Another metal legend has fallen this week, saddening the hearts of the entire world. Ronnie James Dio died this past Sunday from the stomach cancer that has plagued him for months now. At the age of 67, Dio was still rocking hard with Heaven & Hell until late last November, when the cancer was first diagnosed. The singer will be forever remembered in the hearts of metal fans around the world, and his legacy of rock will never die.
It doesn't help matters that a number of other losses struck the metal world this week. Legendary Bay Area manager/booking agent Debbie Abono also passed away this week at the age of 80, also after a battle with cancer. Abono helped to book and promote bands like Exodus, Possessed, Forbidden, and Vio-lence in their early years, bringing them to the level of prominence that they achieved as their careers advanced. Abono will be fondly remembered by the entire Bay Area scene for her dedication and vitality. Adding insult to injury were announcements that Isis is breaking up and Destroy the Runner is going on indefinite hiatus. It's a shame to see these two bands going away. Post-metal will never be the same due to the contributions of Isis, and the youthful energy and inventiveness of Destroy the Runner were nice to see amidst a mostly stagnant metalcore/post-hardcore scene.
There's no easy way to move on from these losses. Here are the announcements for this week:
Next Week's New Releases
- Stone Temple Pilots by Stone Temple Pilots - There's controversy surrounding this album that can't be ignored. On the one hand, critical reception thus far has been positive, with comparisons to the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles being tossed around like leaves in the wind. On the other hand, there are the swirling rumors that Scott Weiland has been back in the bottle while the band has been on the road, and that his live performances have been terrible. My thinking is that both reports could be true, and thus, the album is worth purchasing, while concert tickets should be ignored.
- Omen by Soulfly - Those who have appreciated Soulfly's movement back to the heavy end of the spectrum in recent years will undoubtedly love this album. Guest appearances by Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Tommy Victor of Prong will enliven this album and add plenty of substance. However, the deluxe edition of this album will raise a few eyebrows, as it includes a Soulfly cover of Sepultura's classic hit "Refuse/Resist". Is it in poor taste for a musician to cover one of his own songs that he played while in another band? I suppose not, since Max Cavalera has been doing that at Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy concerts for over a decade now.
- At Night We Live by Far - It's been over a decade since Far split up, but that memory was obliterated in the face of their 2008 reformation. Although the band is still refusing to return to their hardcore roots, At Night We Live will still keep fans new and old satisfied. Critics are already saying that it's one of the best alternative albums released this year, and since the year isn't even halfway finished yet, that's a bold statement. If you don't mind the softer side of Far, then this album is definitely for you.
- Coat of Arms by Sabaton - If you ever wanted to learn about World War II without reading a book, all you have to do is listen to Sabaton's discography. The Swedish six-piece power metal group is back with a fourth album predominantly dealing with WWII, and with even more diverse and obscure sub-plots of the war from which to craft epic songs. Even with recurring lyrical themes, Sabaton still manage to craft unique albums that build on their previous work. Proof of this can be seen in Primo Victoria, Attero Dominatus, and The Art of War, and I'm sure that further proof will be offered on this album. If you like fast, epic power metal with historic themes, this album will be a favorite for you.
- Time to Be King by Masterplan - After three years away from the band, Jørn Lande is back with Masterplan, and the band is that much better for it. Lande is one of the most talented and underrated singers in the world, as he's proven time and again through his numerous projects. Those who skipped 2007's MK II due to Lande's absence from the album will be all over Time to Be King. If you've never heard Lande sing, you need to get this album. With the exception of Russell Allen of Symphony X, there is no one who can sing quite like Jørn Lande.
- Facemelter by Y&T - The fact that Y&T has been around since 1974 is mind-boggling, especially given the current climate of the music industry. Facemelter will be their first studio album since 1997's Endangered Species. The thirteen-year gap between releases is the longest in the band's history. More melodic power ballads will fill this album, as they've filled most of the band's older albums. Hey, why change the formula now when it's held true for 36 years?
- Invocation by Dew-Scented - What's so special about Dew-Scented? Well, for one, they are one of the most resilient death-thrash hybrid bands in the world, with a career that has spanned 18 years. Also, this is their eighth album whose title starts with the letter I. That's not really special, but it is interesting, much like Morbid Angel's alphabetically-progressing album titles. Invocation lacks the high-octane guest appearances that 2007's Incinerate carried, but in many ways, that may prove to be a good thing, giving the band a chance to stand on their own and show what they're capable of by themselves. Fans of Heaven Shall Burn, Neaera, Maroon, and Burden of Grief should check out Invocation to see how this genre really got off the ground.
- The Extra Dimensional Wound by Lightning Swords of Death - Metal Blade's newest young signing is being touted by some as the next big thing in black metal. I don't see why there needs to be a new big thing in black metal when so many older bands are still doing very well for themselves. There are also plenty of detractors out there saying that their live performance is awful. I have a feeling that these detractions might be overblown, but still valid to a certain extent. Be cautious about this band.
- Taste the Sin by Black Tusk - Black Tusk has a lot going on in the near future. They hit the road today with Pentagram for a week of shows in the South, bookending the release of Taste the Sin. Then they hit the road with Zoroaster for a month of club shows, as I announced two weeks ago. The young band is capitalizing on the excellent reputation of their new home, Relapse Records, to reach out to wider audiences. This effort should be successful, as long as Taste the Sin has comparable quality to the usual excellence that Relapse puts out.
- Degenerate by Trigger the Bloodshed - I don't quite understand why this album isn't being released in the US yet, but since the band is from the UK initially, I guess it makes a little bit of sense. The more important fact is what you'll get with this record - lots of technical brutal death metal. Listening to Trigger the Bloodshed is a bit like being in a moshpit while strung out on speed - you won't have any control of yourself, but you'll be hyperactive the entire time. Fans of Carnifex, Annotations of an Autopsy, and Whitechapel will find this record appealing.
- A Determinism of Morality by Rosetta - This will be Rosetta's third full-length for Translation Loss Records. It's not unusual for experimental metal bands to stick to one label for their entire career, but it would be nice to see the young band get some more exposure. Fans of Isis, Cult of Luna, and Mouth of the Architect will love Rosetta and their spacey, sludge-infused post-metal. Given the chance, these guys could move into the upper echelon of the sub-genre very quickly.
- Revival by As Hell Retreats - The newest signing to Facedown imprint Strike First Records is taking a page out of Zao's playbook with their lyrical message. As Hell Retreats is a Christian band with lots of issues with how people treat organized religion, especially in this country. Their lyrics are caustic and harshly critical of society and common views about faith. There are very few Christian bands that can successfully pull off those lyrical themes, but if As Hell Retreats manages to execute properly, they could quickly propel themselves to widespread notice in the scene.
- Hoodoo by Krokus - The Swiss hard rockers have been practically unstoppable since their self-titled debut hit shelves in 1976, although their name has never reached the popularity that it had with 1983's Headhunter. Nonetheless, much like Y&T, Krokus has stuck to their formula for their entire career, and it's never let them down. Plus, Hoodoo features a cover of the Steppenwolf hit "Born to Be Wild", and that alone makes this album interesting.
- Valediction by Legend - It's nice to see a young band playing straightforward hardcore without diving headfirst into deathcore for once. Legend has a lot of respect for their elders, drawing lots of influence from Hatebreed, Terror, and The Banner. There's no originality in their music, but hardcore fans usually aren't looking for originality as much as sincerity and strength. Legend has both of these in high quantities.
This Week's Tour Announcements
- Immolation, Vader, Abigail Williams, Lecherous Nocturne, and Pathology
I really enjoyed Immolation's new album Majesty and Decay, and you can read my thoughts on it in my review of the album. This tour offers Immolation a chance to reach out to a wider audience of listeners in the black metal community, who will come out to see Vader and Abigail Williams. It's a chance Immolation will naturally capitalize on, since Majesty and Decay has the ability to grab the attention of black metal fans with its diverse soundscape. This tour is pretty solid across the board, so I give it my full recommendation. Go get tickets!
- Cynic, Intronaut, and Dysrhythmia
I guess it's becoming a theme now for bands to play albums in their entirety on tour now, because Cynic will be performing their debut album Focus from start to finish on this tour. For Cynic, though, it wouldn't be terribly hard to play their entire discography on this tour. After all, with only two albums and one EP released in 17 years, there's not exactly a big selection to choose from in terms of a setlist. Do I even have to tell you that this tour is going to be awesome? Let's face it - Paul Masvidal has the Midas touch (the king, not the auto parts company). If you need proof, listen to either one of Cynic's albums. Then buy yourself tickets to this tour.
- Forbidden, Evile, Gama Bomb, and Bonded by Blood
As if it wasn't enough that all four of these bands will be playing on the second leg of Killfest 2010 with Overkill. This lineup will also be playing shows before and after Killfest with Forbidden headlining. No doubt these shows are designed to promote Forbidden's comeback album, Omega Wave, which is supposed to see release later this year. Between Killfest and the additional dates, these four bands are pretty much doing a full US tour. Which means that nobody has an excuse to not go to one of these shows and get their face thrashed off.
- Charred Walls of the Damned and Don Jamieson
A month ago, I announced that Charred Walls of the Damned would be opening for Dream Theater on a one-off date in Massachusetts. That one-off show has now turned into nine shows in the Northeast with opening support from comedian Don Jamieson of That Metal Show. The supergroup will be playing their self-titled debut in its entirety for these shows, which is a nice treat. However, only half of the recording lineup will be showing up on tour, as Steve DiGiorgio and Jason Suecof both have previous commitments and cannot join Richard Christy and Tim "Ripper" Owens. The live lineup will therefore be rounded out by some of Owens' colleagues. Guitarist John Comprix and bassist Dennis Hayes from Owens' side project Beyond Fear will perform on the tour, and guitarist Matt Sorg, who played with Comprix in Ringworm, will also appear onstage. If you're in the Northeast, these shows are worth the effort to go see.
- Fear Factory and Divine Heresy
I'm shocked this tour didn't come together sooner. As soon as Dino Cazares rejoined his old band, I knew it was only a matter of time before he had both of his bands tour together. It makes sense - Divine Heresy draws a lot of their sound from early Fear Factory, and Travis Neal has a lot in common with Burton C. Bell in terms of vocal range and style. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if the bands just traded off members during their sets. This is the kind of thing that happens when Dino Cazares is involved. And while people might initially criticize the tour, I'm willing to bet that after the shows are done, they'll be praising whatever surprises occur. Further details will come when I have them.
- Nonpoint and Drowning Pool
It makes sense for these two bands to tour together leading into Ozzfest, even though Drowning Pool only appears on a select number of dates. We'll call these warm-up dates for lack of a better term. More importantly, though, these shows will determine whether Drowning Pool have anything new and interesting to offer the ravenous hordes on Ozzfest. If their new material goes over well at these shows, then they should do well on Ozzfest. If it doesn't, then they should prepare to get booed and ignored. The same goes for Nonpoint, although they have a lot less to prove with their new album than Drowning Pool does.
- This is Hell
The Long Island hardcore group has begun booking shows to support their forthcoming album Weight of the World. If there's one thing I know about this band, it's that the touring won't stop for a long time after this album hits stores. Only a few bands keep the kind of touring schedule that This is Hell keeps, and with good reason. These dates are only just the beginning, mark my words. Expect to see This is Hell a lot more in upcoming editions of New & Noteworthy.
- The Funeral Pyre and Early Graves
A full US club tour is perfect for The Funeral Pyre to promote their upcoming album, Vultures at Dawn. The fact that these dates are considered "initial" with more to come is pretty wild, considering most bands don't announce two months worth of tour dates as "initial" dates. Regardless, this will be a tour worth seeing because of how unique and intricate The Funeral Pyre's music is. Vultures at Dawn will hopefully continue where 2008's Wounds left off. Once more dates are announced, I'll post them here.
- Boris, Russian Circles, and Red Sparowes
The Japanese three-piece band Boris is designed to screw with your head. Their particular blend of psychedelic-drone-sludge-stoner-prog metal is as unique as it gets, and since the band doesn't regularly tour in the US, fans will want to take advantage of this opportunity to see them. Russian Circles and Red Sparowes will split the support duties, with Russian Circles appearing on the first half of the dates and Red Sparowes on the second. See one of these shows if you can.
- Minus the Bear
After the band finishes up their current run of dates with Young the Giant, they'll take three weeks off, and then head right back out for another string of dates in June and July to support their new album Omni. No support acts have been announced yet, and the dates seem rather sparse right now. But more information is sure to come, and when I have it, I'll pass it along to you.
- Pentagram and Howl
Pentagram doesn't want to get off the road, it seems. As I mentioned before, they're doing a string of dates with Black Tusk, and now we have this to add to their itinerary. Announcements of Pentagram's touring schedule seem to be few and far between, but when they show up, I'll be sure to pass them along. Also of note is the release of Howl's debut album, Full of Hell, which hit stores this past week. I must show some hometown love to my fellow Rhode Islanders, so it's with that in mind that I tell you to BUY THIS ALBUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Add two more shows to the short string of dates I announced last week. The dates that have been announced thus far lead me to believe that Chimaira will do a straight run of club shows leading into the Mayhem Festival, as build-up and preparation. Chimaira do well live no matter what size stage they are on, and these shows will probably be fairly cheap. So if you can make it out to one, I will once again recommend that you do so.
- Limp Bizkit
This will be the only time I'm ever happy to report about Limp Bizkit. Why? Because the band has cancelled their summer tour in favor of a full arena tour. Apparently playing amphitheaters wasn't good enough for Fred Durst, and he decided to try to get the band booked at arenas instead. This obviously didn't work, and thus he's given up and is going to try again in a few months. I'm praying that he gets the same response and just rage-quits the music business out of frustration. That would be glorious perfection.
Thus, we end New & Noteworthy for one more week. A world without Dio is a sad one indeed. The Holy Diver lives on forever in our hearts.