Welcome to the first weekend of fall, folks. I’d tell you to get out the seance candles and inverted crucifixes, both those are year-round decorations around these parts.
WHAT TO HEAR: The release week starts strong with a genuine AOTY contender in Fórn’s Rites of Despair (Gilead Media). Though Fórn have been around for seemingly forever now, Rites of Despair is the band’s first real go at the full-length format and abundant proof that good things come to those who wait. It’s pure, crushing doom through and trough—running the gamut from mournful funeral laments to scathing sludge dirges—but also so much more, exploding into gorgeous, aching crescendos (“Cosmic Desolation”) and unchained death metal mania (“Ritual Ascension Through a Weeping Soul”) without warning. Clocking in at two acts featuring 11 monolithic tracks, it may seem daunting at first, but despite its glacial pace, Rites of Despair feels tedious or indulgent. That’s a rare feat in doom these days (sorry not sorry), so make sure to check it out via Metal Injection.
Hot on that one’s heels is Sinister, Or Treading the Darker Paths (Hell’s Headbangers), the brand-new full length from avant black metal darlings Cultes des Ghoules. Positively contrite by the standards of the 100+ minute metal opera that was 2016’s Coven, Or Evil Ways Instead of Love, Sinister unfolds over the course of five sprawling long plays that put the black metal form on the rack and stretch it until it’s breaking point. It’s easily the most deliberate (or plodding, depending on your need for speed) release in the Cultes des Ghoules catalog, but the uncut sonic dread that makes it absolutely worth the descent…that is, if you can get over the fact it’s being a pushed by a label that also pushes NSBM trash for profit. Suffice to say, buy this one straight from CdG if you can.
Next up is Sumac’s third stand-alone full length, Love In Shadow (Thrill Jockey). While always a vehicle for fringe-metal experimentation, Sumac sound refined and focused here (especially when juxtaposed against their spring collab with Keiji Haino), turning in their most caustic performance to date. Maybe that’s a sign of the times. Maybe Aaron Turner is finally waking from his Isis fever dream. Either way, it’s a welcome, heavy change, so make sure to pick it up via bandcamp.
And if you thought the big-name beatdowns stopped there, you were wrong, because Canadian prog-thrash pioneers Voivod also get in on the action this week with their 14th (!) full-length, The Wake (Century Media). Featuring two original members—including, most importantly, guitarist/vocalist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain—and two not-so-new recruits, The Wake still sounds unmistakably like Voivod, a torch bearing trailblazer that many a contemporary band (see: Vektor) have followed to the sun and back. Pay your respects and grab your copy here.
If you still have your appetite after all that sweet, sugary goodness, get your purge on with Aborted’s newest extraterrestrial death/grind opus, TerrorVision (Century Media) or treat yourself to a soothing digestif in the form of Bald Anders’ glorious riff-centric prog rock, Spiel (Trollmusic). No one does this stuff—the brawn and the brood—quite like the Germans, so make sure to check it out.
WHAT TO SEE: On the live metal front, the weekend kicks off tonight with FEAR at Gramercy Theatre, Agnostic Front at Blackthorn 51, A Wilhelm Scream at The Kingsland, Beast Modulus at The Well, Los Bungalitos at Clash Bar, Pale Horse at Dingbatz, and Emma Ruth Rundle at Saint Vitus Bar. Saturday follows in equally insane suit with Masacre at Lucky 13 Saloon, Sick Of It All aboard the Liberty Belle, L.E.S. Stitches at Otto’s Shrunken Head, Urban Waste at Shaker’s Pub, No Raza at Blackthorn 51, Beartooth at the Warsaw, a Nightmares For a Week matinee at Vitus followed by ZAO in the evening slot, and finally Pig Destroyer/Despise You/Full of Hell at Gramercy Theatre. Finally, Sunday brings the weekend screaming to a close with Heartsick U.S. at Gold Sounds and Wrekmeister Harmonies at Saint Vitus.
Monday plays host to Castle No Kings at The Kingsland, Pig at Bowery Electric, and wild Black Sabbath cover show at Vitus featuring everyone from Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Nick Zinner to Uniform’s Greg Fox. Tuesday follows that up with River Cult at Vitus and Alestorm at Gramercy Theatre while Wednesday boasts Obscura at the Knitting Factory, River Cult at The Meatlocker, Ratt at The Paramount, and Ariana Van Gelder at Saint Vitus. After full that, Thursday wraps things up with Steel Panther at PlayStation Theatre, Lita Ford at Starland Ballroom, Pig at Debonair Music Hall, and Negative Land’s Mark Hosler at Saint Vitus.
WHAT THE FUCK: Here’s a PhD study on pit etiquette that equates the tight-knit metal community and its unspoken rules passed down from generation to generation to ancient tribal cultures. In other words, duh. They really give you doctorates for this shit?