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Here are a bunch of releases which are being released this week (August 30th to September 5th). I might have missed stuff - forgive me, I’m getting ready to play at Hells Headbash this upcoming Sunday. Who all am I going to see there? Did I miss anything important? Do you have any new recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

—Jon Rosenthal

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ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Nechochwen - Heart of Akamon | Bindrune Recordings/Nordvis Productions | Folk/Black Metal | United States
An absolutely breathtaking fusion of traditional Native American folk music, classical guitar, and of course black metal, Heart of Akamon shows Nechochwen, a long-running band based out of West Virginia, truly coming into its own. I’ve always been a fan, citing main musician Nechochwen’s (it’s his project, after all) solo debut Algonkian Mythos as one of my absolute favorite neofolk albums, but Nechochwen’s foray into black metal thereafter has been a bit of a buildup. That isn’t to say it was bad, as both Azimuths to the Otherworld and OtO were solid, memorable works, but Heart of Akamon exists in a class all its own. With stellar musicianship, carefully crafted songwriting and a powerful reverence to native culture not quite seen in metal yet (as metal likes to make accidental caricatures of other cultures), this is Nechochwen’s shining moment.

Blood Incantation - Interdimensional Extinction | Dark Descent Records | Technical Death Metal | United States
Mind-boggling, astral technical death metal whose performers have a pedigree long enough to fill a small book. Excuse the brevity, but expect a full write up tomorrow.

Cruciamentum - Charnel Passages | Profound Lore Records | Death Metal | United Kingdom
Cruciamentum has a new album out? Didn’t they break up in 2012? With their first release in four years, Charnel Passages is an absolutely putrid, cavernous affair of stomping, caveman death metal. However, don’t let the surface conservatism fool you, as there are moments of complete, atmospheric grandeur nestled between the Onwards to Golgotha homages. With Charnel Passages, Cruciamentum has found that perfect balance between old school reverence and heady, modern atmosphere—relentless without being mindless. I’m more than glad to see they’re back at it.

Midnight/Shitfucker - Midnight / Shitfucker| Hells Headbangers Records | Black/Speed Metal / Black/Death/Thrash Metal | United States/United States
In what will probably be the sleaziest pairing of 2015 (well, except maybe for Shitfucker’s upcoming split with Abigail), speed and thrash warriors Midnight and Shitfucker burn through their respective sides of this brief, sharp split. Midnight’s d-beat driven "Sadist Sodomystic Medusa" drunkenly stumbles like a coked out Lemmy Kilmeister, whereas Shitfucker’s more traditional, absolutely vomitous extreme thrash acts as the other side’s mid-paced counterpart. At just over six minutes, you’re going to have a lot of fun flipping this 7" over and over and over again. I’m pretty pumped to get a copy of this at Hells Headbash… and see both bands, too. Probably.

Iron Maiden - The Book Of Souls | Parlophone | Heavy Metal | United Kingdom
So Bruce Dickinson beat cancer and now we get a double album of Iron Maiden’s strongest work in years? I am more than okay with that. Come on, guys. It’s Iron goddamn Maiden. Lighten up and take your nail gauntlets off. It’s time to listen to some heavy fucking metal.

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OF NOTE

I’m In A Coffin - One Last Final Action | Independent/Digital | Depressive Black Metal | United States
Here’s a bit of a blast from the recent past, and a pretty unique case as far as placement in my column: a partial re-recording of Texas/Massachusetts duo I’m In A Coffin’s debut album, 2008’s One Final Action. I’m left wondering "Is this a re-issue? But it sounds like a new album!" So here we are—retaining the original, absolutely over the top vocal parts, but with much more professional sounding backing tracks, this is how I’ve always wanted to hear I’m In A Coffin. As far as the album itself? One Final Action has always been special to me—one of the few albums other than Moevot’s Abgzvoryathre which makes me feel physically uncomfortable. The complete transparency in their lyrics ("I’m a weapon against myself", "Vein deep in the solution") almost makes I’m In A Coffin tread the fine line between caricature and validity, but Sad-ist and Adorable’s absolutely hopeless dual attack of shrieks, wails, and howls speak to the latter. An absolutely haunting album reborn. Hopefully Self Mutilation Services will speed up and release this recording on vinyl like originally planned. Expect a new I’m In A Coffin album, A Waste of Skin sometime soon.

Dalkhu - Descend… into Nothingness | Iron Bonehead Productions | Black Metal | Slovenia
I don’t really come across too many bands from Slovenia, let alone any quite as relentless and unique as Dalkhu have proven themselves to be. With Iron Bonehead Productions’s usual gait, especially with the Paolo "The Madman" Girardi cover, I "descended into nothingness" expecting a promising war metal album. I suppose, at least at first, I got that, but Dalkhu sheds their many layers over time, revealing a keen ear for strong melodies and subtle, moving riff variations. Color me impressed. I guess you could call Descend… into Nothingness a sleeper hit for me. I need to sit down with this one more.

Amorphis - Under the Red Cloud | Nuclear Blast Records | Melodic Heavy Metal/Rock | Finland
It’s hard to believe Amorphis is still at it. Having already carried the banner of Finnish metal since the late 80s, watching many of their peers dissolve (I still miss Sentenced), Amorphis remains steadfast. Of course, I haven’t been super sold on their sound post-Tuonela, though Silent Waters and, naturally, Magic & Mayhem were solid albums. I just hear a lot of American nu-alternative-metal in the musicianship at this point, and I really don’t want to be reminded of Breaking Benjamin while listening to a band as important to me as Amorphis. All that being said, some of these melodies are a solid reminder that, yes, this is the same band who made Tales From The Thousand Lakes.

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

that means things which aren’t metal

Helen - The Original Faces | Kranky | Shoegaze/Dreampop | United States
So, first things first, I love Liz Harris. Her work with Grouper, Mirrorring, Badgerlore... the list goes on. To me? Perfection. Delicate, sparse sound crafted so perfectly it’s as if she herself is plucking my heartstrings. To hear that Liz Harris had started a shoegaze band… well, I was intrigued. Excited, but intrigued. Could I handle the person who gifted the world Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill making loud music? The answer? Yes. Absolutely. Helen’s The Original Faces is the strongest, most unique shoegaze album I’ve heard in a long time, and, as we all have grown to learn, shoegaze isn’t exactly heralded for its "unique" qualities. This is the soundtrack to the dog days of summer, a humid haze of lazy strumming, broken radio distortion, and, of course, Harris’s trademark lullaby voice. I love this. I love it so much. Sorry to any other shoegaze release this year. I’m done looking.

Nest - Mietteitä | Independent/Digital | Folk/Neofolk | Finland

Eight years removed from his last full length, Trails of the Unwary, I don’t think anyone was expecting a new Nest album (especially me). Focusing on meditative kantele improvisation, this extremely stripped down and traditional version of Nest is that perfect harkening of the cold months ahead. A single, chiming melodic line, echoing and decaying into nothingness, the occasional, yet somehow graceful mistake, and the unmistakably Finnish atmosphere—it is obvious that A. Tolonen still feels the creative power which gave the world Nest flowing through his veins.

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OTHER RELEASES

Riverside - Love, Fear, and the Time Machine | InsideOut Music | Progressive Rock/Metal | Poland
I’m not a big progressive metal guy, but I’ve always been partial to Riverside (though I don’t listen to them much). I suppose Riverside is progressive in the same way that Anathema or Pink Floyd could be considered "progressive." All I really hear is nice, calming, complex music. I don’t need any of Dream Theater’s melodrama, anyway.

Uncle Acid and the Deabeats - The Night Creeper | Rise Above Records | Psychedelic Rock/Doom Metal | United Kingdom
Spacey throwback doom. Joy. How much do you think this LP will go for on eBay?

Ramming Speed - No Epitaphs | Prosthetic Records | Thrash Metal/Crossover | United States
Absolutely furious, grinding thrashpunk. For some odd reason I thought Ramming Speed was a stoner rock band, so imagine my surprise when I finally put this on.

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FROM THE GRAVE

Cemetery Lust - Screams of the Violated | Hells Headbangers Records | Black/Thrash Metal | United States
A neat melding of South American protothrash and Bay Area speed metal. I do feel kind of weird knowing they used to call themselves "rape metal," though.

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WHAT WE MISSED

Ahab - The Boats of Glen Carrig | Napalm Records | Funeral Doom Metal | Germany
With each new Ahab album, I am reminded of their massive debut Call of the Wretched Sea and how much it represented the awe and terrifying mystery of the ocean. Now? They just sound like the new Enslaved album at 75% speed. What happened?

Arche - Undercurrents | Graceless Recordings | Funeral Doom Metal | Finland
This is how you do funeral doom. Big, well orchestrated, lots of melodies, and maintaining a level of excitement across its lengthy tracks. Of course, one would expect such memorable music from one of the original members of Profetus.

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