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!
Birmani – Birmani (stoner psych, sludge)
After a handful of EPs going back three years, Montreal’s Birmani floored me with the release of title track to their self titled debut full-length!
Displaying an ease with writing melodies like nobodies business, it helps tie together a sludge/stoner vibe sounding like a fuzzed-out, blown-out-speakers version of Elder. I had this song on repeat for a few days before deciding that I should give it a rest until the album came out.
I really hope the language barrier won’t keep people from checking out this band, as I think this will be one of the must-listen albums of 2021 for anyone into fuzzed out riffs!
Last Week’s Biggest Surprise: Concrete Ships – In Observance (noise rock, psych rock)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! (post-rock)
I can actually comment on G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! in full since I received my pre-order in the mail earlier this week (hooray for physical media!). Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s reputation speaks for itself at this point, falling somewhere between “genius” and “pretentious” depending who you ask. After a hiatus following multiple post-rock classics, the band reformed to release arguably my favorite GY!BE record, ’Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (2012). It had everything you want from a GY!BE record: orchestral swells, extended compositions, builds and climaxes galore, etc.
Unfortunately, the band’s next two post-hiatus records left me feeling a bit lukewarm. Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress (2015) featured two rock-oriented tracks bookending a couple long drones, making for an oddly sequenced album that offered little of the majesty fans have come to expect. Luciferian Towers (2017) was a largely more orchestral project that saw that “magic” return for the most part, but at the expense of the raw, fiery power that made the band’S earlier material so compelling. Essentially, you had two records focusing on the “post-” and the “-rock” without effectively blending those two worlds together.
I’m not here to tell you G_d’s Pee is the second coming of F♯ A♯ ∞ (1997) or Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000), or even ’Allelujah!, for that matter. But given the blueprint GY!BE have laid out for their post-hiatus sound, G_d’s Pee successfully reunites the sound they bisected on their previous two albums. Two 20-minute epics (with track titles I won’t type out) anchor the album in a blend of crescendos, ambiance, and incensed post-rock ferocity, while a couple shorter tracks helping balance the album in much the same way the structure on ’Allelujah! played out. In other words, GY!BE are back in their comfort zone. While it might not be a groundbreaking release for longtime fans, it will at the very least meet their expectations.
Last Week’s Best Discovery: Blindfolded and Led to the Woods – Nightmare Withdrawals (progressive deathcore, tech death)
Steel Bearing Hand – Slay in Hell (blackened death thrash)
There’s already been a ton of fantastic thrash albums released this year, which I’ll be covering in the first-quarter Into the Pit post that drops next week. To sweeten the deal, here’s a preview of an album that’s sure to make the second quarter “Big Four” and likely to rank among the year’s best thrash records (if I end up actually doing that this year).
Steel Bearing Hand bring the thunder on this second outing, instantly laying waste to all in their path. The sheer aggression and riffcraft™ sets them apart from the rest enough already, but there’s also a dexterity to the compositions on Slay in Hell that elevates them above the rest. Prepare to be obliterated.
See Also: The Beast of Nod – Multiversal (progressive tech death) – The lack of cybergrind on the new Genghis Tron album got you down? Maybe these Massachuseans’ technical noodling can ease the pain?
Tenue – Territorios (screamo, neo-crust)
Sticking with a more underground pick this week, I’d like to highlight what is likely the longest screamo/neocrust track ever recorded, the new 29-minute one-track album from Tenue, Territorios.
These Spaniards caught my attention with their surprising use of dynamics and melody in a genre that can often be straight-forward and relentless. The vocals are emotionally charged and cathartic, the song writing is unpredictably structured, and the riffs are both frantic and technical, and simple and heavy when they need to be. There’s a bit of the blackgaze leaning crust of which Oathbreaker fans might appreciate, but above all their effective use of contrasting loud and quiet sections and varied tempos transforms this singular track into a sprawling album of antifascist punk intensity that you don’t want to skip.
Last Week’s Biggest Surprise: Norsind – Lys (blackgaze, post-rock)