Métal Québecois
Raw and occasionally speedy to the point that it sometimes brings to mind the Ulver album that everyone likes to talk about so much. Also, the Metallum reads: “Not to be confused with another Délétère, also from Quebec.” Guys, you all live in the same city, this must be solved by a street fight. Sepulchral is also releasing at the same time a Délétère demo compilation called “De Ritibus Morbiferis” Canadians can catch them opening for Samael when they pass through doing “Ceremony Of Opposites” cover to cover. Lucky bastards. Not only do they get that, but they get a Bolt Thrower tour this spring.

Eohum - Revelations, Aurora Of An Epoch | Mycelium | Avant Garde Black Metal | Pagan
I don’t know how much pagan black metal I can take in a few days. I still don't know what to say about pagan metal releases. Maybe I get put off by the cosplay uniforms.

Ether - Hymns of Failure | Sepulchral | Canada | Black Metal
Two full CD’s of well thought out long form (think 14 minute songs) black metal. I don’t care how great it is though, I have not had time to listen to two full CD’s of anything to make a fair judgement on it. It's a bit on the experimental side and it sounds very Canadian, like many of their Sepulchral Records counterparts like Monarque and Inferno. How many black metal bands does Quebec have by now?

Exhumation - Opus Death | Dunkelheit | Indonesia | Black | Death
Gritty sounding obscure blackened death metal. Not bringing a whole lot new to the table, but they sound like they are having a good time blaspheming and holding torches.

Foehammer - Foehammer EP | Grimoire/Australopithecus | USA | Funeral Doom
I only use the term funeral doom in regards to the fact that these guys are super fucking slow. This is stripped, foul, stinking doom trudge played with little trickery other than amps and riffs.

Impalers - Prepare For War EP | Evil Eye | Denmark | Thrash
Formidable and very ‘80s German sounding EP of hooky thrash ala Coma Of Souls-era Kreator.

Lay Siege - Hopeisnowhere | Lifeforce | UK | Metalcore
Good to see things haven’t changed much at Lifeforce records.

Mammoth Mammoth - Volume IV: Hammered Again | Napalm | Stoner
| Australia | Stoner
Meshback and moustache muscle-car fuzz rock from down under. So heavy, you have to say mammoth twice to get the point across.

NY in 64 - NY64 | Magic Bullet | USA | Prog Metal | Indie
Instrumental quartet constructs compelling, yet disorienting progressive statements. Not surprised this is on Magic Bullet. They are known for putting out forward thinking and prog-minded indie metal.

Oshiego - Crossing The Bridge Of Siraat | Horror Pain Gore Death | Singapore | Death Metal
Pure death metal. Nothing else going on here. No 'core, no caverns or monkey business, just straight-on death metal.

Psychomancer - Inject The Worms | Orchestrated Misery | USA | Death Metal
more straight-on death metal, but this time from the Chicagoland area. Also, according to Facebook, they have nicknames like ‘Pickles’ and stuff.

Treedeon - Lowest Level Reincarnation | Exile On Mainstream | Germany | Sludge | Doom
Intense and hateful female-fronted sludge doom metal. Brutal and spiteful like Iron Monkey or EHG.


>>>BOSS REISSUES<<<

Gorguts - Obscura + From Wisdom To Hate Re-Releases | Century Media | Canada | Tech | Avant Garde
When I was a kid, I bought Considered Dead because you just bought everything off R/C Records or you were a chump. I remember liking it enough to order one of those shitty Blue Grape records shirts that never stopped smelling like burnt rubber and disintegrated in the dryer (you kids don’t know how good you have it with your fancy merchandise companies that are dedicated solely to printing up high quality metal shirts) but before too long, it bored me to pieces, enough that I didn’t even bother with Erosion Of Sanity when it was released. FFWD 5 years and Obscura quietly drops on the Century Media imprint Olympic Recordings and as the metal world slept on it, Obscura's influence slowly crept in and ripped the entire death and black metal house right off it’s foundation, forging it’s own weird style that brought about many current front runners like Deathspell Omega and Dysrhythmia. Luc Lemay had gone to college and learned about Stravinsky and Charles Mingus and all sort of dissonant tricks that no one had really tried to much great effect in extreme metal by that time. “Tech metal” at that time basically involved playing lots of notes and time signature changes, but without the kind of advanced harmonic concepts that Gorguts was introducing. Neither Obscura nor “From Wisdom To Hate” seemed to be released with a whole lot of fanfare, or success for that matter considering they played a small college town near me around 2001 and I got to see them in front of about 30 people. Still, like that first Velvet Underground album, every one that bought the album, started a band (or went back to the conservatory to get their chops up) Following the tragic passings of both Steeve Hurdle, co-mastermind of the Obscura album, and Steve MacDonald, drummer from that era, Lemay repopulated the Gorguts lineup with acolytes (Seriously, he’s like the Miles Davis of death metal, putting his band together out of students he inspired with his unique approach) and wrote and released the tremendously well received Colored Sands, but these two albums were pert-near the birth of avant garde extreme metal as we know it. Century Media FINALLY has them both back in print on both CD and LP.

Incantation - Entrantment of Evil EP Re-Release | Hells Headbangers | USA | Death Metal
There seems to be no stream for this anywhere online. Oh well. It’s not like you can’t google a youtube clip yourself. Entrainment Of Evil was released in 1991 on the ill-fated and slightly crooked Seraphic Decay label known for ripping off bands and mailorder customers, but also known for dropping one massive and iconoclastic death metal EP after another. Seriously, hit that link for a seriously fun tribute site that allows you to stream every single SD release in it’s entirety. Whatever. Work-A-Day slobs trying to run a label at night and dropping the ball on things was sorta par for the course in 1990. It was a different world back then, and no matter what, when you sent your well-concealed $6 off with 2 IRC’s to some PO Box off in the world somewhere, you may never receive anything. Happened to me a few times, but that was tape trading. Incantation gained notoriety early on as a result of this very first EP, the popularity of which led them directly to being one of the very first bands signed to the fledgling Relapse Records label (who at the time were ALSO super shitty at the mail-order game. I once waited 7 months for an Assuck CD.) Entrantment Of Evil originally featured 4 songs that eventually wound up on the full length (as did both from the Deliverance Of Horrific Prophecies follow-up single) but it is remarkable for the fact that it featured an early lineup with Will Rahmer of Mortician on vocals in a trade deal for John McEntee to play on some early Mortician material. 25 years and 560 ex-members later, Hell’s Headbangers is dropping a lavish collector’s reissue featuring a bonus unreleased pre-production demo of “Profanation” and all original artwork on a one-sided 12” featuring a silk-screened B-side. The band is actually offering a complete die-hard package of this EP and a package to go along with the recent Relapse reissue of their monumental debut album on their official website if you want to go that route.