Welcome to fall release season, everyone. Just when you thought things couldn’t possibly get any crazier, we went and turned this roving carnival into a full-blown asylum. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.
WHAT TO BUY: If for no other reason, this week is notable purely for the release of the incomparable, incombustible Iron Maiden‘s 16th studio album, Book of Souls (BMG). For many metal fans, Iron Maiden is it. The be all. The end all. The band that got them into it and the band that will be blasting when they head to the proverbial gallows pole. And while Book of Souls—and truthfully, anything Maiden will produce henceforth—doesn’t hit the same highs as the stunning early-80s run that saw them release The Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, and Powerslave in three consecutive years, Book of Souls, frontman Bruce Dickinson’s first output after a battle with mouth cancer, is still a must-hear for Maiden fans (a new initiates) alike. Hop aboard the 747 and check it out.
Taking a sharp turn down the left hand path now, we arrive at UK death kvlt Cruciamentum and their long-awaited, looked-like-it-was-never happening debut LP, Charnel Passages (Profound Lore). Following the band’s 2009 demo, Convocation of Crawling Chaos, Cruciamentum—who share two members with acclaimed crypt-keepers, Grave Miasma—were anointed next-big-thing status, only to go more or less silent for the next half decade, leaving many to believe they would never actually hear a true full length from the quartet. By the sounds of Charnel Passages, however, it seems safe to say that the hiatus has only sharpened the band’s dungeon-ready anthems, which writhe with skeleton-pulverizing riffs, hysteric solos, and all the homey cheer of a cemetery at midnight. Even if you’re not a death metal fan, this one demands your soul, so give in and check it out via The Quietus.
Also beaming to you from across the pond is Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats‘ third, and much-anticipated, full-length, The Night Creeper (Rise Above). A gateway drug to heavy psych and the black fields of metal beyond, Uncle Acid have built up a huge, Webster Hall-sized audience in the past several years, and The Night Creeper shows why, combining bombastic riffs, ear-worming incantations, and a winning, 70s horror aesthetic into a truly potent potion. Something tells me this one won’t earn the same AOTY list-love that 2013’s Mind Control did, but judging by the lead single, “Waiting For Blood”, it is still well worth a listen if you’re looking to toke up and chill out.
Up next are East Coast thrash heathens Ramming Speed who, in addition to one of the best band names and live shows in the business, take possession of their brand new LP, No Epitaphs (Prosthetic), today. If you’re primary metal mission each week is to find something to slam beers and skulls to on a Friday night, then the buck fuckin’ stops here. Like Skeletonwitch reared on a contrasting diet of Boston hardcore and Iron Maiden, No Epitaphs is a huge leap for Ramming Speed in terms of aggression, musicianship, and the ability to capture said aggression and musicianship in a studio setting, so make sure to let the stream give you a full-body beatdown over at Lambgoat.
Of course, we are now entering the harvest season for Appalachian black metal and thankfully Nechochwen, with their new LP, Heart of Akamon (Nordvis), have just the thing to scratch the autumnal itch. Born in West Virginia and rife with indigenous themes, Heart of Akamon‘s pastoral mix of neofolk and black metal, while nothing new, is certainly as authentic as this stuff comes, spinning solemn melodies and classic American folktales with equal aplomb. If you’re looking for a bombastic soundtrack to your annual leaf-peeping trip, then make sure to pick up a copy of this one today.
In odds and ends new this week we also have Under the Red Cloud (Nuclear Blast), a brand new LP from Finnish legends Amorphis; Blood Incantation‘s latest planet-destroying tech-death laser, Interdimensional Existence (Dark Descent); and a rowdy new split from Midnight and Shitfucker (Hell’s Headbangers). Give those a listen and then go ice your brain stem.
WHAT TO SEE: The long weekend gets started right tonight with Negură Bunget at Black Bear Bar, Mountain God at The Meatlocker, Revocation at The Studio at Webster Hall, and Pure Disgust at The Acheron. Avant metal supergroup Old Man Gloom also headline a sold-out rager at Saint Vitus, so if you planned ahead make sure you don’t forget about that one. After that, Saturday welcomes By The Grace of God and Creeping Dose to the stage with headlining slots at Vitus and The Silent Barn respectively. Get out there and get some.
Despite the holiday, Sunday and Monday remain pretty quiet, with Vitus appearances from Mutant Scum on the former and Russian pagan metal outfit Arkona the following night being the only shows of note. Things pick back up on Tuesday, however, when Chelsea Wolfe and Wovenhand hit the busy Greenpoint dungeon for an intimate warm-up before their MHoW appearance on Wednesday. Both of those are sold-out, but Wednesday does include some solid alternatives, including retro-metal rippers Christian Mistress at Saint Vitus and Angra up at BB King’s place.
Thursday, meanwhile, shreds toward mid-September (holy fuck) with a trio of killer shows—Marty Friedman at The Gramercy Theatre, Deathammer at The Acheron, and Toxic Holocaust/Lord Dying at Saint Vitus—that are sure to have you non-chemically speeding your ass off. Pick your poison, fiends.
WHAT THE FUCK: It’s old news by now, but the loss of Wes Craven to brain cancer earlier this week was a gutshot. Like H.R. Giger, who also clocked out this past winter, Craven was not a metal musician, but his ample contributions of nightmare fuel to the metal community over the years will be dearly missed. If you—like me—need something to ease the pain, perhaps this Prurient remix of fellow horror legend John Carpenter’s debut LP will do the trick.