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THE WEEKLY INJECTION: New Releases Out Today – 10/9

No time to waste on silly introductions folks, this just may be the best line-up in the history of THE WEEKLY INJECTION. For serious. Every release here comes from an established and influential veteran of the scene. I'm talking Between The Buried & Me. I'm talking Daylight Dies. I'm talking Enslaved and Converge. Excited yet? If not, I suggest you leave this site and return to your regularly scheduled MTV programming. If yes, then head on in, and check out this weeks spectacular line-up of mammoth releases:

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Between The Buried & MeThe Parallax II: Future Sequence

THE WEEKLY INJECTION: New Releases Out Today – 10/9Genre: Technical/Progressive Metal/Deathcore
Country: United States
Label: Metal Blade Records
Listen: "Telos"
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Most metal fans of this era are aware of one thing; love them or hate them, every BTBAM album is still something to behold. There are enough musical ideas here, in just one album, to span another bands entire discography — and this of course, is both a gift and a curse. Colors took me years to fully appreciate; The Great Misdirect took me many months, and here I've only had The Parallax II for a few weeks. Regardless, for the sake of you the reader, I will try to summarize my thoughts in a coherent manner. My favorite parts of any BTBAM record have always been the lush, clean, proggy parts, and so I'm sad to say that they've "trimmed the fat," so to speak, leaving behind almost no trace of the extended clean sections found on TGM (there are still plenty, but they usually leave as quickly as they come). Instead, The Parallax II is entirely more in line with the bands earliest work; spastic, neurotic, dissonant, thrashy and violent; an endless and often indistinguishable barrage of riffs. This gives the songs more urgency and focus, but at the same time, given how the band has progressed, it tends to seem immature and lazy (relative to BTBAM level virtuosity). To me, it's a regression. Others may disagree. Instead of grandiose clean sections, Parallax II makes its case by working these melodic ideas into the very fabric of the distorted chaos itself. Still, you won't find any moments that even begin to approach the epic bombast of the bands previous work; moments like the chorus to "Sun Of Nothing," the ending of "Selkies," or the middle of "Disease, Injury, Madness." In other words, The Parallax II is largely missing the tension between savage chaos and beautiful majesty that makes BTBAM great. The build-ups are infinitely weaker and the climaxes hardly seem worth it. Really, the only form of progression I see is in the sparing use of symphonic arrangements, which do provide some of the bands most spectacular and visionary moments yet.

I also don't enjoy the disconnect between concept and music here; conceptually, the album is weighty, philosophical, and darkly contemplative — a theme perfectly captured by Parallax I, but one that seems out of place against the whimsical, blunt, testosterone-fueled stylings of Parallax II (even the ending is horrifically lackluster, given the grand concept and compared to previous closers in "White Walls" and "Swim To The Moon"). All of that aside, the proggy parts are proggier, with some of them even venturing into Dream Theater territory (something I can appreciate), the quirky parts are quirker (they've progressed from hoe-downs to surf music), and this is still an excellent album of undeniable genius. I openly acknowledge that there are amazing moments here ("Lay Your Ghosts To Rest" is easily one of the best songs the band has ever done), it's just that I'm having a hard time finding ones that stick. And given the nature of the music and my past experiences, it may be awhile before I do. So in typical, schizophrenic BTBAM fashion, I will say that Parallax II is potentially their best album but also probably not as good as Colors. Deal with it. Obviously it's worth a listen either way.

Daylight DiesA Frail Becoming

THE WEEKLY INJECTION: New Releases Out Today – 10/9Genre: Melodic Death/Doom
Country: United States
Label: Candlelight Records
Listen: "Infidel"
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Dismantling Devotion is arguably one of the best death/doom releases of the 2000's, and so despite the less effective effort that was Lost To The Living, Daylight Dies still hold a place of great significance in the metal world. This new one is an interesting beast, eschewing the deeper, drawn-out atmospherics of previous albums in favor of a more straightforward and riff-centric approach. The album works best when it strikes a combination between both styles; the huge, metallic riffs ripping through dark and unexpected chord changes, every palm mute jarring and sinister, every cymbal crash like the shattering of some ominous stained-glass mural. When they're on point, these elements come together to create something lush and melancholic, an interwoven blanket of sound, entirely too comforting in its misery. There are moments, however, when they don't quite mesh… and these make up the majority of the albums weak points; when guitar solos start to sound typical, riffs uninspired, acoustic sections forced. A Frail Becoming, to me, sounds like two different bands battling for the same disc space; on the one side is a fairly typical hard-rock/metal band with heavy riffs, ripping solos and streamlined composition; on the other is a progressive doom band that's just yearning to unleash its sprawling, textured, ethereal epics. On Dismantling Devotion, the latter band won out. On A Frail Becoming I'm afraid this isn't the case, and too many moments fall victim to cliche, repetition, and a striving for accessibility; faults punctuated by vocals that are distractingly loud in the mix. A good album, but nothing special, and certainly not anywhere near the band's best.


THE WEEKLY INJECTION: New Releases Out Today – 10/9Genre: Progressive Rock/Black Metal/Psychedelia
Country: Norway
Label: Nuclear Blast
Listen: "Veilburner"
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Anything spacey and proggish is usually my jam, but for some reason I just cannot get behind the hype of any recent Enslaved material (their old stuff is incredible, naturally). Vertebrae was the last album I enjoyed from these guys, and even that album was difficult to sit through at points. Stuff's just boring, man. Boring and repetitive; every album and every song since then has essentially been the same. And it's unfortunate, because the ideas are excellent, the musical sensibilities are unparalleled, the experimentation is bold; but Riitiir, like its predecessors, lacks intensity. It lacks conviction. It lacks LIFE. For example, the album's opener "Thoughts Like Hammers" has a plethora of ideas and atmospheres that I really want to love (and kind of do anyway), but it just plods and plods along without any sense of build or urgency. Every song is like some giant musical construct; some unfathomable achievement of musical architecture, it's just that Enslaved have no idea what to do with these structures once they're built. They fade from memory as soon as they're out of sight. Of course, this doesn't stop me from staring in awe while I can see them, and these fleeting moments are appreciated and enjoyable. Still… the verdict? Plenty of style, not enough substance. Melodies, vocals, and chords that are as completely gorgeous as they are vacuous.

ConvergeAll We Love We Leave Behind

THE WEEKLY INJECTION: New Releases Out Today – 10/9Genre: Hardcore
Country: United States
Label: Epitaph Records
Listen: Full Album Stream
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I'm a little out of my element here; this I will admit. I have never been a fan of hardcore, and despite reading about Converge for years, have never actually listened to them. Until now. So while part of me feels completely unqualified to write about such an influential band in a genre that I don't understand, there's also a part of me that recognizes the universal greatness in All We Love We Leave Behind. Here I can comment on what, to me, sets Converge apart from the myriad of hardcore carbon copies; the typical characteristics are here: the insanity, the neurosis, the musical schizophrenia, the violent dissonance, the frenetic riffage and the mathematically challenging rhythmic patterns. But Converge utilize these in such as a way as to create something that is greater than just the sum of its parts; there is a texture here, subtle melody, an atmosphere, a deep emotion expressed and a passionate statement being made; this is musical violence, but it is interconnected and purposeful and deliberate. Unlike other bands in the genre, it's not noisy and chaotic merely for the sake of it, but rather because that's what it must be. I don't want to sound over-dramatic, nor do I want to make it seem like Converge have suddenly made me see the light of hardcore; I haven't had a revelation of any such kind. But I'll call good music when I see it, and while this may not be my thing, I can imagine this being on any number of year-end lists. It's just that good, and from what I've read (I can't say one way or the other), may just be the band's absolute best. 

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