Upcoming Metal Releases 9/3/2017-9/9/2017
Something something Jon something vacation something... hanging with me for the next two weeks. Does anyone actually read these preambles, anyway?
Here are the new metal releases for the week of September 3, 2017 – September 9, 2017. 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.
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 after this is published will not be covered.
Cannabis Corpse -- Left Hand Pass | Season of Mist | Death Metal | United States
I’m feeling a little rebellious this week, so what say we kick things off with some Cannabis Corpse? Because really, if you don’t like Cannabis Corpse, then you don’t like fun. By now, everyone knows their shtick: old school death metal + lots of weed puns on classic death metal song titles (with Tube of the Resinated still being my favorite). And while they may be scraping the bottom of the bowl in terms of the puns this time around -- the closing pair of Nile references are particularly cringe-worthy, especially “Papyrus Containing the Spell to Protect Its Possessor Against Attacks From He Who Is In the Bong Water.” Landphil (Municipal Waste, Iron Reagan) and his twin brother HallHammer can evoke Barnes-era Cannibal Corpse with the best of them. A lot of people write off Cannabis Corpse as a joke band, but doing so is a mistake. Remember that Landphil pretty much wrote all the music for Crypt of the Devil, which was the first good Six Feet Under records since… ever? As an added bonus, this iteration of the band includes Brandon Ellis (aka Ryan Knight’s replacement in The Black Dahlia Murder) on lead guitar.
As a side note: I highly recommend catching Cannabis live if you ever get the chance, if only for the between-song banter. Landphil is much funnier than I ever would have guessed.
Grift -- Arvet | Nordvis Produktion | Black Metal | Sweden
And, on the complete other end of the spectrum, we have Erik Gärdefors, the man behind Grift, who is basically the black metal version of legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Through a Glass Darkly, Cries and Whispers, etc.). All the same vocabulary I would use to describe one of Bergman’s movies applies just as easily to Arvet (“The Heritage”): strikingly poetic, emotionally turbulent, and existentially bleak. Yet his films are also really beautiful in their explorations of inevitability of death, the uncertainty of faith, and the futility of man’s existence. In much the same way, Arvet is heartbreakingly gorgeous, with plenty of acoustic guitars and folky melodies to balance out the more aggressive moments.
Biesy -- Noc Lekkich Obyczajów | Third Eye Temple | Blackened Death Metal | Poland
Okay… now this is different. I’ve mentioned in past columns that it seems like every time I substitute on the UMR, I end up being totally blown away by at least one band that wasn’t even remotely on my radar. This week, it’s Biesy (Polish for “fiend”), a mysterious project that kind of sounds like a cross between one of the more austere German black metal bands like Nargaroth and a less claustrophobic-feeling version of Ulcerate. It’s a weird mix on paper, but the band somehow manages to balance compositional density with an admirable sense of restraint. It’s weighty music, but there’s also plenty of room within the songs for each note to breathe. A pretty remarkable record.
Check back later today for an exclusive full stream.
Usnea -- Portals Into Futility | Relapse | Blackened Funeral Doom | United States
Long-form funeral doom might be the most difficult style of music to pull off convincingly. For every Yob, there are at least twenty other bands that can do the “down-tuned and slow” well enough, but stumble when it comes to writing compelling songs. I thought Usnea’s 2013 self-titled debut showed a lot of potential, but its follow-up Random Cosmic Violence engaged in a bit too much navel gazing. They seem back on track, however, with Portals of Futility, thanks to a widening of their sonic palette to include more varied tones and textures.
Or, as Ian put it in his discussion of the video for “Pyrrhic Victory”:
This might not scan as heavy in the traditional sense, too slow for a proper headbang and too drawn out for a raised pair of horns, but the psychological effect is the same as any traditional riff-fest. It is a sonic burden, one that leaves the listener unmoored from the song’s structure. When the band gives shape to the song’s conclusion, they still don’t offer easy catharsis. The song’s stuttering climax gradually folds over itself until the band’s instruments crumble into digital distortion. Is “Pyrrhic Victory” a difficult question left hanging, or an uncomfortable and pessimistic answer?
Arch Enemy -- Will to Power | Century Media | Melodic Death Metal | Sweden
Speaking of bands whose shtick we should all know by now… I will always have nothing but love in my heart for Michael Amott because of the two records he made with Carcass. That said, Arch Enemy is basically fast food metal at this point: readily available, enjoyable if your expectations are low enough, but ultimately just not very satisfying. Like many, I was hoping that adding Jeff Loomis to the band would result in a renewed creative spark, but he didn’t contribute to the songwriting on Will to Power (a Nietzsche reference? really?) at all. I also really think Alissa White-Gluz is being woefully underutilized in Arch Enemy. It’s not like I loved The Agonist or anything, but she has a much more versatile voice that she’s been able to demonstrate thus far with Arch Enemy. She deserves a lot better than just being Angela Gossow 2.0.
Sanhedrin -- A Funeral For the World | Independent | Trad/Heavy Metal | United States
Brooklyn-based trio Sanhedrin may include Black Anvil guitarist Sos among their ranks, but don’t hit play on this one expecting anything even remotely resembling black metal. A Funeral For the World sounds like 1987. More specifically, they’re cut from the same cloth as Warlock’s Triumph and Agony. Cocksure, catchy riffing, hella tasty leads, and the voice of former Amber Asylum and Lost Goat vocalist Erica Stoltz soar over it all. A lot of the female-fronted trad metal bands out there right now know the right moves, but their music always seems to lack for something. Jon usually dismisses them with something like “eh, sounds like motorcycles.” Sanhedrin, however, is the real shit.
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS
Osi and the Jupiter -- Uthuling Hyl | Independent | Pagan Folk | United States
Sean Deth is one of the hardest working dudes in modern metal. It seems like every few months at least one of his myriad projects is releasing something new, and it’s always of consistently high quality. Thus far in 2017, his black metal projects Burial Oath and Ulven have both released excellent new records. His stoner/doom band Witchhelm also dropped an outstanding acoustic/dark folk EP called All Hail… and Death which Graven Earth issued on cassette a couple weeks back. I thought that Witchhelm EP was the best thing Deth had ever done, but then I heard this Osi and the Jupiter record. He calls it “Northern Pagan Folk,” which seems like the perfect description. A gorgeous acoustic record that also prominently features the cello work of classically trained ex-Empyrean Throne member Kakophonix, this music would fit perfectly on the soundtrack to a show like Vikings.
Atrox -- Monocle | Dark Essence Records | Avant Garde Gothic/Progressive Metal | Norway
Yep, that’s progressive metal all right. If you can handle prog metal vocals, then you’re made of much sterner stuff than I am. There’s a surprising amount of palm-muted chugging on this one as well. Fun fact: two members of Atrox are also in Manes. Not as fun fact: it’s not the same Manes that became Ved Buens Ende.
Argus -- From Fields of Fire | Cruz Del Sur |Heavy/Doom Metal| United States
Psst… hey kid… ya like Grand Magus? Then do I have a band for you. End transmission.