Clutch – Book of Bad Decisions

Like Neil Fallon (the legendary vocalist for Clutch, in case you somehow got lost and wondered onto this review without knowing that) on track “How to Shake Hands”, I know that what the people want is straight talk and no jive. So let’s get right down to facts. Fact: Clutch have never released a bad album. Even the somewhat denigrated Jam Room contains some straight bangers and the rest of their discography moves between good and great. Fact: no one has fun like Clutch. There’s just something about the mix of super deep American mythology (fact: “White’s Ferry” still gives me chills), their unwillingness to take themselves too seriously and the earnestness of their long career that is unmatched in the annals of rock n’ roll. Fact: Book of Bad Decisions is another excellent release from one of America’s best, and, for all their popularity and success, one of the most underrated, bands.

Pig Destroyer – Head Cage

New albums from Virginian grindcore legends Pig Destroyer are increasingly few and far between, so each new release is a genuine momentous occasion. This time around, in the six years since Book Burner (which was itself five years removed from Phantom Limb), the stakes grew higher for the band in maintaining their spot on grindcore’s pedestal; or the first time ever, the band have invited a bassist into the fold in John Jarvis, further expanding their lineup after additions of drummer Adam Jarvis replaced Brian Harvey prior to Book Burner and sampler/electronics guy Blake Harrison on Phantom Limb. Such a change in dynamic, both sonically and interpersonally, is bound to have an affect on the output, and when taking into account six years of artistic development and fan anticipation, the group’s latest effort Head Cage was bound to be heavily scrutinized.

Irreversible Mechanism – Immersion

Man, technical/progressive death metal’s really been having somewhat of a boom at the moment, huh? Rivers of Nihil, Obscura, Alkaloid, Monotheist, and Augury have all put out great albums this year, and 2017 saw some landmark drops as well with the likes of Archspire, NYN, Artificial Brain, and Cytotoxin. And as much as I enjoy name-checking bands to remind…

Windfaerer – Alma

There are a few genres of bands getting better. There’s the “I couldn’t stand this band before but is a true 180 degrees”. There’s the “they used to be good, then they sucked and now they’re back”. But my absolute favorite is those bands who released albums you almost really, really liked and ended up just being OK with. Their music was fine but it didn’t leave a mark with you. But now, now they’ve released something new and everything you wanted them to do differently on that previous release, everything you thought would make them great instead of just good, has been done and you’re blown away. That’s the story of my relationship with Windfaerer.

Skyharbor – Sunshine Dust

As international prog-metallers Skyharbor return with their third album, Sunshine Dust, we find them in a noticeably different shape to the band that released Guiding Lights nearly four years ago. With both vocalist Dan Tompkins and drummer Anup Sastry departing in June 2015, they were swiftly replaced by Eric Emery…

Krisiun – Scourge of the Enthroned

There are many paths towards the status of veteran in death metal. Some bands, like Mithras who recently came back to us, release classic albums and then disappear only to resurface years later, bearing the gospel of the riff once again. Others are second/third/fourth wave mavericks, incessantly dragging death metal into modernity like Misery Index. But there’s also a rare kind of beast out there, the death metal band that’s been around since the genre’s heyday and has also ceased to stop working, constantly releasing new music. In that category, few bands have the primacy of pedigree that Krisiun enjoy.