Another week here on earth means another trying to escape here on earth. Here, let us help with that.
WHAT TO HEAR: First up this week is a little blast from the past in the form of Gatekeeper’s East of Sun (Cruz Del Sur). The Vancouver metal outfit’s debut LP is a dungeons, dragons, and denim-clad descent into pure heavy metal bliss, welcoming the (relative) newcomers into a growing legion of trad metal disciples like Eternal Champion, Visigoth, Sumerlands, Khemmis, and Crypt Sermon. Replete with cumulus-piercing vocals, galloping NWOBHM riffs, and plenty of lyrics about mystic blades and the like, East of Sun is the most fun you can have with your chain mail on this week…and that’s saying something. Give it a listen over at Decibel and, whatever you do, don’t confuse these guys with Gatecreeper. Trust me, those are two VERY different bands.
After that, dedicate some time to a heavy hitter of the black/thrash genre, Aura Noir, and their 6th full length, Aura Noire (Indie Recordings). Marrying midrange shrieks with psych-y thrash riffs that sound like they’re plucked straight out of some late ‘80s fever dream, Aura Noir keep things strange and disorienting, flirting with the expected but never quite delivering it. If that sounds like your kind of throwback experience—though make no mistake, this record, from production to songwriting, is a thoroughly modern one—then check it out via bandcamp.
On broodier black metal fronts, meanwhile, reside Grá and their third full-length, Väsen (Carnal Records). Abandoning their concept album roots for the first time, Väsen is at once unique and familiar—atmospheric black metal full of fits, starts, and honest-to-goodness hooks. Its sonic palate feels as monochrome as its cover art, but through sheer force of dynamics and songcraft, Grá have created a vibrant piece of extreme metal. Give it a listen via bandcamp.
Meanwhile, the new Primordial record didn’t date your appetite for windswept Irish metal this spring, make sure to lend an ear to Cruachan’s Nine Years of Blood (Trollzon Records)—a time-tested mix of Celtic folk and mournful black metal—and God Is An Astronaut’s Epitaph (Napalm Records), a grief-stricken slab of pure post-rock. If you haven’t already guessed, both hail from the Emerald Isle and both are trying to break your heart, so give them a listen and try to feel something.
Finally, complete your mandatory listening this week with Varathron’s Patriarchs of Evil (Agonia Records)—one-man black/death in the true Hellenic tradition—and Shrine of the Serpent’s Entropic Disillusion (Memento Mori)—crusty sludge-n-trudge from the heart of Pacific Northwest metal scene. Either way, you won’t leave with your sanity intact.
WHAT TO SEE: Your weekly show slate starts tonight with Rage of Armageddon 5 at Saint Vitus featuring At War, Blood Feast, and more, and continues on Saturday with more RoA5 insanity at The Paper Box, The F.U.s at The Kingsland, Candiria at QXT’s, and Rosetta at Saint Vitus. Sunday, meanwhile sees RoA5 storms to a close with Kult of Azazel at Vitus, while Powerman 5000 hit Dingbatz, Sirenia play The Kingsland, and Peaer take the stage at Trans Pecos.
On Monday, Ellen and the Degenerates do their thing at Vitus, before Tuesday rolls through with a little peace and quiet. Wednesday offers anything but, with Profanatica at The Paper Box, Frank Hannon (Tesla) at Revolution, and Rawhide at Vitus leading the way before Thursday goes absolutely thermo-nuclear with Anvil at Le Poisson Rouge, Night Ranger at The Paramount, ZOE at Playstation Theater, The Sword at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Black Veil Brides at Starland Ballroom (if you absolutely must), and another live Two Minutes to Late Night taping at Vitus.
WHAT THE FUCK: Turns out Mutoid Man covering Tom Jones sounds a lot like Thin Lizzy. Go figure.