Sh*t That Comes out Today: September 3, 2021
Some of you may have noticed some wonky stuff in last week’s column. I injured my arm and tried using the previous week’s column as a template to make things easier for myself, to rather unsuccessful results. [I appreciate Jeff’s humility, but this was entirely my fault. -Axl] Hopefully this week’s makes it up without any problem – I’m genuinely excited about a lot of these new releases!
Our Kingdom Undone (Prosthetic)
If you want death metal that smashes your face into the pavement but in, like, a really smart and precise way, Beyond Grace have just the beatdown for you. Charles Elliott from Abysmal Dawn mixed and mastered this, so that should give you a pretty good idea of the kind of technical brutality in store. Still, they have more to say than your average caveman crew – even if you can’t understand it, they touch on some pretty hefty social and political issues. Let’s just say that the title kingdom doesn’t refer to some fantasy realm.
“The problem here ultimately comes down to a surprising lack of two of the things Maiden does best: big hooks and big choruses. Their songwriting and musicianship is impeccable as always; Kevin Shirley’s dry production, synth underpinnings aside, will probably remain a sticking point for some fans. It’s a pleasure to listen to, and even at 80 minutes it flies by. Still, it’s Iron Maiden; their albums are usually good for multiple songs that get stuck in your head for days. That hasn’t happened with this one. Unfortunately, that puts it a cut below their best.”
The Night Flight Orchestra
Aeromantic II (NB)
Melodic death metal vets book Abba, Styx, and Journey on this flight tonight, soaring into the stratosphere for the second part of a conceptual suite about lovelorn stewardesses. “Speed” Strid was seemingly Bjorn for this kind of lounge lizardry, and his fellow Soilworker David Andersson knows how to tap into some seriously epic AOR romantic (get it?) vibes. If there was any justice in the world (or this was 1981), “Burn for Me,” “Midnight Marvelous,” and “White Jeans” would be huge FM hits. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world, but make sure you don’t miss this flight. How do they put out an album this good every year?
At One With None (Metal Blade)
Portrait’s initial attempts to paint a fatal portrait had one fatal flaw: it’s fine if a band wants to go for a traditional metal sound, but you’re setting yourself up for a (Satan’s) fall if you invite comparisons to one very specific, very beloved, very distinctive band. Mercifully, they’ve attempted to escape their fate since. A little more Iron Maiden gallop, little more Iced Earth (RIP) brawn, but still precious little in the way of their own identity. Nobody expects them to be as good as the King. This far into their career, one would at least hope they’d at least be at one with themselves.
OTHER SHIT THAT COMES OUT THIS WEEK
Auri – II: Those We Don’t Speak Of (NB) Listen
Bokassa – Molotov Rocktail (Napalm) Listen
Carnifex – Graveside Confessions (NB) Listen
Doctor Smoke – Dreamers and the Dead (Ripple) Listen
Earth Groans – The Body EP (Solid State) Listen
The Picturebooks – The Major Minor Collective (Century Media) Listen
Tuesday The Sky – The Blurred Horizon (Metal Blade) Listen