The end of the year is nigh, but two of the biggest AOTY contender are just rolling in. So hold onto your butts (and lists), folks—we are just getting started.
WHAT TO HEAR: I don’t think there’s been a more anticipated, hyped, or meme’d metal record this year than Blood Incantation’s Hidden History of the Human Race (Dark Descent.) So you’re probably wondering: After months of arguing on Twitter over Bruce Pennington’s artwork and the ridiculous merch, how does it actually hold up, you know, musically? Well, the answer is pretty damn well. We named Blood Incantation’s Starspawn 2017’s best, but Hidden History finds the band pulling off music’s hardest trick: Evolving while retaining their core spirit and sound. In this case that means amplified extremes: The burly riffs are burlier while the cosmic stargazing is stretched out to galactic proportions, as evidenced by the lead single “Inner Paths (To Souter Space)”, which features a single solitary growl across its five-and-a-half minute run time. In the end Hidden History confirms the working theory: Blood Incantation are death metal’s Pink Floyd, a relentless paragon ambition and experimentation spreading ceaselessly across the cosmos.
But the one isn’t done there, kiddos. Once you’re done getting shot up with alien DNA on some extraterrestrial altar, check out Obsequiae’s The Palms of Sorrowed Kings (20 Buck Spin), AKA the year’s most impossibly gorgeous metal record. While many bands name themselves after some obscure Rohan knight and slap “Tolkien Metal” on the ol’ bandcamp, no one conjures the moods of Middle Earth quite like Obsequiae—who have absolutely nothing to do with Frodo & co. Dappled with babbling brooks, heartrending harp, and a symphony of multi-layered guitar leads, The Palms of Sorrowed Kings is the sound of spring in the dead of November, and features one of the metal songs of the year in “Lone Isle.” If you don’t like Obsequaie, you’re a poser. There, I said it.
If you thought that was it for world-class metal this week, you’re sorely mistaken, for today also see the return of Lord Mantis with the weeping, infected psychological wound that is their new LP, Universal Death Church (Profound Lore). After a stint in Cobalt, Charlie Fell’s poisonous shriek is back, blanketed in static for a decidedly industrial mod to Lord Mantis blackened sludge circuit board. Along with Fell, Abigail Williams’ Ken Sorceron and former Indian screamer Dylan O’ Toole have joined the scathing fellowship, assembled in tribute original drummer Bill Bumgardner, who passed away in 2016. The result is a scathing, droning spirit quest to the heart of true pain. It’s one of my favorites of the year, so if you take stock in such things, make sure to give it a listen.
More you say? Well, you’re in luck, because there’s plenty to go around, including Child Bite’s newest noise-sludge clusterfuck, Blow Off the Omens (Housecore Records). Adding Steve Albini to the Detroit trio’s already cacophonous stew was a good choice, with the legendary producer adding his trademark unsettling intimacy to the band’s Dead-Kennedy’s-fever-dream blend of noise rock, punk metal, and every permutation in between. There’s even a guest solo from Voivod’s Chewy Mongrain on the title track, calling to mind Kerry King skull-torquing contribution to “Fight For Your Right” however many decades ago. Check it out via Decibel if you’ve got the guts.
Finally, do your best to catch your breath with Gentrification IV: Suspended Gallery Rails (The Flenser)—the penultimate installment in an ongoing serial album by another of my personal faves, Street Sects. Tack on Den’s Iron Desert (Corpse Flower)—a batch of low end-driven noise-sludge grooves that will have you bobbing your head and giving up any and all hope of tomorrow in one fell swoop—and you’ll have had a pretty good week.
WHAT TO SEE: Welcome to the first of the dying year’s massive holiday weeks. You know what that means: Slightly slimmer pickings on the show front, but don’t worry there’s still plenty of good stuff to go around this weekend starting tonight with M.O.D. at Saint Vitus, Mortiferum/Ruin Lust at Union Pool, Kore Rozzik at Blackthorn 51, Varaha at Brooklyn Bazaar, Counterparts at Gramercy Theatre, Cannibal Corpse at the Warsaw, and High on Fire/Power Trip at Elsewhere. On Saturday, Cannibal Corpse set sail for the Starland Ballroom, while Gates to Morning hit Backroom Studios, Damage Inc. blow up Blackthorn 51, Judge hand out sentences at House of Independents, and Clan of Xymox gloom up (le) Poisson Rouge, whole Sunday welcomes Fit For an Autopsy to Saint Vitus, Suffocation to the the Stereo Garden in Patchogue, and Static-X to Sony Hall.
Monday kicks off turkey week with a little Prostitution-headlined appetizer at Saint Vitus, while Tuesday serves up Steel Panther at Gramercy Theatre and The Genitorturers (a real band name, apparently) to Revolution. Wednesday finds Steel Panther hanging around for an encore (really? two nights at Gramercy?) and Sanguisugabogg slithering into Vitus, before Thursday goes dark for tryptophan-related reasons.
WHAT THE FUCK: Don’t want to make a big deal out the combined captalist forces of Black Friday and Record Store Day, but if you’re itching for some new limited-edition wax, here are all the metal offerings you can cop next Friday:
Acid Witch – Black Christmas Evil 7”
Sebastian Bach – Forever Wild 2 x LP
Black Label Society – Nuns & Roaches 12”
Alice Cooper – Billion Dollar Babies 12” and Dragontown 2 x LP
Dio – Rainbow in the Dark (Live) 12” picture disc
Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet Live… LP
Fu Manchu – At The Dojo LP
Sammy Hagar – Santa’s Going South For Christmas 12” picture disc
Insane Clown Posse – Flip the Rat 2 x LP
Life of Agony – The Sound of Scars LP
Overkill – The Electric Age 2 x LP
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Mettal 12”
Joe Satriani – Surfing With the Alien 12”
Slipknot – “All Out Life”/”Unsainted” 7”
Venom – Manitou 7” picture disc