April 9, 2010

New & Noteworthy, April 9th – Progressive Takeover

Welcome to this week's New & Noteworthy! Before we begin the usual announcements, I need to mention some very unfortunate news in the metal world. This past week, Canadian technical metal pioneers Despised Icon announced that they were breaking up after almost a decade together. Although they've said before that they don't like the classification, Despised Icon was one of the first bands to adopt what would become the deathcore sound. Their latest album, Day of Mourning, was an excellent composition, and the band will be sorely missed. Thankfully, though, the band is keeping all of their current tour dates and also booking farewell tours. I'll be sure to mention any farewell tours they do in the US, so keep your eyes peeled on The Metal Review for that information.

That said, let's get into the new releases and tours! Touring news is dominated by what could potentially be the biggest tour of the summer AND fall. But before that, let's cover next week's new releases, which there are a lot of as the pre-summer push continues. Read on and plan your paychecks accordingly!

Next Week's New Releases

  • Bleeding Through by Bleeding Through – The Orange County metalcore veterans begin their new life on Rise Records with their self-titled sixth album. This is also the third straight album where the band's lineup changes. This time, guitarist Jona Weinhofen, who left the band to return to his home in Australia, is replaced by Dave Nassie of No Use for a Name. Nassie should be a quality addition to the Bleeding Through lineup, and his presence in the band will likely bring more attention to this record. I'm expecting an excellent performance from the band on this record, consistent with 2008's Declaration, which was the best record of Bleeding Through's career at that time. After a decade on the scene, Bleeding Through is still the real deal, and this record should uphold that reputation.
  • Heliocentric by The Ocean – In the three years since The Ocean's last record, Precambrian, fans of the band have anxiously held their breath for a new album. Well, they are getting their wish and then some, since The Ocean is releasing two albums this year. Heliocentric and Anthropocentric (due out in the fall) will continue where Precambrian left off musically and thematically, focused on a philosophical critique of fundamental Christianity and creationism. Heliocentric will feature lyrics inspired by the histories of Copernicus, Galileo, Ptolemy, Nietzsche, and Darwin, among others. This album is definitely not for the casual metal fan, since The Ocean rivals almost every metal band in the world when it comes to experimentation and diversity. If you enjoy progressive or experimental metal, this album will definitely be worth checking out.
  • The Underworld Regime by Ov Hell – I've already reviewed this album, and I stand by what I said in my review. This album is good for a couple of listens, but after that, it gets pretty boring. Die-hard black metal fans will love it, but if you're only a casual black metal fan, you'll probably be better served by saving your money for a few weeks so you can pick up the new 1349 album, Demonoir, when it comes out. I'm really hoping that Demonoir is a return to form for 1349, since the two biggest black metal releases of the year thus far (Burzum and Ov Hell) have been fairly disappointing, and some good black metal from a big band in the scene will keep fans happy until Nachtmystium puts out their new album in June.
  • Threnody by Woe of Tyrants – I absolutely loved Kingdom of Might, the debut album from Woe of Tyrants, because it showed that these youngsters have good ideas and creativity when it comes to genre fusion. I believe that Threnody will continue their death-thrash-metalcore crossover excellence and cement the band as a rising force in the scene. Their touring schedule can't hurt either, as the band is currently on Overkill's 25th Anniversary tour, and will likely maintain a vigorous live schedule throughout the summer and fall.
  • 18.61 by 108 – The hardcore legends and Hare Krishna devotees are back with their second full-length after their 2005 reunion. However, 18.61 is likely to be marked with controversy, as longtime vocalist Rob Fish recently left the band, sparking rumors that the band was breaking up. 108 has refuted that speculation since then, but the vocalist position is still up in the air, and with that unclear, it may be difficult for fans to appreciate this record completely, especially if the band's new vocalist does not perform the songs from 18.61 to the satisfaction of fans during live shows.
  • Eternal by War of Ages – War of Ages has been around for eight years, but they only started getting noticed after moved up to Facedown Records in 2006. But once they got going, this band became a juggernaut quickly. Eternal will be the Christian metal quintet's fourth record since 2006, and after the excellent showing on 2008's Arise & Conquer, I'm expecting a continuation of the band's precision hardcore/metalcore sound. The guest appearances by Tim Lambesis and Josh Gilbert of As I Lay Dying and Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D. can only help this record, and the band's upcoming tour with As I Lay Dying and Demon Hunter will bring a lot of recognition to what is sure to be a fan favorite.
  • Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones by Cancer Bats – The diversity of Cancer Bats is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, they have the potential to appeal to a very wide audience, encompassing fans of punk, metal, hardcore, and southern rock. On the other hand, though, they are just as likely to alienate members of all those fan groups who won't get the band's sound. The one thing you can be sure of with this band is persistence. No matter what the reviews of this album say, Cancer Bats will tour their asses off to support this record, as evidenced by one of the stories you'll read in the touring section below. The results of that tour will speak greater volumes about Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones than any review possibly could, but I'll be reviewing the album anyway, and since I appreciate sonic variety, I expect that I'll enjoy most of this album.
  • The Sound of Symmetry by Sky Eats Airplane – This EP will be the recording debut of new vocalist Bryan Zimmerman and new bassist/backup vocalist Elliot Coleman, who both joined Sky Eats Airplane in December 2009. Coleman's entrance into the band was met with negative reactions from fans, who were unhappy with the sudden and unceremonious replacement of Johno Erickson. The Sound of Symmetry, along with the band's upcoming tour with Drop Dead, Gorgeous and Motionless in White, will either confirm or silence their criticism. These two events are crucial to the post-hardcore quintet's success, and they may very well determine whether Sky Eats Airplane remains a band or not.
  • Dark Ages by Bison B.C. – These Canadians seem destined for success. Critical reception for their Metal Blade debut, Quiet Earth, was almost universally positive, and that trend is already continuing with Dark Ages. The band has earned comparisons to High on Fire, Kylesa, The Sword, and even early Mastodon. With such an impressive response from critics and fans, Bison B.C. are on the short track to a huge breakout. Any fan of heavy stoner or doom metal will want to get this album as soon as they can.
  • Evil Power by Lair of the Minotaur – Any band that succeeds in melding sludge and thrash together has talent. Lair of the Minotaur has talent in abundance, and their fourth album will definitely attest to that. Evil Power will be the band's first release on The Grind-House Records, the label started by vocalist/guitarist Steven Rathbone and drummer Chris Wozniak, along with Josh Diebel of Alleysweeper Records. The Chicago trio (which also features bassist Nate Olp of Demiricous) should continue their underground dominance with this album. Rathbone is too good of a songwriter to create a mediocre album.
  • Coat of Arms by Deadstar Assembly – Fans of Deadstar Assembly rejoiced when it was announced that original keyboardist Mubo had rejoined the band in 2009. Coat of Arms will feature more of the band's gothic/industrial/techno fusion style that has become so popular lately. Fans of similar bands like The Birthday Massacre and Combichrist will love this album. For everyone else, it won't be anything special.
  • A Savage Symphony - The History of Annihilation by Destruction – The second DVD put out by the German thrash legends is a bittersweet release, since it comes just a month after longtime drummer Marc Reign left the band due to creative and musical differences. However, while Destruction searches for another drummer, fans can enjoy this DVD, which features the band's entire performance at the Wacken Open Air festival in 2007 and a documentary of the band's history, among other things. I know I'll be getting this DVD just so I have a higher quality version of the music video for "The Alliance of Hellhoundz", my favorite Destruction song and a monumental musical undertaking. If you're a fan of thrash at all, get this DVD so you can learn about one of the bands responsible for its proliferation in Europe.

This Week's New Tour Announcements

  • Rush
The undisputed masters of progressive rock have returned, and on the upcoming Time Machine Tour, they will be reminding the world why they've been around for as long as they have. Not only will Rush be playing both old classics and new selections from their upcoming album, but they will also be playing the seminal 1981 album Moving Pictures in its entirety for the first time on any tour they've ever done. This historic tour will run from June 29th to October 2nd, and you can count on Rush fans to save up and buy tickets to multiple shows. My advice is to watch Rush's homepage and the LiveNation website like a hawk, and when tickets go on sale near you, get them the second they go on sale, because they will not last!

  • Dream Theater
If seeing Rush live doesn't satiate your desire for progressive music, then maybe an intimate club show with Dream Theater will. The band has announced three shows at smaller venues on off-dates of their upcoming stadium tour with Iron Maiden. The shows will be in Portland, OR; Columbus, OH; and Worcester, MA. If you're in these areas, you'll definitely want to check out these shows, because the odds of seeing Dream Theater in a small venue in the future are extremely slim.

  • Eyehategod
Last week on New & Noteworthy, I announced four Eyehategod shows in May, including a date where two of their classic albums would be played start to finish. Well, fans of the band can drool some more, because Eyehategod now has a three-week US tour planned in June. Adding to the excitement is the list of support bands, which features Nachtmystium, Withered, Brutal Truth, Black Tusk, Tombs, Howl, and other stoner/doom metal stars. The support acts will vary from night to night, but if you attend one of these shows, you can be sure that you'll see an incredible performance. This tour is another one that you'll want to get tickets for as soon as they go on sale, since most of the venues are extremely small clubs or bars and tickets will probably sell out quickly.

  • Dark Tranquillity, Threat Signal, and Mutiny Within
Another continuation of an announcement from last week, more dates have been announced for Dark Tranquillity's upcoming North American headlining tour, and there are likely still more dates to come. What's more, they will be bringing two of the biggest rising stars of metal on tour with them. Both Threat Signal and Mutiny Within are coming off huge album releases, and this tour will help both bands reach larger audiences. This tour is especially huge for Mutiny Within, since their summer tour with Soilwork and Death Angel was announced just two weeks ago. Doing two separate tours with two of the founders of the Gothenburg scene is a humongous achievement for such a young band, and it will surely reap huge benefits for them in the long run.

  • Epica
The Dutch symphonic metal band got an amazing reception on their US headlining tour in January, and they appear to be planning a return for this fall. Two shows have been announced for November, one in New York City and one in Montreal. What makes these shows interesting is that they are at the exact same venues where Epica's shows in January sold out in advance. It would seem that the band expects similar sales for the November shows, and with the excellence of their latest album, Design Your Universe, they're likely to get the results they're looking for. More dates and support acts will be announced here when they become available.

  • Armored Saint
The thrash veterans have booked one show on May 28th at the House of Blues in Hollywood, which will be their first show supporting their new album, La Raza. Bassist Joey Vera stressed that this is the only show planned for the remainder of the year, but I don't believe that for a second, and neither should you. Announcing that this is the only show for the year in support of La Raza is a huge marketing ploy, which will likely get fans from all over the country buying tickets and traveling to the show. Then, a little while after the Hollywood show, the band will probably announce another show in New York, Chicago, or another big city not on the West Coast. The critical success of La Raza is what will make this ploy work. Readers, I'm imploring you to save your money if you don't live near Hollywood. Armored Saint will come to you in time. Have patience, and do not buy into the hype that this show will create. You'll be grateful in the end.

  • Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, and Cancer Bats
This two-week tour will be a lot of fun for those that attend, since all three bands love to interact with the crowd and make the concert personal for everyone involved. The fact that all the shows take place at small venues or bars will only add to this aspect, as well as make tickets more affordable for attendees. You can't go wrong seeing one of these shows! Unfortunately, all the dates are on the East Coast or in the Midwest, so West Coast fans will miss out. However, count on Every Time I Die and Cancer Bats to stay on the road after this tour supporting their respective albums.

  • The Devil Wears Prada, Miss May I, and Your Demise
The so-called "Back to the Roots" summer club tour will see The Devil Wears Prada playing some of the smallest venues of their career since they broke out in 2006. That is, when they're not playing huge outdoor festival shows with 10,000+ screaming fans in their faces. This tour seems oddly named since The Devil Wears Prada haven't been around for very long, and thus aren't very far away from their "roots" in small club and bar shows. Nevertheless, fans will buy tickets to these shows very quickly just for the opportunity to see the young metalcore stars up close. Fans should get to the shows early to check out Your Demise, a very talented young hardcore band from England that has a bright future.

  • Rock n' America Festival
Help! It's the 80s, and they're coming with a vengeance! In all seriousness, though, this three day festival in Oklahoma City is the dream of every hair metal fan coming true. Headlined by The Scorpions, Ratt, and Twisted Sister, the festival will also feature Sebastian Bach, Dokken, Warrant, Lita Ford, Firehouse, and L.A. Guns, among others, with more bands still to be announced. Hair metal fans will want to clear their calendars for July 23rd-25th and start making flight and hotel reservations, because a lineup like this will never come again, especially since the appearance by The Scorpions is in the middle of their farewell tour.

  • Horse the Band and Endless Hallway
A recent report from ThePRP says that Horse the Band decided to change their name to Wicked Decision after "profound experiences" during a two-week tour of Africa. Vocalist Nathan Winneke says that part of the reason for the change is to let people know that the band is serious about their music. My counterpoint to that is this: How is anyone supposed to take a band seriously with song titles like "Birdo" and "Cutsman"? And that doesn't even get into the band's EP entirely about the intellectual topic of pizza (which includes a cover of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song that is admittedly somewhat fun). I'm sorry, but I don't get the point of this name change, because it won't change the opinions of people who already know the band and might even alienate some of the band's older fans. Regardless of the band's name, I expect that there will be the usual level of goofiness and geeking out on this tour. If those elements aren't there, then we can all safely say that Horse the Band is completely dead.

  • Kobra Kai
This 80s metal cover band is notable for featuring current Shadows Fall members Jon Donais on lead guitar and Matt Bachand on bass, as well as Fates Warning guitarist Frank Aresti among their members. The band will be playing a series of drunken, balls-out party shows at bars and venues in southern New England during April and May. If you'd like to see some metal stars in a very different setting than what you'd normally see them in, then these are the shows for you.

That concludes this week's edition of New & Noteworthy. Hopefully you read something that interests you. Now go check out the dates that tickets go on sale for those Rush shows. Until next week, happy spending!

No comments: