As we alluded to in our announcement last week, Heavy Blog is taking a step back from covering much of the day-to-day goings-on of the metal community at large, and this includes new tracks that bands drop. To be honest, we were pretty shoddy at best at covering new tracks like that in a timely manner anyway. That isn’t at all to say that we’re not still deeply interested in and invested in listening to new music as it comes out and giving our thoughts though. So in the interest of that, we’re starting up a new weekly column to round-up all of the singles and new tracks from the past week dropped by bands we cover. There may end up being some overlap between this and other posts from the week (Jimmy already gave his initial thoughts on the new Coheed and Cambria), but consider this our weekly mix to help keep you all on top of the latest releases from across the metallic and progressive spectrums. Ready? Let’s get singled out!
Chelsea Wolfe – “After the Fall”
With less than a month remaining until listeners can finally enter into Chelsea Wolfe‘s Abyss, the goth songstress has unveiled “After the Fall,” her third pre-album tantalizer. More comparable to the electronic tinged “Carrion Flowers” (listen here) than Chelsea’s channeling of Neurosis on “Iron Moon” (listen here), this track may be the most intriguing of the three. Chelsea’s vocals fall somewhere between the quirk of Björk and the deadpan delivery of Romy from The XX, with the former comparison seeming especially true due to the choppy vocal effects reminiscent of Death Grips treatment of Björk’s voice on Niggas On the Moon. The track’s electronic edge ebbs and flows, beginning in an eerie haze before erupting into a burst of intense sonics, again calling to mind Björk at her darkest moments. If these three singles are any indication of Abyss‘ overall package, this may be Chelsea’s most eclectic project yet. Abyss will arrive on August 7th via Sargent House.
Children of Bodom – “Morrigan”
Children of Bodom, love them or hate them, are one of the quintessential power/melodic death that so many of grew up with and still harbor a great deal of respect for to this day. The cheesy leads, the influential grooves, and the furiously fast riffing all made a lot of modern musicians what they are today, some of us at Heavy Blog included. It’s always interesting to see the rise and fall (and possibly another rise) of bands. That’s why it’s really incredible to see yet another Children of Bodom album on the way. I Worship Chaos is the upcoming album from Bodom and is due out later this year via Nuclear Blast Records. It’ll be their ninth studio album and their first without Roope Latvala, who left the band earlier this year. That means that Alexi Laiho has handled all guitar parts, both lead and rhythm.
“Morrigan” isn’t exactly an interesting track and is certainly nothing special as a lead single for the upcoming album, but it’s solid modern Children of Bodom music, especially after their hefty dip from 2005’s Are You Dead Yet? up until the surprisingly catchy Halo of Blood in 2013. Bodom fans may wanna give this a listen if they’re still following the band. Even Bodom fans of years past may want to peep this, because it’s always nice to know that some acts are still going strong.
Coheed and Cambria – “You Got Spirit, Kid”
Coheed and Cambria have taken a bit of a left turn and decided that their latest album, The Color Before the Sun, will not be a concept album. This announcement had a brand new single attached to it called, “You’ve Got Spirit,Kid.” This album is from front man Claudio Sanchez’ point of view, and if this single is any indicator, it is a viewpoint that I’m excited to hear more about. With a killer guitar hook that comes back throughout the song, Claudio’s dramatic vocal performance and overall fun vibe, this track seems to have it all. The lyrics pull no punches and are more than likely aimed at an influential figure who Claudio thinks should be put in his place, as they proudly declare that “Nobody gives a fuck who you are.” The phrase is followed by a catchy and silly melody that only reinforces the fact that the subject of this song is a complete joke. Everything comes together to hammer this songs message home in an interesting way and closes out with an almost Pink Floyd-esque and moonlit guitar jam outro. This track has more than enough spirit to convince me that just because the concept changes, doesn’t mean that the band will stop delivering consistently quality music.
Dead Letter Circus – “While You Wait”
Following an Australian radio release earlier last week, Dead Letter Circus have released their newest single, “While You Wait” along with a music video with a clear Orwellian theme running throughout the clip. Cogs in machines and rows upon rows of marching, faceless figures paint strong mental images of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, with the general message of bolstering awareness and overcoming government oppression/wrongdoings present throughout. The most outstanding aspect of this song, aside from the clear Cog/Karnivool influence, is the incredibly clear production; allowing each individual melody and harmony room to be heard. Chris Lord Alge has absolutely nailed this band’s sound, but is anyone honestly surprised? The most requested and played song on the radio station it was premiered on, this single is yet another shining example of Australia’s quietly flourishing progressive music scene. Dead Letter Circus’ new album, Antithesis, is currently available for preorder and will be released in Australia and New Zealand the 14th of August, via UNFD.
The Dear Hunter – “Waves”
In my mind The Dear Hunter has always essentially been two bands. There’s TDH the heavy progressive and cerebral rock group, and then there’s TDH the more accessible alt-rock/pop group. At no point has this division been made more clear than in the first two singles released off of the band’s heavily-anticipated Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise. Whereas lead single “A Night on the Town” displayed all of the calling cards of Casey Crescenzo’s more intricate and progressive compositional prowess, “Waves” follows a model much closer to the bulk of the band’s previous non-canonical album, Migrant, which saw Casey explore some of his poppier and more radio-friendly tendencies. Like the most successful “pop” tracks off of that album though, “Waves” (which premiered over at Billboard) manages to utilize traditional pop structures and chords while weaving in other elements that elevate it to much more than your average radio alt-rock single. As expected, the string-saturated arrangement is gorgeous and swells like the track’s waves crashing over two haphazard lovers, and my god, that voice. The man has a voice.
I actually had the privilege of hearing a solo acoustic version of this track when the band came through in the spring performing Acts II & III, and I knew instantly that this was going to be a huge hit for them. Few people are able to consistently write huge choruses and refrains that instantly turn into earworms like Casey can, and it’s his blending of the immediate with nuanced arrangement and attention to detail that places even the simplest and poppiest tracks in the band’s catalog several cuts above others trying to hit a similar audience. The question now is, of the two singles released, which will prove to be more representative of the album as a whole? I’m of course pulling for the heavier prog side to win out, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if there were a few more tracks like “Waves” sprinkled throughout to provide some lighter contrast to the conflict and misery that our protagonist is sure to encounter in this chapter of the story.
Act IV is out September 4th via Equal Vision Records.
Numbers – “The Winds At Bay”
Numbers have been a name on my list ever since I got handed their album for review, last year. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when listening to it, since I was already jaded to metal bands who described themselves as “eclectic”. However, what finally blasted from my speakers blew me away: the album was part ultra-aggressive metalcore, part thoughtful modern progressive metal and part pop. Yes, pop. Singer Kyle Bishop, also the mind behind the band in many ways, is a true virtuoso: he has a range which delves the depths of metal but can also sweet, electronic high notes. The album also has one of the best tracks of 2014, “Undertow”, a sprawling, insanely varied progressive masterpiece.
Needless to say, since then the band have been on my radar. Their social presence is also a delight to follow, as they focus on content and spread music. Imagine my joy then when I heard that a new single was out! “The Winds at Bay” was apparently left on the editing floor of the Three sessions and has now be released for our listening pleasure. And pleasure it is; I’ve missed this band so much! This song has everything that made me fall in love with Three: intelligent break downs beneath soaring synths, Bishop’s voice in the guttural and the elevated, and just damn good musicianship and composition skills. The quiet outro at the end, with its faint strobes of kick drum, reminded me of “Undertow” and briefly displayed the softer side that this band can perform so well.
All in all, this single can be summed up as: not enough! It’s a great piece and one that simply whetted my appetite for more, more, more. We need a full release, right about now. Hear that, Bishop?
Riverside – “Discard Your Fear”
Porcupine Tree-worship is basically a genre: the amount of band that try to echo the darker, alt-rock vibe of the seminal ensemble are as numberless as the stars. However, one name has always emerged from the hum-drum, triumphant. That name is Riverside. Over their, by-now, long career they have proved that they are much more than that: their albums have rich variety and sounds which challenge and expand the progressive metal/rock shell we might try to confine them to. Specifically, they have shown an incredible propensity for rage and speed. One of their most overlooked albums, Anno Domini High Definition, is a prime example of that: following on the heels of their celebrated, concept-trilogy, it was a surprisingly fast and spiteful cry against the modern world. They have since returned to their most established, ponderous sound, but I can’t help but find myself longing for those rage-laced sounds.
It appears that we’re about to get a hybrid creature, one of my favorite musical directions. From the first second of “Discard Your Fear”, one thing is apparent: the prominent bass tone of Anno Domini High Definition, perhaps the trademark of that album, is back. However, it’s not coupled with the ferocity and progressiveness that it supported on that album. Instead, some of their older, creepier, more depressed sound is the flavor of the day. And that’s great; the joining of the two elements works really well to create a haunting and robust, semi-lullaby that bears well the weight of their distinct vocalist, the genius that is Mariusz Duda. That man can do no harm in my books, with multiple side-projects that span the landscape between depressing electronica and demented, heavy progressive metal. His voice is again very much the lead here, although a certain breakdown takes the cake near the end of this track. This is again a surprise, since we’ve never really heard Riverside utilizing this instrument: the slowing down of rhythm, the coupling of bass and guitar and the sheer heavyness which results.
Needless to say, I am insanely expectant of this release, which very much came from left field for me. It sounds like it could possibly be another reinvention of sound for these veterans and, judging by the last time they pulled something like that off, it’s going to be brilliant.
Rivers of Nihil – “Monarchy”
In support of their upcoming August release, Monarchy, technical progressive blackened death metal juggernauts Rivers of Nihil have put out a brand-spankin’-new track for our listening pleasure, which premiered over at No Clean Singing. And what a pleasure it is: throughout the track, all of the band’s instrumentalists demonstrate the extreme proficiency that makes the technical side of their sound so exciting and refreshing, while at the same time throwing down some absolute crazy grooves that roll over and crush all in their path. The vocals corrode the track like acid rain, spitting their poison from above, as phosphorescent guitar solos shine brilliantly through the rhythmic murk.
Devastating guitar groovage is all well and good, but the bass is what really brings this whole track together. Carried by an incredibly warm and vibrant tone, the 4-stringed wonder instrument plods along vehemently, uniting all the other instruments into the band’s typical abrasive aural assault. From the introductory chords tied together by a slithering bass riff to the final groovy breakdown at the ending, the lower string register is the song’s driving factor. The drums bash and crash away in the background as well, bringing the package onto a whole new level with their frenetic blast-beats and feverish fills. Don’t let all this gushing about the rhythm section lead you to believe the guitars are less than stellar, however: throughout the track, twirling solos and galaxy-crushing riffage complete the package.
If the whole album is this good, this could easily be a contender for my album of the year. Monarchy comes out on August 21st through Metal Blade Records.
Scale the Summit – “Stolas”
With two years passed since The Migration, Scale the Summit are now on the verge of releasing their fifth album, aptly titled V. “Stolas” is our first taste of the upcoming instrumental progressive rock/metal act’s release and it lovingly captures the spirit of what Scale the Summit is—thoughtful and interesting “adventure” music. The track isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s definitive enough of the band that new listeners might become interested in the act and longtime fans will bob their heads with the catchy rhythm and bass lines. Letchford shows off his flair, as per usual, as the lead guitarist of the band with some tasty licks. The song ends in a notable “this leads into the next track” fashion, but it seems we will have to wait and see. You may also take notice that this is our first listen at the latest addition to Scale the Summit, as J.C. Bryant can be heard manning the kit to great effect. Overall a solid track from the band and enough to whet appetites all across the net.
Soilwork – “The Ride Majestic”
The wait for new Soilwork has been damn-near unbearable after they released their absolutely epic double album The Living Infinite in 2013. It’s hard to believe that Soilwork could top themselves after releasing such an incredible and ambitious album, but if the freshly released title track from their forthcoming album The Ride Majestic is any indication, it seems that all Soilwork have in store for us is more greatness. The track is chock full of all the Soilwork staples: soaring lead melodies, stomping riffs and that undeniable groove that the Swedes have become known for. Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Soilwork song without a sweeping and infectious chorus from Bjorn “Speed” Strid, and “The Ride Majestic” has this as well. This is the first we’ve heard of their highly anticipated new album, and I for one can’t wait to hear more.
Windhand – “Two Urns”
A lot of great new songs were premiered this week, but I nearly shat myself when Windhand premiered “Two Urns.” It’s no secret that I absolutely adore this band, and after hearing this new track, I am salivating even more uncontrollably for their new album, Grief’s Infernal Flower. I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is about Windhand that I love so much: perhaps it’s their penchant for playing smokey, bowel-rumbling, doom-soaked riffs, or maybe it’s the acid-induced psychedelic solos, or it could be Dorthia Cottrell’s unmatched and soulful croon. Whatever the reason, this band absolutely hits my musical sweet spot, and “Two Urns” showcases pretty much all that is great about Windhand. Grief’s Infernal Flower marks the third album for these Virginia-based rockers, and if anything, it’s only going to further solidify Windhand’s case for being one of the best, if not the best, stoner/doom bands on the scene. Top it off with an absolutely massive production courtesy of legendary Seattle producer Jack Endino, and you have a very strong contender for album of the year, and possibly, as bold a statement it may be, one of the best of the decade.