THE WEEKLY INJECTION: New Releases Out Today – 5/1
- Posted by Matt Cerami on May 1, 2012
A glance at this weeks release schedule will immediately reveal two things; a lack of major releases, and an absurd amount of releases you've never heard of. It seems disappointing, I know, but let me say this: any opportunity to discover some gems is an opportunity worth taking. And boy have I discovered some gems. I hope you all like your metal black, epic, and full of atmosphere; this week we'll see two phenomenal releases from Aquilus and Agruss that make pretty strong bids for a spot on my year-end list. And I guess we can look at some other stuff too. Here's what's coming out today:
Aquilus – Griseus
Genre: Atmospheric Black/Death Metal/Classical
Listen: Full Album Stream
"Wow." A single-word summation. The only word I uttered under the gentle fading of final notes; at the heart-wrenching conclusion of an indescribable journey. I'm realizing that I probably can 't do any better than "wow," not with 500 more words. Clocking in at an hour and twenty minutes, spanning all styles of atmospheric metal, decorated by the bleak voicings of a piano, the Gothic bombast of classical, the lush textures of neo-folk; Griseus is an album of absolutely monolithic proportions. I dare say it's the first masterpiece I've come across this year; all somehow achieved by a single person. Attempt at description seems to me a grave injustice, but here's a thought: imagine a pre-Blackwater Park Opeth dabbling in the dark majesty of black metal. Mikael's clean vocals are replaced with the layered chants of a folk metal band. Saturate that with sweeping symphonic compositions, uninterrupted for minutes at a time; equally lengthy and minimalistic piano sections; and a sense of pantheistic grandeur that is both deeply intimate and powerfully expansive. Elsewhere on the internet people are saying it's like Ennio Morricone meets black metal. Did I sell you yet? If you listen to anything I say this year, let it be this: GET THIS ALBUM.
Melechesh- Mystics Of The Pillar II [EP]
Genre: Blackened Death Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Middle-Eastern metal veterans Melechesh are back, releasing a Digital EP that boasts some semi-new material. Three classic tracks from The Epigenesis have been reworked; "Mystics Of The Pillar" is outfitted with a fancy new ending, and both "Sacred Geometry" and the title track have been turned into instrumentals. Unless you're a die-hard Melechesh completionist, I can't see much to get excited about. The original tracks are already epic, and I'm generally a cynical old dick who despises change. Still, it's always interesting to hear a band release alternate versions of their songs, the stuff that "didn't make the cut," so to speak. This is available for download on iTunes and Amazon.
Wild Hunt – Before The Plane Of Angles
For some reason this band is continuously slapped with a "black metal" tag; listening to the album I have no idea why. At most, I can draw connections between Wild Hunt's debut and modern day Enslaved — if only in their bouncy prog-rock meets spacey clean section approach. In truth, Wild Hunt sits nicely in the middle of a musical spectrum, Enslaved at one end, and say, Hammers Of Misfortune at the other. It's an interesting combination. The songs are constantly going somewhere, every note is fleeting, a sense of blurred movement permeates the album. Traditional and relatively upbeat riffs meet classic rock guitar solos and gruff, yelled-but-not-quite-screamed vocals; songs will occasionally introduce some genre-bending in the way of a doom riff or an acoustic section. Despite all this, I'm not as excited by the formula as some people seem to be; the band doesn't really excel in any area of their sound, but rather seem to be dependent solely on the novelty of having mixed influences. Rave reviews from elsewhere would suggest that I'm just an elitist prick though, so be sure to check this one out and judge for yourself.
It truly is an awesome day for fans of epic black metal. As if the Aquilus release wasn't more than enough to sate you for at least a few months, Agruss have gone and released an album (their debut no less!) of equal scope and caliber. Aggressive, heavy as all hell, deeply melodic, drenched in atmosphere; Morok is an album that is almost suffocating in its perfection. Its cohesion is mind-blowing; every note of the album works to create a sense of utter futility, of an ever-encroaching annihilation. No surprise; the band members are from a land surrounded by three Soviet power plants, Chernobyl among them. You can imagine the type of vitriol these dudes are working with. The vocals alone seem to be the musical embodiment of schizophrenia, with deep gutturals and tortured shrieks occurring simultaneously at every line. The songs are densely layered, brilliantly written, equal parts emotional and abrasive. Pounding, dissonant chords are juxtaposed with fiery black metal riffs that weave through serpentine compositions, climaxing in dark melodic flourishes, only to recede back behind a wall of violent riffs. Morok is unsettling, ominous, almost cosmic in its vision; a portent of doom and a manifestation of hatred. Whether this is fixing to be on a few year-end lists is yet to be seen, but regardless, Agruss have made their first impression in a big way.
Eternal Deformity- The Beauty Of Chaos
Genre: Avant-Garde/Gothic/Black Metal
Label: Code 666
Listen: "Thy Kingdom Gone"
As you can probably tell from the genre cluster-fuck above, Eternal Deformity are, at the very least and if only for their novelty, a band worth checking out. But only once. What we've got here is something like one part Unexpect, one part Arcturus, and one part Anthems… era Emperor. Granted, the band never gets as eccentric or as interesting as those they sound like. Worse, they're infinitely cheesier. Everything here sounds lazy and cheap, over-produced, and musically unchallenging. Quirky, carnival sounding synth effects often mirror the chromatic progressions of the guitar (which rarely consist of anything original); pinch harmonics are abound and frequent (like, every five seconds frequent); and it sounds like the solo guitars were run through at least 70 wah pedals simultaneously. But hey, if you want a watered down and slightly annoying version of something cool, go for it.
Buffalo Theory MTL – Heavy Ride (Hard Rock)
Castle – Blacklands (Trad Metal/Occult Rock)
Catheter – Southwest Doom Violence (Grindcore)
Diseim – Holy Wrath (Death/Thrash/Doom)
Electrocution – Inside the Unreal Re-Release (Death Metal)
Eternal Helcaraxe – Against All Odds (Black Metal)
Gods Of Chaos – March Into Perdition (Noise/Punk/Experimental)
Holy Moses – 30th Anniversary: The Power Of Now (Speed/Thrash Metal)
Litrosis – I Am Death (Symphonic Black Metal)
Marilyn Manson – Born Villan
Teramaze – Anhedonia (Progressive Rock)
Usurpress - In Permanent Twilight (Death/Sludge Metal)
When Tigers Fight – Death Songs (Hardcore)