Upcoming Metal Releases 5/15/2016-5/21/2016
I had initially written a really brief introduction for this week's edition, but I'm still reeling from the whole Agalloch breakup thing. What a mess. To close on a relatively positive note, check out the teaser for the upcoming Coldworld album. Yes, it is finally happening.
Here are the new metal releases for the week of May 15 – May 21, 2016. 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 Friday unless the Internet or bands/label proprietors feel particularly impatient. Blurbs and designations are based on perceived buzz and 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.
Katatonia - The Fall Of Hearts | Peaceville Records | "Depressive" Rock/Metal | Sweden
So let's be real: you know who Katatonia is. Or you should - they just so happen to be one of those ubiquitous bands who defined two major genres (melodic death/doom metal and "depressive" rock) in their 25 years of existence. Bands from a range of Swallow the Sun to the likes of Alcest are direct results of Katatonia's constant stream of brilliance, and The Fall Of Hearts shows they have no intent to lose momentum. Continuing in the heavier vein adopted with The Great Cold Distance (2006) and perfected in Night Is The New Day (2009), Katatonia's misery is executed in this newest venture with the signature, diamond-cut clarity and slow-burning, smooth heaviness which defines Katatonia's latest incarnation. New guitarist Roger Öjersson, who also somewhat recently joined fellow classic death/doom-gone-rock titans Tiamat, adds a modern atmospheric sense, nearly bordering post-rock, which compliments mainstay Anders "Blakkheim" Nystrom's bottom-heavy, rhythmic approach. Detractors may claim that Katatonia died with Discouraged Ones, but each new album is a solid argument against that.
From Joseph's premiere of Toska's self-titled debut:
"The X-axis of the Bindrune/Eiwhaz sound runs from folk influences to atmospherics. Toska exists on that line, but further toward the aggressive side than I normally expect. Atmosphere usually comes at the expense of interesting percussion, but Toska don’t make that trade. I listen to Toska’s self-titled EP and I want to mosh. Sure, there’s some Summoning-ish keyboard parts in these songs, but also scorching clean leads and a series of furious drum performances. Who says delicacy and vitriol can’t go hand in hand?"
From Joseph's premiere of "Toward Perdition":
"While the guitars are as buzzing as one expects from black metal, take a listen to that huge, but simple drum pattern. A less creative band might call this “black and roll” were it not for the ranting, chorusless vocals of T.I., formerly Odium."
True Black Dawn - Come The Colorless Dawn | World Terror Committee | Black Metal | Finland
Following in the eponymous footsteps of "the true" Mayhem, these guys are not just "Black Dawn," but TRUE "Black Dawn." All jokes aside, the name is apparently the result of a legal battle, (true) Black Dawn is a very true example of Finland's ferocious, enraptured approach to black metal. Cryptic, evil, and infectious black metal of the highest order.
In Mourning - Afterglow | Agonia Records | Progressive/Melodic Death Metal | Sweden
From "Opeth metal" to something a little more djenty and non-focused, Afterglow isn't really one for me. Joseph disagrees in his premiere of "The Call to Orion":
"Sixteen years into their career, and after eight years of tinkering, In Mourning don’t sound like one fish in a larger school any longer. To my ears they’ve found an identity on Afterglow, one which I hope they will continue to explore and expand upon for a good while longer."
First Fragment - Dasein | Unique Leader Records | Technical Death Metal | Canada
Extraordinarily technical death metal from Canada's new usual suspects. From Joseph's premiere of "Le Serment de Tsion":
"First Fragment is cut from the same technical death metal cloth as their label mates Arkaik, or the more well-known Obscura–former member Christian Münzner contributes a guest solo on Dasein–but draw influence from technical power metal bands like Racer X, as well as traditional flamenco. All those elements are on display in “Le Serment De Tsion,” [...]
If all of that still sounds a bit pedestrian–after all this style of melodic and technical death metal is still ubiquitous–perhaps the group’s membership might pique your interest. Philippe “Pat” Tougas, guitarist and vocalist of Chthe’ilist, handles the same duties in First Fragment, which makes Dasein the second debut album by one of his projects this year."
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
Ithi - Chapel Perilous | Utech Records | Psychedelic Rock/Krautrock | United States
Well this is a surprise - I've covered New York/Portland duo Ithi before in other publications, but after four years of silence I had all but forgotten about them. Previous releases found a quiet, biorhythmic space between abstracted darkwave and deep, harsh drone, making for a rather extraterrestrial sound (for the uninitiated, multi-instrumentalist Luke Kranker has a thing for aliens). Ithi's surprise return with the thick, atmospheric Chapel Perilous marks a bizarre, lovely left turn in Kranker and Convey's approach - namely that it's a complete about face in sound. Though Ithi was undoubtedly indulgent in its previous incarnation, immense drones and crackling sounds meant to damage speakers and rend your inner core, Chapel Perilous's grooving krautrock buzz reveals a much more musical, magickal face to this mysterious duo. Much like the gorgeous artwork which graces this new tape, Ithi is kaleidoscopic and enveloping, their textured talents transmuted into beautiful, colorful haze.
Weekend Nachos - Apology | Relapse Records | Powerviolence
People who don't like having fun enjoy lambasting Weekend Nachos for "not really being powerviolence." I don't really get where they come from, even though Nachos definitely prefers a more metallic approach. Sadly, those arguments will come to a close, as these Chicago hometown heroes are hanging up their hats for good. It's a shame - I finally saw them play in 2014 and they were great. Try and catch them on their final tour if you can.
Kevin Hufnagel - Backwards Through The Maze/Polar Night | Nostalgium Directive | Ambient/Musique Concrete/Drone | United States
Released in the same week as Gorguts's most ambitious work to date, for which he wrote and performed guitar duties, multi-instrumentalist and composer Kevin Hufnagel reminds the world that he operates on more than one plane of the polyhedron which is music. Some might remember the glitchy, shimmering ambiance of last year's limited cassette release Kleines Beist, which took the more glacial sounds of Hufnagel's previous ambient works and quite literally shattered them into a million pieces, but my connotation of Hufnagel's solo works was much different. See, I first heard the avant-folk of Songs for the Disappeared a long, long time ago, likely grabbed from a blog (don't worry, I own a copy of the CD now), so my "Kevin Hufnagel" ideal, at least when not performing as part of one of one of his louder units, has been rhythmic, active, and ethnic. New EP Backwards Through The Maze bridges those two elements, featuring both Hufnagel's avant-folk tendencies (complete with "prepared" instruments - my favorite) and electronic recklessness. I referenced rebuilding shattered glass statues when describing Kleines Biest, but the more "analog" feel of Backwards Through The Maze suggests something more, and I hate to use this term, "steampunk." When listening through the weird, jagged pieces of calculatedly placed microfolk therein, I see cogs and steam. As a bonus, previously digital-only release Polar Night is featured as a B-side.
Architeuthis Rex - Stilbon is Dead | Midira Records | Psychedelic Rock/Drone/Krautrock | Italy
Full disclosure: I've made music with both Francesca and Antonio of Architeuthis Rex, so I'm a bit biased toward their music. Though I might have made attempts at classifying their music above, Architeuthis Rex truly stands alone - expansive, colorful drone rock, steeped in endless layers of keyboards and lich, beautiful sound. The duo's most concentrated work yet, Stilbon Is Dead is Architeuthis Rex at their most "doomy," which was apparently their intent, as they describe all their other releases as "doom" in one way or another. Locrian's Terence Hannum makes a surprise, fitting appearance, to boot.
MIXED MEDIA EPHEMERA
Terence Hannum (Locrian) - Beneath The Remains | Anathemata Editions | 76-page Perfect Bound Novella
Oh man, I haven't written a book report in a long time. In his first novella, Beneath The Remains, Terence Hannum (Locrian, The Holy Circle) paints a portrait of social dereliction, alienation, and faux sterility surrounding the lives of two brothers, recently relocated from Maryland to Florida. When older brother Galen goes missing, Spencer finds himself on a futile, woefully solo mission to find his brother in the midst of a newfound isolation in a religious town. Something is very wrong amidst the palm trees and planned housing developments, and only Galen seems to know... or so he thinks. Hannum's striking imagery and beautiful, stark prose lends almost a Harmony Korine-esque atmosphere to Beneath The Remains, a theatre of the grotesque in mankind. This novel's faded kodachrome setting speaks to a sense of detachedness and nostalgia - the profound emptiness of being a teenage metalhead in a planned world, a stranger in a strange land. Beneath The Remains will be released on Hannum's arthouse imprint Anathemata Editions
FROM THE GRAVE
Expander - Expander | Doomentia Records | Crossover/Thrash Metal | United States
Legend has it that Austin metalpunk thrashers Expander hopped in a time machine in 1987 to thrash the new millennium. This EP, recorded at God City studios with Kurt Ballou, takes the mean, spitting speed of their Laws of Power debut and makes a dystopian, Cronenberg-ian left turn into bizarro psychedelia.
Oak Pantheon - In Pieces | Independent/Digital | Atmosperic Folk/Black Metal/Post-Rock | United States
"Agalloch metal" can go one of two ways. The Morningside's 2007 debut is a great example of the emulation going well...Oak Pantheon still has yet to really solidify their approach.