With new releases from Serj Tankian and P.O.D. this week, I feel like I'm a 13-year-old outcast in a corner with a portable CD player all over again. What horrible memories have been conjured. But I do it all for you. So lets take a trip back to Middle School. Here are the new releases that come out today:
Serj Tankian – Harakiri
Genre: Hard Rock/Experimental
Country: United States
Label: Reprise Records
A little safer than his previous efforts, a little more pop-ish and upbeat, a bit more streamlined; but Harakiri proves that Serj Tankian still has a reason for making music. Whatever you think about Serj or SOAD, there's no denying that the man is genuine and his music even moreso. Despite building its foundations on a simplistic verse-chorus-verse structure, Harakiri is saturated with heart and emotion; infectious melodies are jam-packed into every single track; Serj's operatic voice, expressive as it's ever been. The "metal" moments are few and far between here, as most of the album is infinitely accessible, and as previously mentioned, heavy on the pop-rock. And despite the abundance of blatant angsty teenager political speech, there are still a few moments of lyrical brilliance that harken back to the SOAD days. Harakiri is nothing jaw-dropping or revolutionary (it's not even really that exciting), but for those of you who have followed Serj up to this point, you will not be disappointed.
Ereb Altor – Gastrike
Genre: Epic Viking Metal/Traditional/Doom
Label: Napalm Records
Ereb Altor have to be one of the most overlooked gems in the metal universe; initially starting as basically a Quorthon tribute band, paying homage to that style of post-Hammerheart epic viking metal, Ereb Altor quickly came into their own and became one of the most respected bands in the genre since. Their previous releases saw a combination of slow, minimalistic epic viking metal with touches of traditional doom; a crushing retro sound, decorated with Nordic mythology and fueled by the bombast of folk metal. Unfortunately, with their first record on a big label, it seems some things have been forced to change. Gastrike leaves most of the viking and doom elements behind for a polished, modern black metal approach. The epic melodic viking flourishes are few and far between; the gorgeous folk harmonies replaced instead by aggressive and dissonant tremolo riffs. The soaring clean vocals of old are almost non-existent. All of this comes together to create an album that is underwhelming and generic; melodic black metal as its been done a million times before. Where every Ereb Altor record previous has left an immediate impression, Gastrike fades from memory as soon as the final note hits.
Vintersorg – Orkan
Genre: Viking/Folk/Progressive Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Anyone who knows anything knows Vintersorg (the man, not the band). Between Borknagar, Vintersorg, and the countless other projects he's been a part of, the man has been a cornerstone of folk metal for nearly 20 years. Like all of his work, Orkan is fast-paced, progressive, keyboardy and melodic, quirky in all the right places and tinged with an epic, cosmic perspective. Synths and strings soar under bouncy riffs, through black metal progressions, around prog-metal structures; Vintersorg's raspy growls and earthy clean vocals continuously permeating the mayhem. After so many years, there's no dip in quality here; Orkan is as good of a release as Vintersorg has ever put out.
P.O.D. – Murdered Love
Genre: Hard Rock/Nu Metal
Country: United States
Label: Razor & Tie Records
Listen: "Murdered Love"
I literally have not listened to a single thing by this band since I was about 13, or whenever Satellites came out and was replayed ad nauseum on MTV. And I won't lie, I fucking LOVED it. So, probably like every P.O.D. album since then, Murdered Love has got the nostalgia factor going for it. But that's about all its got going for it. It's good to see that their singer still hasn't learned how to rap (but he sure does try. A lot.) And it's also good to see that every song is still based entirely on variations of its intro riff. And if I can give anything to the albums credit, it DID make me go listen to "Youth Of The Nation" and "Boom" directly after it was over. But god damn P.O.D., this album puts a retroactive stain on my already miserable childhood.
Chaosweaver – Enter The Realm Of The Doppelganger
Fastkill – Bestial Thrashing Bulldozer
From Nowhere – Agony
Ghostlimb – Confluence
Jar’d Loose – Goes to Purgatory
Lefutray – Last Breath
Master – The New Elite
Mercury Tide – Killing Saw
Monsterworks – Man: Instincts
Mortillery – Murder Death Kill
Parkway Drive – Home Is For The Heartless
Saint Diablo – Saint Diablo
The Shrine – Primitive Blast
Thick As Blood – Living Proof
Unconsecrated – Awakening in the Cemetery Grave
Warchest – Aftershock
Zombiefication – Reaper's Consecration