The first truly seismic release week is officially here and, with it, a brass-knuckled fistful of new records from some of the genre’s tenure-track heavy hitters. Hope you’ve been saving those holiday pennies, everyone. You’re gonna need them.
WHAT TO HEAR: It’s been awhile since something this prototypically “Spinal Tap” has come across our desk, but arrived it finally has, drunk, loud, and without apology. Yep, you guessed it: Abbath‘s first true solo album—unsurprisingly titled, Abbath (Season of Mist)—is here. From the dissolution of Immortal to the falling out with new bandmates—from rock-god glamour shoots to those damn snowglobes—this one has ridden one hell of a winding road, but I am pleased to report, following a few cursory spins through the free stream, that it just about earns its place in the Abbath bloodline. While maybe a little vanilla, this one, full of infectious mid-tempo riffs, bombastic choruses, and Scandinavian frost, is more than worth some shelf space and could very well prove to be, when extra-terrestrial beings inevitably descend from the noxious reaches of space in search of one record that best embodies what we humans call “metal” in the year 2016, the best offering we have.
Upping the splatter factor considerably are grind progenitors Agorophobic Nosebleed (one of the best band names ever, for my money) and their new EP, Arc (Relapse). While it wouldn’t be out of line to expect yet another extreme hyper-speed excursion, Arc–the first in a series of four releases that will reflect the musical influences of each band member, in turn–takes a decidedly different path, following frontman, Kat Katz, on a slow-mo journey into the cobwebby Catacombs of Sludge. Classic AG it certainly isn’t, but for trve fans of the band, I can think of no cooler experiment, so make sure to check it out.
The underground is lit as well (lest we forget this is where the vast majority of this sub-culture operates on a daily basis), starting with some serious sonic abuse from Boston death/doom outfit, Ehnahre, and their latest barbed wire nest, Douve (Kathexis). Once you crawl out the other side of that, knees bloodied, begging for water, give Old Sunlight (Debemur Morti)—the latest offering from post-metal acolytes, Latitudes—a spin. If their neo-Pelican brood doesn’t soothe those aching wounds, then nothing will.
Also on draft this week is Winter Thrice (Century Media), the latest full length from Norwegian Viking metallers, Borknagar. Your interest in this one probably depends on your reaction to the term “viking metal”, but no such conditions apply to the album’s title track, which features vocal performances from Lars “Lazare” Nedland, Vortex, Vintersorg, and Garm (see below). Needless to say, if you’re looking for a veritable UN Assembly of Norwegian metal powers, this is fucking it. And since you’re here, I’m going to assume you are. Since you are, I’m going urge you to check it out. Trust me, this is six minutes you won’t be asking to have back.
In fringe metal news, Ulver has a new record, ATGCLVLSSCAP (House of Mythology), that no one seems to know all that much about, while Justin Broadrick joins Mark Kozelek for Jesu/Sun Kil Moon (Caldo Verde/Rough Trade), a collaborative effort that pushes slowcore to its obvious logical conclusions (read: doom). The relevant components are all legendary, so make sure to give the records a try, but whatever you do, don’t go in with any preconceived notions. These guys specialize in subverting such silly, human contrivances.
Finally wrap up the week with the one and only Megadeath‘s 15th studio offering, Dystopia (Tradecraft), because, well, old habits die hard. Obviously, Mustaine is in the twilight of a career you might not have liked all that much in the first place, but he has surrounded himself with an obscenely talented group of hired guns—Lamb of God’s Chris Adler on drums, Angra’s brain-scrambling axeman, Kiko Loureiro—who together churn out some surprisingly relevant post-Trump political thrash. If you’re into honoring your elders and all that crap, then this one is definitely for you.
WHAT TO SEE: It’s the weekend, so you know what that means—shows, shows, shows—beginning tonight with Horrendous and Hercyn at Saint Vitus, Armageddon and Driven Mad at Blackthorn 51, and Dead Roses at Gussy’s. Saturday arrives with a fucking blizzard and appearances from Whiplash and Lamb of God (at Vitus and Hammerstein Ballroom, respectively) riding its supposed 50-mile-per-hour winds. Good fucking luck, foot soldiers.
After you’re done digging out on Sunday, check out Internal Bleeding, Malignancy, Dehumanized, and more at Even Flow, and then cool those heels (you shouldn’t need any help, its January in case you’re not picking up on the theme here) until Tuesday, when Pink Mass and Organ Dealer unfurl a blue-light death/grind special up at everyone’s favorite Greenpoint hell house. Don’t stray too far, however, because on Wednesday, the week wraps with an ultra-rare performance from Mongolian folk metal orchestra, Tengger Calvary, who are sure to grace with Vitus with one of the most eclectic performances of the year.
WHAT FUCK: With every other early-oughts music trend currently enjoying some sort of $35-ticket reunion-tour-palooza, it now looks like its NWOAHM’s turn, starting in March with a FIVE (yes, as in the number fucking 5) night Killswitch Engage stand that will see the Mass-bred bruisers unleash their jort-clad mayhem on Gramercy Theater, Bowery Ballroom, Saint Vitus, the Marlin Room, and Rough Trade in early March. Tix for these went on sale this morning, so go gobble them up—hell, I might too—but do so knowing that, someday dark day in the not-so-distant, when the nü metal tour buses finally rumble back into town, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.