Editor’s Note: Longtime reader Remi VL is a regular guest contributor to our Release Day Roundup posts! He submitted several of the albums listed below. Join his Facebook group for more recommendations.
Each month, we always seem to come to the same conclusion when it comes to our Editors’ Picks column: Friday release days open the floodgates and unleash a seemingly endless stream of quality new music. But while some of our Editors and Contributors sit down gleefully each week to dive into this newly stocked treasure trove, others find themselves drawing a blank at the end of the month due to the breakneck pace needed to keep up to date with what’s been released. Which brings us to this Heavy Blog PSA: a weekly roundup of new albums which pares down the week’s releases to only our highest recommendations. Here you’ll find full album/single streams, pre-order links and, most importantly, a collection of albums that could very well earn a spot on your year-end list. Enjoy!
Madlib – Sound Ancestors (instrumental hip-hop)
This was probably my most anticipated releases of the year entering 2021. I mean, one of the greatest producers in hip-hop history collaborating with one of the greatest producers in modern electronic music? There’s a VERY low chance that isn’t going to pan out. I’m honestly not sure how Madlib and Four Tet managed to blend their styles on Sound Ancestors, but I’m beyond stoked to find out.
Last Week’s Best Discovery: Yu Su – Yellow River Blue (ambient dub, downtempo)
Portrayal of Guilt – We Are Always Alone (blackened hardcore, screamo)
The first real heavy-hitting release date of the year also delivers what might hold up as the heaviest-hitting release by the end of the year. Blackened hardcore is a sub-genre that can illicit some of the most visceral feelings you can get from music. The bleak vileness of blackened vocals contrasts so menacingly with the sludgy brutality of the hardcore elements that comes together to make you feel like you’ve just suffered an extreme trauma event. Throw in a bit of old-school screamo, powerviolence and mathcore and you’ve really got a cauldron stirring full of emotional catharsis, and unique soundscapes.
With We Are Always Alone, Portrayal of Guilt look to build off their ferocious debut with a follow-up that’s even more nihilistic and menacing. They truly live on the edges of these sub-genres, with a sound that somehow feels both noisy and polished at the same time. The bolder production this time around augments some of the horror movie-soundtrack likeness and overall just terrifying sound. Not an album for the feint of heart, Portrayal of Guilt is my pick from what is overall a strong release day.
Biggest Surprise From Last Week: Raljarn – Practicing Death (progressive metal, post-metal)
Rostro Del Sol – Rostro Del Sol (jazz fusion, heavy psych)
Oh, I’m excited about this one! I’ve only heard the one single from Rostro Del Sol’s debut LP, and it’s quite the wild ride. On “Bop C Sketches,” the band takes the listener back in time to the early ’70s to the early days of progressive rock, jazz fusion, and funk. The bass and drums hold down the beat, flowing from a high intensity jazz beat, into a more loose, grooving, funk beat. All the while, the sax and keys/organ fill in all the gaps, the latter of which also trades dueling leads with a wild lead guitar player that would make Frank Zappa proud.
This is just one song. Rostro Del Sol, who are not in fact a bunch of middle aged men who have been doing this for decades, but a young crew from Mexico City, show talent well beyond their years! It’s obvious they grew up listening to a ton of classics like Frank Zappa and John McLaughlin, Funkadelic and Mandrill, Hendrix and Santana! You can also imagine some Black Sabbath and Deep Purple records going around too, as the music does have a slightly heavier bend.
All these influences thrown into a blender sure looks like it’s produced an exciting new band with amazing talent and an ear for a good groove.
Last Week’s Surprise: Fox Face – End of Man (garage punk)
Last Week’s Best Album: Here Lies Man – Ritual Divination (stoner rock, Afrobeat)
Trillionaire – Romulus (progressive alt-rock, post-hardcore)
The little bit of buzz that’s been building up around Trillionaire — largely based on them being billed a a semi-supergroup featuring current and ex-members of Revocation, KEN Mode, and Inter Arma — is pretty misleading. Rather than some kind of tech-thrash/sludge hybrid, Trillionaire practice a mix of prog and alt-rock with hefty doses of post-hardcore thrown in for god measure. Despite their “triple guitar attack”, the band’s sound is primarily centred around vocalist Renee Fontaine (no previous affiliations, as far as I can tell) whose wobbly vocals readily recall Glassjaw’s Daryl Palumbo. Instead of the forgettable (if solid) math-rock re-tread of Material Control, however, Fontaine’s performance is bolstered by an engaging prog-alt tapestry often reminiscent of mid-period Cave In, Coheed and Cambria, Refused and modern Baroness in equal measure. It’s a bold and promising new start for the band’s members and one they can be more than proud to hang their hats on.