Man, 2017, y’all. We realize that it’s kind of our m.o. to be proponents of the whole “Golden Age of Metal” narrative and be incredibly positive about the consistently great level of stuff that is being put out from pretty much every part of the musical spectrum, but it’s such an easy thing to do when we are so constantly bombarded with new material that utterly consumes our attention. Even in months where one of us might not have as many new albums that really impressed them, without doubt there will be another one who could barely keep up because of all the superb releases from genres they pay close attention to. This April has certainly been no different in that regard, and we have a whole slew of top-notch albums to recommend to you all.
While tech death has seen a consistent stream of high-quality albums over the past few years, it’s stood for a little while now that the genre presently seems to lack a globally identifiable vanguard of sorts. Meanwhile, bands that have traditionally occupied this role have since gone down a series of different paths: Necrophagist lay…
The genre of technical death metal is tricky to do well. Oftentimes the songs are so densely arranged and executed that they are impenetrable and listeners may struggle for something—anything!—to latch onto. There are bands that do it well, and it’s probably time to start paying attention to Replacire, as they’re bringing some new perspectives and ideas to the genre. Their new album, Do Not Deviate, condenses some of the ideas from their debut, The Human Burden, into a heavily detailed monster. If listeners want a visual cue for what to expect, the bad ass cover art provides a perfect look. Robotic ferocity, Escher-esque labyrinths and the occasional mystical occult vibe–because, hey, why not? And, despite giving plenty for listeners to digest on early listens, this album practically screams that obsessive listens will reveal hidden layers and secrets.
Cynic is a legendary and influential band. Since news that drummer and founding member Sean Reinert has left the band, many fans have wondered what is on the horizon, if anything. While there’s still no word on new music from co-founder and guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal (who vowed to continue the band), late last year, an announcement from the realm of music archaeologists got nerd minds spinning. Uroboric Forms: The Complete Demo Collection would be released and fans would maybe get some answers about how the hell Cynic went from being in Death (which was basically a Chuck Schuldiner backing gig) to dropping an absolutely groundbreaking gem in Focus. Southern Florida in the late 80s and early 90s is hallowed ground in extreme metal. Would Uroboric Forms rewrite the narrative?
One of the unfortunate by-products of the CD era was the need to make albums longer and longer. It was as if bands thought that just because you could put almost 80 minutes of music on an album that you somehow should put 80 minutes of music on an album. Hour of Penance, who go all out on their (seventh) album, Cast The First Stone, harbor no such illusions, trimming the fat for a non-stop riff-o-rama of speed and brutality that tears through nine songs in just over half an hour.
The onslaught of the new wave of progressive metal continues. Enter Oni, a Canadian band who are surfing right along that wave. Their debut, Ironshore is just a solid assault of groovy modern prog (not to be confused with djent) that surprises in a plethora of ways. Occupying a space similar to bands like Textures, Persefone and Alustrium, this album should be a bar for up and coming bands to be measured against.
Last week we spoke with Brendan Brown of Infinite Density, Ne Obliviscaris and Vipassi fame, and today we’re joined by another very special guest. His bandmate in two of those projects, the inimitable Ben Boyle, contributed vocals to Infinite Density’s debut 2016 release Recollapse of the Universe, and guitars and composition on Vipassi’s debut EP Śūnyatā. As well as those two projects, Ben is the mastermind behind the experimental grind band A Million Dead Birds Laughing (got to be the best band name ever, am I right?), and is perhaps best known for his role as a guitarist and songwriter in the death metal band Hadal Maw. Every single one of these projects is creating art of the highest quality, and they absolutely deserve all of your time.
Today we’re lucky enough to be joined by the mastermind behind technical death metal band Infinite Density, Brendan Brown, also of Ne Obliviscaris and Vipassi fame. This year marked the release of Infinite Density’s debut album, Recollapse of the Universe, and it’s one of the best releases we’ve heard all year. Bearing strong thematic and musical similarities with bands such as Wormed and Inanimate Existence, the album showcases a varied vocal approach, massive grooves, ear worm melodies and a few nice surprises along the way too. It’s definitely going to sit pretty high on this writer’s end of year list, and we’re super excited that Brendan has made himself available to talk us through the album itself, how it came about, the Australian scene, and maybe even a word or two on his other projects.
As in everything, the trajectory of global culture has affected the ways in which we perceive and consume metal. While we won’t have the time to go in depth on concepts like “the West”, “globalism” and “cultural appropriation”, it’s safe to say that metal is too often viewed with a Western-tinged lens. Thus, Europe (western/northern Europe, that is) and the US are often viewed as the focal points of the community and, sometimes, as the only grounds in which events worth consider occur. However, the reality is far from that and is much more positive: metal, like any cultural community which has, is or will one day thrive, is a global phenomenon.
As summer comes to its annual, unfortunate end, it’s understandable if your attention span for new releases has slipped in favor of last-minute vacations and weekend escapades. Unfortunately, you picked one hell of a month to slack off, as August provided us with some of 2016’s most phenomenal releases yet. We don’t say that lightly – August has truly bestowed upon us an eclectic array of musical triumphs that had our staff scrambling for the time to digest it all. Our editors certainly share this sentiment and have compiled what may be our strongest group of Editors Picks to date. We’ve got recommendations ranging from post rock to trap-rap and doom metal to avant-jazz, so prepare to empty your wallets on your new favorite albums of the year.