Editor’s Note: Do you think we “missed” an album this week? Click here.
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!
Eidola – The Architect (progressive post-hardcore)
To be frank, this band means a lot to me. Their 2015 breakout sophomore release Degeneraterra was one of my favourite albums of the last decade in how it blended intimate post-hardcore with abstract and complex song-writing and highly sentimental and spiritual lyricism. As a result, I had unreasonably high expectations for their 2017 follow-up To Speak, To Listen, that it unfortunately just couldn’t meet. They seemed to go too far into the intellectual prog side and as a result it came off somewhat sterile sounding, one-note, and lacking that introspective personal side that’s easy to connect to.
Now after four years, Eidola have signed with Rise Records and returned with The Architect. On first listen, it seems to sit somewhere in between those two albums from a general mood or vibe perspective. The production is equally, if not more bright and punchy than TSTL, but it really brings out the low-end and percussion which I can’t complain about. Vocalist Andrew Wells, who has joined Dance Gavin Dance as a full-time guitarist and back-up vocalist in recent years sounds just as good as ever with his passionate and soulful delivery. As well as adding some more harsh vocals to his range, the album also features guest appearances from DGD harsh-vocalist Jon Mess which blend well with the heavier elements on the album. Speaking of which, this is likely their heaviest album in general with some borderline panic-chords being used, and other metalcore leaning riffs. In general though it’s the range of this album that has it edging closer to the gold standard that they set with Degeneraterra. Their progressive song-writing has them bridging softer art rock sections with those aforementioned heavier moments with seamless transitions. These sort of dynamic shifts gives the album a really digestible flow to it, and gives a much needed sense of dramatic tension that a lot of these obviously technically sound “swancore” bands can be lacking.
Time will tell how this album ranks compared to the rest of their discography, as its the sort of music that takes some digesting and repeat listens to get the most out of. But rest assured, this is shaping to be a must listen among the progressive rock and post-hardcore genres from this year.
See Also: Where to start? The highly anticipated Spiritbox – Eternal Blue (prog metalcore) and Insomnium – Argent Moon (melodeath), and an incredible release day for post-rock, with (among others): Mono – Pilgrimage of the Soul and Glasgow Coma Scale – Sirens.
Employed To Serve – Conquering (metallic hardcore, crossover thrash)
It’s here! Today is the day you all finally get to hear “Universal Chokehold”! And once it’s done snapping your neck the rest of Conquering is going to come through and level you out as well. Oh, happy days!
I felt Employed to Serve lost a bit of their identity in the simplified sounds of 2019’s Eternal Forward Motion and the even more straight forward approach Conquering’s lead single had my hackles raised. In retrospect, however, that album was a vital step in the band’s evolution, with Conquering blending its slew of sledgehammer riffs with the variation and rabidity of the Woking crew’s earlier material earlier material.
The array of groove-laden thrash bands cited as inspirations for this record in our recent Anatomy Of piece is telling, but it’s the Crowbar influence that is perhaps most surprising and also most telling. Conquering is full of sludge riffs and textures fitted to a metallic hardcore/groove thrash template that is instantaneously kinetic while remaining cerebrally challenging. Employed to Serve are one of modern metal’s definitive voices and Conquering has all the hallmarks of a modern metal classic.
See Also: The Ascended – The Dark (metalcore, groove thrash); A huge step up from the Warnambool bruisers, sure to please fans of early 2000s metalcore and the NWOAHM.
Moor Mother – Black Encyclopedia of the Air (jazz poetry, avant-garde)
Camae Ayewa (aka Moor Mother) has been on absolute tear over the course of the pandemic. Since 2020, she’s released a solo record, a live album with Nicole Mitchell, soon to be two releases with Irreversible Entanglements, and collaborations with Mental Jewelry and Billy Woods. Like the albums that preceded it, Black Encyclopedia of the Air is sure to be a unique project that will likely vie for a spot on my AOTY list.