This week welcomes the first extreme festival of the season in New York’s Alright, a brass-knuckled blast of Record Store Day releases, and more batshit headlines than the front page of the Daily News, so strap on the gloves, grab your mouth guard, and, as always, get ready to rumble.
WHAT TO BUY: In a post-Deafheaven world, the phrase “Bay Area Black Metal” is enough to send shivers down any metal traditionalists’ spine. Ironically enough then, it’s Bosse-De-Nage, a band whose last release was a split with the aforementioned USBM antagonists, who are also the most likely to get a pass from the underground sect. Chalk it up to their Profound Lore-backing or their boundary-obliterating brand of black metal, but this duo and their spastically poetic new full length, All Fours are about to become avant metal darlings in spite of (not due to) whatever tag has been slapped on their back. If you’re harboring any skepticism, put it down for a second and check this one out.
Next up are another set of young guns, Abyss, and their debut death metal assault, Heretical Anatomy (20 Buck Spin). These Toronto heathens take up the increasingly bright Canadian death metal torch where Phobocosm left it last year, shredding through an 8-song slab of classic riffs with pure, froth-mouthed conviction. These dudes aren’t reinventing the wheel (or rather skull-crushing tank track), but when the template is rendered with such brutality—there’s a definite hardcore influence writhing throughout this one—I’ll let you be the one to say that to their face.
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If you’re searching for some additional anger management this week, then trust Gallows and their fourth LP, Desolation Sounds (Bridge Nine), not to leave you, ahem, hanging. The UK vets exploded in the mid-oughts, promptly signed to Warner Bros., and eventually lost their lead singer—all of which led to pretty much the only outcome a hardcore band on a major label can have—but kudos to these dudes for picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and churning out another above-average blast of metallic loathing. Rote lead single aside (the rock radio-ready “Bonfire Season”), this classic punk rager, featuring the serrated vocal work of former Alexisonfire frontman Wade MacNeil, is well worth a spin.
Meanwhile, Akhlys, the side project of Nightbringer’s Naas Alcameth, leads us back down the candle-lit castle halls with a second demented full length, Suffocation, The Dreaming I (Demebur Morti). Inspired by Alcameth’s dreams and crafted to personify what he calls “the death mist, the clouding over the eyes upon death”, Dreaming I blends Nightbringer’s straightforward tremolo blasts with Akhyls’ ambient framework in order to create a thoroughly contemporary and haunting piece of blackened horror. Colorado is home to a thriving and largely unhyped underground metal scene, so if you’re looking to dig into its output and intricacies, this one is a good place to start (preferably with a pint from TVRE Brew Co., of course).
Speaking of which, CO. avant death metal project Bladecatcher’s debut EP, Obverse (EEE Recordings) is an absolute must hear, featuring a trio of awesome tracks that, despite their progressive arrangements, never threaten to shake the catacomb crust from their chains. Once you’re done cleansing your soul of that one, check out Wende’s Vorspiel Einer Philosophie Der Zukunft (Moribund), a truly twisted take on Cascadian black metal by a musician who sites romanticism and nihilism as simultaneous influences. Seriously guys, if we can’t laugh at metal band bios then what are we truly living for?
Finally, in addition to all the typical Tuesday debauchery, there’s also a full line-up of metal-centric Record Store Day releases set to drop on Saturday, beginning first and foremost with a replica of Metallica‘s 1982 demo tape, No Life Til Leather (Blackened), which is authentic down to the handwriting on the label and the pre-Megadeth Mustaine shredding inside. Once your done grabbing a copy of that bad boy (a limited edition vinyl is rumored for later in the year as well) then I highly suggest copping Slayer‘s brand new single-featuring 7″ picture disc, When the Stillness Comes (Nuclear Blast), or the vinyl version of Mastodon‘s recent Butthole Surfers-assisted Adult Swim Single, Atlanta (Warner Bros).
If you’re looking to keep things a little doomier, then also keep an eye out for Ides of Gemini’s new 7″ (Magic Bullet), which should help to make up for the four NYC-area dates they had to cancel last week, as well as Electric Wizard’s 2014 offering Time To Die (Spinefarm) on numbered silver vinyl and Candlemass’s crushing live double LP, aptly titled Live (Metal Blade). Speaking of double LPs, Venom drops their latest album, From the Very Depths (Spinefarm), in that very form, while GWAR does the same for their classic mission statement, America Must Be Destroyed (Metal Blade). After all of that, Carcass carve up their Choice Cuts (Century Media), a collection of their hottest hits and biggest club bangerz, on red-splatter wax and At The Gates prepare a pressing of their 1991 demo, Gardens of Grief (Century Media), for deployment. If you absolutely need to see a full list of RSD releases, then just check out the website, but also remember, vinyl, even in all of its audiophilic glory, is still a poor substitute for human companionship/financial solvency.
WHAT TO SEE: We begin our show rundown this week with a mini-preview for the final installment of New York’s Alright, which kicks off it’s three-day hardcore angst-a-thon on Friday with a killer Kromosom/Blazing Eye/L.O.T.I.O.N-headlined rager at Le Poisson Rouge followed by an equally heavy after party at The Acheron featuring Isterismo, Aspects of War, and Mommy (tickets for that are sold out online but still available for purchase at Heaven Street Records in Bushwick).
Saturday continues the NYA insanity with a Condominium-fronted day at show at Palisades featuring support from Mystic Inane and Freak Vibe, a marquee Le Poisson Rouge lineup highlighted by Warhead and Warthog, and some more Acheron afters with Sheer Mag, Vanities, Bad Noids, and more. The closing BBQ bash goes down Sunday at The Wick with Dawn of Humans, Glue, Raw Distractions, and plenty of grillin’ and chillin’, but if that’s still not enough for you, then check out the fest’s bevy of unofficial shows, including S.H.I.T and Ajax at The Acheron on Thursday and a pair of Part 1 appearances at Saint Vitus featuring sets from Rule of Thirds and Survival on Friday and Anasazi on Saturday (sorry kids, that last one is sold out).
And speaking of Vitus, they host plenty of other rad shows this week as well, starting with local ambient metallers Ghastly City Sleep and Pacific Northwest shape-shifters He Whose Ox is Gored tonight followed by Liturgy and Psalm Zero on Wednesday and an early show from legendary NYC instrumetalists Blind Idiot God on Friday. After all that, Buffalo grind breakouts Water Torture wrap up the week on Sunday with a barrage of half-minute hate anthems and some meat mallet tenderization from Beefrot, Huldra, and more.
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Elsewhere, The Place Bar and Lounge are subbing for Brooklyn Asylum tonight, with a metalcore special featuring Lionheart, Nasty, These Streets, and more, while The Gramercy Theater welcomes the Michael Schenker Group tomorrow for an evening of old-dude shred. Jersey death legends Sapremia hit Gussy’s in Astoria on Friday if you’re looking for something a little gnarlier. If that doesn’t do it, World of Pain and and Vital Remains satisfy similar requirements at The Place Bar and Lounge and Lucky 13 Saloon respectively.
For the more mainstream-leaning audience members, there are plenty of big name legends in the Tri-State this weekend as well, with Big-Four bench-warmers Testament and Exodus set to destroy the Starland Ballroom on Friday while Incantation casts their death metal spells a little further east at the El Nuevo Relax Lounge in Hempstead. Finally, as we wheeze to the finish line here, Cavalera Conspiracy joins the party on Sunday for what is sure to be a crazy show inside the Marlin Room at Webster Hall. If you’re somehow still standing after all of that, then you’re probably a fucking Terminator and should just go home and get some robot sleep.
WHAT THE FUCK: The University of Helsinki just announced a summer course titled “Heavy Metal in Contemporary History and Society” taught by vocalist Paolo Ribaldini, who recently worked with Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen on the Finland’s version of The Voice. Needless to say, this is really putting that old “never too late to change your major” adage to the test.