Thanks to a nasty winter cold and an additional jubilee of weather-related psycho-emotional maladies, I’m feeling a little flat today. Apologies in advance for any perceived auto-piloting. New metal is always goatshead soup for the sold-soul, however, so let’s just get at it and see how this goes.
WHAT TO BUY: We begin with Swedish black metal lifers, Marduk, and their lucky 13th LP, Frontschwein (Century Media). A cursed tome of black metal history and history in general, Frontschwein animates the horrors of 1930s and 40s-era Europe in each track, thanks in large part to frontman Mortuus’ serrated shriekage and machine gun blast beats aplenty. Given black metal’s spotty humanitarian history, this one, which views it dicey subject matter through a decidedly Deutsch prism (the cover art features a German soldier removing an unmistakable “potato masher” grenade, for instance), should be approached with caution, but if Century Media’s support and the overall lack of media pushback are any indication, approach it you should.
From hardened vets to new kids on the block now, Oakland blackened sludge brooders, Abstracter, drop their second and awesomely titled full length, Wound Empire (Fragile Branch/Shove Records/Sentient Ruin), on our collectively unsuspecting spines today. A four-part slab of gray-skied grit and all encompassing angst, this one slots in nicely alongside output from Bay Area slow counterparts like Lycus while also working in the same post-black elements that have earned more than a few bands more than a few fans in the past 18 months. If you want to experience their mission statement before committing to the whole thing, check out the bludgeoning colossus-with-a-heart album opener, “Lightless”. Like what you hear? CVLT Nation has the rest streaming over at their hovel of heavy.
You’re inner hardcore should also fun this week thanks to Denver heshers, Call of the Void, and San Diego sun-drunks, Retox, who both drop killer new LPs today. The former, Ageless (Relapse), is as punishing as they come, blasting through one classic metallic hardcore anthem after the next (breakdowns fucking definitely included) every 2 to 3 minutes until your skull has becoming little more than a pudding cup. Meanwhile, the latter, Beneath California (Epitaph), pushes noise punk to the nexus, offering a perfect precursor to the band’s upcoming Saint Vitus appearance alongside Whores, Primitive Weapons, and Fashion Week.
This week also offers up a couple good reissue-related releases, starting with Exhumed and their re-imagined best-of collection, Gore Metal Redux: A Necrospective (Relapse), which finds the splatter metal pioneers re-recording their seminal LP in the name of enhanced carnage. Arkansas sludge collective Rwake follow suit with a remastered release of their first ever demo, titled Xenoglossalgia: The Last Stage of Awareness (Relapse), that sounds as heavy as ever. The fact both these records landed in the fallout of the nü metal explosion and have managed to remain relevant 17-years-later is a testament to just how good they were and are, so don’t sleep on them.
Finally, let’s polish off the week with a little black metal palate cleanse from UK duo, Ahamkara, and their new record, The Embers of the Stars (Bindrune Recordings), which drops stateside today boasting an epic blend of second wave icescapes and Baltic blast beats. If you’re into Emperor and Ulver or, more recently, Winterfylleth and Falls of Rauros, then this one is not only a must hear but also the perfect soundtrack to the remainder of your never-ending winter.
WHAT TO SEE: The weekly insanity begins tomorrow night at Saint Vitus with a blue light stoner special featuring Cold Blue Mountain, Lighteater, and Thera Roya, so talk to your local dealer and get out there. The train keeps rolling right into Thursday night when Anthrax legend Scott Ian’s new supergroup, Motor Sister, hit the house that Satan built alongside Static Summer and Abstract Artimus. Friday, however, brings the best Vitus-based option of the week, with German blackened doomers Downfall of Gaia in town for what is sure to be a thoroughly cinematic affair featuring supporting sets from local post-Deafheaven outfit So Hideous, Sangharsha, and more.
The Acheron comes correct with a stacked weekend slate as well, including a Ruby the Hatchet-headlined Valentine’s throwdown with Gondola, Blackout (who Noisey just called “Brooklyn’s next great doom band”) and Joy, and a grade A Angus-certified rager spearheaded by Mortals, The Black Antler, and more.
Over in Manhattan, Iriving Plaza hosts a proggy nerdgasm with Periphery (who just released a heavy double album), Nothing More, and Wovenwar, while outside of city limits, White Widows Pact grace Jersey with an Ides and Huldra-backed circle-pit circus and spazz death outfit, Sexcrement, hit Long Island for a so–called “Valentine’s Day Massacre” at Point Break Sports Bar and Grill (you know, so you don’t have to DVR the Islanders game).
WHAT THE FUCK: Listen, I like Tenacious D in a comedic capacity and LOVE Ronnie James Dio, sans context. For the joke-folk duo to win Best Metal Performance at the Grammy’s last night thanks to a solid (if unspectacular) cover of “The Last In Line”, however, is perhaps the most mind-boggling metal decision yet from an institution whose inability to understand one of the world’s foremost music genres has become the stuff of lore. It’s the Grammy’s, so really there’s no point in getting too bent over it, but this has become almost intentionally ludicrous at this point.