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!
Alustrium – A Mountain to Silence (progressive tech death)
Alustrium play a creative blend of progressive and technical death metal that doesn’t compromise on melody, nor enduring song-writing. The breakneck pace of their riffs will appease the diehard tech-heads, but they throw in some well-timed staccato grooves and melodic passages to compliment vocalist Jerry Martin’s strong delivery. There’s no shortage of tantalizing guitar solos either if that’s something you’re a stickler about, and in general these variations in both style and tempo do a lot of leg work to keep this album sounding fresh from song to song without getting fatiguing. It’s far from being tech for tech’s sake.
Comparisons could be made to Stortregn who put out a similar standout release earlier in the year, as well as other bands that bring a lot of melody to the tech-death sphere like Inferi, older American melodeath groups like Woe of Tyrants and The Absence, and some of the Unique Leader roster that they’re a part of. Soaring tremolo riffs even bring some of the grandiosity of black metal. A Mountain to Silence is a powerful slab of old-school melodic riffage and technical wizardly that is approachable yet daring, and undeniably fun.
Last Week’s Best Surprise: Orphan Donor – Unraveled (emoviolence, mathcore)
Bossk – Migration (post-metal)
If you somehow missed this English post-metal band over their 15+ year history, you could be forgiven, up to the point when they released Audio Noir in 2016. One of the quintessential post-metal albums, it’s a sprawling, beautiful wall of noise. Their song “Kobe” is as close to a perfect post-metal song as you’ll find.
Five years is a long wait for a follow up, but I’ve not been disappointed with the album. Audio Noir might be a tough album to beat, but this album feels like the band stretching their legs and exploring sounds well outside of what they had done on the previous one, even if it’s often in subtle ways. Also, it’s noticeably heavier overall if that’s your thing!
They’ve released two singles to date, both featuring guest vocalists. “Menhir,” featuring Johannes Persson of Cult of Luna, plays like a tribute to their long-time friends and tour mates. The second, “HTV-3,” fits guest Josh McKeown (Palm Reader) perfectly, veering into post-hardcore, and hints of progressive metal, which can also be found on the sprawling closer, “Lira”! Anyone who has heard these and enjoyed them will undoubtedly be pleased with the rest of the album!
Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum (industrial death metal)
It’s hard to get excited about a new Fear Factory album in 2021. Their last record 2015’s Genesis was among their weakest material to date, and in the long interim since, the band has seemingly imploded — once exorcised guitarist Dino Cazeres taking control of the band after founding frontman Burton C. Bell seemingly rage-quit following longstanding criticisms of his vocal deterioration.
You’re about to have an intense case of sudden recall though, because Aggression Continuum is the real deal. The record blends the bouncy, nu-metal influenced stylings of 2001’s Digimmortal with the punishing, Meshuggah-influenced riffing of 2005’s severely underrated Transgression. While both those albums are generally regarded as weaker entries in the band’s catalogue, their amalgamation hast brought out the best in a band who have been seemingly running on empty for some time. Sure, some of Bell’s lyrics can be a bit naff, but they always have been and he sounds fine otherwise, and both Cazeres and drummer Mike Heller (Azure Emote, Oracles) running at peak performance more than make up for them. (Seriously, get a load of the melodic guitar solo on “Monolith ” — is that a guest spot?)
It’s easy to write them off, but it’s important to remember just how innovative and influential Fear Factory have been. From mixing harsh and clean vocals, to blending extreme and industrial metal, developing drum triggers, mechanical riffing and post-apocalyptic cyberpunk concepts and imagery; Fear Factor have been at the forefront of many of contemporary metal’s most pervasive and prominent trends and although the band may have dismantled themselves in its wake, this album at least sees them firing on all cylinders.