Release Day Roundup: 2/16/24

Rounding up new releases from Ihsahn, Bokassa, Laura Jane Grace, Stellar Remains, Toxikull, Eternal Storm, The Obsessed, See You Next Tuesday, Crazy Lixx, Einar Solberg, Black Hate, Edhochuli and more.

2 months ago

Top Picks

Eternal Storm – A Giant Bound to Fall (progressive mellowdeath)

I had never heard of Eternal Storm until vocalist Danny R. Flys joined Persefone last year and, while that has proved a rather fruitful combination so far,  listening to A Giant Bound to Fall, it seems like a bit of an odd fit. Rather than the bright and bombastic approach of Fly's new outfit, Eternal Storm—as their name suggests—wallow instead at the bleaker end of the progressive metal spectrum, drawing their closest comparisons to the muted palettes of bands Be'Lakor, Insomnium and more recent Swallow the Sun, with the added grandiosity and progressive flare of acts like Ne Obliviscaris and Enslaved.

From the album's opening, thirteen-and-a-half-minute salvo, Eternal Storm are a force to be reckoned with, with one major drawback: This album is way too damn long! I've been saying this about a lot of albums lately, but A Giant Bound to Fall is a particularly egregious offender. There is absolutely no reason why the last two tracks should be on here. Maybe it's just because my patience for dense, melancholic progressive metal has well worn out by the hour mark, but both "The Void" and "A Giant Bound to Fall" feel like they're a noticeable notch below the rest of the record and their inclusion rather ruins the perfect, Woods of Ypres-esque conclusion of "The Sleepers". Perhaps Eternal Storm need to take a cue from Persefone and go the mini-album route in future, but everything else about A Giant Bound to Fall is beyond impressive.

Bokassa – All Out Of Dreams (hard rock, stonerpunk)

Bokassa's last album, 2021's Molotov Rocktail, was a bit of a mixed bag. And while I loved it at the time, it hasn't really stuck with me, and seems to have had less of an impact than their first two Metallica-backed records. It also contained what was then their best song to date, "Careless (In the Age of Altruism)", and the band have wisely returned three-years later with an album packed full of similar offerings in both style and quality.

Anthemic opener "The Ending Starts Today" is, by far, the best song Bokassa have ever written, and the rest of All Out of Dreams follows suit, culminating in the most melodic but—crucially—also the most consistent record of Bokassa's career. It might not have the ravenous, rollicking punk energy of their debut, but pound-for-pound and riff-for-riff, this is easily their most compelling and infectious album yet, thanks in no small part to a collection of choruses that'll all end up living rent free in your head like it's some kind of filthy socialist utopia up in there. The added emphasis on melody is not to say Bokassa have lost their edge entirely. The Turbonegro-esque Scandi-punk of their earlier outings has been replaced with more of a thrashy, skate-punk vibe, along with repeated swipes at NoFX. There's also a riff in "Bradford Death Squadron" that sounds cheekily similar to Lamb of God's "Laid to Rest" and closing track "Crush (All Heretics)" is similarly reminiscent of "Ashes of the Wake", which replaces that track's real-world war commentary with a sample from Plan 9 from Outer Space and ends with a literal refrain of the lyric "laid to rest", marking the allusion as knowingly obvious.

...Which leads me to one relatively minor, albeit rather glaring, drawback in Bokassa's songwriting, which is their South Park-style "equal offender" approach to lyric writing. "Straight Edgelord" comes across like a centrist corrective to "Captain Cold One" from 2019's Crimson Riders. Both songs skewer their targets with equally ironic self-awareness, but when everyone and everything is a target, it's hard to know what, if anything, the band actually stand for. Similarly, "Let's Storm the Capitol" paints a picture of the Jan 6th insurrectionists as moronic herd followers, but also comes across as somewhat sympathetic and celebratory in its elated delivery. Again, that ironic contrast is deliberate and effective, but also sits uncomfortably alongside songs like anti-"cancel culture" anthem "Pitchforks R Us" from the previous album. The frequent and often mixed references to UK municipalities and US politics from the Norwegian band also muddy the band's identity somewhat Add to this the juvenile atheist diatribes of tracks like the Lou Koller-featuring "Garden of Heathen" and "Hereticulules" from Molotov Rocktail, which are every bit as nuanced and insightful as their titles suggest, and it all winds up feeling rather childish and insubstantial.

The lyrical message might be muddled, but Bokassa's music speaks for itself. The band haven't yet reached the same heights as other Metallica-anointed acts like Ghost or even The Sword, but get them opening for any of the other big rock acts, like Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age or even Avenged Sevenfold and they'll likely blow them off the stage, and come away with another legion of fans in the process. A Giant Bound to Fall might be the album I'm most impressed with this week, but All Out of Dreams is the one I can't stop listening to.

Release Roundup

Abandon All – Strong (heavy/power metal)

Acrid Death – Abominable Presence Of Blight (death metal, crossover)

Aelvica – Aelvica IV: The Curse (symphonic black metal)

The Aristocrats – Duck (prog fusion)

Art Of Anarchy – Let There Be Anarchy (melodic metal, power thrash)

Barren Womb – Chemical Tardigrade (noise rock, punk)

Black Hate – Via Pvrgativa… (rockin’ black prog)

Blood Red Delusion – Ruthless Behaviour (melodeath thrash)

Bloom – Maybe In Another Life (metalcore)

Cercenatory – GoreSphere (brutal death metal)

Coltre – To Watch With Hands To Touch With Eyes (trad rock/metal)

Contortion – The Common Thread (nu/djent metal)

Crazy Lixx – Two Shots At Glory (hair metal)*

*I don’t normally include compilations here, but I like these guys, that album title is hilarious and this new song is a banger!

Darkspace – -II (blackened industrial ambient)

Deafening – Have Courage, My Love (Blackened Hardcore, Post Metal)

Dematerialize – The Abyss Below (metalcore)

Dispersion – Monochrome (doom)

Dungeon Keeper/Morbid Rituals – Split (black metal)

Durbin – Screaming Steel (heavy/power metal)

Edhochuli – Higherlander (trad/sludge prog, screamo)

Einar Solberg – The Congregation Acoustic (y tho?)

Electro Charged – Reign Of Deception (heavy metal, thrash)

Elettra Storm – Powerlords (power metal)

Far Beyond – The End of My Road (power metal, melodeath)

Farsot – Life Promises Death (goth doom)

Forfeit Thee Untrue – Gather The Broken (metallic hardcore)

Garden Of Stone – Tides Of Decay (prog metal)

Griffon – De Republica (symphonic black metal)

Grin – Hush (blackened doom)

Groove Therapist – Monologue (prog metal)

Hilltops Are For Dreamers – The Tragedy Of Being Human (progressive melodeath)

Honeymoon Suite – Alive (pop rock)

Horrible – Filth (brutal death metal/core)

Idles – Tangk (post punk, coldplay core)

Ihsahn – Ihsahn (symphonic blackened prog-metal)

Illumishade – Another Side Of You (gothy pop metal)

In Autumn – What’s Done Is Done (mellowdeath doom)

K’mono – Mind Out Of Mind (prog rock)

Kalah – And Yet It Dreams (electro metal)

Laura Jane Grace – Hole In My Head (alt punk)

Leah – The Glory And The Fallen (symphonic power metal)

Memento Mori – Memento Mori (brutal deathcore)

Monovoth – Pleroma Mortem Est (funeral doom)

Morphine – Dysphoria II (dsbm)

Mr. Bison – Echoes From The Universe (stoner prog)

MUNTJACK – 712519524 (noisey mathcore)

Naga Siren – Sea Of Myself (post-hardcore, alt rock)

Nature's Church – Cherrri (noisey industrial)

Neil Howell – The Renaissance Is Over (prog metal)

Northwind Saga – The Mythical Ring (power metal)

Not Of This World – I Am With You (prog rock/metal, Jesus-core)

The Obsessed – Gilded Sorrow (stoner rock)

Paradoxx – 逆説のSingularity (power metal)

Pestilength – Solar Clorex (weird brutal blackened death metal)

Phlegmesis – The New Wave of Rotten Fornication (ew)

Ponte Del Diavolo – Fire Blades From The Tomb (blackened doom metal)

Praise The Plague – Suffocating In The Current Of Time (dissonant black metal/gaze)

Profiler – A Digital Nowhere (nu metal/core)

Ray Hawthorne – Heartbreak Feels Good In A Place Like This (post-hardcore, emo)

Refore – Illusion of Existence (death/black thrash)

The Requiem – A Cure To Poison The World (post-hardcore, emo)

The Scream – Whellcome (punk)

See You Next Tuesday – Relapses (math grind)

Shaark – Hybrid War (thrash)

Shades of Deep Water – Cold Heart (blackened funeral doom)

Thy Shining Curse – Theurgia (symphonic black/death metal)

Silenzio Profondo – Terra madre (heavy metal)

SISSY XO – PUBLIC HUMILIATION (Mathcore, Cybergrind)

A Somerset Parade – Carcosa (bro-core)

Stellar Remains – Wastelands (sludgy prog-death)

Steve Hackett – The Circus And The Nightwhale (shreddy prog rock)

Sujin – Save Our Souls (progish melodeath)

Sun Of Nothing – Maze (blackened psych-doom)

Sundrifter – An Earlier Time (stoner prog)

Toxikull – Under The Southern Light (heavy metal, thrash)

Ukć – Coming Out – Love & Hate Diaries (progressive black metal)

Vanir – Epitome (melodeath)

Vile Light – The Black Dawn (blackened deathgrnd)

Volucrine – ETNA (prog metal)

Witchorious – Witchorious (doom)

Zelion – TUV (melodic rock/metal)

Zombieshark! - die laughing (chaotic mathcore)

Joshua Bulleid

Published 2 months ago