Release Day Roundup: 12/8/23

Rounding up a few last-minute 2023 releases, including Dimmu Borgir, Health, Moon Safari, Megaton Leviathan, Xibalba, The Chronicles Of Father Robin, Inculter and definitely not Atreyu.

7 months ago

Top Pick

Health – Rat Wars (industrial metal, posty alt-rock)

Remember earlier in the year when modern industrial metal bastions 3Teeth released an album packed full of Mick Gordon collaborations, but it sucked actually? Or that underwhelming Crosses record that came out at some point? Me neither! And, while it has temporarily reminded me of those albums' existence, I can continue to forget them even harder now that Health's Rat Wars has finally dropped.

The cult video-game soundtrack and electro-underground alums' recent collaboration with an array of metal heavyweights, including—Lamb of God, Purturbator, Full of Hell and especially Nine Inch Nails—for the Disco4 albums (2020–22) has certainly rubbed off one them. On this record at least, health are no longer a band who dabble in the heavier side of thins, but a full-blown industrial metal band. As with 3Teeth's earlier efforts, Rat War is a virtual smorgasbord of classic industrial metal touchstones. Much of the album sounds like a roboticized Chino Moreno crooning over a blend of Gordon's Doom (2016) soundtrack and the original Quake II soundtrack (that's the Rob Zombie-fied, Sascha Dikiciyan and Bill Brown, not the cool, ambient Tren Reznor one). "Crack Metal" more or less lifts the riff from Nine Inch Nails' "Wish", with the rest of the album also blatantly aping its guitar tone, "Sicko" is a straight-up collaboration with Godflesh, the riff on newly-released single "DSM-V" is pure Rammstein (but also sounds a lot like System of A Down's "Violent Pornography"), and there are plenty of other less-obvious industrial reference points to be found throughout (including some to—dare I say it!Code Orange).

While Rat Wars, might not be the most original release out there, the joy it brings comes from the way it blends all those obvious influences together, to create something that is far better, consistent and much more exiting than anything the majority of its inspirations have put out in decades. Although the album doesn't quote live up to the ambition of "The Downward Spiral [1996] for people with at least two monitors and a vitamin D deficiency", it's as close as anything has come in a long time and leaves plenty of room for refinement should the band choose to burrow deeper down the heavy metal rabbit hole.

Release Roundup

Aawks – Luna (stoner doom)

Abortion Survivor – The Laboratory: Chapter 2 (brutal death metal)

Asketia – What Here Remains (death metal)

Assault on the Living – Dead World Divide (deathcore)

Aterrima – A Name Engraved in Cold Soil (progressive blackened death metal)

Azathoth’s Dream – Nocturnal Vampyric Bewitchment (black metal)

Bärnserker – Schlüssu zum Liecht (gothic doom)

Before Days of Humanity/Morbid Worm – Molten Lava Corpse (death metal, goregrind)

Beyond God – The Great Divide (symphonic power metal)

Burial Moon – Burial Moon (droney black metal)

Cassidy Paris – New Sensation (hard rock, country pop)

Chamelion – Legends & Lores (power metal)

The Chronicles Of Father Robin – The Songs & Tales of Airoea: Book 2 (folk prog)

Dawn Of A Dark Age – Transumanza (really weird black metal)

Deemtee – Strange Aeons & Deliriums (weird black metal)

Defenestration – Mortal Cremation (death doom)

Deprecation – Annihilation of Increasing Pain (brutal death metal, slam)

Devil’s Reef – The Droste Observer (prog/tech death)

Dimmu Borgir – Inspiratio Profanus (who asked for this? Their record label?)

Dream Drop – Acne Superstar (alt metal/core)

Dwelling Below – Dwelling Below (weird death metal)

Ektomorf – Vivid Black (nu metal, groove thrash)

Embr – Embr (doom metal)

Eternal Fire – Architect Of Decay (blackened death metal)

Everdawn – Venera (operatic power metal)

Extremity Obsession – Coalescence (blackened death metal)

Fifth Note – Here We Are (pop rock, AOR)

Geistaz’ika – Midnatsbøn ved Djævelens Port (black metal)

Genus Ordinis Dei – The Beginning (proggy melodeath, folk metal)

Ginnungagap – Helical Arising (progressive/post black metal)

Heart Line – Original Seeds (melodic rock/metal)

In Twilight’s Embrace – Eden of Iniquity (gothy black metal)

Inculter – Morbid Origin (blackened thrash)

Intrusive – Mortuary of the Devil (brutal death metal, slam)

Ironsword – Underground (power metal, trad doom)

Jarhead Fertilizer – Carceral Warfare (brutal death metal, slam)

Kankar – Ascension (melodeath)

Kryptoxik Mortality – Interdimensional Calamitous Extirpation (brutal death metal)

Lies! – Mind Pollution (crossover death metal)

Lucius Fox – Medicea Sidera (instrumental sludge prog)

Mars Red Sky – Dawn Of The Dusk (doomy stoner-prog)

Megaton Leviathan – Magick Helmet (psychedelic doomgaze, noisey drone)

M.I.L.F. – Catharsis (blackened melodeath)

Moon Safari – Himlabacken Vol. 2 (prog rock/metal)

Morning Dead – Desde El Otro Lado (funerl doom)

Nebula Drag – Western Death (stoner metal)

Nyrst – Void (black metal)

Osiah – Kairos (brutal death metal/core)

Phobocosm – Foreordained (brutal death-doom)

Plague Of The Fallen – Amongst The Rats (blackened groove death)

Progeny Of Sun – Throne Of Desolation (gothy melodeath)

Rage Behind – Eminence Or Disgrace (Mick Thomson-core)

Saasta – Black Death Doom (blackened death metal)

Salna – Krampus nāk (black metal)

Six Foot Six – Beggar’s Hill (power metal)

Skeptical Minds – Kharon (doomy metal)

Slow – Abimes I (symphonic funeral doom)

Sons Of Eternity – End Of Silence (heavy/power metal)

Starchild – Magic Well (power metal)

Stress Positions – Harsh Reality (hardcore)

Sublation – On The Advancement Of Decay (brutal tech-death)

Troll – Trolldom (black metal)

Unmothered – Corridors (black metal)

Void – Jadjow (weird progressive black/death metal)

Windthrow – Katabasis (melodeath)

Winterhorde – Neptunian (blackened melodeath)

Woods of Grief – Vanquished by Unending Grief (blackened funeral doom)

Worship the Pestilence – Rebel Child of Nature (brutal death metal)

Wrath Of Logarius – Necrotic Assimilation (blackened death metal)

Xibalba – Aztlán (crossover death-doom)

Alright, I think that's it for this year. Thanks for playing along. If there are any other notable straglers I'll include them when I come back in in January, which will probably be either the twelfth or the nineteenth.

...Oh, and I didn't include the new Atreyu album, because they've already tricked me into promoting it three times already by pretending to release a bunch of EPs instead, and I'm getting pretty tired of bands doing that. That and they're absolutely terrible now.

Joshua Bulleid

Published 7 months ago