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!
Cryptosis – Bionic Swarm (thrash)
Take the blackened, technical brutality of mid-period Behemoth, mix it with the rabid thrash assault of early Kreator and you’ve got a pretty sexy stew going, in the form of Cryptosis’s phenomenal debut record, Bionic Swarm.
The Netherlands is already having a bumper year for metal releases, with the release of the best Asphyx and Epica albums in years, but this unknown trio have bested the lot of them by simply delivering one of the best metal records of the year so far.
Genghis Tron – Dream Weapon (prog metal, synth-rock)
While not the mind-bending cybergrind we’ve come to know them for, Dream Weapon offers a mesmerizing soundscape of synth-fueled bliss. If you go into this expecting another Board Up the House, you may be disappointed. But with an open-mind you can hear some of that song-writing prowess that made their previous works so uniquely special. While the grind influence is all but gone, they’ve retained some of the rhythmically progressive, and post-metal like build-ups. The abrasiveness of their early material has been replaced by the ethereal and almost psychedelic, yet it still hits on that hypnotic level which has always been one of their strongest draws. With the departure of old vocalist Mookie, they’ve replaced him with Michael Socynsky of The Armed, bringing a surprisingly soothing mostly-clean vocal delivery for an almost dream pop like feel. Though departed from the avant-garde creativity of their roots, Dream Weapon is comforting, accessible, and a perfect sort of album to get lost in, and I’m totally fine with that.
Last Week’s Best Surprise: Cyderian Son – Necropolis (prog metal)
Greenleaf – Echoes from a Mass (stoner rock)
Greenleaf has been part of the Swedish stoner rock scene since essentially the very beginning. Starting out as a Dozer side project, and led by Tommi Holappa since their inception in 1999, the family tree of current and former members touches on the who’s who of Swedish stoner rock, including Dozer, Demon Cleaner, and Truckfighters to name a few. At one point, most of Dozer was even in Greenleaf, or is it vice versa? You can add Lowrider to this list, since Peder Bergstrand has been doing covers for all these guys since he was essentially in high school!
Some of these guys have slowed down or stopped altogether, but Greenleaf still actively put out a new record every 2-3 years. Consistently excellent hard rock/stoner rock, and while personally, they nailed their sound and hit their peak with 2014’s Trails & Passes, ask 5 different fans their favourite album, and you might get 5 different answers.
The two singles from Echoes from A Mass shows two sides of a band comfortable with their sound. Love Undone is pure-Greenleaf heavy rock, as representative of their sound as anything in their catalog, while Tides is a slow burn, repetitive and a bit menacing. The ending feels like it could be more explosive, but it is not a 5-minute wasted.
Initial feelings are that this will be their best one since Trails. I’ll get back to you on that one!
Runner-Up: Draken – Draken (progressive rock, heavy rock)
Last Week’s Album of the Week: Dvne – Etemen Ænka (progressive stoner metal, post-metal)
Xiu Xiu – Oh No (avant-pop, art rock)
While I won’t fault anyone who dislikes Xiu Xiu’s music, you simply can’t deny the group’s seemingly endless ambition. Over the past decade, the band have released a Nina Simone covers album, collaborated with Merzbow on a harsh noise track, and reinterpreted the Twin Peaks soundtrack. All this surrounds their latest proper studio releases, Forget (2017) and Girl With Basket of Fruit (2019), arguably the band’s strongest releases to date. They exemplify the band’s light and dark sides, respectively, offering an avant-garde blend of art pop, experimental rock, and post-industrial.
Oh No once again finds Xiu Xiu expanding their reach into new territory, calling on some friends for a collection of eclectic duets. The album’s guests include underground heavy hitters like Angus Andrew (Liars), Deb Demure (Drab Majesty), Liz Harris (Grouper), Owen Pallett, Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), Chelsea Wolfe, Sharon Van Etten, and others. With a roster of this calibre and the band’s recent hot streak, I couldn’t be more excited to hear what Oh No has to offer.
Last Week’s Best Discovery: Guedra Guedra – Vexillology (footwork, juke)