Release Day Roundup – 9/15/17

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 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!

Ensiferum – Two Paths

In the 2000s, metal went through a strange phase. Scandinavian high octane melodeath bands found a shared passion for melody, hooks, and flashy guitar work with power metal bands as well new lyrical inspiration from folklore. Overnight, it seems metal spawned a whole scene with a new pool of clichés (well, sort of new) to exploit. Folk metal was nothing new at the time but there was a huge rebranding of it and every label was jumping on board. New bands popped up every year, some great and some boring as hell. One of these bands, Ensiferum, unfortunately introduced heavy metal’s most notorious edging expert, Jari Mäenpää, into the world. Jari left in 2004 to focus on Wintersun, but Ensiferum has continued its steady output of quality music since his departure. Their new album, Two Paths, continues their streak.

Winter’s Sun: The Waning Career of Jari Mäenpää

Set stage: 2004, Finland. Former Ensiferum frontman Jari Maenpaa releases his debut semi-solo album under the name Wintersun. Featuring a unique blend of power metal, prog, folk, symphony and black metal, this powerful album is met with wide acclaim. Two years later, the recording process for the follow-up begins, with a release date of 2007. The follow-up releases in 2012, and is split into two, with the second part being promised for later in the year. Five years later, the follow up is no longer coming, and Jari announces a new project with basically the same line-up. What the hell happened? Let’s take a look.

Hey! Listen to Whispered!

Whispered hail from Finland, but don’t tell them that. Spiritually, the hearts of the all-Finn band beat in time with the samurai warriors of Japan’s yesteryear. Whispered gallop and scream themselves hoarse like a charged-up Ensiferum, but with the help of traditional Japanese folk instruments like the koto and shamisen instead of the more generic ensemble many folk metal bands like Ensiferum employ. It’s easy to assume that Whispered are a gimmick band, desperately scraping for relevance in a crowded modern melodeath scene with the distinctive twang of their shamisen. But Whispered don’t appropriate the ancient sounds of Japan lightly; the thick tapestry of Japanese music and culture weaves throughout every stitch of their newest release, Metsutan – Songs of the Void.

Hey! Listen to Myrkgrav!

I discovered Myrkgrav in the years of my youth when review scores on The Metal Archives were as comprehensive and inarguable as Michelin stars. So Trollskau, skrømt og kølabrenning’s 99% score (albeit on three reviews) revved my anticipation for epic folk metal in the vein of Finntroll. What I received, however, paraded no beer-pounding jolliness or magnificent bombast, but was instead a softer and more stony-faced dialect of folk metal I haven’t heard before or since.

Dethlehem – Destroyers of the Realm

Some bands pin themselves as revolutionaries making statements with their music. Some meticulously craft albums of thought-provoking art. And some just like to have fun, seriousness be damned. Dethlehem belongs squarely in the third category. Their concept is similar to bands like GWAR or A Band Of Orcs: every member…