Upcoming Metal Releases 5/17/2015 – 5/24/2015
So there's a TON of stuff which comes out this week (5/17-5/23), ranging from a quiet-yet-powerful debut to the return of the masters in Cerberic form. I wasn't really sure when I first started compiling releases for this week a little over a month ago, but goddamn if this isn't a good week for metal.
As always: if I am missing something, am wrong to the point of offending your ancestors, need to be ritualistically murdered, or said something you like – COMMENT. Dialog is the mother of discovery.
Tau Cross - Tau Cross | Relapse Records | Heavy Metal/Crust Punk | Canada/Scotland/United States
Like any self-respecting metal writer could go without putting this album before anything else (sorry, anything else). This is the dream lineup: Amebix and Voidvod butting heads, Rob “The Baron” Miller and Michel “Away” Langevin becoming an unstoppable hydra of passion, power and introspection. Definitely much more on the “metal” side of things than The Baron's final creation with the legendary Amebix, the hellbent-for-Killing Joke Sonic Mass, Tau Cross's eponymous debut finds itself existing separately from the sum of its parts, which were aggressively speculated in forums of all kind. No, this isn't the classic Amebix metallic punk romp, nor is it the heady thrash of Voivod, nor is it the more neotraditional crust of War/Plague and Misery, whose members Andy Lefton and Jon Misery (respectively) handle guitar work. No, this is something different, and sure, each member's individual voice is heard in its own right, but its much more egalitarian than that, and reaches much further back than the original punk and metal movements. Tau Cross's Facebook page cites The Baron's location as “The Isle of Skye,” which I feel is prominently reflected in the ballads on this album. Yes, I can feel the band embracing the Wyrd with a raised fist (with which I find myself subconsciously raising, myself – especially during “Hangman's Hyll.” The hype is real, the legend was foretold. Stream Tau Cross in its entirety here
Vorum - Current Mouth | Sepulchral Voice | Death Metal | Finland
It has definitely been a good minute since we've heard from the blackest pits of Finland in which Vorum dwells. Though 2013's Poisoned Void existed more on the “atmospheric” side of things, as most things “new old school” go in death metal circles, Current Mouth is a much more convincing throwback. As I'm writing this on our dearly departed Chuck Schuldiner's birthday, I definitely hear a lot of Death in this, be it the higher pitched vocals, the crisp sound, the noodly technicality – it's all there. In a world where new throwback bands all sound like Incantation in a cistern, it's nice to hear a band who places musicality over atmosphere without turning into a Unique Leader jerkfest.
Faith No More - Sol Invictus | Ipecac Records | Avant-Garde Rock/Metal | United States
So it's not very often you have two heavy-hitters return with full-lengths on the same day. I'll be honest, Faith No More was never my cup of tea; singer Mike Patton's antics, however talented the man may be, always rubbed me the wrong way, and, as I've stated in previous columns, a lot of “avant-garde rock/metal” (especially Patton's other former band Mr. Bungle) annoys me for the most part. That being said, I always respected Faith No More for what they did with alternative rock, rap, jazz, world music, and, of course, weird metal. After hearing NPR's stream of Sol Invictus, the band's first album since the critically acclaimed Album of the Year all the way back in 1997, something clicked. Maybe it was Patton's time with professional jazz deconstructionist John Zorn, or maybe the eighteen years between albums helped the sound mature into something else, but this odd mix of R&B, rhythmic vocal sounds, and genre-defying instrument work is actually... something I like. I like it a lot! Consider me converted – I might even need to rediscover the back catalog?
All that being said, I still think the song “Motherfucker” is really, really dumb, but most albums have a skipover track, right?
Demon Head - Ride The Wilderness | Caligari Records/This Charming Man Records | Doom Metal/Hard Rock | Denmark
I've made it pretty apparent over the past few weeks that “throwback doom” isn't exactly my favorite style of music. That being said, Demon Head is surprisingly fun – like an old biker movie whose tape reel was left in the back of a dank closet since the 70s. There is a nice gloom surrounding Ride The Wilderness, eschewing the genre's normal, bouncy, “carefree sound” (which I always considered a bit of a pitfall). Don't get me wrong, Demon Head are a 100% classic doom/hard rock band at their core, but this is refreshingly different. I'll be picking up a copy of the tape from Caligari Records, who have proven themselves to be a fine purveyor of unique metal, as well as an incredible webstore.
George Kollias - Invictus | Season of Mist | Death Metal | Greece
Most of you probably know George Kollias as the fleet-footed drummer-for-hire who spends the majority of his time behind the kit for Egyptian-fetishist death metal band Nile. Well, as it turns out, Kollias is a pretty competent musician, overall. When I first received word of Invictus, I envisioned something more of a Probot situation – Kollias behind the kit with a rotating band playing music with him. Wrong! Aside from a few guest vocal and guitar solo spots, this is all Kollias...and it isn't bad! I might not be super into modern death metal, but I've always had a profound respect for George Kollias, and this only solidifies it further.
Related to: Corpse Light - Without Form | Grimoire Records | Sludge/Doom Metal | United States
“Post-Metal” but with muscle. For a genre which started off as an offshoot of hardcore, “atmospheric sludge,” mostly known now as “post-metal” has really lost its edge – I mean, would you call Explosions in the Sky a metal band? Then why call an Explosions in the Sky cover band with a hardcore vocalist metal? Luckily, every once in a while you get a band which remembers the genre's roots. Enter Corpse Light, an atmospheric sludge/doom metal band which definitely emphasizes the doom of the spectrum. Yes, there are the big, post-rock-infused climaxes and the attention to dynamics which have become paramount to the genre, but all built on a solid base of heavy, heavy sludge.
Tengger Cavalry - Blood Sacrifice Shaman | Metal Hell Records | Melodic Death Metal/Mongolian Folk | China
Traditional Asian music in metal has always been regarded a novelty, what with Chthonic's subtle inclusion of the erhu (a traditional East Asian violin) to otherwise blasé take on symphonic black metal garnering them a slot on the Ozzfest 2007 tour lineup and short-lived shirt manufacturing via Hot Topic. Was Chthonic good? Nah, but the idea behind it was. One can sort of apply that mentality to Tengger Cavalry, but at least their reverence to Mongolian and Turkic folk music is genuine. One can hear traditional khoomeij throat singing and horse head fiddle interspersed among the chunky, modern melodic death metal riffing. It's definitely a nice change of pace from folk metal's stereotypical caricaturization of traditional music. Streaming via their bandcamp here.
Secrets of the Sky - Pathways | Metal Blade Records | Atmospheric Black/Doom Metal | United States
A pleasant blend of black metal, doom, post-rock, and a little hardcore. Nice, majestic, and a little pillowy. Can't say this is exactly my style, but it is executed with competence. Stream the whole thing Weedeater - Goliathan | Season of Mist | Stoner/Doom Metal | United States
Their self-categorization as “weed metal” should say it all – stoner doom's 29-toed prodigal sons have returned with another bout of bluesy, hazy doom metal. Frontman Dixie Dave sounds as hoarse and tattered as ever, which will probably lend nicely to the forthcoming Bongzilla reunion (about which I am extremely bummed that a Wisconsin band is choosing to play New York over Chicago. How?).
Related to: Bongzilla, Buzzov•en, Hail!Hornet
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
that means things which aren't metal
Circuit des Yeux - In Plain Speech | Thrill Jockey | Experimental | United States
Wow, what a powerful record. I've seen the Circuit des Yeux name thrown around a bit, especially given central musician/general sole member Haley Fohr is a fellow Chicagoan, and yet I never really checked her music out until just a few weeks ago. I know, I'm late to the game. I feel it, too. Without any background listening, I can tell you that In Plain Speech will be… a challenge for many of you. HOWEVER, this is one of those “repeated listen” albums, with each piece nestled into its place perfectly, sometimes hidden away in a special spot for you to find later. Based in strange, yet oddly warm electronic folk and Fohr's signature, deep, soulful contralto voice, Fohr enlists the talents of Cooper Crain (Cave, Bitchin Bajas), Whitney Johnson (Verma, Matchess), Rob Frye (Bitchin Bajas), Adam Luksetich (Little Scream), and Kathleen Baird (Spires That In The Sunset Rise) to flesh out her already lush sound to new, increasingly experimental heights. This is the calmest exorcism you will ever listen to. Out, out, foul demon.
Stream In Plain Speech at NPR here.
The following video is NSFW (nudity):
FROM THE GRAVE
Revolting - Visages of the Unspeakable | F.D.A. Rekotz | Death Metal | Sweden
The return of Rogga Johansson, who has crafted some of the finest, most putrid old school death metal that side of the Atlantic.
Ilsa - The Felon's Claw | A389 Recordings | Death/Doom Metal/Crust | United States
Crusty, pissed off death metal with an immense doom metal chip on their shoulder. You've heard Ilsa before – you know what to expect.
Cold Cell - Lowlife | Avantgarde Music | Black Metal | Switzerland
Shining-esque black metal from the unsuspecting nation of Switzerland. Prepare to bob your head to surprisingly “rocking” riffs – maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but it certainly is enjoyable.
WHAT WE MISSED
Wiegedood - | ConSouling Sounds | Black Metal | Belgium
A bit of a supergroup from the Belgian sludge/hardcore scene, featuring members of Oathbreaker, Amenra, and Rise and Fall, Wiegedood plays long-form black metal of the Weakling variety. Expect long, hypnotic chord progressions and big, piercing climaxes.
Rorcal - La Femme sans Tête | Independent | Blackened Sludge/Doom Metal | Switzerland
Hell-bent on making sure all their releases are free to the public, Switzerland's Rorcal recorded a special mini-album to commemorate 10 years as a band and are giving it to you, their loyal listeners. The catch? You have to make your own cover art. Crushing.
Zuriaake - ?? Gu Yan | Pest Productions | Atmospheric Black Metal | China
China's saddest export returns with a surprise EP – and it's already sold out. Luckily, Pest Productions put it on Bandcamp for all of us to enjoy (relatively speaking).
Exocytosis - Multipotent Progenitor | Independent | Death Metal/Avant-Jazz | United States
Wait, is it 1992? Am I listening to unreleased Pan-thy-monium demos? No? But there's death metal with saxophone...and it doesn't suck! Man, I don't even know.