It's officially Oscar-qualifying season in the world of metal. You heard me right. Of course, I don't mean movies, but doesn't the same principle apply to both mediums? Release your shit at the end of the year, stay fresh in people's minds for the award season. Because, honestly, who the hell remembers what was released in January? It's a smart tactic and we all benefit, as we're likely to see a steady stream of huge releases from now until December. Last week saw the release of four giant albums, and this week we see a ton more, of which include releases from Dethklok, My Dying Bride, The HAARP Machine, and Yakuza. So let's get to it. Here are all the new releases coming out today:
Dethklok – Dethalbum III
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Country: United States
Label: Williams Street
Listen: "Crush The Industry"
Buy on Amazon.com
I'll tell you something: I'm infuriated with myself for putting a comedy album by a cartoon band before every other (real) band on this list. The elitist in me cried injustice, but the businessman in me said otherwise; it would simply be naive to deny the fact that Dethklok's new album will probably outsell these others by twice as much combined. Are you all happy with yourselves? And I'll tell you something else: I generally hate Dethklok. The show isn't funny and the appeal for Disturbed fans is entirely too high. But I'm not here to hate, because after a few listens to Dethalbum III, my opinions have drastically changed. For all intents and purposes, this is real music (lyrics aside) — and to boot, it's one of the most enjoyable, entertaining, well-written and generally crushing albums I've heard all year. Seriously, if you, like me, have been feeling the significant lack of enjoyable melodeath recently, then I'm not sure I could recommend a better album. Hoglan absolutely destroys on drums, and Small's riffs and leads are melodic, catchy, and surprisingly atmospheric (as well as incredibly well-suited to the galactic theme of it all). Everything here is epic without being cheesy, smartly constructed, and entirely memorable; there's quite frankly not a moment of filler to be found (about the opposite of what I expected). I'll tell you one last thing: I came in here expecting to absolutely rip this apart and laugh maniacally for the duration, but I cannot for the life of me think of one negative comment or sharp remark. This album rocks, and is without a doubt Small's most mature, developed, and legitimate foray into the world of cartoon metal.
My Dying Bride – A Map Of All Our Failures
Genre: Melodic Death/Doom
Label: Peaceville Records
Listen: "Abandoned As Christ"
Buy On Amazon.com
Awhile back I reviewed My Dying Bride's previous release, the Barghest O' Whitby EP, and at the time I claimed it was impressive, enjoyable — a return to form, above all, and a worthy edition to their discography. Now, many months later, I can't recall even the beginning of a single riff; not one single moment. I literally have no idea what it sounds like. In retrospect, that review was prophetic, as was the subsequent fading from my memory; now, as I listen to A Map Of All Our Failures, I can easily imagine it following a very similar path. I'd be lying if I said the album wasn't good on some level — and it's certainly not bad — it's just entirely too sterile, emotionless, shuffling tediously through riffs with all the passion of a quadriplegic zombie. The crooning of the vocalist is incessant and monotone, the songs are conventional and lifeless; the melodies are dry and anti-climactic. I'm probably making it sound worse than it is. There was never a point where I was like "My God, shut it off!" and there were even some points where I was like, "hey, that was kinda cool," and chances are if you're a fan of MDB, you'll enjoy this to some extent. The ultimate problem, however, is that by the end of the last track I couldn't remember the first. Really, I couldn't remember any track that I wasn't currently listening to; hell, I couldn't remember the riffs that preceded other riffs. Enjoyable with a hint of blandness, but unmemorable to the most extreme degree.
The HAARP Machine – Disclosure
Genre: Technical/Progressive Metal/Djent
Label: Sumerian Records
Listen: "Pleiadian Keys"
Buy on Amazon.com
The fact that The HAARP Machine are on Sumerian Records and currently touring with The Faceless should really tell you all you need to know about their music. Not at all like their contemporaries in the similarly named haarp, this is the type of new-wave, digital, futuristic sci-fi/tech metal that lends itself to bands like The Contortionist, Periphery, Tesseract, etc.. (can I coin a new term here? NWOSACM. New Wave Of Superior Android Computer Metal). It's proggy, djenty, spacey, laser-precise and full of computer bleeps and bloops — half of the album sounds like it was recorded on the Starship Enterprise. And it's generally awesome. Disclosure is everything you'd expect and more, falling in line with the genres (seriously, it's a genre now) best efforts to date, pushing the limitations of progressive songwriting and technical ability. As is NWOSACM convention, clean vocals soar over trippy atmospherics and aggressive deathcore; the music plants itself firmly in the artistic realm of futurism. And to their credit, these guys take it even further than most; some of the riffs here sound literally like the unfurling of a computer program in musical form. My problem with most of the work in the NWOSACM is the production, which is generally and aptly machine-like and sterile. The same applies here, which is perhaps why I can't get into into the album as much as I'd like. But that small complaint aside, it's clear that The HAARP Machine have added another incredible album to what will inevitably be seen as the definitive style of metal for this generation.
Yakuza – Beyul
Country: United States
Label: Profound Lore
Listen: "The Last Day"
Buy on Amazon.com
I have tried so hard to get into this band. Seriously. Between everything I read, between the way I see their music described, between the amount of people who have recommended them to me; I was so confident I would enjoy Yakuza that I purchased their last album without ever hearing anything they'd ever done. That turned out to be a mistake, as I found Of Seismic Consequence to be one of the most tedious listening experiences in recent memory. Still, even in light of this, I went into Beyul with an open mind, and I'm happy to say I've been pleasantly surprised (though I still don't like the band to any real degree). Yakuza is undoubtedly at their best when they aren't playing metal; the lush, jazz-inspired, saxophone-laced clean passages, in connection with the gritty and soulful vocals, provide the albums every high point. And I mean every high point. Things generally fall apart the second any distortion kicks in (which it does, frequently and obnoxiously), and in these moments the band is hardly above your run-of-the-mill artsy-fartsy spiritual noise band kicking over amps in a garage. It's unnecessary and out of place, and manages to disrupt the flow of every carefully crafted clean section (though I'm sure on some super-metal level that's ultimately the point). Thankfully, on Beyul, the good parts largely outweigh the bad; everything here is infinitely better constructed and more memorable than on their previous album. It's a much smoother experience all around. So if you're in the mood to hear some generally weird shit that doesn't really make sense but occasionally sounds pretty good, Beyul is your go-to.
Buried In Verona – Notorious (Artery)
Crowned – Vacuous Spectral Silence (Seance)
Darsombra – Climax Community (Exile On Mainstream)
Heartist – Nothing You Didn't Deserve EP (Roadrunner)
Hibria – Blinded By Tokyo: Live In Japan CD/DVD (Cleopatra)
Illdisposed – Sense The Darkness (Massacre)
In Fear and Faith – In Fear and Faith (Rise)
Indesinence – Vessels Of Light And Decay (Profound Lore)
Lacrimosa – Revolution (End Of The Light)
Mournful Congregation – The June Frost Re-Release (20 Buck Spin)
Mournful Congregation – The Monad Of Creation Re-Release (20 Buck Spin)
Mournful Congregation – Tears From A Grieving Heart Re-Release (20 Buck Spin)
No Bragging Rights – Cycles (Good Fight)
Obelyskkh – White Lightnin' (Exile On Mainstream)
Stolen Babies – Naught (No Comment)