Unlike the festival calendar, the new release calendar is still scorching hot. There are an estimated 70 new releases scheduled to debut in the next six weeks, with plenty of time for more to be added to the list. I have a feeling I'll be re-living the insanity of early June all over again. So without further ado, let's get the ball rolling.
Next Week's New Releases
- At the Edge of Time by Blind Guardian - In the four years since the release of A Twist in the Myth, it would seem that Blind Guardian has been doing a lot of reading. According to an interview with vocalist/bassist Hansi Kürsch, most of the songs on the album are based on various writings, ranging from fantasy novels and Norse mythology to poems and political works by John Milton. Fans around the world have been waiting anxiously for this album, and it will definitely be worth the wait.
- Warp Riders by The Sword - The Texas quartet has made quite a name for themselves in the two years since Gods of the Earth was released. Multiple stints opening for Metallica on the World Magnetic Tour, a slot on the Texas Stage at the 2008 Ozzfest, and other tours with the likes of Machine Head, Lamb of God, Clutch, and more have transformed The Sword from underground fascination into mainstream success story. Warp Riders will surely extend the group's fanbase, with its spacey cover artwork and equally spacey lyrical themes. But am I the only that is reminded by this artwork of the Protoss Carrier from Starcraft?
- Invidious Dominion by Malevolent Creation - After over two decades together, Malevolent Creation is still just as intense and brutal as they were on The Ten Commandments. Invidious Dominion marks the return of original bassist Jason Blachowicz to the fold, which will likely only serve to make the album even more crushing. Add to it the amazing cover art done by Pär Olofsson, who has also worked with The Faceless and Immortal among others, and you've got one titanic package of death metal in this album.
- Zombie EP by The Devil Wears Prada - This EP has been teased, revealed, and then teased some more in the past six weeks. All the fuss is likely unnecessary, though - The Devil Wears Prada is so popular, they could have announced the EP the day before its release and it would still sell massively. Zombie is intended to tide fans over during the wait for the band's next full-length, but if these five songs are as good as the material on With Roots Above and Branches Below, then the fans will only become more ravenous for a new album.
- Heaven's Venom by Kataklysm - The creators of "northern hyperblast" are fast approaching their twenty year anniversary, and on their eleventh studio album, they're still at the top of their game. 2008's Prevail was an unstoppable opus of death metal fury, and if lead single "Push the Venom" is any indicator, Heaven's Venom will be even more destructive. If you missed seeing them on Ozzfest, catch them on tour with DevilDriver in the coming weeks to see the new musical onslaught delivered live.
- 7th Symphony by Apocalyptica - The most telling indicator of Apocalyptica's success is the star power of their guests on each successive album. 2007's Worlds Collide featured Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil, Corey Taylor of Slipknot/Stone Sour, Till Lindemann of Rammstein, and Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace, as well as the requisite appearance by Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. 7th Symphony gets even more mainstream, with Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, Shinedown singer Brent Smith, and Flyleaf vocalist Lacey Sturm all lending their skills. However, there's still plenty of metal assistance to be had - Lombardo returns for yet another cameo, and Gojira vocalist Joe Duplantier also adds his talents to one track.
- Blood in the Gears by The Showdown - On 2008's Back Breaker, The Showdown finally found the happy medium in their sound between heavy groove metal and catchy Southern rock. To fill the gaps in their lineup, the band added Destroy Destroy Destroy bassist Jeremiah Scott (who also produced both Back Breaker and Blood in the Gears), as well as Demon Hunter members Patrick Judge and Tim "Yogi" Watts (Watts left the band after the recordings were completed). The Showdown is on the rise very quickly, and Blood in the Gears could become their breakout album.
- Cursed by Ion Dissonance - 2007's Minus the Herd was a marked change in sound for Ion Dissonance. The Canadian quintet had previously played spastic mathcore similar to Converge. Minus the Herd shifted into a groove-based, Meshuggah-influenced sound that earned mixed reviews. Cursed continues the style shift, as the album is reported to feature 8-string guitars and the band's first use of clean vocals in their entire career. I sense a great disturbance in the Ion Dissonance fanbase, as if it were instantly split in half between those that appreciate this album and those that despise it.
- Thunder in the Sky by Manowar - This EP was sold during the "Death to Infidels Tour" in Europe last summer and has also been available through the band's online store, but is only now seeing an official release in stores. Thunder in the Sky is a prelude to Manowar's next studio album, which will be the first installment in "The Asgard Saga", their new multimedia collaboration with author Wolfgang Hohlbein. One can only guess what sort of grandiose, over-the-top power metal will be included on the new album.
- Degenerate by Trigger the Bloodshed - This album has been out in the UK since the middle of May, so it's nice to see it finally get released here as well. Trigger the Bloodshed specializes in technical brutal death metal, similar to Beneath the Massacre and The Red Shore. Their entire scene has an undying love for early Suffocation, and it shows very clearly in both lyrics and music. Pick up Degenerate if you want to feel like you're in a moshpit while strung out on speed.
- City of Fire by City of Fire - As if the members of Fear Factory didn't have enough side projects, City of Fire is a project conceived by Byron Stroud with two of his bandmates from the now-defunct group Caustic Thought. City of Fire also features Burton C. Bell on lead vocals, giving the group that much more potential recognition. Their music is much more groove-oriented and atmospheric than Fear Factory, leading to slightly greater accessibility. It remains to be seen just how much of a focus this will become for Bell and Stroud over time.
- A Sign of Sublime by Sarah Jezebel Deva - After a long history as part of Cradle of Filth, as well as fronting her own band Angtoria, Sarah Jezebel Deva is finally releasing an album of solo material. Her backing band contains a few familiar faces, including Cradle of Filth bassist Dave Pybus. The album itself covers numerous styles that display Sarah's full vocal capabilities. If you were a fan of her work in Cradle of Filth, check out this album to see what else she can do.
- Madness in Manila: Shadows Fall Live in the Philippines 2009 by Shadows Fall - This new DVD from the Massachusetts metalcore group will include footage of their performance at the Pulp Summer Slam in (you guessed it) Manila last summer. The promo poster for the event is more than a little weird, but one can't exactly fault the concert organizers for having odd taste in artwork. There's little information available regarding what else is on the DVD. However, anyone that has seen Shadows Fall live knows that it's an experience worth remembering, meaning that this DVD is worth the purchase price just for the concert footage.
Next Week: The asylum opens its doors to all those desiring shelter. I'll be first in line if I keep looking at the list of new releases for September. May the metal gods grant me serenity.