The artwork for the new Regurgitate Life record Obliteration of the Self may have drawn me in, but the music is what got me to pre-order. It’s bludgeoning death metal with the added bonus of being performed with the energy and exuberance of a hardcore punk record. Sometimes death metal records can feel so dull despite being technically impressive, but luckily Obliteration of the Self doesn’t fall into that trap. It helps that they incorporate elements of other genres, such as sludge and doom, to keep things from getting stale.
Zud are a band you’ve got to hear. In their best moments, they conjure all of the emotional weight of post-black metal with none of the pretense or artifice. However, let me be clear: this is not post-black metal. It’s dirty, raw, black metal in the style of Midnight, with a similarly gnarly guitar tone and and rasped vocals spat with surprising intelligibility. Despite the indecorous rawness, Zud’s spacey, squealing solos take their time to wail and scream with all they’ve got, building into absorbing climaxes laden with soul. Zud’s solos aren’t technically impressive, but they’re arranged with that casual sort of mastery where just the right note is struck at just the right time.
If the past few years are any indication, the album format has been on the rise in electronic music. This wasn’t always the case, as EPs had long dominated the landscapes of all its subgenres at least tangentially related to the dance floor. That still holds true today, but there’s definitely been a recent tendency of artists turning to the LP as a means of branching out and experimenting with their sound, and 2017 has been no exception. As a result, these past three months have already provided us with an array of stellar electronic albums. Below, I’ll cover some of my personal favorites.
Man, I love Blind Guardian. I love them so much.
For the last decade, Jute Gyte has been steadily pumping out albums, at least one per year, across various genres, from experimental black metal to ambient to power electronics. Known for this prolific nature, together with a tendency to reach as far into the ether for new sounds as possible and an…
It’s March of 1987. Anthrax has been around long enough to have released two other full-lengths that cemented the band as a fixture in the emerging thrash metal scene. The band had been in the studio recording after lengthy touring in support of Spreading the Disease. What was recorded and released would become one of their most iconic works. One which 30 years later they would be touring on once again to packed houses. That album would become a canonical work of, not just thrash, but all of heavy metal. Among the Living would go on to achieve Gold sales status in 1990 catapulting the band into the upper echelon of metal’s hierarchy and continues to find itself added to the collections of music fans today.
Witherfall may be the savior power metal has been looking for. The quartet (although currently a trio, due to the tragic death of drummer, Adam Sagan) plays technical and thrilling progressive power metal that is matched in quality only by a handful of veterans in the business. These guys do not sound like a new band and there’s good reason for that. All the members, except the bassist, have long resumes with power metal heavyweights like Iced Earth, White Wizard, Circle II Circle and Into Eternity. Even considering their extensive experience, their debut album, Nocturnes and Requiems, still passes expectations.
Jeremy Bolm and his band Touché Amoré have kept me good company lately as I’ve grappled with these questions under the red glow of cancer. Their album, Stage Four, detailing Bolm’s grieving process after his mother died of the same terrible illness afflicting my father-in-law, lives on a loop in my mind and heart now. The lyrics are honest, passionate and absolutely heartbreaking. Bolm’s incredibly vulnerable declarations of hurt, loneliness, regret and suffering are absolutely necessary and equally wonderful. I find myself comforted, listening in gentle communion, to a work of art that shares my grief brilliantly and empathetically.
By now you should have worked out I’m a bit of a one trick pony. If it’s not fast, filthy, coated in overdrive and violent then I’m probably not interested. The shit cookie just crumbles that way in 2017 pour moi. Should this not be an issue for you then boy, do I got some of the good good today. The violence comes from New Jersey this week, the meat and bass free pounding courtesy of fluoride (I dig on no capitals band names, more please).
Metal is a deeply saturated genre of music. The overwhelming glut of new albums that cross one’s path on a regular basis make it nearly impossible to absorb all of the new music being released. You can listen to hundreds of metal albums in a year and still kick yourself in the teeth for missing nearly every album on most metal publications’ year-end lists. Given this current state of affairs, it is not at all difficult to miss out on some really great music. Which is a shame, as well as the only logical explanation I have for why Swiss progressive metalcore aficionados Scars Divide aren’t absolutely annihilating the metal world right now.