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!
Timo Ellis – Death Is Everywhere (stoner pop)
Anyone who has been following Timo Ellis’ Netherlands knows well enough that the only thing you know from another album is that it’ll be fuzzy, it’ll be noisy, and be ready for whatever curve ball he’s going to through this time around! I’ve been a fan since 2016’s Audubon landed just outside my Top 10 for the year and has been an album I’ve revisited often since, although his output has certainly kept me in new music since then.
The couple of singles released for this new solo EP have a bit of an Era Vulgaris QOTSA vibe, which is when the band was finding that middle ground between extremely catchy, radio friendly rock, and pushing the limits on what their sound could be.
I’m not 100% sure, because I can’t play anything to save my life, but I get the impression that it’s mostly bass and drums on this album, with maybe some keys/synths here and there. The tone is nuts. Pop hooks buried under layers of fuzz. Vocal harmonies. His ever-present, and very excellent effects layered yell that punches up a chorus! If the second half of the album is as good as what I’ve heard, this will rival Audubon has his best work!
Last Week’s Biggest Surprise & Best Album: Kaupe – Cognitive Dissonance (instrumental prog metal)
Five the Hierophant – Through Aureate Void (avant-garde sludge metal, doomjazz)
Who knew one of the heaviest albums of the year so far would have so much saxophone? London-based Five The Hierophant follow-up to 2017’s Over Phlegethon is sounding even more ambitious, dark and genre-defying. While admittedly I’ve only had the pleasure of listening to their 12-minute preview single “Leaf in the Current,” a lot can be surmised of the direction the rest of the 5 tracks will take. Densely heavy and sludgy post-metal riffs and drumming that roll along crushing everything beneath them amidst a drone-like atmosphere are flanked by jazzy, improvisational saxophone that sends you on a psychedelic journey into the void. It’s like the candle-lit inner-circle of a venn diagram of Cult of Luna, Oranssi Pazuzu, and The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble. Throw in some use of experimental instruments like a musical saw, zither, and a wide range of percussion, and you’ve got the prime makings of a bizarrely compelling doomjazz album.
Last Week’s Biggest Surprise: DECOUPLR – Digital Bonfire (trip-hop, neo-soul)
Kurushimi – Chaos Remains (avant-garde jazz, grindcore)
Naked City is one of those albums you’ll always remember discovering. My friend played me “The James Bond Theme” without context, leaving me on an island to absorb a bastardized version of the film classic. Somehow, the rest of the track list is even more insane, and it’s become one of my favorite avant-garde albums as a result. So when the FFO for Chaos Remains included Naked City — along with Painkiller, another personal Zorn favorite — I was instantly sold. Having now heard the whole thing, I’m pleased to report that Kurushimi deliver. The band blends grind, free jazz, and noise (rock) to excellent effect, very much in the tradition Zorn laid out but delivered with a more refined, modern flair.
Last Week’s Best Discovery: Ryan Van Haesendonck – Vauville (ambient, field recordings)
Violblast – Lazarus Abandoned (thrash metal, death metal)
The follow-up to one of the best thrash albums of 2019 doubles down on the more extreme elements of Violblast’s sound, injecting their already potent death-thrash hybrid with some raw black metal energy and accentuated death metal textures. Don’t worry though, riffs and grooves remain aplenty, rendering Lazarus Abandoned another excellent addition to 2021’s already stellar thrash metal line-up.