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Hey, everybody. I’m Clayton, and I’m going to be pinch-hitting every once in awhile here on the Upcoming Metal Releases column when Jon is away. I’m a regular reader of Jon’s column, and I think that in many ways our tastes are similar. However, we do have enough points of divergence—for example, I love the new Cough record—that I think I’ll be bringing something at least slightly different on the weeks that I write the column.

Here are the new metal releases for the week of August 7, 2016 – August 12, 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.

See something we missed? Goofs? Let us know in the comments. Plus, as always, feel free to post your own shopping lists. Happy digging.

-Clayton Michaels

ANTICIPATED RELEASES

Mizmor - Yodh | Gilead Media |Black/Drone/Doom Metal | United States

Sometimes the music I find the most affecting is also the music I find the most difficult to figure out how to even begin to talk about. That’s how I feel about this Mizmor record. Lone member A.L.N. is working with familiar elements on Yodh—droning squalls of feedback, paint-peelingly corrosive doom, frenetic second wave black metal—but he combines those elements in ways that make each of them seem new. I’ve listened to the epic, labyrinthine album-opening track “Woe Regains My Substance” at least ten times now, and the song is still surprising me and revealing things within the twists and turns it takes over the course of its 13+ minute run time. And that’s just from a compositional standpoint. On an emotional level, the track manages to be both deeply unsettling and unexpectedly cathartic. The highlight for me, though, is the album’s second track, “A Semblance Warning,” which opens innocuously enough with a soft acoustic section but ends in truly harrowing fashion with some of the most despondent screams I’ve ever heard committed to tape. Also, it’s kind of uncanny how the album’s artwork pairs perfectly with the music contained within—there’s something anxiety-inducing about Zdzislaw Beksinski’s painting, but at the same time I find it difficult to look away. I’m probably going to be spending a lot of time with this record in the coming months.

Horseback - Dead Ringers | Relapse | Experimental/Avant Garde | United States

Horseback is a band that I’ve never quite appreciated to the extent that I feel like I should, and I think it’s because I came to the music of Jenks Miller a bit backwards. The first thing of his I heard was Mount Moriah’s self-titled record, which I absolutely adore. However, that’s not an album that prepares a person for the avant-garde weirdness that is Horseback. Ostensibly a black metal band on their earlier releases, Miller has gone further and further out on each successive release, to the point where I don’t think Dead Ringers is even a metal album—keyboards and clean guitar dominate these compositions, and Miller’s plaintive vocals reminded me more than once of John K. Samson of The Weakerthans/Propaghandi. None of which is to say that it’s not an enjoyable album; I actually rather like it, but it’s a challenging record that it’s probably going to take another ten listens (at least) for me to fully wrap my head around. You can find out more about the album by reading Ben Prescott’s interview with Jenks Miller here.

Hyponic - 前行者 | Weird Truth Productions | Funeral Doom| Hong Kong

The long-running Chinese doomsters return with their first new album in over ten years. The title track is an interesting mélange of melodic guitar and post-punk-at-half-speed drums, with a layer of lo-fi scuzz over the top. Definitely intrigued by this one. In his review, Jon had this to say:

前行者, which roughly translates to "former monk," is a funeral doom album, but it is an abstraction based on the style's concepts. The music is slow and deliberate, but focuses more on big, cathedral-filling atmosphere instead of the soul-distorting thickness which generally defines the style. The feeling of dread associated with funeral doom is tenderly packaged deep within psychedelic expanse and ambient tension, slowly and steadily building to the few breathtaking, harrowing doom climaxes which explode from spine-breaking pressure. Hyponic's first effort in over a decade is careful, unique, and moves great weight en pointe - with a trained grace and fluidity. Simply put: This is unlike any funeral doom metal you've ever heard, if it could even be considered as such.”

Spirit Adrift - Chained to Oblivion | Prosthetic Records |Psychedelic/Doom Metal | United States

I am a total sucker for heavy, melodic doom metal, and Spirit Adrift hits just about every sweet spot on Chained to Oblivion. Epic song structures? Check. Soaring vocals? Check. Iron Maiden/Thin Lizzy-esque twin guitars? Check. This is like porn for the ears, and the fact that it’s all one guy—Nate Garrett, formerly of blackened sludge outfit Take Over and Destroy and now in Gatecreeper—makes it all the more impressive. The last four minutes or so of “Chained to Oblivion” in particular are about as perfect as music gets. Anybody who dug last year’s Khemmis album or Slough Feg’s The Animal Spirits should check this out, post haste.

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OF NOTE

Devil to Pay - A Bend Through Space and Time | Ripple Music | Stoner/Sludge Metal| United States

I’m from Indiana, so I’d feel remiss if I didn’t mention one of Indy’s finest, Devil to Pay, whose excellent fifth album—and second for up-and-coming stoner metal label Ripple Music (Wo Fat, Mothership, The Skull)—comes out this week. Chock full of riffy goodness, A Bend Through Space and Time has a bit more variety from song to song than a lot of stoner/sludge albums and should appeal to fans of bands like Kyuss and Crowbar. Also, vocalist Steve Janiak—also of Apostle of Solitude, who have been mentioned on this site before—has the most versatile and expressive voice this side of Dax Riggs. Lead single “Kerfuffle” is a total earworm, and its main riff is one of my favorites of the year.

Dawnbringer - XX | Ektro/Full Contact Records | Heavy Metal| United States

Wow—I had no idea that Dawnbringer has been around for twenty years. I think I first got into them with Nucleus, which is a really enjoyable, classic-sounding heavy metal record. XX—which has been available digitally since February, but sees a physical release this week—has that classic vibe as well. The highlight of the EP is “North By North,” which kind of sounds like prog-rock dinosaurs Kansas playing Viking metal. Well worth checking out.

Equilibrium - Armageddon | Nuclear Blast | Epic Folk/Viking Metal| Germany

I have nothing against folk metal when it’s done well; I own a couple of Eluveitie records. I don’t know about this Equilibrium record, though. For starters, there are lots and lots of keyboards on this one. Also, the song “Born to Be Epic” prominently features pan flute. Given that they’re on the biggest metal label in Europe, though, that probably means that there are a lot of people who are really into this stuff. I’m probably not one of them.

Lacrimas Profundere - Hope is Here | Nuclear Blast | Gothic Metal| Germany

The gothic overtones are strong with this one, but not unenjoyably so. If you’re into the more recent releases from Katatonia or Moonspell, you’ll find plenty to like here.

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FOR THE ADVENTUROUS

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Blind Worms, Pious Swine | Ipecac | Progressive/Avant Garde| United States

The third of a planned twelve albums of material from the vaults that the always unpredictable Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (At the Drive-In, The Mars Volta) is reportedly releasing by the end of the year, Blind Worms, Pious Swine was recorded with the same lineup—rounded out by vocalist Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes and percussionist extraordinaire Deantoni Parks--that went on to become Bosnian Rainbows. Lead track “Vanishing Tide” sounds a lot like that project, but with Rodriguez-Lopez handling lead vocals.

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OTHER RELEASES

Grave Desecrator/Slaughtbbath - Musica de Nuestra Muerte | Hell’s Headbangers | Death/Black Metal / Black Metal | Brazil/Chile

Yep…sounds like a Hell’s Headbangers release. Jon would probably say something about war metal here, but I think I might have a slightly higher tolerance for this kind of stuff than he does. The Grave Desecrator half of the split is actually kind of fun, as far as these things go, and “SxSxSx (Sex, Sin and Satanism)” is easily one of the better song titles I’ve seen recently.

Vader - Iron Times | Nuclear Blast | Death Metal| Poland

At this point, we all know what Vader sounds like, right? Iron Times is a four-song teaser EP to tide fans over until their next full-length, The Empire, drops in November. It includes two new tracks and two covers, including a version of Motörhead’s “Overkill.”

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