I know, I know. I have been missing in action for the past couple of months or so. It's not you, it's me. Just the normal stuff: contemplating the eternal void, crushing posers, and conducting Satanic sacrificial rites. You would be surprised how much time all of that takes up!
In the meantime, I have actually had some time to listen to some metal and thought I would give a few short reviews of some of the more recent albums that have made me enthusiastically raise the horns in triumph:
"Sorrow and Extinction", by Pallbearer - I can really only call myself a fan of a handful of Doom Metal bands (of which, you should definitely check out hometown heroes Samothrace), but Pallbearer just blows me away on their debut full-length, "Sorrow and Extinction". Not that their style is incredibly novel (they owe a huge debt to UK's Warning), but beneath the crushing heaviness and sorrowful melodicism, the riffs and vocals can be downright catchy (check out the end of "Foreigner" for prime example!) Don't believe the hype, believe in DOOOOOOM.
"Koloss", by Meshuggah - Obviously, every metal head and his/her momma is going to be talking about this monster. Considering that, I'll just reiterate what drummer Tomas Haake said regarding the new album: "Organic brutality, viscera and groove all crammed into a 54-minute metalicious treat, best avoided by the faint of heart!" (taken from Blabbermouth.net)
"Xes and Strokes", by Beaten to Death- Grindcore is another one of those subgenres of metal where there are a few bands whom I absolutely adore (namely Nasum, Discordance Axis, Pig Destroyer, and Brutal Truth), but I feel like most Grindcore bands don't bring anything new to the table. Luckily, once in a blue moon I'll find a band like Beaten to Death. I think what stands out most is the off-kilter, angular approach the guitarists have. Not to mention a repertoire of dynamics that actually goes beyond blasting and supremely nutty vocalist.
"Dodecahedron" by Dodecahedron - This was my early vote for album of the year. Honestly, after hearing some of these other albums (especially the new Meshuggah!), I'm not so sure anymore. However, this doesn't take away from its depth and labyrinthine complexity. Clearly, this band has taken a huge influence from newer Deathspell Omega. Like that's a bad thing? Musically and tonally tight and dissonant, all members are clearly top notch musicians. A lot of abstract, occult imagery in the lyrics. This album may not turn out to be my top pick of the year, but I'll be damned if isn't in the top five!
Note: Admittedly, these next few aren't what most people consider to be metal, but they are damn near close enough for me.
"Selenelion", by Vaura- Vaura is more or less a supergroup featuring members avant-garde metal bands such as Dysrhythmia, Kayo Dot, and Maudlin of the Well. They combine so many elements it's really hard to describe their sound. Sometimes spacy and ethereal with rolling percussion, psychedelic at other times, and at other times heavy and dissonant. The vocalist, Josh Strawn, has just as wide of a palette mixing in yelling/screaming in with a throaty singing voice reminiscent of Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode.
You can hear the full album stream here:
"The Shadow Gallery", by Primitive Weapons - This album is mean as fuck, but perplexingly anthemic. Noisy metalcore in the vein of Deadguy and like-minded bands from the mid-late 90s. I also get the feeling like these guys may be have some what of an Industrial influence as well (I think I hear some Godflesh). In any case, these guys do right for a subgenre that is long overdue for a kick in the ass.
You can hear the full album stream here:
"Painted", by Narrows - Made up of former members of Botch, These Arms Are Snakes, Unbroken, and Bullet Union. Like Primitive Weapons, these guys are bringing back pummeling mid-late 90s noisy metalcore. The big difference is that Narrows is a little bit more focused on the noise...
"Young & Beautiful" by The Armed - OK, these guys are almost embarrassingly close to being Dillinger Escape Plan clones. Everything from the Morris code rhythms to the vocals. Well, in any case, they will definitely hold me over until the next DEP release!