OK folks, after a two-week hiatus, I’m back and the same flake as ever. But don’t worry, there’s a solid slate of new releases and a full Halloween week of shows to help make up for my heavy metal infidelity. Take me back won’t you, please?
WHAT TO HEAR: First up this week are Oakland death metal unit Vastum, who return from a four-year slumber today with their gruesome new full-length, Orificial Purge (20 Buck Spin.) Featuring members of Necrot, Ulthar, and Mortuous and many more, it would be easy to pass off Vastum as just another sidevproject, but Orificial Purge is the sound of a band who took great care with their compositions, striving at every twist in their labyrinth to make things as unsettling as humanly possible. There’s still a ton of subterranean headbangage to be had, but Vastum fetishize dissonance and nihilism in new, authentic, and terrifying ways, and in the process have coughed up one of the death metal albums of the year. Grab your whips/chains and check it out.
After that, open your eyes to The Burning Dawn (Season of Mist), the sophomore opus from Atlanta’s premier black n’ roll ruffians, Cloak. Like Black Anvil south, Cloak blend a knack for big, crescendo-y songcraft with the At The Heart of Winter-indebted riffage to craft one of the catchiest breeds of modern black metal currently on offer. But while many of its peers pull their hooks from the world of emo and screamo, The Burning Dawn mines classic rock and heavy metal for their leather-bound breakdowns. And no, we’re not talking about Steely Dan. Go get beheaded.
After that, cool off a bit with the return blackgaze trailblazers Alcest and their latest long play, Spiritual Instinct (Nuclear Blast). Feel how you want to feel about “blackgaze,” but what it became is no fault of Neige and co., who have proven once more that their songwriting, hooks, and pedalboards are a cut or two above the chasing pack. Spiritual Instinct still features more dreamy cleans than screams, but it continues Alcest’s slow crawl back to the metal borderlands following 2014’s Shelter. Plus, if HM-2 OSDM is the new blackgaze (don’t even think about @ing me), is blackgaze the new HM-2 OSDM? It makes you think, doesn’t it…
After that, drone kings Sunn O))) are also back with, Pyroclasts (Southern Lord), their second swath of “bwaaaammmmms” and “ommmmms” this year. The record is a collection of four warm-up improvisations the band would conduct before and after each Life Metal recording session, tracked to two-inch tape by Steve Albini himself. If that doesn’t get you curious diving back into Sunn O)))’s weird little world, then you and I just aren’t on the same page. As the perfect antidote to Pyroclasts’ patient sprawl, meanwhile, are politically fired-up UK black metallers Dawn Ray’d, and their new full-length, Behold Sedition Plainsong (Prosthetic). A blend of urgent, surging protest songs and folked-up castle metal, Dawn Ray’d offer up one of the more fascinating dichotomies in metal, so hear what they have to say if you haven’t already.
After that, check out even more HM-2 OSDM (I know, I know, I’m being a dick but it’s out of control) from the scorching plains of Texas in Cleric’s Serpent Psalms (Raw Skullz Records). Thankfully the quartet’s sophomore LP adds progressivism and musicianship to the equation, which serves the saturated sub-genre well. Finally, show Savage Master some love and check out their breed of classic heavy metal, on full display on their new LP, Myth, Magic, & Steel (Shadow Kingdom Records.)
WHAT TO SEE: The Halloween-week show roster is robust to say the least, with the teeth-rotting good times kicking off tonight with Ride for Revenge at PBU, the Stimulate Halloween Ball at DROM featuring Psyclon Nine, the Halloween Massacre three-floor bash at Brooklyn Bazaar, Monsters Ball at Revolution featuring SIN, Ericeyes Fragment at Lucky 13 Saloon, A Night of Ancient Gods at QXT’s, Spill the Blood at Rams American Pub, Attila at Amityville Music Hall, Cortège/MantisMass at Gussy’s, Car Bomb’s Mordial record release gig at The Kingsland, and night one of Pig Destroyer at Vitus, with Genocide Pact and Sunrot. On Saturday they return with Artificial Brain, Pyrrhon, and Blame God, or you can check out Haunted Hill/Cypress Hill at the soon-to-be defunct PlayStation Theater, more Ride For Revenge at PBU—this time with Pissgrave and Ruin Lust—Reign of Fear at 66 Greenpoint Ave., South Mad Sabs Black Sabbath tribute at Lucky 13 Saloon, Pentagram at Debonair Music Hall, Helmet at Bowery Ballroom, and Russian Circles/Windhand at the Warsaw. A pitch-black Sunday then wraps up the weekend in style with Carnivore A.D. at The Kingsland, Outburst/Live Fast, Die Fast at Niagara, and Pale Lips at Saint Vitus.
Speaking of Vitus, they host a wild Monday-nighter with 1349, UADA, and Cloak. That’s already sold out though, so if you can’t score tickets, check out, um, Sum 41 at Hammerstein Ballroom? On second thought, maybe just stay in. Tuesday is pretty chill, but get back out there on Wednesday and catch Killing Time, who headline a Hard Times book release party at Vitus, as well as Lungs at Max Fish, The Long Losts at Knitting Factory, Burgerkill at The Kingsland, UFO at Sony Hall, and Wolf Eyes/Pharmakon at Brooklyn Bazaar. Finally on Halloween night, sample the first annual Eternal Black Halloween Bash at Lucky 13 Saloon, featuring, you guessed it, Eternal Black, or get your eardrums nuked by Burgerkill at Rams Head, Murphy’s Law at The Kingsland, the Max Fish Halloween Show featuring Fear is Dead, The Dickies at Bowery Electric, The Tits at Brooklyn Bazaar, Mother Feather at Saint Vitus at 7pm (followed by Sadist at 11), and Blue Oyster Cult/UFO at the St. George Theater.
WHAT THE FUCK: Cutting your wedding cake to Hatebreed? Gotta be Connecticut.