Anaal Nathrakh
In the Constellation of the Black Widow
Candlelight Records
Street: 06.29
Anaal Nathrakh = Agoraphobic Nosebleed + Bergthron + Abruptum
Anaal Nathrakh have invited black metal, grind core, industrial and folk metal to the same orgy, producing the hideous and wrong-eyed hybrid of In the Constellation of the Black Widow. As harsh and borderline unlistenable as Stalaagh or Abruptum, as gravel-throated as Extreme Noise Terror, and as schizophrenic as Pig Destroyer or Agoraphobic Nosebleed, this release honestly shouldn’t work. And while the stitches nearly burst with so many writhing bodies under the sheets, the stinking fruit of all that effort manages to hold one’s attention from beginning to end. While the production reeks more of a studio’s console than a sweaty practice space, the synthetic sound somehow anchors and defines this band’s approach. Tentatively recommended for metal fans who prefer to be abraded and blistered by their musical selections. –Ben West

Years in the Darkness
E1 Music
Street: 07.14
Arkaea = Threat Signal + Fear Factory + Spineshank
I didn’t have huge expectations for Arkaea; the band is half Fear Factory with guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera and half Threat Signal with vocalist Jon Howard and bassist Pat Kavanagh. While I’m an admittedly huge Fear Factory fan, I despise Threat Signal; thus enters in a strange love-hate releationship for me with Arkaea. For the record, Arkaea is modern metal all the way: big emphasis on grooves and subtle melodies with Raymond’s trademark machine-gun-styled drumming and some small bits of industrial-styled programming. The riffing and drumming really isn’t that bad, but then again, it’s not Fear Factory, either. The mightiest crap factor with Arkea is the vocals; they are terrible-sounding, forced, whiny, ass-sounding screams and strangely awful-sounding attempts at melody. If it weren’t for Mr. Howard, Arkea would be listenable—not anything fantastic, but at least listenable. Every time he chimes in, my ears cringe and I instinctively run for the stop button. –Bryer Wharton

Big D and the Kids Table
Fluent In Stroll
Street: 07.07
Big D = The Pietasters + Rancid + Madness
Big D have apparently created a new genre: stroll. Yes, it’s kinda stupid to claim to invent an entirely new genre, and yes, it’s stupid to give said genre a crappy name like “stroll,” but Fluent in Stroll really is unlike any other ska-punk album out there. Big D has taken the blueprint from 2007’s Strictly Rude (traditional ska/reggae filtered through Boston punk) and made some interesting additions, most notably, three female backup singers called The Doped Up Dollies. Again, stupid, but the Dollies make a lot of the songs on Stroll really work. On the title track and opener, “Doped Up Dollies on a One-Way Ticket to Blood” (I know, stupid), the Dollies’ schoolyard chants combined with the band’s jerky, funky horn-driven instrumentation create some really catchy and unique songs, and the band’s incorporation of funk and soul into their sound makes Stroll feel as much like a progression as Strictly Rude. Fluent in Stroll isn’t for everyone and isn’t even for every ska fan, but it’s the most unique ska album released in years. –Ricky Vigil

Bob Mould
Life and Times
Street: 04.07
Bob Mould = R.E.M. + Paul Westerberg
Anyone that’s in their early 40s that used to listen to “alternative music” will tell you they love Hüsker Dü. I heard this so many times from the guys that used to buy me beer as a teenager that I thought Hüsker Dü must be simply awesome. These same dudes also used to tell me that Bad Religion was the world’s greatest band. They taught me that when someone brought up Sugar, I was supposed to say “They’re OK, but I liked Bob better when he was in HD.” Then one day I heard these bands and I realized the older guys didn’t know shit about music. This album is about as tired as the title: Save yourself 36 minutes and some money. –Cinnamon Brown
Breakneck the Mage
Breakneck the Mage is Dead
Sonic Swings Records
Street: 06.03
Breakneck the Mage = Overcast! Slug + Heiruspecs + Eyedea
First off, props to Breakneck, who did all the production, mixing, writing, artwork and album-pressing. Recreating Midwest swagger can be tough with all of its predecessors. Breakneck the Mage swings straight to the jugular with his sophomore album. With a combination of all the gritty musical elements of backpack raps, Breakneck reminds me of a version of Atmosphere, Eyedea and Hieruspecs with a downtrodden twist. Breakneck tells stories revolving around love, misery and angst in every song on his album. If this is appealing to you or you are just having one of those rough days, then Breakneck might be the cure for you … or he might just make it worse. Production value is high and lyrical creativity and storytelling ability is up there as well, but are expressed in a very depressing tone. Standout tracks are “True Stories,” “Nowhere to Go,” “I Don’t Mind” and “Drunk Driving.” Something for the emo folk, peep. –JRapp