Lots of must-hears this week, so let’s get to the business of hearing them. Onward, downward, whatever.
WHAT TO HEAR: Leading us off this week is Baroness, one of the few late-2000s sludge acts, along with Mastodon, still carrying the torch aloft. But a long time (and a lot of miles) have passed since the surging grooves of Red and Blue-era Baroness, and with the years, Jon Baizley and co. have mellowed considerably, as evidenced by their latest longplay, Gold & Grey (Abraxan Hymns), now streaming at NPR. Note, however, that I said mellowed, not softened, because Gold & Grey is tenacious—the sound of a commercially successful metal band at the height of their creative convictions producing an album that doesn’t sound like Load (a minor miracle.) It may be akin to Opeth’s slow pivot to prog, with shape-shifting Fender tones replacing the gristle-y chunk of yore, but the howling Baroness hooks are still everywhere, dropped like anchors in the unfamiliar waters of progressive rock. If you’re passing on this cause you never liked Baroness before (or because you REALLY liked Baroness before), don’t. That’s all I can say.
If that’s not enough genre boundary pushing for you, then Pinkish Black’s fourth full-length, Concept Unification (Relapse) may just about tip you over the edge. The Texas duo began life as a synth-driven blackgaze outfit, but have since morphed into a drone duo, thrumming and buzzing and brooding through eight slow-burn epics. It’s not the band’s most immediate work, but it’s their tensest and, perhaps, most compelling, so make sure to give it a listen when you’re looking for something on the quieter side.
Tires screeching as we take a hard turn onto the left hand path now, we find Fuming Mouth’s The Grand Descent (Triple-B Records) waiting for us, jaw unhinged. Technically it came out last week, but I missed it because I’m an idiot and for that I apologize. These Massholes blend desperate hardcore emotion with death metal’s chainsaw attack to craft one of the crustiest breakdown theses of the year. Heavy as fuck, fun as hell, and over before it overstays the welcome it never got, this one is essential listening for everybody who was rolling their eyes at me for leading this thing with Baroness and Pinkish Black.
Speaking of [multi-syllabic adjective] Black bands, Brooklyn doom merchants Eternal Black are back with their second LP, Slow-Burn Suicide (Obsidian Sky), this week. Blending trad doom swagger with the grit of 90s New York noise rock, the trusty power trio rollick through nine gruff, gravelly grooves, tossing any notions of a sophomore slump straight into the East River with a pair of concrete sneakers firmly laced. Light the candles on your riff altar, and check out the whole thing—as well as an in-depth look at what make Eternal Black eternally black—via The Obelisk.
After that, fire up the Hate, quite literally, with Polish black metal outfit’s fist-pumping new full-length Auric Gates of Veles (Metal Blade). Reformed Cradle of Filth fans definitely need apply. Finally, bring the curtain down on the week’s new jams with A Throne of Ash (Season of Mist), the chaotic new offering from blackened Swedish hardcore unit This Gift is a Cruse, and Demon Scriptures (Pulverised Records), the new EP from Taiwan’s Ripped to Shreds, who specialize in old-school Bay Area death metal, of all things.
WHAT TO SEE: The shows spoils us tonight with Ashes Within at Lucky 13 Saloon, Ignite at The Kingsland, Warrior Soul at Revolution, Church of Misery at Vitus, a Baroness in-store at Rough Trade, Choking Victim at Market Hotel, and Full of Hell/Primitive Man/Genocide Pact at Brooklyn Bazaar, before keeping the gravy train rolling on Saturday with Genocide Pact at Ram’s Head Pub, Deceased at Brooklyn Bazaar, Malignancy at Blackthorn 51, Broken Heroes at QXT’s, more Choking Victim at Market Hotel, even more Church of Misery at Vitus. Wrap up the weekend on Sunday with Riot V at Gramercy Theatre, Winter Wolf at The Footlight, and Suffocation at Market Hotel.
The working week starts quiet on Monday before heating up on Tuesday with Fury/Diztort at Vitus. Hump day welcomes Pentagram to Knitting Factory, Earth at (le) poisson rouge, and a Wrath of God: Evil Pride kickoff bash at Vitus before Thursday closes things out with Gorgasm at Lucky 13 Saloon, Wolf Blood at The Meat Locker, and Liturgy/Luminous Vault at Saint Vitus.