SH*T THAT COMES OUT TODAY – THE JUNE 21ST, 2011 EDITION
Holy shit, this is the biggest release day of the summer so far. Tons of good stuff from Devin Townsend, The Black Dahlia Murder, Helms Alee, Sourvein, Jungle Rot , and more.
Also, some stuff that just sucks.
Ancestors – Invisible White EP (Tee Pee)
On their previous two releases, Neptune with Fire and Of Sound Mind, Ancestors bridged elements of prog rock, stoner/doom metal, and psychedelia into a lush musical soundscape that stays heavy, while also remaining interesting and moving seamlessly between different parts to create sonic masterpieces. I am heavily anticipating more from Invisible White. This record marks the debut of new synth/guitar player Matt Barks.
August Burns Red – Leveler (Solid State)
I’ve never really been a big fan of this band in the past. I got a few of their records in the mail, listened to them, and just kinda let their stuff get buried in my labyrinth of promo CDs. After listening to tracks from Leveler, I have gained an appreciation for the group. Leveler doesn’t redefine metalcore, but it uses the genre to create interesting songs that stay fresh and show off a fierce technical prowess I can really get behind. This is their fourth record for Solid State.
The Black Dahlia Murder – Ritual (Metal Blade)
While The Black Dahlia Murder are a good band, blending elements of several metal subgenres and also being one hell of a live act, their records have never done anything for me. It seems, on paper, that I would love their tunes, but something is just missing for me.The preview track “Moonlight Equilibrium” is promising, but I don’t think it’s anything to freak out about. Of course, not everyone around here agrees with me.
Converge/Dropdead – split 7” (Deathwish Inc.)
New music from Converge and Dropdead in the same package, however, is something to get stoked about. Then you look at the tracklist and running times… and notice it’s less than four minutes. Total. So it’s a tour EP. What’s the point of putting out a physical copy of your music in 2011 with one two-minute song apiece?
The Devin Townsend Project – Deconstruction, Ghost (InsideOut Music)
The third and fourth albums from The Devin Townsend Project come out today. While Deconstruction is an aggressive record of Townsend’s goofy and sonically enthralling metal style, Ghost is “the mellowest and prettiest” album Townsend says he’s ever released. Deconstruction features numerous guest spots from members of Meshuggah, Soilwork, Gojira, Dillinger Escape Plan, GWAR, and many more.
Ed Gein – Bad Luck (Black Market Activities)
This one took me by surprise. The follow-up to 2005’s Judas Goats and Dieseleaters uses the same formula as its predecessor: fast fast angry hardcore. It’s awesome, abrasive, and extremely necessary to listen to.
Elitist – Fear In A Handful Of Dust (Season Of Mist)
This Portland, Oregon sludgy death metal group play some sickening, morose music fit for the soundtrack to the next time you smoke meth out of a skull. Recorded dirty on purpose, Elitist are definitely proud of their filthy approach to the genre, and although proper melodies are difficult to find here, that’s the entire point.
Fit For An Autopsy – The Process Of Human Extermination (Black Market Activities)
Ugh. This is an abomination. Throw out a bunch of nods to grind, death, and technical metal, and simplify everything, and here you have Fit For An Autopsy. Sitting and listening to the three tracks on their Facebook page was difficult, but I wanted to find something I could say positive about these guys. I have nothing positive to say about this band. Again, it’s worth noting that my bosses disagree.
Helms Alee – Weatherhead (Hydra Head)
A band I just got turned onto, Helms Alee hit the road with Big Business and Torche in July. After listening to 2008’s Night Terror, I was exponentially more excited to catch this tour package. The three-piece, featuring one member of the band Harkonen, mix aggression with more subdued riffage in a familiar way, yet the tunes still come at you and really kick.
In Flames – Sounds Of A Playground Fading (Century Media)
Sounds of a band fading. The first In Flames album without founder Jesper Strömblad has nothing to offer me. The band that produced classic metal albums like Whoracle and The Jester Race is long gone, and this is what stands in their place. The music the group has produced since Reroute to Remain has continued to drop the aggressiveness and musical punch in favor of more vocal-based melodies, ballad-esque songwriting, and a bland sound, and this album will continue to drag the In Flames name in the mud.
Jungle Rot – Kill On Command (Victory)
Active since the ‘90s, Jungle Rot never soared to the sales heights of other death metal pioneers. Undeterred, the band has kept going since then, and now they deliver their latest record, Kill On Command. Their first for Victory is also their eighth overall album. The band is pretty no-frills, straight-to-the-point death metal, and it keeps you listening without breaking from that template much, which is difficult to do these days.
Planks – The Darkest Of Grays/Solicit To Fall (Southern Lord)
I make it a habit not to include rereleases in this column, not because they aren’t relevant, but because there are certain weeks that they would double my workload, and, generally speaking, most rereleases in don’t need another review. In cases like this, though, I will break my rule. These two records by Planks, previously only available on vinyl in Germany, expose the band to the Americans at last. Drudgy yet atmospheric, blackened yet melodic — just listen. You will not be disappointed.
Seven Sisters of Sleep – Seven Sisters of Sleep (Southern Lord)
Sludgy as hell hardcore, Seven Sisters of Sleep’s self-titled record is a quick one, but their intense and spastic noise is a solid win. Manic tempos and filthy bass tone are the real standout qualities here, and they drive you through the manic-speed record with full intensity. The vinyl edition is available through a389 Records, while Southern Lord will release the CD version.
Sourvein – Black Fangs (Candlelight)
The first proper full-length from Sourvein in nine years has finally arrived. Although the N.C. sludge/doom group has stayed busy releasing EPs and splits with bands such as Bongzilla and Church of Misery, their much-anticipated follow up to 2002’s Will To Mangle is what I was really waiting for. Expect a heaping collection of meaty sludge power behind everything on this record.
These Hearts – Forever Ended Yesterday (Victory)
I kinda thought Victory would have a good week after writing up the Jungle Rot piece. No sir. These Hearts look like the kids hanging out at the mall when you buy your family Christmas presents. From that, you can guess what the music sounds like. Whoever made autotune an acceptable vocal style should be dragged into a field and hit with a board.
Turbid North – Orogeny (Ironclad)
Originally a band from Alaska that moved to Texas, Turbid North produce brutal death metal that can be technical at times and is just generally good. There are hints of black metal, as well as some vocal effects that might be a bit off-putting to some. However, as a whole, the record works in a big way.
Voivod – Warriors Of Ice (Sonic Unyon Recording Company)
A new live album recorded in December 2009. The tracks span the band’s entire catalog, from 1984’s War And Pain ro 2009’s Infini. The album was recorded by Glenn Robinson, producer of the band’s 1989 album, Nothingface, and features a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine.”
Wolverine – Communication Lost (Candlelight)
Swedish prog/symphonic rock group Wolverine haven’t released an album since 2006’s Still, and drummer/vocalist Marcus Losbjer has stated that this record is a continuation of the aforementioned one. The music is definitely a step apart from most of the entries this week, heavy on melody, with keyboards and soaring epic vocals.
Xibalba – Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dias (Southern Lord)
Another re-release, Xibalba’s self-titled record is now offered with additional tracks as Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dias. The California crew play a mid-tempo, chuggy down-tuned variation on hardcore, but this one doesn’t really snag me at any point. It seems like pretty standard hardcore, just tuned down.