Call it the Maryland Deathfest hangover or call it an aberration, but it’s a slightly thin slate for the defacto opening release week of summer. Don’t worry, though, there’s still enough new stuff to go around, and if that doesn’t scratch the itch, a show or two always will.
WHAT TO HEAR: Over the past decade, no other metal sub-genre has been exposed to more genetic experiments than black metal. From post-rock to screamo to shoegaze to freaking blues, contemporary black metal has been halved and hybridized to the point where it’s tough to remember where it actually began. Enter Spectral Wound and their sophomore opus Infernal Decadence (Vendetta Records), a raw revitalization of the genre’s purest, blackest core. Hailing from the Quebecois scene, Infernal Decadence is more Forteresse than Thantifaxath, leaning on massive, melodic riffs and piercing dog-whistle shrieks over the course of its six unrepentantly charred anthems. It’s not rigid or orthodox or revisionist—it’s just classic, both in sound and potential, so get over to bandcamp and give yourself a little refresher course.
When you’re done there, make sure to spend some time with Twisted Prayers (Relapse), the fourth release in the four year existence of the heaviest (and most original) tribute band on earth, Gruesome. Like each of their previous salvos, Twisted Prayers is unapologetic, uncompromising Chuck Schuldiner worship, riffing through one old-school death metal dirge after the next. In the capable hands of former and current members of Exhumed, Possessed, and Malevolent Creation, Gruesome carries Death’s torch proudly on into the dark, and, for that alone, is worth your time and money.
Meanwhile, in big-time metal land, the mostly masked marauders in Ghost return today with their fourth full-length, Prequelle (Loma Vista). Hot on the wheels of a protracted legal battle between frontman Tobias Forge and former Nameless Ghouls, focusing on the Black Plague, and welcoming a new lead character, Cardinal Copia, into the fray, you might expect Prequelle to be a fractured, furious paradigm shift, but instead it’s the same slick Blue Oyster Kvlt boogie that you know and maybe love. If that sounds interesting to you, check it out via Apple Music and Spotify.
After that, lend your ears to legendary Quebecois death metal crew Kataklysm and their 13th studio album, Meditations (Nuclear Blast). Early adopters of the melodic death metal style upon their inception way back in ‘91, Kataklysm are still churning out the hooks some 27 years later, so make sure to pay your respects at the very least.
Finally, let’s end the release week where we began—in the underground—with Argentum (Svart Records), the latest full-length from experimental Norwegian black metal trio Urarv, and Contemplations (Transcending Records), a batch of achingly somber Swedish death/doom from upstart (and already prolific) duo Soliloquium.
WHAT TO SEE: On the showfront, meanwhile, things fire up tonight with Xentrifuge at Debonair Music Hall, I Don’t Know Ozzy tribute at Lucky 13 Saloon, and Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition/Viscera Infest at Saint Vitus, and rage on into Saturday with Slayer/Lamb of God/Testament/Anthrax/Behemoth at the PNC Bank Arts Center, Vagora at Charlee Bravos, Kataklysm at Saint Vitus, Shelter at Brooklyn Bazaar, and The Haunting at Amityville Music Hall. Sunday keeps things stoked with Thaetas at Coney Island Baby, All That Remains at Starland Ballroom, and Primus/Mastodon at the Coney Island Amphitheater, before Monday kicks real life back into gear with Pants Exploder and Ghostbound at Saint Vitus.
Tuesday is quiet outside of a Mark Perro Band appearance at Saint Vitus, so sit tight until Wednesday, when Seven Spires play Blackthorn 51, Grave Gnosis hit Lucky 13 Saloon, First Blood spill some at Amityville Music Hall, The Murder Junkies get their fix at El Cortez, and Mutoid Man do their technicolor sludge thing at Saint Vitus alongside Ruby the Hatchet. Finally wrap things up on Thursday—the opening evening of Northside Festival, fwiw—with Discord Curse at Lucky 13, Danny Diablo & Mars at QXT’s, and the first of two sold-out shows from post-rock legends Caspian at Saint Vitus.
WHAT THE FUCK: You’ll probably notice some missing links above, and that’s because Ticketfly went got themselves hacked this week. Whoops. So if you’re headed to Vitus or any other Ticketfly-affiliated venue this weekend, just remember you’ll have you buy your tickets at the door. Who knows, maybe you’ll even show up early enough to catch an opener for once.