Upcoming Metal Releases 7/16/2017-7/22/2017
More metal forever. Oh boy.
Here are the new metal (and also other kinds of music sometimes) releases for the week of July 16, 2017 – July 22, 2017. Release dates are formatted according to proposed North American scheduling, if available. Expect to see the bulk of these records on shelves or distributors 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.
As a little bit of a challenge, include your own opinion about anything you want to add. Make me want to listen to it!
Please note: this is a review column and is not speculative. Any announced albums without preview material will not be covered. Additionally, any surprise releases which are uploaded or released after this column is published will be excluded.
Tau Cross - Pillar of Fire | Relapse Records | Heavy Metal/Crust Punk/Folk Rock | Canada/Scotland/United States
Rob "The Baron" Miller and company (including, of course, the great Michel "Away" Langevin) take their epic, Killing Joke-meets-classic-metal sound and make it... I don't want to say Tolkeinesque, but Pillar of Fire has this lovely sort of Highlander-esque folk feel. Not corny and typical like one might expect from any band who would have the gall to call themselves "celtic," but there's a definite sort of ancestral, sea-quenched, verdant quality to it which verifies the tag.
"Following a decade-long slumber, Markus “Ulf Theador Schwadorf” Stock’s sleepless giant re-emerges from self-imposed exile. More popularly known for his work as the legendary, romantic Empyrium, Stock extended his talents into select, sparse side projects which, too, met their demise with his main project in 2004. Sun of the Sleepless was by far Schwadorf’s most unique child, at least aside from the pastoral Empyrium, eventually growing into a bizarre, chilling juxtaposition of Burzumic asceticism and mechanical trip-hop beats. In a way, the void sounds of Sun of the Sleepless’s self-described “poetic black metal” acted as a foil to Empyrium’s lush, autumnal gloom.
After Empyrium’s reformation in 2010, The Turn of the Tides marked another imbalance in Schwadorf’s performance. It wasn’t bad, by any means, but there was a certain revelry in the band’s performances of songs like “The Franconian Woods in Winter’s Silence” which spoke to a greater desire to record something marginally blackened once more. Sun of the Sleepless’s sudden return certainly fills that void, but this new incarnation shows Schwadorf’s solo project casting off chilling electronic detachedness in favor of the emotive atmospheres of his earlier works, albeit through a more modern, atmospheric black metal prism. The bombastic, spine-tingling aura of To The Elements recalls this solo artist’s early-and-constant perfection of the “gothic metal” genre, projecting a cobwebbed, Victorian misery on a black metal canvas. In Sun of the Sleepless’s resurrection, Schwadorf finds balance once again."
Zaraza - Spasms of Rebirth | Independent | Industrial Death/Doom Metal | Canada/Ecuador
You like getting pummeled in the face with a brick in a sock? Zaraza has always sounded somewhat like that. Taking strong cues from both Swans and diSEMBOWELMENT, the recently-revived industrial death/doom metal duo plods and bellows with mechanized, detached strength.
Grey Aura - 1: Gelige, traumatische zielsverrukking | Independent/Digital | Atmospheric Black Metal | Netherlands
Okay, so this technically got released last week, but bear with me here. Grey Aura's last album was a beautiful, glacial representation of a failed Antarctic expedition. Now? This Dutch trio is much more aggressive, and, dare I say, ugly. Verging on Expressionism, this new era of Grey Aura mires itself in complex texture and strange, nonlinear song structure. A surprising new direction for this young band, though, I suppose, it took almost three years for their last album to actually be released.
Wintersun - The Forest Seasons | Nuclear Blast | Symphonic Melodic Death Metal | Finland
Nuclear Blast has Jari Mäenpää crowdfund another album, and we don't even get the previously announced sequel to Time I. I mean, parts of this are cool, but parts of me wonder if we'll ever really get something as truly fun and interesting as the self-titled debut. I hate to sound like "Amadeus"'s Orsini-Rosenberg, but there is too much going on here. I'm all for maximalism, but when you have to upgrade to four terabytes of ram [obviously an exaggeration] to fit all the layers of keyboards and VSTs...maybe you haven't spent enough time perfecting the songwriting upon which you've laid five orchestras. Self-indulgence is a real thing, and Wintersun have become the poster boys of its detraction. Does anyone think Jari actually got a sauna?
Dzö-nga - The Sachem's Tales | Avantgarde Music | Atmospheric Black Metal | United States
There's a lot going on with this one - buzzing, lots of crystal-cut keyboards, blasting. It's nice, but sometimes the drums are just a little too loud and end up overpowering every other element of the music. Oh, and be careful with how you pronounce this band name.
Vindkast - Archaic Collapse | Avantgarde Music | Atmospheric Black Metal | Germany
Space. It's the hot ticket. Black metal? Yes. Death metal? You've got yourself album of the year. Most bands who deal with space...mostly just aesthetic, but it looks nice. Vindkast, though, sounds like something which could be a nice soundtrack to the more overwhelming visual aspects of Sagan's "Cosmos". You know how it goes - atmospheric and pretty, but really, really big and empty.
Zgard - У вирi чорної снаги (Within the Swirl of Black Vigor) | Svarga Music | Pagan Black Metal | Ukraine
It's so cold and wonderful, especially since I'm melting in horrifically humid heat. "Slavonic" black metal generally deals with beautiful autumns on the Steppe (see: every Drudkh album ever) - Zgard's departure to a later, colder season almost acts as new territory. Within the Swirl of Black Vigor's own blustering textures come off as all the more crystalline, blanketed in frigid layers of white.
Violet Cold - Anomie | Tridroid Records/Folkvangr Records | Post-Rock/Black Metal | Azerbaijan
Welp, it's the golden standard of that post-rock/black metal hybrid. There is nothing truly wrong with it, nor is there anything really nice about it. Anomie follows all the hallmarks and never really misses a beat with regards to style, but it solely follows a template and does nothing more with it. For such an adventurous artist who has released trip-hop, noise, psychedelic rock, and more, you'd think he would take this kind of style to a higher level...but, alas.
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
because only listening to metal is dumb
"Following their last album, and much to the chagrin of their fans, Renaissance-tinged dark folk troupe Neun Welten entered a deep, decade-long slumber. I suppose a sort of hibernation was necessary, especially after a prolific five years between the Valg EP (which still receives regular listens) and 2009’s intricate, Destrunken, but the wait was excruciating.
What emerged from the chrysalis was definitely unexpected, but Neun Welten’s newly unfurled wings revealed a surprising luminescence. The Sea I’m Diving In, the band’s first album in eight years, casts off the band’s previous Renaissance proclivities in favor of a more “human” darkness. Refracting their dark folk roots through progressive and post-rock lenses, the hushed tones of “The Dying Swan” cast an eerie glow from their previously constructed darkness. In a way, this newest effort sounds like a different band, but such is the nature of entering a pupal state – Neun Welten’s dwelling in the past is no more, and their modern selves reveal a more fragile, inner emotive nature."
GlerAkur - The Mountains Are Beautiful Now | Prophecy Productions | Post-Rock | Iceland
It's hard to tell if I like or dislike post-rock anymore. There was a period of time in which Mono and Explosions in the Sky really made me happy, but now with all these movie soundtracks and "loud post-rock" ("post-black metal") bands flooding the market the genre has become super white bread to me. That isn't to say GlerAkur's own take on post-rock, which, in itself, is cinematic and displays a unique sense of dynamism, is bad, but...I don't really remember much about it even after multiple listens.
If you dig Pelican and/or 5ive, you’re almost definitely gonna like this too. Like both of those bands, “Sandstorms” has crisp sludge riffs and really knows how to keep your attention without any words. Speaking about the song, the band tells us: “I was driving through the desert, 115 degrees out, I saw what looked to be a small swarm of bees hanging low on the road ahead, while plowing through it, at 90 miles per hour, it blinded me; Turns out It was a sandstorm.”
FROM THE GRAVE
Sun of the Sleepless - Shadows of the Past | Prophecy Productions | Atmospheric Black Metal Germany
With new Sun of the Sleepless coming out this week, it's nice to revisit his shorter, first-era works which dated from 1998-2004. Wholly different from the more pastoral, atmospheric work of To the Elements, earlier Sun of the Sleepless's "poetic black metal" acted as a sort of middle ground between Det som engang Var-era Burzum's simplicity and the electronic distance of trip-hop and IDM.
Golden Dawn - Rehearsal 94 | Seedstock Records | Black Metal/Ambient | Austria
Again, clarification: nothing to do with the really dumb Greek National Socialists. Anyway, following the great repress of the Golden Dawn/Apeiron split earlier this year, it's excitingly great to see labels like Seedstock, Tour de Garde, and Iron Bonehead taking more of an active role in making more available pressings of Stefan "Dreamlord" Traunmüller's archive. His first release as Golden Dawn in 1994, this rehearsal is undoubtedly an idiosyncratic piece for that era. There are elements of kosmiche and Medieval musics atop a strong, early second-wave black metal base. Eschewing the traditional harsh vocals of that era, Dreamlord's clean voice truly leave a unique mark on this unique piece from a largely ignored scene ("Austrian Black Metal Syndicate"), of which only Abigor truly survived.
Rings of Saturn - Ultu Ulla | Nuclear Blast | Technical Deathcore | United States
Oodles and oodles of unlistenable noodles. I will admit, however, to Rings of Saturn learning how to write about three actual riffs which appear in random places on this album.
Pathology - Pathology | Comatose Music | Brutal Death Metal | United States
This is the kind of brutal death metal I'm into - chunky, no frills, and, of course, filled to the brim with stupid fucking slams. It's the kind of music which necessitates flat brimmed caps, basketball shorts, and a strained frown which can only be properly expressed while taking a huge dump.
Decrepit Birth - Axis Mundi | Nuclear Blast/Agonia Records | Technical Brutal Death Metal | United States
I remember really liking Decrepit Birth when Diminishing Between Worlds first came out - something about the over-the-top nature of the music, but at this point I think what Decrepit Birth continues to do is… "old hat." Maybe I'm just old. Give me more Severed Savior.