WHAT TO HEAR: Leading the way this week, swords drawn and Balrogs unchained, are SLC heavy metal crew Visigoth and their triumphant sophomore full-length, Conqueror’s Oath (Metal Blade). A swaggering blend of trad doom, NWOBHM, and classic realm-toppling power metal, Conqueror’s Oath improves on 2015’s The Revenant King—one of that distant age’s best metal records, according to us anyway—in just about every way. The songwriting is tighter, the production is more balanced, and the lead work is a one-way ticket to the burn unit. But whether galloping across the frosty plains of “Warrior Queen” or strutting through black-n-crue anthems like “Salt City”, the story here is really frontman Jake Rogers, who turns in a vocal performance for the modern metal ages. Seriously, just check out Noisey’s full stream, and try to tell me this dude isn’t the second coming of Halford himself. WE ARE NOT WORTHY.
After that, make sure to check out another first quarter standout, The Atlas Moth’s Coma Noir (Prosthetic Records). After spiraling farther and farther out into the atmospheric ether on An Ache for Distance and The Old Believer, The Atlas Moth have returned four years later with what is widely being hailed as their come-to-fucking-Satan rock moment. Aided by the addition Broken Hope’s Mike Miczek on the sticks and longtime frontman Stavros Giannopoulos’ radioactive shriek, Coma Noir is four-on-the-floor sludge-n-roll boogie, but if you’re stressed on how that folds into The Atlas Moth CV, don’t be. The artistic, astral edges—thanks in large part to some predictably excellent Sanford Parker production—are still there, lurking just beneath the surface of every serrated riff and lurching groove. But don’t take our word for it, give it a listen via Revolver.
Also storming out of the Chicago scene today is Posthuman (Metal Blade), the latest Paleolithic beatdown from world infamous muscle metallers Harms Way. What Posthuman lacks in book learnin’, however, it more than makes up for in brutality and vision—a scooped-mid, treble-agnostic pit party that guiltlessly champions a breed of punked-up neo nu-metal that is now officially on trend watch. This is a love it/hate it deal, but either way, you have to respect the conviction (and unreptentant brutality). Stream the whole thing here.
If that’s not enough, make sure to also check out Genocidal Majesty (Consouling Sounds), the latest dedicated full-length from long-running (and insanely bountiful) blackened noise outfit, Gnaw Their Tongues. It speaks to Maurice “Mories” de Jong’s prolific songwriting abilities that an album this torturously heavy and fucked up can just drop out of nowhere and everyone is just like “oh look, a new Gnaw Their Tongues record, cool,” but that’s pretty much the way it goes when you pump out this much music on a yearly basis. So sure, maybe the hypetrain never even left the station for this one, but if you’re into glitching, grotesque electronics and splattery cyborg gore, definitely give this one a listen via bandcamp.
On the local beat meanwhile, Timo Ellis’s technicolor sludge trio Netherlands return with a new six-song EP, Hope Porn (Records and Tapes Records). Netherlands are one of the best local live bands currently cooking, and Hope Porn captures their irreverent, ear-worming approach as accurately as any studio recording could ever hope to. Swirling with chugging stoner riffs, exploding satellite synth work, and Ellis’s trademark Ozzy-on-ecstasy vocals, Hope Porn is a metal record you can put on around non-metalheads and, more importantly, a damn good time. In other words, make sure to check it out via Brooklyn Vegan and grab tix to the band’s upcoming Vitus appearance with Pist.on while you’re at it.
Finally, wrap up the week with seemingly the five-thousandth goofy-named Mastodon spin-off, Legend of the Seagullmen, and their self-titled debut (Dine Alone Records). Featuring Brent Hinds and Tool’s Danny Carey, is another batch of slick, prog-inflected and makes me wonder if I would still love Mastodon as much as I used to if they just settled down and focused on their own slick prog-inflected sludge. Either way, give it a spin via Kerrang!.
WHAT TO SEE: The week in live pilgrimages kicks off tonight with Machine Head at Playstation Theater, Whiplash at Blackthorn 51, HR (of Bad Brains) & Human Rights at El Cortez, and Exhorder performing Slaughter in the Vatican in full at (where else) Saint Vitus. Saturday keeps things kicking with Swanky Tiger at Gramercy Theatre, Snakeskin at Bushwick Party House, Nymohomatics at Pino’s, The World at White Eagle Hall, and Exhorder performing The Law in full at (where else) Saint Vitus, while Sunday comes correct with John 5 and the Creatures at Stanhope House, Anti-Flag at Highline Ballroom, and Tanith/Magic Circle at Vitus.
Monday see John 5 move to the Highline Ballroom, while Tuesday welcomes I Am The Polish Army to Vitus. Valentine’s Day is a little short on options for the romance-and-rage set, but if you want to get out there, Vitus hosts Tragedy—a metal Bee Gees tribute act—at 8pm while Axis hit The Kingsland. Otherwise, just save the fuel for the Thursday fire, when The Headcoatees play The Footlight, August Burns Red hit the Starland Ballroom, and American Nightmare conjure the terror at Vitus, who as you may or may not have noticed, have a pretty busy week on tap.
WHAT THE FUCK: You guys, metal can be really fucking stupid sometimes.