June 4, 2010

New & Noteworthy, June 4th - New Release Explosion

For those of you who might wonder how I keep track of all the new releases that appear in the metal world, the answer is that I have a wonderful program that lets me put Post-It Notes all over my desktop, and I have one gigantic note titled "ALBUM RELEASE CALENDAR" that I update every time I see a new release. And that Post-It is easily the longest Post-It ever constructed, with a scroll bar and everything, covering releases all the way into 2011.

Well, I can safely say that, because of that Post-It, I have been having anxiety attacks about this week's edition of New & Noteworthy for about a month now. Why, you might ask? Because there are 25 new releases to cover this week! It's as if every record label in rock and metal decided that June 8th was a good day to release at least one album.

Since I have so much to cover, don't be surprised if I'm rather brief with my thoughts on each album. There's a lot to read, so go take a look at what will be consuming your paycheck this week!

Next Week's New Releases

  • The Obsidian Conspiracy by Nevermore - It's been five years since This Godless Endeavor hit stores, and in that time, both Jeff Loomis and Warrel Dane have released solo albums, and Nevermore has also put out their first DVD. This is one of three albums I'll be reviewing over the weekend, and I have the highest expectations for The Obsidian Conspiracy. Nevermore has not released a mediocre album yet, and I don't think they'll start doing that here.
  • Addicts: Black Meddle, Part 2 by Nachtmystium - Nachtmystium came out of nowhere with 2008's Assassins: Black Meddle, Part 1, which easily ranked among the best albums of that year. Addicts will likely do the same, if Blake Judd and Co. continue the psychedelic, progressive, and generally weird elements of Assassins. This is another review you'll see from me over the weekend.
  • Invictus (Iconoclast III) by Heaven Shall Burn - I've already listened to Invictus once, and I was floored. This album is positively destructive in its musical and lyrical approaches, containing even more profound content and nuance from an already-intelligent band. Invictus is my third weekend review and the one that will be published first, but I will say this right now as a preview: this album blows away almost every other album released in the past decade by bands in the German metalcore/melodic death metal scene. Allocate some money for this album if you are a fan of either genre or the German scene in general.
  • Behind the Blackest Tears by Kingdom of Sorrow - Jamey Jasta's OTHER band needs to avoid the sophomore slump as much as possible, because the veteran hardcore singer has too much on the line to risk releasing an unimpressive album. Luckily, Kingdom of Sorrow's self-titled debut had an overabundance of high-quality, hardcore-infused sludge metal. I think it's safe to expect the same on Behind the Blackest Tears.
  • Psalm of the Grand Destroyer by Circle of Dead Children - Back from a two year hiatus, the seminal deathgrind quartet is set to unleash their fourth full-length album on the masses. Psalm of the Grand Destroyer will likely be even more destructive than 2005's Zero Comfort Margin, the last release from the Pittsburgh group, because they've had so much time to build up their anger and violence. Expect this album to be a new high standard in deathgrind.
  • Lawless Darkness by Watain - The Swedish black metal group has, for the most part, put their 2006 NSBM controversy behind them, focusing now on the release of Lawless Darkness. Watain has always been one of the more traditional black metal bands to come out of Sweden, so black metal fans looking for a good mix of the Swedish and Norwegian styles will find what they want here.
  • Weight of the World by This is Hell - Long Island's hardest working hardcore band is already back on the road before their album even hits stores. These guys love touring more than any other band I'm aware of, and regardless of how the album is received, you can bet that they'll stay on tour. I'm predicting a very strong album from This is Hell, especially when considering the excellence of their last full-length, Misfortunes, as well as the awesome EP's Cripplers and Warbirds. Put simply, This is Hell are here to dominate.
  • A New Era of Corruption by Whitechapel - One has to wonder about how the other members of Whitechapel handle vocalist Phil Bozeman's tendency to skip headlining shows at small venues. That just looks bad in the big picture. Regardless of that, A New Era of Corruption is sure to include much of the same chug-chug-scream deathcore that fans heard on This is Exile. Why change the formula when you're already the most popular deathcore band in the world?
  • Road Kill by The Haunted - The band's first live CD/DVD combo will center on the live show on February 13, 2009 in Amsterdam, recorded just for this release. There is also a touring documentary included, along with bonus tracks from the recording sessions for Versus. If you enjoy the Swedish thrashers or the band that spawned them, At the Gates, then the DVD will make for a good pickup.
  • Vultures at Dawn by The Funeral Pyre - There are a ton of excellent black metal albums getting released this week, and Vultures at Dawn is one of the unfortunate ones that will likely be overshadowed by Nachtmystium and Watain. However, if you're looking for an impressive American black metal band that's on the rise, The Funeral Pyre fits the bill perfectly. 2008's Wounds was an extremely pleasant surprise, and Vultures at Dawn is likely to continue the band's winning formula.
  • Cynic Paradise by Pain - In other side project news, Peter TÃĪgtgren's OTHER band is finally getting their sixth album released in America. This album is far from new, as it was released in October 2008 overseas. However, for industrial metal fans not versed in the underground, this album will definitely merit checking out. I've always been impressed by Pain's older material, so I'm excited to finally pick up Cynic Paradise.
  • Returners by The Ghost Inside - No other melodic hardcore band currently out has made as big a splash in as short a time as The Ghost Inside. This had more to do with the band's relentless touring than anything else, although 2008's Fury and the Fallen Ones was still an excellent album. Returners will likely end up as one of the biggest releases of the year, as long as it isn't a complete mess.
  • Reptilian by Keep of Kalessin - If you enjoyed Keep of Kalessin's new sound on Armada and Kolossus, then Reptilian should be at the top of your list of albums to check out. With more amazing compositions from Obsidian C. and the relentless drum onslaught by Vyl, Reptilian has the potential to be a huge breakout album for the band.
  • Lost Boy by Mychildren Mybride - It's doubtful that any song on Lost Boy will match the instant appeal of "Headshot!", a.k.a. "The Halo 2 Song", from the band's debut, Unbreakable. But that might turn out to be a good thing, if the band can garner some positive reviews without the inherent gimmick of such a non-serious song. Mychildren Mybride has the ability to lead the Christian hardcore scene, if they can break out of the somewhat silly image they carry.
  • Hypomanic by Leng Tch'e - The fact that there are two deathgrind albums being released in the same month is impressive. Two on the same day is unheard of. Two on the same day that are both high-quality albums from bands at the head of the genre? Well, I suppose there's no such thing as asking for too much.
  • Life of Defiance by Call to Preserve - It's very hard to believe that Life of Defiance is Call to Preserve's third album, but the straightedge Christian hardcore outfit has been signed to Facedown's roster in one form or another for five years now. They're a vastly underrated band, and although they're not exactly original, they'll satisfy your urge for hardcore if you want to try something new.
  • Of Seismic Consequence by Yakuza - Samsara and Transmutations were Yakuza's coming out party, showing the world that they had the chops to hang alongside the best, most talented bands in the experimental metal world. Of Seismic Consequence will be the establishing album that will decide if they have the staying power of their better-known peers in Burst, Intronaut, Burnt by the Sun, and Candiria.
  • Road Salt One by Pain of Salvation - This album is touted as the first half of a double album project. The band's fans seem to be divided about whether they like or dislike the evolution in their sound over the course of seven studio albums. It's probably a safe bet that if you've liked their later material, you'll like this too.
  • Blekinge by Istapp - The Metal Blade debut of Istapp is pure Swedish black metal, in the same vein as Naglfar and Dark Funeral. There's not a lot of originality, but since Swedish black metal is far less prevalent than Norwegian black metal, Istapp is still a breath of semi-fresh air in the worldwide scene. Check out Blekinge if you're looking for some variety amidst the black metal releases up to this point of the year.
  • Only the Dead to Witness by Better Left Unsaid - Now signed to the recently-created Static Age Records, Better Left Unsaid is hoping to capitalize on the underground success of their debut, The Fight Within, and achieve a wider audience with Only the Dead to Witness. The band takes a lot of influence from As I Lay Dying's early releases, with the addition of plenty of guitar solos. The formula could be a winning one if it receives enough exposure.
  • Population: Declining by Hail the Villain - As radio-friendly hard rock grows ever more saturated with new bands trying to get noticed, Hail the Villain appears with the insane, lofty ideas of creating an entire world centered on their music. Their bio says they want to create comic books, an interactive website, and possibly even a movie, all based around the music they write. Pretty high-reaching goals for a band with no releases. Their goals might be impressive, but their music is fairly standard for the genre they're in. They'll blend in with the crowd after a few listens.
  • Songs of Ill Hope and Desperation by Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire - Some bands are willing to try merging any styles just to see what the result is. Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire is probably the result of such experimentation. They've dubbed their style as "funeral grind", which just makes me scratch my head in confusion. If you're willing to dabble in something that's pretty far outside the norm, these guys will probably grab your attention.
  • Sun of All Suns by Amestigon - The Austrian black metal group has finally released their first full-length album after more than 17 years of existence. This album is sure to sound similar to material from Abigor, especially since being a member of Abigor's lineup seems to be a requirement for being part of Amestigon. If you've enjoyed the band's numerous splits and EP's up to this point, then you have to buy Sun of All Suns.
  • Decade (Live at the El Mocambo) by Silverstein - The first live CD/DVD release from the post-hardcore group chronicles the 10th anniversary shows that they played at Toronto's famous nightclub, El Mocambo. Is it redundant to say "The El Mocambo" since "el" means "the" in Spanish? Putting aside grammatical questions, the scene kids of the world will buy this thing out on Tuesday, so if you want a copy for some reason, get it early in the day.

This Week's Tour Announcements

  • Nevermore, Warbringer, Mutiny Within, and Hatesphere
Announcing this tour now, when anticipation for The Obsidian Conspiracy is highest, is an incredibly smart move by Nevermore. People will already be lining up dates on their calendars for this tour, and why not? The lineup is stacked from top to bottom, and the dates actually cover most of North America. That also doesn't even mention the fact that it's been a long time since Nevermore has toured in the States. Buy tickets early for this tour if you have even the slightest desire to go.
ThePRP announcement

  • Exodus, Malevolent Creation, Holy Grail, and Bonded by Blood
Not to be outdone by Overkill's Killfest tour or the Slayer-Megadeth-Testament American Carnage Tour, Exodus is hitting the road with a solid lineup for a run of summer dates, ensuring that the entire year is filled with thrash tours. The tour is only a month long, but with Malevolent Creation in tow, thrash and death fans will come out in force. This tour will break faces for sure.
ThePRP announcement

  • Demon Hunter, Sleeping Giant, Inhale Exhale, and A Bullet for Pretty Boy
I'm probably one of a very few people that are not happy about this announcement. Why am I unhappy? Because between this tour and the As I Lay Dying tour, I never got the New York show that Ryan Clark said would happen. Guess I'll be making a road trip to Maryland for my first time seeing Demon Hunter. For everyone else that didn't get to see the band with As I Lay Dying, these dates cover a lot of areas that the AILD tour missed (except for the Northeast). Get out to these shows for a sick lineup of solid Christian metal.
ThePRP announcement

  • Underoath, Between the Buried and Me, Blessthefall, and To Speak of Wolves
Underoath, BTBAM, and Blessthefall aren't taking a break after the end of The Cool Tour, a huge summer tour I announced six weeks ago. Instead, the three bands will just keep on playing shows, adding a strong young opening act to the mix. There are only six shows planned, and BTBAM will only play the first three, but this tour will still be good for Midwestern fans that might miss The Cool Tour.
ThePRP announcement

  • Aerosmith
The legendary classic rockers are hoping to start working on new material now that Steven Tyler is out of rehab. This amphitheater tour will likely be the place where some of that material is debuted, if it does come to fruition. And even if it doesn't, Aerosmith still outplays many of their contemporaries from the '70s and '80s. If you're a classic rock fan, this will be a fun tour to check out.
Blabbermouth announcement

  • Landmine Marathon
With their new album, Sovereign Descent, still going strong and earning good reviews, including high praise from yours truly, it's great to see Landmine Marathon hitting the road for some headlining shows. Grace Perry and Co. will be destroying bars and clubs all over the country, and you can bet that more shows - either headlining or supporting another band - will come after this tour is over.
ThePRP announcement

  • For the Fallen Dreams, Legend, The Contortionist, and I Declare War
I've seen For the Fallen Dreams live once, and one time was all I needed to see that they put every ounce of energy they have into every single show they play. That band does not leave the stage until they've thoroughly destroyed it and gotten every person in the room into their music. It's an amazing performance, to say the least. And it doesn't hurt that their music is pretty awesome, too. Check out one of these shows if you can.
ThePRP announcement

  • The Ghost Inside, Reign Supreme, and Betrayal
This is a surprisingly short, confined tour in support of Returners, but I'm fairly confident that more tour dates will show up in the near future, probably as part of a larger festival tour or equally big event. If you are in the Northeast, though, these shows are definitely worth checking out. Melodic hardcore is the theme of this lineup, and it comes in good quantity as well.
ThePRP announcement

  • Danzig, All Shall Perish, and Toxic Holocaust
I announced Toxic Holocaust's appearance on these dates last week, and now All Shall Perish has been added to the same four dates. The deathcore squad fits into the lineup even less than Toxic Holocaust, but I trust that Danzig knows what he's doing, and it will all make sense in the end. The bigger question, though, is what's so significant about those four shows. It would have made more sense to put All Shall Perish on four separate dates to diversify the tour's overall lineup. But I'm not one to question the wisdom of one of metal's founding fathers. The short message here: go to these shows if you're not already going.
ThePRP announcement

  • Psychostick and Look What I Did
As comedic metal goes, there are definitely better bands out there than Psychostick. There are plenty of bands far worse than Psychostick too, so this tour is one that I'm not entirely enthused with, but not actively hostile towards, either. If you want some laughs and odd metal, these shows are the best place to go.
ThePRP announcement

Well, that's over and done with. Join me next week for a more standard-sized New & Noteworthy! And one last thing - due to the epic computer failure that I mentioned last week, I'm still recovering that huge release calendar I mentioned at the top. So if you know of any upcoming releases you'd like me to discuss, please let me know about them in the comments! Thank you all!

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