Happy Friday the 13th! Here are some new metal releases to soundtrack the sense of palpable relief we’re all feeling after the election last week.
Post-millenial AC/DC has been pretty forgettable — Stiff Upper Lip had a few bangers, but Black Ice slid off the road and Rock or Bust was more the latter. I mean, it’s always nice to have more from the greatest hard rock band of all time, but expectations have been set accordingly. I’m happy to report that PWR/UP feels like the boys back in good form. Not prime ’70s shape, of course, but at least solid mid-80s fighting weight. They sound like they’re relaxed and having fun, effortlessly dropping killer three-chord riffs and snotty song titles like a band a third their age. Never expected an AC/DC album this good in 2020, that’s for damn sure.
We all have our blind spots, even when it comes to stuff we like, and I’ll admit to not being super up on all the djent-influenced instrumental prog that came in the wake of Animals as Leaders and Scale the Summit. I’m still not convinced that a Plini isn’t some sort of Russian delicacy. Anyway, Intervals is mostly the work of Aaron Marshall. Not only does he know how to rip it up on guitar, he knows how to put it into a powerful emotional context. Everything old is new again — while I hear plenty of Satriani and Vai in Circadian, it’s filtered through a post-hardcore sensibility that makes it more than just EVH worship.
Carnival Of Killers (NB)
I appreciate Macabre’s dedication to a theme and sound, but it is a very specific theme and sound. It’s been 7 years since their last foray into the world of serial killers. In the intervening time it seems like they’ve been listening to a lot of Primus or something — I wasn’t expecting something as raw as Dahmer (which certainly had its share of circus music moments), but this one feels much wackier than previous entries in their catalog. Die-hards should find a lot to like here. For me, it needs more death grinding and less organ grinding.
Monument (Sacred Bones)
Not metal, but this Belarusian darkwave trio’s cover of “Heaven and Hell” was a major highlight of the What Is This That Stands Before Me? Black Sabbath tribute album last year, and that put them square on my radar. Besides, it’s not like metalheads don’t love Depeche Mode and The Cure (admit it, nerds). Album number three drops the temperature way down even from previous releases. The chilly beats and deadpan delivery feel so cold they could give you frostbite. Still, despite the distance and downer vibe, there’s a sense of playfulness that makes this stand out from other Cold War revivalists — and honestly, if you mentally replace some of the synths with downtuned guitars, you can totally hear the Sabbath connection.
Noa’s D’ark (Century Media)
That title pun… woof. I know English isn’t their first language — their blackened death/doom/whatever comes from the Netherlands — but that one’s just painful. And, more importantly, it doesn’t do the pretty excellent music within justice! Reminds me a little of Moonspell before they donned the frilly shirts. I dig the noise rock-style clanging bass, gives them a real hard edge. I wish the songs were a little more memorable, but that’s a criticism that applies to a lot of this stuff. It’s incredibly satisfying while it’s flooding your ears (see what I did there?).
Eternal Rock (Dying Victims)
A lot of leather and chest hair going on here, which can only mean one thing: it’s trad metal time! Time Rift don’t even try to hide where they’re coming from. As the album title implies, the Portland trio dedicates themselves to preserving a very specific era of said music. That era is the 1970s-early 80s, with plenty of NWOBHM melodic riffing and harmonized choruses enlisted in their cause. Considering the plethora of bands both original and new playing this style, are Time Rift worth your time? Songs like the title track and “Magic Bullet” make a very emphatic case for “yes.”
Death Cult (Prophecy)
That’s a pretty cool hat Death Cult‘s cover model is sporting, although it must be tricky balancing those bulls. Despite a look, sound, and name that seems very Scandinavian, Völur hail from a different frozen North: Canada. Their downer doom doesn’t actually have any guitars. Instead, they use bass and a violin to create cutting string sounds that’re reminiscent of SubRosa — always a welcome comparison. The resulting sound has elements of free jazz and other avant garde musical modes, but the tortured shrieks and downbeat aesthetic make it undeniably metal.
OTHER SHIT THAT COMES OUT TODAY
Accuser – Accuser (Metal Blade) Listen
Blood From The Soul – DSM-5 (Deathwish) Listen
Dark Buddha Rising – Mathreyata (Svart) Listen
Death Dealer – Conquered Lands (Steel Cartel) Listen
Doro – Magic Diamonds: Best Of Rock, Ballads & Rare Treasures (Rare Diamonds) Listen
Ghostkid – Ghostkid (Century Media) Listen
Harlott – Detritus Of The Final Age (Metal Blade) Listen
Helsott – Woven Re-Release (M-Theory) Listen
Katatonia – Dead Air (Peaceville) Listen
King 810 – AK Concerto No. 47, 11th Movement In G Major (Self) Listen
L.A. Guns – Renegades (Golden Robot) Listen
Lizzy Borden – Best Of Lizzy Borden, Vol. 2 (Metal Blade) Listen
Lunatic Soul – Through Shaded Woods (Kscope) Listen
Megaton Sword – Blood Hails Steel – Steel Hails Fire (Dying Victims) Listen
Of Feather And Bone – Sulfuric Disintegration (Profound Lore) Listen
Periphery – Live In London (3Dot) Listen
Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons – We’re The Bastards (NB) Listen
Warfect – Spectre Of Devastation (Napalm) Listen