Well, we took a week off here at The Weekly Injection, (and by that I mean, I took a week off, and only the new Cryptopsy came out last week, and they're all Unspoken King and gay like now so nobody cares, so I don't want to hear your shit), but now we're back and we're back big. For obvious starters: Devin Townsend's highly-anticipated Epicloud has finally been unleashed (and I apologize in advance for hating everything you love, but someone has to do it). And that's not all; check out equally anticipated releases from Ensiferum and Haarp, along with an utterly crushing surprise from Italian-metallers Ufomammut. Here are all the new releases coming out today:
Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud
Label: InsideOut Music
Listen: Full Album Stream
I'll be honest here: I'm not as big of a Devin Townsend fan as some other people around these blogosphere parts. I'd hardly consider myself a "fan" at all, though I do make a point of listening to everything the man releases, as his music so often lends itself to pleasant surprises. As for his recent work, well, Ki had its moments; Addicted was pretty awesome; Deconstruction was nigh unlistenable and Ghost worked well as a sleeping-aid (which was arguably the point). So now you know where I stand. And from this completely elitist and unreasonable vantage point, Epicloud is, for all intents and purposes… not interesting. It's Addicted without the edge or the intensity; all pop, no metal. Call me cliche, question my sexual insecurities, but the amount of frolic-inducing, pseudo-spiritual, new-wave happiness here is utterly disgusting; beware the rainbows and flowers that will bleed forth from your speakers; defend against the sound of harmonious diversity and laughing children that will attempt to warm your metallic heart. And it's all just so simple and boring — frustrating, even, that despite his virtuosic technical abilities, Devi continues to rely on the endless repetition of generic chord progressions and bottom-string chuggy notes at a tepid mid-tempo pace. Don't get me wrong; I don't think he's "selling out;" DT makes exactly the kind of music he wants, exactly when he wants to make it, and I have no doubt that this is exactly the type of album he wanted to create (he's said as much). But it's just gone too far; it's overkill. Some of these songs belong on Top 40 radio stations sandwiched between Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj (see: "Save Our Now"). There are many highlights, of course, as the man is incapable of making anything completely horrible, and several moments of epic bombast and wall-of-sound majesty make the album tolerable if not just familiar. Bottom line: if you love Devin Townsend, you'll love this. But for those of you on the fence, such as myself, I'd advise you to steer clear.
Ensiferum – Unsung Heroes
Genre: Folk Metal
Label: Spinefarm Records
Listen: "In My Sword I Trust"
Despite being completely bored to tears by "In My Sword I Trust" and "Burning Leaves," the two songs that hit the internet pre-release, I went into Unsung Heroes with an open mind, as Ensiferum are one of my go-to bands for epic folk metal. I really wanted to love this, I did; unfortunately, what I heard in those two songs –the sound of an uninspired band writing paint-by-the-numbers metal– is characteristic of the album at large. Unsung Heroes is not bad by the standard definition, but it is perhaps something worse: unmemorable, underwhelming, boring, tedious, mediocre, bland. Superficial "folk" melodies play out over standard chord progressions; enter cheesy cinematic string effects and chanted vocals and bouncy drum beats, cut with medieval lute-sounding acoustic sections and galloping timpani. Rinse and repeat. Pad endlessly with unneeded repetition. And by God, this could be the slowest folk metal album ever recorded; I can only recall a handful of moments that seemed to move above a slow crawl. Lethargic is a good word — this is lethargy in musical form. The band is phoning it in and they know it, and they probably know that we know it, and it seems as if they don't care in the slightest. Unsung Heroes is a folk metal album void of all the genuine passion, spirit, and energy that comes as a prerequisite for the genre, and personally one of my biggest let-downs of 2012.
Haarp – Husks
Genre: Sludge/Doom Metal
Country: United States
Label: Housecore Records
Haarp (or haarp, as they prefer), are a band that play an enticing mix of filthy sludge with a hardcore twist; a grinding, metallic abomination of melancholic doom, guttural dissonance, and violent but contemplative riffage that all sits at a level just slightly above pure bottom-end bellowing. This music is not for everyone at all times, and while I found myself nodding off at several points throughout their long and meandering compositions, I will say that I still think this is a good record; great in certain regards, but there's still some fine-tuning to be had. The vocals are utterly brilliant; each scream seemingly traceable to every genre of extreme music at once, and it's a good thing too, because they wind up being the focal point of most of the album. The music itself lacks a singular vision, blurring together in a kaleidoscope of riffs that pull from the serpentine dissonance of bands like Deathspell Omega while remaining rooted in the incomprehensibly slow and blues-tinted genres of sludge and doom/psychedelia. And this is where Husks lost me for a bit; when the riffs are good, they're damn good. The melodic flourishes are marvelous and exciting. But for the majority of the album, we're treated to a blob of indistinguishable and uninteresting riffs that repeat endlessly into oblivion. Like I said, this is a good album, and with a little sharpening of focus and more cohesive songwriting, haarp could be on to one hell of a formula.
Ufomammut – Oro: Opus Alter
Genre: Psychedelic/Stoner/Doom Metal
Label: Neurot Recordings
Ufomammut are usually brought up in any discussion concerning "the best Italian metal bands," and for good reason; these dudes are producing some of the trippiest, heaviest, most spaced-out and mind-bending metal of modern times. This is 70's drug music wrapped in a shiny 21st century coat; pure psychedelia enhanced by the type of crushing low-end, fuzz-saturated rumblings that have only recently come about. In many ways, Oro: Opus Alter, the second "Oro" album in a series of two, is a call-back to the prog/electronic/avant-garde phase that swept Europe in the 70's. Glitchy noises, computer sounds, sci-fi soundboards and swimming flanger effects provide the background to what are truly colossal compositions; riffs with the stature of elephants come trampling in from every angle, distortion swells, a screaming voice fades in, cuts through the wall of sound, leaves as quickly as it came. Truly, this is drug music in every sense of the word; but make no mistakes, this is awesome even if you aren't high (the music will melt your brain just fine). The artistry here is present in every note and every subtle effect; in every volume swell and dynamic change; in every moment of silence that offers sweet relief from the suffocating haze. A gigantic album that is barely contained by the disc it's on, and a masterful end to Ufomammut's crowning double-album achievement. I'm sure this one will be making a few year-end lists come December.
Abstracter – Tomb of Feathers (The Path Less Traveled)
Becoming The Archetype – I Am (Solid State)
Bombs Of Hades – The Serpent's Redemption (Pulverised)
Corrosion Of Conformity – The Cursed Remained Cursed (Candlelight)
Down – Down IV Part 1: The Purple EP (ILG)
Eugenic Death – Crimes Against Humanity (Heaven and Hell)
Evil Entourage – The Opposition (Chaos)
Freitod – Regenjahre (Van)
Hexvessel – No Holier Temple (Svart)
I Am I – Event Horizon (Plastichead)
Kalopsia – Amongst the Ruins (Godeater)
Legacy Of Disorder – Last Man Standing (Black Orchard)
Liv Kristine – Libertine (Napalm)
Locrian & Christoph Heemann – Locrian & Christoph Heemann (Handmade Birds)
Norska – Norska (Brutal Panda)
Obscenity – Atrophied in Anguish (Apostasy)
Projected – Human (Yaya Papu)
Rabbits – Bites Rises (Good To Die)
Seremonia – Seremonia (Svart)
Vision Divine – Destination Set To Nowhere (Armoury)
Vision Of Disorder – The Cursed Remain Cursed (Candlelight)