It’s the first big metal of the week of, with the return of a couple of heavy hitters and a crushing show slate leading the way, torches aloft. Grab that battle vest and join us or be trampled underfoot. Your call, folks.
WHAT TO HEAR: Tribulation is back, storming to the top of the metal message board heap with their new (and pretty damn good) full-length, Down Below (Century Media). Elegantly draped in grand piano plinks, moody organ moans, and operatic choir swells, Down Below sees Tribulation complete their transformation from black metal band with gothic trappings to become Ghost with a black metal vocalist. If that seems reductive and unfair, A. It’s not a criticism, and B. Just listen to this thing. Highwater moments like “Nightbound” and “The World” confirm what we all already sort of knew: Tribulation could be the biggest metal band on the planet if they cut their hair and got a clean singer. Given the strength of Down Below—streaming here— here’s hoping that never happens.
After you’re done mainlining that one, turn your attention down under where avant-garde Aussie death metal legends Portal are set to nuke metal’s collective conscious with their new LP, Ion (Profound Lore). Portal’s whole thing is obfuscation—both in their writhing wall-of-dissonance approach and their stage regalia, seemingly pulled straight out of some plague-masked Nightmare. Ion is predictably, purposefully impenetrable, its fleeting moments of structure flashing by as the swarm turns on its axis. The commitment to the sound—or The Atmosphere, as people who really love Portal refer to it—is unparalleled even within the band’s own catalog, however, so if you’re even morbidly curious, turn of the lights and turn it the fuck up.
After that, get the circle pit swirling with Cosmic Crypt (Relapse), the first full-length from powerviolence super trio Mammoth Grinder in what feels like forever. Locked and loaded with massive buzzsaw guitars and crusty d-beat goodness, Cosmic Crypt toes the line between Left Hand Path-indented death metal and—given that the band share members with Power Trip, Iron Reagan, and Darkest Hour—down-home southern goodness. So come for the riffs—streaming in full via Noisey—and stay for the split lip, because this one will kick your ass and have damn good time doing it.
Slow Cosmic Crypt down about 70 bpms, and you have something that might actually approximate Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed (Season of Mist), the latest offering of trudge from Finnish doom merchants, Hooded Menace. While still a catacomb rattling doom band at their core, Silhouettes Unhallowed brings Hooded Menace’s death metal roots to the fore, combining serpentine mid-tempo grooves with glacial lurch, crafting one of “it” sounds of 2018 in the process. If you thought Spectral Voice were the only band dragging death/doom in new, cool directions right now, think again.
Our punk-leaning friends have plenty to sink their teeth into this week as well Bay Area crossover upstarts Primal Rite and their debut LP, Dirge of Escapism (Revelation Records). Led by frontwoman Lucy Xavier’s ferocious yalp, Primal Rite subvert hardcore’s macho meathead norm, tackling issues of mental health and identity while tearing through splatter of riffs that would feel just as at home on an Endon split as they do blaring beside Power Trip. Unleash the chaos via bandcamp.
Finally, don’t leave without devoting some time to Awaken (Southern Lord)—the fourth full-length from post-crust vets Agrimonia, streaming via Noisey—and Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue (Housecore Records)—the sophomore salvo from Phillip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, seemingly the 9,000th concurrently operational Anselmo project, which you can check out via Revolver. Both will separate your head from body in totally different, but equally thrilling, ways.
WHAT TO SEE: On the show front, Spirit Adrift kicks things off in fittingly killer fashion with their first-ever East Coast show tonight at Vitus, accompanied by Diggy III Roc at Mother Pug’s, Blackout Paul at Debonair Music Hall, and Cold Wrecks at Bushwick Public House. Saturday welcomes to WWIX to Lucky 13 Saloon, Blacklisted to Sunnyvale, Captain We’re Sinking to The Kingsland, Gnaw to El Cortez, Canker Sore to the Clark VFW, The Bathwater to Dingbatz, 25 Ta Life to Blackthorn 51, and Gatecreeper to Saint Vitus, before Sunday wraps up the weekend a pair of Vitus shows including Outburst in the matinee slot and Static Radio headlining the evening festivities.
On Monday, it’s back to the grind with Gnarcissists at Vitus, while Wednesday picks things back up with Black Label Society at PlayStation Theater and Dead Empires (whose upcoming LP, Designed to Disappear, totally rips) at Saint Vitus. Thursday is quiet again, so go find a good jukebox and lie low or whatever it is that you do.
WHAT THE FUCK: Whoa. Coming in just under the deadline (and radar) this week are two brand-new, totally out-of-the-blue full-lengths from Aksumite (BLOODCULTMETALPUNK) and A Pregnant Light (Lucky All My Life)—AKA two of the punkest underground USBM bands in existence. I haven’t had a chance to give these the once over, but I’m sure they rip, so check them out via the Colloquial Sound bandcamp.