Upcoming Metal Releases 6/12/2016 – 6/18/2016
As I write this, I am somehow hungover before 11 PM on a Thursday night. Either this is unacceptable for someone in his mid-20s or I am aging at a rapid rate. Should we start a death pool?
Here are the new metal releases for the week of June 12, 2016 – June 18, 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 otherwise noted or if labels and artists get impatient. Blurbs and designations are based on 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.
Terra Tenebrosa - The Reverses | Debemur Morti Productions | Avant-Garde Metal | Sweden
I can't believe it's taken me this long to dive into oddly* mysterious trio Terra Tenebrosa's music. Generally speaking, chaotic, impenetrable music can go one of three ways: 1) It's excellent, well-composed, and maintains a balance between unbridled indulgence and controlled restraint, 2) it's a complete mess and, while ambitious, is wholly unlistenable, or 3) it is a stale, carbon copy of Deathspell Omega and—inadvertently—The Dillinger Escape Plan. Terra Tenebrosa's special brand of discord falls under the first category, with their new album The Reverses manifesting itself as a slow crawl through slow, disturbing, industrial-tinged isolation. Terra Tenebrosa's uneasy, frightening music lurches with pummeling, piston-engine precision, making inhuman, jagged motions and emanating vile, bilous groans and shrieks. Though this trio's static rhythmic approach verges on the hypnotic and monotonous, it is obvious that the cinematic, immediate, and massive walls of sound carried by those meager percussion tracks are the real focus here. The handful of listening sessions I've spent with this have resulted in a strange sort of lost, energetic swaying, which I suppose is the point. I wouldn't mind seeing Terra Tenebrosa spearheading a few soundtracks.
*Strange how they can maintain such bizarre anonymity after the popularity met with their previous band Breach.
Moonknight - Zhora | Rising Beast Recordings/Sylvan Screams Analog/Fragile Branch Recordings | Atmospheric Black Metal | United States
I'm beginning to think that James "Horus" Brown (Harassor, Vorpal Sword, Dargar, Lord Foul, et cetera) is incapable of going a few months without creating something new, and that is perfectly okay with me. Reappearing a brief eleven months after its predecessor, Valinor, Zhora continues down Moonknight's path of continual focus shifting. If one recalls, or feels like researching, Moonknight's five years of recorded existence have touched upon shoegaze (both in the "jangly alternative rock" and dense Velvet Cacoon senses), thrash, "dungeon synth" ambient, and various incarnations of black metal (Valinor's flirtations with the classic "Slavonic" sound is a particular favorite). With so much ground, where can Horus take his pet project next without losing identity? With such a wide breadth of styles at his disposal, Zhora appears to be the proverbial "missing link," acting as a conduit in a superficially scattered discography. Finding a solid, catchy middle ground between the project's rawer, more "syrupy" formative sound and the more Slavic/"depressive" black metal of Moonknight's latest benchmark release, the bass-heavy, chiming Zhora gives Moonknight more of a definition, with Horus writing his thesis statement long after building a half-decade-long argument.
Subterranean Disposition - Contagiuum and the Landscapes of Failure | Hypnotic Dirge Records/Solitude Productions | Atmospheric Death/Doom Metal | Australia
From my premiere of Contagiuum and the Landscapes of Failure:
"With this new, wider scope of naturally flowing influence, Contagiuum and the Landscapes of Failure exists on a grander scale and pushes Subterranean Disposition from a more underground scope to something greater and more formidable. This second album could very well launch Subterranean Disposition into the pantheon of great, melancholic Australian doom metal bands, putting Vainoras and Nahum alongside Mournful Congregation, Murkrat, The Slow Death, and Virgin Black. Funny how much can change in ten years."
Blut aus Nord/Ævangelist - Codex Obscura Nomina | Debemur Morti Productions | Industrial/Experimental Black Metal / Industrial/Atmospheric Death/Doom Metal | France/United States
I'm not usually one for splits. Too often they feel like a band I like releasing a few B-sides in the service of endorsing a less known artist. Take a lesson from Fenriz, dude: I'd rather just have the recommendations, dude. In this instance, I've got to eat a little crow. When it comes to abstract extreme metal bands that always ignite my imagination (though don't often inspire listening for 'pleasure') The list doesn't extend much past Ævangelist and Blut Aus Nord. On Codex Obscura Nomina, the two groups sound so pleased to work with one another that they threw a dance party. A brown acid dance party, maybe but nice electronic beats abound nonetheless. If you liked the latter part of Blut Aus Nord's 777 trilogy, then these three songs may scratch more of the same itch. To me, Blut Aus Nord will always be the terrifying group that did MoRT, hence the lone Ævangelist track. "Threshold of the Miraculous" spends the beginning part of its twenty-plus minute runtime as prime dissonant black metal with breakbeats until they do their best Massive Attack impression, with Val "Ascaris" Dorr doing a pretty good Tricky interpretation. Trip hop black metal? Black Hop? The last Manes album was a disappointment, so I'll take it. [Jon liked the last Manes album]
Sojourner - Empires of Ash | Avantgarde Music | Epic/Atmospheric Black Metal | New Zealand/Sweden
Though my love for Summoning's later works knows no bounds, I do miss the aggression and naive pomp of Lugburz and Stronghold. Taking a much more "modern" (see as: polished, pretty, and more guitar-oriented) approach to the "epic" variant of atmospheric black metal invented by our heroes Protector and Silenius, the flute-driven Sojourner makes majestic, morose music for fairy tales. Sure, that sounds corny, and maybe it is, but the hauntingly beautiful Empires of Ash posits an argument for fantasy-based music. Sojourner's music is heartfelt and passionate, so who cares if there is flute? Why should their subject matter cause issues? Maybe I'm just trying to argue with a younger version of myself.
Gojira - Magma | Roadrunner Records | Progressive Groove/Death Metal | France
I've never been one for Gojira. I know, I know, "Look at this guy who only listens to 'kvlt' stuff. He must think he's so cool." I've heard it. Music which concentrates solely on polyrhythmic grooves as a central composition focus never really spoke to me. Listening to this new single, it looks like the "groove focus" is still there, but Magma has this sort of early-to-mid 2000s radio rock swagger which is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, the accessibility is nice, and Joe Duplantier can write an earworm of a melody, but, on the other, it falls more on the "cookie cutter" end of the spectrum. I don't mind listening to something which hearkens back to my formative years of turning to the radio for new music, but I can still turn to Alice in Chains and feel much more satisfied than with Gojira's heavier approach to grunge.
Defuntos - A Eterna Dança da Morte | Dunkelheit Produktionen | Depressive Black/Doom Metal | Portugal
Bands who rely on "instrument gimmicks" tend to be bland, but Portugal black/doom metal duo Defuntos's "bass guitar only" credo is an advantage point instead of an unnecessary source of superficial uniqueness. As always, their morose, funereal music is masterfully written and executed with an intentional apathy, but the rounded sound of the distorted bass guitar sounds weathered and ancient. Memories of the band's use of old, yellowed photos in their formative years makes for a powerful visual companion to their "memento mori"-made-music.
Wayfarer - Old Souls | Prosthetic Records | Atmospheric Folk/Black Metal | United States
Mixing folky, epic black metal with post-hardcore's more rhythmic approach sounds intriguing at first, but Old Souls's passion is immensely diluted by just how synthetic the album feels. I can understand and appreciate what Wayfarer sets out to do, and even found myself enjoying parts of the album, but this is one of those situations where something is sanded and polished into the uncanny valley.
Pestilentia - Where the Light Dies | Final Agony Records | Black Metal | Belarus
Returning with their first full-length in five years, Belarusian black metal masters Pestilentia offer six tracks of furious, melancholic black metal.
Thrawsunblat - Metachthonia | Ignifera Records/Broken Limbs Recordings | Melodic Folk/Black Metal | Canada
Early summer is an odd time to listen to Thrawsunblat. This music reminds me of the first Ohio autumn after I received my driver's license. Not yet old enough to drink, and not much of a socialite, I would hop in my Honda Civic, roll the windows down, and cruise along Ohio State Route 20 until sundown. I would pass cemeteries dating back to the Civil War, and watch the red and yellow leaves skate along the two-lane blacktop. Of course, at that time I wasn't listening to Thrawsunblat, or even their sister and predecessor band, Woods of Ypres. No, my care stereo was all Opeth all day during that October, and I still remember those solo auto cruises with painful nostalgia. Any metal that can make me feel that way again is pretty special. Cormorant used to. So did A Forest of Stars. Now, Thrawsunblat does as well. It's a precious sound. Savor it.
Nails - You Will Never Be One Of Us | Nuclear Blast | Hardcore/Death Metal | United States
Up the Boss HM2 hardcore? Yeah, Nails is intense, sure, but the more they resemble Entombed, the less I care. Thus is the issue with this new wave of bands who *want* to be Entombed but only know people who are more vocally inclined to do hardcore. [Listen to Black Breath - Ed.]
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
Swans - The Glowing Man | Young God Records | Experimental Rock | United States
My relationship with post-reunion Swans is tense. Though I still sing the praises of My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky, following works The Seer and To Be Kind showed this landmark collective quickly moving into a calculated routine, and stretching what should be a six minute song to twenty-six just seems silly, at least in a studio sense. Granted, their strength in song-stretching is flexed in a live setting, but attempting to recreate such an intense performance in a studio setting is nearly impossible. I recall almost going deaf in my "bad ear" when I first saw Swans perform in 2010. Though I haven't heard The Glowing Man in its entirety, and apparently it's length shows a continuation down their self-indulgent path, the clip below shows mainman M Gira's new lineup embracing much more accessible atmospheres. Sure, "Swans is about oppression," "Swans aren't meant to be enjoyed in a traditional way," "Michael Gira's translation of Ligeti's impenetrable spirit in a rock sense is unparalleled." Fine. I'll be in the corner listening to White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity and The Great Annihilator.
Integrity/Power Trip - Integrity/Power Trip | Magic Bullet Records | Metalcore/Hardcore Punk | United States
Integrity just gets better and better. Yes, it is okay to like metalcore, and this isn't that "swooped hair" crap you remember from magazine covers in the late 2000s. Integrity literally fuses the best elements of heavy metal and hardcore and caves your face in with it. It's unreal, and the fact that Dwid Hellion has been at it for so long is commendable. Power Trip takes a trip down memory lane, back when two steps reigned supreme and you didn't even need a fitted cap to appreciate them. I might not be "super" into the Trapped Under Ice school of "tough guy hardcore," but they do pair fairly well with Integrity's weathered brawn.
Sea of Shit - 2nd EP | Nerve Altar | Powerviolence | United States
Local powerviolence anti-heroes Sea of Shit lay down a brief, absolutely unrelenting bout of pure, unadulterated powerviolence. You want coherence? Maybe for a few seconds per song, but the long-standing (especially by hardcore standards) Sea of Shit is at their strongest and most brutish when they embody an impenetrable wall of punk noise. If your neck isn't broken at the end of this 7", you're wrong.
A Death Cinematic/Murmur Ring - Murmur Ring | A Death Cinematic: [Split] Part One | Gewieh Ritual Documents | Ambient/Drone | United States
I'm a sucker for beautifully packaged material, and the union of arthouse label Gewieh Ritual Documents with the shadowy figure behind apocalyptic guitar ambient project a death cinematic and fellow arthouse workshop Simple Box Construction resulted in a magnificently packaged cassette. Music-wise, it's nice to see a death cinematic featured on a split with another artist who similarly mirrors his desolate sound (as opposed to, say, the Neurosis doom found on his split with Great Falls, which made for a very oddly lopsided pairing). Murmur Ring, with whose music I had not been properly acquainted, opens this split with 19 minutes of harsh, beautiful, lonely guitar ambiance. "Skyclad" embodies everything I want from this new wave of "Americana guitar drone"; enough with the Morricone/Neil Young's "Dead Man" worship (I'm looking at you, Earth and Yellow6), the desert is cruel, vast, dead and lonely, and Murmur Ring's layered guitar and vocal effects mirror the blistering winds and endless emptiness of sand which touches both horizons (even though the song title makes a reference to ritual nudity). Michigan hermit a death cinematic's long-awaited return following three years of silence after the quietly released Corrosions Of Traveled Daydreams reveals a quieter sound and calculated, restrained approach. Previously recorded guitar improvisations ventured into unsettling dissonance and clashing drones, but the two tracks comprising a death cinematic's half of this release are remarkably calm and meditative...which isn't to say that previous works were not, but the few years of inactivity from the project have resulted in a re-emerging from the chrysalis of endearing naivete. This will take some getting used to, but more in an idealistic sense, because this is very, very good.
Jenks Miller and Rose Cross NC - Blues from WHAT | Three Lobed Recordings | Psychedelic Folk Rock | United States
Jenks Miller is a goddamn genius. Most of you might recognize that name from his "metal" project Horseback, and loyal readers of my column definitely know of his "little bit of country" band Mount Moriah. In the end, Jenks Miller's unique melodic feel really pushes any band, project or what have you into a new level of greatness. Miller's flirtations with improvised psychedelia with the backing band Rose Cross, now Rose Cross NC, a nice reference to his hometown of Durham, have always been raw and endearing, no doubt a result of their "field recorded" nature, but this studio effort is really something else. Blues from WHAT takes on the character of your dad's favorite jam record, but with one of the frill. Granted, Miller's East-meets-West brand of "spiritual Neil Young" guitar work might hint at "Jer Bear"'s great solos, and the free-improv departures which pepper the album speak to a strange conservatism, but Jenks Miller & Rose Cross NC attempt to build a sort of blues from... something. What? I don't know. "WHAT," answers Miller.
FROM THE GRAVE
Cirrhus - Live Rehearsal May 2nd, 2009 | Final Agony Records | Black Metal | United States
This is actually one of my favorite black metal rehearsals of all time, but for some odd reason I maintained a certain level of stupidity and never bought the tape. It looks like my laziness has paid off, because Final Agony Records has pressed this "low-key benchmark of psychotic melodic black metal" on vinyl. Cirrhus (and Furdidurke) truly set the tone for the now-legendary CW Prodctions, who acts as a small pocket of Blazebirth Hall and Polish black metal worship in the "long composition" Pacific Northwest, and this rehearsal (yes, rehearsal) is one of the finest examples of catchy, melodic, feral black metal at its crudest and finest.
FROM THE GRAVE
Wolves In The Throne Room - Diadem Of 12 Stars | Artemesia Records | "True Cascadian Grey Metal" (Oh my god/Atmospheric Black Metal) | United States
Part of me wants to damn Wolves In The Throne Room for "ruining" the post-Weakling black metal landscape in the United States, but part of me finds solace in listening to this now-decade-old album. Sure, the Weaver brothers *most definitely* lifted a handful of chord progressions from the legendary Dead As Dreams, but this remastered audio takes me back to an era before I became some weird black metal elitist, back when I just "listened" to music instead of analyzed it. It's a good feeling, and it's nice being able to hear both guitars instead of a wall of melodic mud this time around. Speaking of the initial release, what happened to Vendlus Records, anyway? Joe, are you still out there?
Derdian - Revolution Era | Limb Music GmbH | Power Metal | Italy
Hop on your favorite steed, because it's time to fight the dragon! Oh, and the "special guests" list for this one is a veritable "who's who" of newer power metal: Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), D.C. Cooper (Royal Hunt), Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire, Angra), Apollo Papathanasio (Ex-Firewind, Evil Masquerade), Henning Basse (Metalium, Firewind), GL Perotti (Extrema), Davide Damna Moras (Elvenking), Mark Basile (DGM), Elisa Martin (Ex-Dark Moor), Terence Holler (Eldritch), Roberto Ramon Messina (Ex-Secret Sphere, Physical Noise), Andrea Bicego (4th Dimension), Leo Figaro (Minstrelix)...but where's Hansi Kursch?!
Ride For Revenge/Below - Ride For Revenge / Below | Final Agony Records | Black/Death Metal / Black Metal/Noise | Finland
I haven't heard this, but official word is this full-length split is happening and any Ride For Revenge fan should not miss it.
Grand Mood - The Trench Between Black and White | CW Productions | Black Metal | United States
Oh wow, following six silent years following the Final Urge To March cassette, which you all should listen to (as well as the rest of the CW Productions catalog), it looks like the ephemeral Grand Mood has one final gasp left in their brittle lungs. Following in the Polish and Blazebirth Hall-influenced style of frantic, melodic black metal—which is par for the course for the steadfast and quality CW Productions—this final EP shows Grand Mood embodying a more feral, active sound; more Thousand Swords to the Immortal Pride of their previous release.