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Release Day Roundup: 3/29/24

Rounding up new releases from Rage, Vorga, Wristmeetrazor, Carrion Vael, Ivory Tower, Ulterror, Sum 41's last stand and whatever the (self) hell While She Sleeps are doing.

20 days ago

Top Picks

Rage – Afterlifelines (semi-symphonic power thrash)

I don't like Rage. I don't know why. I love thrash metal, and there are plenty of similar speed- and power-metal-inflected acts that do it for me, but they've just never clicked with me. Now, however, that declaration comes with the caveat of their twenty-third full-length effort, Afterlifelines, which has been busy rocking my socks off for the last month or so, and shows absolutely no signs of letting up anytime soon.

The album's appeal probably has a lot to do with its bolstered bottom end, which renders it more readily reminiscent of modern groove-thrash titans like Machine Head and Trivium,* than the classic speed/thrash acts of yore, while tracks like "Justice Will be Mine" and "Life Among Ruins" bring in some Eclipse style melodies, with the former still delivering a stomping bridge section that sounds rather a lot like that of Machine Head's "Locust". There's a temptation to attribute this heavier direction to relatively new guitarist Jean Bormann, but he was already around for 2021's Resurrection Day and his other bands (AngelInc and the rather confusingly named Rage and Ruins) suggest otherwise. The ageing vocals of the band's iconicly bi-prong-bearded frontman Peter "Peavy" Wagner won't be for everyone, and I'll be the first to point out that it sounds like he's singing about a malevolent reindeer during the chorus of "Root of Our Evil", but the riffs and melodies remain strong enough throughout that an actual caribou could be behind the mic and I'd hardly care.

I've been complaining a lot about overlong albums lately, so it came as a bit of a shock that Afterlifelines is actually a double album, albeit one on the shorter side of things, clocking in at around an hour and a half (which is only twenty-minutes more than that Eternal Storm album). The first disc, Afterlife, is a straight-forward thrasher, while disc two, Lifelines, introduces symphonics into the mix, which is something Rage have been doing since 1996's Lingua Mortis, which spun off into the Peavy-led Lingua Mortis Orchestra. The orchestrations have had a tendency to overwhelm prior proceedings, especially on Resurrection Day (2021), but here they play a more subdued S&M-esque role, reinforcing, rather than running over the surrounding material. Indeed, the symphonics are so subtle that there doesn't seem to be any real reason why they aren't present on the first disc as well. The double disc approach might seem novel at first, but there's really no reason why the songs on the second shouldn't be mixed in with the first, but the whole thing is also perfectly sequenced and although its 90-minute runtime might seem daunting at first, there hasn't been a time where I haven't pressed play on the first disc and not stuck around for the whole thing, which culminates in the spectacularly emotive ten-minute epic "Lifelines" which really pushes the S&M pedal to the metal.

In retrospect, it's kind of strange that more bands haven't jumped on the symphonic thrash bandwagon, following Metallica's dabbling, but the fact that it took Rage almost thirty years to work it out probably speaks to why. Now that they've worked it out though I, for one, welcome our symphonic thrash overlords and long for the day when their previous material finally clicks with me like this one has, or a new band comes along and takes the sound to the next level.**

*100 points to whoever can work out which Trivium songs "Mortal" and "Toxic Waves" are ripping off.

**Ball's in your court Trivium and Ihsahn.

Vorga – Beyond the Palest Star (Melodic Black Metal)

Putting these posts together exposes me to a lot of music I'd never seek out by personal choice. Mostly that's a good thing, but every year there's one genre that seems to be overs-saturated and ends up really getting on my nerves. In 2022 it was death-doom, last year it was post-black metal/blackgaze and this year it's just straight-forward, unadulterated black metal, which accounts for around %10 of this week's releases by the way,* even though there's absolutely no reason anyone should be releasing a standard black metal album in 2024.

The world has enough basic black metal albums, and while I get the compulsion of musicians to create and continue to put out music inspired by the black metal bands of yore, there's no reason to simply mimic the aesthetics of second wave black metal artists—mostly because they were/are all terrible, terrible people, but also because a lot of their appeal is wound up in the mystique of the time and their production only sounded like that because they didn't have access to better equipment and to imitate it only proves how many of these "new" black metal artists are actually insubstantial posers, by pure definition.

If you're going to make black metal in the twenty-first century then you'd better put some kind of twist on it, preferably a progressive and/or melodic one, which is exactly what Vorga do on Beyond the Palest Star, which is a huge step up from their already-promising previous material. They also sing about spaceships and shit, instead of being cooped up in their basements or whatever, which is cool.

*And that;s after I've weeded out everything with a "raw" or "lo-fi" tag associated with it!

Release Roundup

Above Aurora – Myriad Woes (black metal)

Alkhemia – Abraxas (post black metal)

All For The King – Darkest Before Dawn (doomy metal)

Ana – The Art Of Letting Go (melodic/proggish metal)

Ascia – The Wandering Warrior (fuzzy doom)

Asterean – Sovereign (blackened melodeath)

Black Absinthe – On Earth Or In Hell (black thrash)

Black Phantom – Horror Paradise (heavy metal)

Boundaries – Death Is Little More (brutal/beatdown metalcore)

Cancervo – III (doom)

Carrion Vael – Cannibals Anonymous (TBDM-core)

Cave Moth – In Memory Eternal (post post-hardcore)

Chaotic Desolation – Biological Sonnet (groove death/thrash)

Charles East – I Am Your Consequence (goth nonsense)

Charun – Impending Decline (blackened death metal)

Chasing Titans – Infinite Paradox (metalcore)

Child – Shitegeist (really shitty deathgrind)

CNTS – Thoughts & Prayers (punk metal)

Coffin Storm – Arcana Rising (doom metal)

Coffins – Sinister Oath (death metal)

Cryoshock – The Cold New Regime (death metal)

Darkestrah – Nomad (folky black metal)

Dead Head – Shadow Soul (death thrash)

Diabolica Hymnis – Crux Satanas (black metal)

Divided – Light Will Shine (post sludge)

Dragonfall – Cold Whining Road (heavy metal)

Emerald Cauldron – Emerald Cauldron (shitty power metal)

Endless Loss – Traversing The Mephitic Artery (death metal)

Flageladör – Culto aos Decibéis (speed metal, thrash)

Frail Body – Artificial Bouquet (post hardcore, screamo)

Frank Never Dies – Red Moon Rising (psychedelic/stoner doom)

Givre – Le cloître (posty black metal)

Glyph – Honor. Power. Glory. (power metal)

Grottberg – Skenhelig (death metal)

Hate Force – Systems of Terror (death metal)

Hierophant – Gateway To The Abyss (blackened death metal)

Home Reared Meat – Truckstop Terror (death metal)

Infection – The Cryptic Homicides (thrashy death metal)

Ivory Tower – Heavy Rain (heavy metal, power prog)

Little Villains – Café De Stam (hardish rock)

Majak – Restless Wicked (blackened phyche rock)

Malphas – Portal (symphonic black/death metal)

Mario Lalli & The Rubber Snake Charmers – Folklore From The Other Desert Cities (stoner metal/doom)

Massacred – Nemesis (slamming brutal death metal)

Max Boogie Overdrive – Stoned Again (stoner metal)

Mindistry – Doppelganger (industrial metal, goth groove)

MNHG – Necare (black metal)

Mutilation Barbeque – Amalgamations Of Gore (brutal death slam)

Nachts – Privileg (black metal)

Necroracle – Arcane Impious Sorceries (post black metal)

Neid – Still Offensive (grindcore)

No Man – Glitter And Spit (hardcore)

Obsidian Chamber – Ein Platz am Kamin (black metal)

Offernat – Where Nothing Grows (black metal)

Pâlefroid – L’appel (black metal)

Pantheon Omega – Harmonizing the Death Essence (blackened power metal)

Post Mortal Possession – The Dead Space Between the Stars (death metal)

Prog Collective – Dark Encounters (weird prog)

Puscifer/A Perfect Circle/Primus – Sessanta (alt/prog metal)

Ren Marabou and The Berserkers – Helgafjell (doomy metal)

Riitasointu – Pedon leikki (folky black metal)

Septage – Septic Worship (brutal death metal/grind)

Sepulchral Whore – The Return from a Sepulchral Rest (death metal)

Shadow Limb – Reclaim (sludge doom)

Skraeckoedlan – Vermillion Sky (stoner prog)

Sons of Alpha Centauri – Pull (progressive/alt rock)

Stoned Turtle – Blackout (alt rock, grunge)

Suffer – Grand Canvas of The Aesthete (death metal)

Sum 41 – Heaven :X: Hell (thrashy pop punk)

Terravore – Spiral of Downfall (death thrash)

The Absence – The Absence (unevolved melodeath)

The Magogas – 48 Moons (post/sludge doom)

The Quill – Wheel Of Illusion (stoner metal)

The Rocky Valentines – Erase (alt rock, shoegaze)

The Tomb – The Valley of Despair (death metal)

The Vulcan Itch – Rise Of The Fallen (hard/alt rock)

Tulpa – Temple of Wounds (meloblack)

Ulterror – Transcendent Origins (prog death)

Varkensstad – Hereafter (instrumental thrash)

Venues – Transience (modern metal)

Verwoed – The Mother (blackened post-death)

Vrsa – Saltwater Circadian (stoner sludge)

Waidelotte – Celestial Shrine (black metal, prog death)

While She Sleeps – Self Hell (cringe-core)

Witchgrinder – Nothing Stays Buried (industrial metal)

Wristmeetrazor – Degeneration (metalcore)

Joshua Bulleid

Published 20 days ago