WHAT TO HEAR: Starting us off right are Seattle crossover kings, Black Breath, and their new fire axe of an LP, Slaves Beyond Death (Southern Lord). One part HM-2 aggression, one part Swedish death metal grime, garnished with Kurt Ballou production and blackened with a brûlée torch, the recipe for this one is a simple one, but that makes it no less potent, rampaging across 8 anthems of suffering without pause or empathy. Though bludgeoning by nature, Black Breath manage to find massive, memorable moments in each and every track—from the half-time stomp of the title track to the “Orion”-isms of epic album closer, “Chains of the Afterlife”—making Beyond Death one of the most listenable d-beat throat-punches since last year’s Trap Them opus, Blissfucker. If you only listen to one record this week, this should be it.
After that beatdown, things start to stray toward the black void of the spectrum, beginning with Windfaerer’s fist-raising, mountain-toppling new LP, Tenebrosum (independent). If you’ve heard of the Jersey trio, you’ve probably seen them described as “folk” or “pagan” metal, and while they certainly contain elements of those sub-genres, make no mistake; Windfaerer are a black metal band at their heart and in their bones. Want proof? Go check out Tenebrosum’s relentless, perpetually climaxing opener, “Celestial Supremacy”’—perhaps the most single-mindedly epic black metal tune I’ve heard all year. Needless to say, these guys are a name to watch in the tri-state metal scene and a must-see next time they’re in town. Now, if only we could only find them a label…
Keeping with that theme, NYC blackened occult outfit Teloch Vovin’s new EP, Further Down the Tunnel (independent), and its dungeon dwelling hymns are also worth a speculative listen, so make sure to check that out. If that still doesn’t satisfy your blood lust, then perhaps Finnish traditionalists Horna (led by Sarghest/Behexen mastermind, Shatraug), and their latest swath of scorched earth, Hengen Tulut (World Terror Committee), have what you’re looking for. Finally, turn your attention northward, where Boston black n’ roll bastards, Human Bodies, have teamed up with Leather Chalice—the Venom-worshipping blackened punk project of Jann from Ramlord—for a killer split (Broken Limbs) of crusty, basement-show bliss. That fucker is a contender for split of the year, so make sure to grab your corpse paint and turn it up.
Next up are California heavy metal homewreckers, Huntress, and their third full-length, Static (Napalm Records). Come to it for frontwoman Jill Janus or the festival-ready anthems, but it’s worth a listen either way. After that, check out Finnish art-doom outfit Dark Buddha Rising‘s, Inversum (Neurot Recordings), which lumbers toward enlightenment over the course of two sprawling, LSD-soaked epics. Hare f’n Krishna, everyone.
Finally, power metal fans will be hyped to learn that A Sound of Thunder have their fifth full length, Tales from the Deadside (Mad Neptune), dropping today. I am still pushing Visigoth’s The Revenant King as the genre’s finest this year, but Deadside—which lifts its story from the Shadowman comic series—sounds ready, willing, and able to put up a fight. After your done either loving or loathing that one (there’s really no in between when it comes to power metal), make sure to check out Vampire‘s new EP, Cimmerian Shade (Century Media). I never really listened to these guys in the past, but people who have are talking like this is a watershed release for the Gothenberg death metallers, so definitely give it a listen.
WHAT TO SEE: Metal Fridays have seemed pretty quiet of late, but this week looks to be a welcome break in that weather pattern, with Ace Frehley hitting the Starland Ballroom, Metallicon thrashing into Blackthorn 51, and Cavity prepping for their first NYC show in 22 years at Saint Vitus. Saturday doesn’t back off the throttle either, with Velinas, Flight of Sleipnir, and Falls Of Rauros headlining a black metal beauty at Vitus, Sardonic Witchery cursing Blackthorn 51, and Impaler spearing Lucky 13 Saloon right through the gut. Both 51 and 13 return on Sunday as well, with Hibria and Alustrium taking to their respective stages, so grab your overnight bag and get out there. If neither of those hit the right spot, then perhaps Candiria at Saint Vitus, Ghost at T5, and/or Abigail Williams at The Bowery Electric will do the trick.
Monday goes more or less dark, so take a night off and get caught up whatever it is you aren’t caught up on, and then head out to Terminal 5 on Tuesday for the first of the week’s God Speed You! Black Emperor shows or Vitus for a grind-minded death spectacular featuring Maruta, Yautja, and Pyrrhon. Wednesday finds that same lineup (plus Organ Dealer, minus Pyrrhon) hitting The Meatlocker in Montclair, so check that one out if you’re Jersey-based. Otherwise, your best bet is to keep things in Brooklyn for Godspeed at MHoW and Kadavar at the ol’ SV. After that, wrap things up in fitting fashion on Thursday with a Saint Vitus appearance from Kansas death metallers Origin—who arrive with Krisiun, Aeon, Alterbeast, and more in tow—or Godspeed’s climactic appearance at the Warsaw.
WHAT THE FUCK: In case you somehow missed it in the ensuing flash flood of thinkpieces, opinions, and #hottakes, Deafheaven’s third collection of lightning-rod black metal, New Bermuda (Anti-), was made available for streaming via NPR yesterday. I’m a Deafheaven fan—I’ll get that out of the way right now—and I personally find New Bermuda a notably heavier, catchier, and diverse listen than its hallowed/hated predecessor, but I’m going to try to resist the urge to sit here and say you have to go listen to it and that, if you do, you have to like it or “get” it. A big part of the reason this band gets so much blowback, is metal fans’ prevailing (and warranted) feeling that the music media soapboxers shove them down their throats and people, generally speaking, like to choose what they shove down their own throats, thank you very much. So check it out or don’t, but if you decide on the latter, leave the context at the door. This is music, after all, and it deserves to be heard with open ears.