Sh*t That Comes Out Today: April 24, 2020
BIG release week, lots of great stuff (including two early locks for my EOY list). Narrowing it down was difficult. Unfortunately, nobody wants to send me Danzig Sings Elvis, so you’ll just have to judge that one for yourself.
Forever Black (Metal Blade)
I went long on this one in my lead review for Decibel, but the tl;dr of it is: this album could’ve been released at any point between 1982 and now and feel current and timely and awesome. Usually, a reunion album from a legendary band only leads to disappointment. This blast of old-school mutant metal stands proudly alongside their previous classics like Frost and Fire and King of the Dead. It’ll have you storming the sea maze into Melniboné right alongside Elric (in spirit, anyway).
Omens (Armageddon Shop)
Elder have been workshopping their intoxicating combination of prog, post-rock, psych, jam rock, and even a little Failure-style alt rock for almost fifteen years now. Here, they perfect it. The way they weave in and out of different styles and themes constantly delights and surprises. A lot of bands can’t pull off three-minute long songs; this Boston unit effortlessly makes ten-minute epics that not only earn their length, but leave you wanting more.
City Burials (Peaceville)
Hey, new Katatonia! Katatonia do sad prog rock better than just about anyone, and have since the days of Discouraged Ones. The nice thing about their later-period career is that they’re not afraid to work in other influences. The guitar heroics in “Behind the Blood,” the electronic rhythms of “The Winter of our Passing,” the big radio chorus of “Heart Set to Divide” — they’re a band that feels comfortable in their own sound. City Burials presents the perfect display for the Dead End Kings’ melancholy grandeur.
Termination Shock (Gates of Hell)
I’ve covered a lot of trad metal throwbacks in this column (what can I say, I have a type), and while a lot of it is fun, it’s usually pretty disposable. Like Haunt or Skull Fist, Traveler have that “it” factor that makes them stand out from the barbarian hordes. They draw from all the usual suspects (NWOBHM, thrash, Mercyful Fate), sure. Traveler know how to fuse it all together into something transcendent. The adjective “face-melting” gets applied to guitar solos a lot, but goddamn if it doesn’t perfectly describe the six-string pyrotechnics in songs like “Deepspace.”
What the Dead Men Say (Roadrunner)
The most frustrating part about What the Dead Men Say? It’s not shitty, per se. Here’s the thing with late-period Trivium: basically, there are two sides to the band. There’s Ascendancy, and there’s The Crusade. One focuses on ripping melodic metalcore and the other reaches for the commercial radio metal stars. I prefer the former, but they know how to do the latter well. The problem comes when they try to reconcile the two. They know how to unleash sick melodic metal riffs. They know how to deliver the big sappy choruses. For whatever reason, when they try to combine the two on these songs, it brings things to a crashing halt.
Stare Into Death and Be Still (Debemur Morti)
You guys doing okay in these weird times? Not letting the dark thoughts get to you? Well, just in case you’re feeling alright with the world for a moment, Ulcerate’ll change all that real fast. This New Zealand-based death doom act leans HEAVY on the death. Weird how the most existentially devastating acts come from down under (Portal, I’m looking at you). If, for some reason, you need to plunge all the way into despair to come out the other side, Ulcerate have your soundtrack.
Weapons of Tomorrow (Napalm)
I know there are more important concerns in the world right now, but: why in the name of Satan’s distended ball sac does the new Warbringer album have MULTIPLE seven-plus minute songs? Don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason these guys survived past the retro thrash movement’s moment. They seriously shred. You can’t accuse them of complacency, considering the unexpected black metal stylings of their epic take on Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” Still, as great as their material may be, this stuff lives and dies on its impact — and an hour is way too long for any thrash record (see also: the most recent Testament).
OTHER SHIT THAT COMES OUT THIS WEEK
Acherontas – Psychic Death – The Shattering Of Perceptions (Agonia) Listen
Axel Rudi Pell – Sign Of The Times (SPV/Steamhammer) Listen
Barishi – Old Smoke (Season Of Mist) Listen
Danzig – Danzig Sings Elvis (Cleopatra) Listen
Dark Forest – Oak, Ash & Thorn (Cruz Del Sur) Listen
Helfro – Helfro (Season Of Mist) Listen
Lovebites – Electric Pentagram (Red River) Listen
Mantric – False Negative (Solid State/Tooth and Nail) Listen
(O) – SkamHan (Napalm) Listen
Road Warrior – Mach II (Gates of Hell) Listen
Werewolves – The Dead Are Screaming (Prosthetic) Listen
Witchskull – A Driftwood Cross (Rise Above) Listen