National CD Reviews – October 2009

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The Accüsed
The Curse of Martha Splatterhead
Southern Lord
Street: 08.18
The Accüsed = D.R.I. + Obituary + Exodus
I’m not familiar at all with the history of The Accüsed. I know the band has gone through lineup changes and then some, though I have heard tunes from most of their catalogue. They’re doing what they do well since 1981, with guitarist Tommy Niemeyer as the constant and malevolent force behind The Accüsed. While the new album enjoys a clearer,  thicker and overall louder production, the thrash-death/crossover sound that has influenced so many metal, hardcore, punk and whatever-else artists remains the same. For the best experience, listen to this as a whole album–hell, it’s only 30 minutes. But the tracks are strong enough to slaughter up all the playlist types. The style that the Accüsed helped create has undoubtedly been played out, but this record is just as strong as any of the band’s back catalogue and is a welcome addition for longtime fans and for newbies. It provides an opening into a world of alcohol, violence and death-fueled, fun mayhem. (10.04: Burt’s Tiki Lounge) –Bryer Wharton

Alec K Redfearn & The Seizures
Exterminating Angel
Corleone Records
Street: 08.31
Alec K Redfearn & The Seizures=The Dead Science + The Born Again Floozies
Singing and playing the accordion simultaneously apparently doesn’t phase Alec K Redfearn in either of his groups, both with The Eyesores and The Seizures, and thank jebus. Redfearn is pumping out some interesting stuff from the bellows of his accordion––distorted and grungy accordion, to be exact. It’s rare to hear an accordion utilized in such a way and the lyrics are accomplished enough to accompany his squeezebox with some interesting flourishes. “Drunk on the blood of saints/these lifeless wrecks are shoving past you/nary a word of thanks/fat little tanks,” on “Isle of Swine” is heard riding over some great bowed-cello and some ethereal and angsty female vocals joining the menagerie for some fantastic “out there” and “wacked-out” music, as some people might describe this stuff. –JP

Alice Donut
Ten Glorious Animals
Alternative Tentacles
Street 09.22
Alice Donut = Butthole Surfers + the Pixies + psychedelic drugs
For much of the 1990s, Alice Donut was the only thing that kept Alternative Tentacles Records afloat. As lawsuits from various former members of the Dead Kennedys piled up, this was one of the few acts that actually put money back in the coffers. There was a time when they almost broke big, but the world was never quite ready for their decadent style of unfriendly music. More than a decade later, and back on Jello Biafra’s San Francisco-based label, Alice Donut is once again turning heads. This latest effort is a little tamer than their earlier work, but it still gives off their classic Mudhoney-on-acid vibe that is really difficult to describe, but even more difficult to stop humming along to. Some songs sound like classic 1960s psyche-rock and others have more of a post-punk, happy pop feel to them. The crown jewel of this disc, though, is a cover of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind.” It starts off very faithful to the original, but soon melts into a fully instrumental, troubling and heavy-handed version of the classic song. The result is twofold: We are reminded of what a good songwriter Frank Black can be, and we are shown how easily his singing voice can be replaced by a trombone. –James Bennett

Andreas Kisser
Hubris Vol. I & II
Mascot Records
Street: 08.25
Andreas Kisser = Sepultura (the tribal parts) + extremely generic South American music
I’m all for metal musicians branching out, trying new things and all that fun stuff. Andreas Kisser has given the world a double album, Hubris I & II. Thankfully, both albums aren’t an hour each, but the separation is due to the musical differences displayed on each album. Vol. I is focused more in the rock and metal realm, and while there are echoes of Kisser’s work with Sepultura, again, thankfully, the rock-oriented tracks actually have a bit more bite and quality than anything Sepultura has done in the last decade. With Vol. II, the songs are world South American-oriented with some plain, acoustic, folk-styled work. At first it all sounds nice and world-music worthy, but the focus seems lost as with the rock songs, much like the last Sepultura record (sorry, Mr. Kisser, there is no escaping the comparison). The songs all feel like decent jamming on their own, but they don’t go together and neither album really gives me much of a desire to listen to the songs again. –Bryer Wharton

Angus Khan
Black Leather Soul
Nickel and Dime Records
Street: 07.29
Angus Khan = Alice Cooper + Valient Thorr Priest + Blue Oyster Cult
Diluted is the best word to describe Angus Khan. They’re diluted punk. They’re diluted rock. They’re diluted-looking dudes. Only drunk-ass barflies will enjoy this tribute to the pre-Aquanet ’80s. This band actually makes motorcycles look uncool. Black Leather Soul is filled to the hood of your uncle Ronny’s shitty ’76 Firebird with retarded lyrics that read like an eighth-grade creative-writing entry from Izzy Osbourne and Lita Ford’s preemie love child. The only thing that’s mature about Angus Khan is the age of its members (my guess is mid-40s), while their riffs are undercooked and out of tempo. Black Leather Soul is exactly what the members of Angus Khan are—bloated and full of shit. –Nick Parker

Anvil
This is Thirteen
VH1 Classic Records
Street: 09.15
Anvil = Black Sabbath (Dio era) + Judas Priest + Accept
There is no getting around writing this review without mentioning the documentary film Anvil: The Story of Anvil, considering a good portion of the film was documenting efforts the band went through to get this album recorded. In effect, said documentary may turn on newcomers or people that have forgotten about the band back on to Anvil; I know it’s turned me into a fan. I’m not stating this because I have any sort of pity for Anvil, This is Thirteen is just a solid, classic heavy-metal output. Is it going to go into the history books of fantastic albums by luminaries such as Priest, Iron Maiden etc.? Not at all, but I’ll say it again, This is Thirteen is a good fucking record of no-frills classic metal and hard rock. Admittedly, listening is a growing experience. An initial turn-off to the entire album is the vocals, which seem a little hokey, but after a few good spins, you’ll be singing along and banging your head. Thank you, Anvil and friends, for sticking it out through the shit and getting this record released—it damn well deserves it. –Bryer Wharton

Apse
Climb Up
ATP Records
Street: 10.20
Apse = Radiohead + Ladytron
“Wow, this shit is tits!” I thought on a first spin of Apse. The second album from this East Coast band is really, well, mammary-tastic stuff. Thom Yorke-style vocals and Radiohead-esque rhythms are great if they can be pulled off without too much mimicry, and Apse has found that balance. They have an interesting sound, unlike other American groups, so it’s no wonder a Spanish label, Acuarela Discos, has them on their roster as well. Listen for some horns on tracks like “Return” and other interesting noises/rhythms on songs like “The Age”. It’s nice to see bands on the East Coast formulating their own sound in opposition to what the scene on the West Coast seems to be churning out. –JP

Awaken Demons
The Mirror
Trustkill Records
Street: 08.17
Awaken Demons = Throwdown + early Earth Crisis + xAFBx
Only Europeans could actually call their hardcore band something shitty like Awaken Demons and sign to a semi-decent label (because of the language barrier—not because Europeans are stupid). The Mirror is the same hardcore record you’ve heard for the past eight or so years. It’s got breakdowns that don’t serve the song, two-steps that only exist to build up to the breakdowns and stupid gang vocals that are only on the record to incite pile-ons at shows. Vincent Bennet of The Acacia Strain and Karl Buechner of Earth Crisis lend vocals on two tracks, but don’t improve the music very much beyond raising the profile of the Italian band. These tunes could easily be mistaken for a terrible B-side album from Throwdown’s Haymaker sessions. If hardcore isn’t officially dead, Awaken Demons is ready to start building the coffins. –Nick Parker

Azaghal
Teraphim
Moribund Records
Street: 09.29
Azaghal = Horna + Behexen
The dark cloud of Azaghal has plagued the North for more than a decade, creating one well-crafted, hateful tome after the next. Teraphim picks up right where last year’s Omega left off, in essentially every way, and includes a few slower tracks added into the mix, perhaps taking some time to explore the atmosphere a little bit more than normally. One of these tracks is “Hänen Musta Liekkinsä,” which is probably the highlight for me, with some adept usage of synthesized choir vocals and a strong rhythm section. This is simply another good black-metal release from the always-consistent Azaghal. –Conor Dow

Banner Pilot
Collapser
Fat Wreck Chords
Street: 09.01
Banner Pilot = The Lawrence Arms + Dillinger Four + American Steel
What’s that, you say? Fat Wreck Chords has released an album by a band from the Midwest with a penchant for alcohol consumption? And this band will likely only appeal to regular visitors of punknews.org? Unheard of! As much as I love bands who have an unrelenting boner for Jawbreaker, it’s hard to deny that the orgcore style is getting a bit stale as the years pass. I genuinely enjoyed Banner Pilot’s first EP, but now it seems they’re just pandering to an audience that lives inside a musical bubble in which Brendan Kelly and his ilk are gods. Every song on Collapser sounds like Dillinger Four as played by The Lawrence Arms, and I can only take so many references to alcohol (whether you be drinking it, swimming in it, or merely obtaining it) and how cold and empty the Midwest is. Banner Pilot definitely have the potential to move beyond their influences, but they seriously need to rethink their approach. –Ricky Vigil

Belphegor
Walpurgis Rites Hexenwahn
Nuclear Blast
Street: 10.20
Belphegor = Behemoth + Dark Funeral + Dimmu Borgir – the keyboards
Austria’s Belphegor started their career out in the early 90s playing sheer black metal. Good or bad, there isn’t a whole lot to say about Walpurgis Rites Hexenwahn—the album runs close to the lines of the band’s last two albums, which is a good thing if you like said releases. Belphegor play well-produced, speed-driven blackened death metal with some slight semblances of melody (the evil black metal kind), all with a fairly technical edge to the playing style. Although this new offering feels like it has a bit more depth than the last couple releases, it’s just a bit. The band has definitely entered a comfort zone with their sound and they do it well. The only real complaint with the album is that it also has that “I’ve heard all this before feeling,” with the exception of the dominatingly cool mid-tempo war-call-type tune “Der Geistertreiber.” –Bryer Wharton

Black Cobra   
Chronomega
Southern Lord Records
Street: 09.29
Black Cobra = Acid King + Cavity + High on Fire
One of Southern Lord’s more recent signings, Chronomega is Black Cobra’s third full length release since their formation in 2002, and they get better and better with each one. Comprised of Rafa Martinez (ex- Acid King) and Jason Landrian (ex-Cavity), the duo have taken the best parts of their previous bands and expanded upon them masterfully. Crushing metal, combined with sludge, and at times, drone, Chronomega hits the ground running a fucking marathon, and doesn’t let up. Even when the damned thing’s over and no sound is emanating from the speakers, the fucker still pounds one’s eardrums. I don’t remember their live show being anywhere near as good as this here record, but if I get the chance to see them again when they tour this fall, I’ll most definitely give them another chance to bring the pain. (Vegas: 10.21) –Gavin Hoffman

The Black Dahlia Murder
Deflorate
Metal Blade
Street: 09.15
The Black Dahlia Murder = Dissection + Arsis + Through the Eyes of the Dead
The Black Dahlia Murder somehow manages to be great at nearly everything I love about metal. Oh sure, they don’t do the long, sweeping tracks and ridiculously atmospheric soundscapes I love so much, but sometimes a guy just wants to stomp around his bedroom, bang his head, and smash some furniture to energetic metal about murder, destruction, zombies and Castlevania. That guy is me, and Black Dahlia is the perfect band to do that with. Deflorate is their fourth album and it is well written and fun, just like the others. Despite continual lineup changes, the band manages to keep a consistent style, which actually impresses me the most. Black Dahlia are one of the few bands I love where I’d be bummed if they did try to branch out. When in doubt, give me their consistent style with Trevor Strnad’s alternating Orc growl and banshee shriek any day. (10.19: Murray Theater) –Conor Dow

Bleeding Fist
Bestial Kruzifix666ion
Moribund
Street: 09.29
Bleeding Fist = Impiety + Ashdautas + Beherit
Slovenia-based Bleeding Fist’s self-described style of “Chaos Black Metal,” is actually a fair self-judgment. I’d call what Bleeding Fist do on Bestial Kruzifix66ion more just black-fast metal. Yes, there are slight elements of thrash metal, but the overall feeling is that hate and enraged sound of just pissed-off , “I-don’t-give-a-shit-what-you-think-so-fuck-off,” in-your-face, ranting and raving style of black metal. You know the album’s going to have an attitude like that when the album opener, “Morbid Psychotic Distortion Pt. 1,” starts out with the vocalist basically hocking a load of spit. I could feel like this style, just like other areas of extreme metal, have been played out better before, but Bleeding Fist aren’t out to disappoint. I’m a big fan of mixing good songs with the overall attitude and motive of an album and Bleeding Fist violently achieve both. The band does a bloody damn good job at changing how the scene can interpret black-thrash metal, because when you may think you’ve heard it all, something like this rears its nasty head. –Bryer Wharton

Blind Man’s Colour
Season Dreaming
Kanine Records
Street: 08.19
Blind Man’s Colour = Spiritualized + This Heat + Radiohead + Wolf Eyes
Blind Man’s Colour’s integration of tape loops, acoustic instrumentation and reverb-heavy vocals immediately bring to mind 90s shoegaze, along with Radiohead concerts and reverb pedals. Then the listener is surprised by some phenomenal and melodic noise building the base for an otherwise calming and ambient pop record. This unification of noise and pop is done very impressively, never straying too far to either extreme. One would be hard pressed to attempt a duplication of this album as the sounds are so drenched in effect and reverb that the original instrument is often indistinguishable. Unfortunately, the vocals are as well, giving it a sort of stereotypical Spiritualized type of sound that, while appropriate, fails to stand out amongst the instrumentation. In the greater scheme of things, though, this album is outstanding in its unique listenability and dynamic atmosphere—extending and building ambient sounds in a way that is exciting and calming simultaneously. –Ryan Powers

The Bomb
Speed is Everything
No Idea
Street: 09.22
The Bomb = Naked Raygun + the Methadones + Four Star Alarm
The Bomb is the latest project from Naked Raygun singer and Big Black bassist Jeff Pezzati. As such, there is a serious Chicago punk feel to this disc. From the way that almost every song starts with a bass intro to the way that Pezzati’s voice will rattle you to the very center of your being, Speed is Everything is old school. And as with anything that Pezzati puts his hands on, these songs have a strong sense of melody and songwriting. Even though most of the tracks are really similar, the overall post-hardcore feel of the disc is peppered with forays into pop-punk and even hardcore. And if that wasn’t reason enough to give this one a listen, consider that J. Robbins (Government Issue/Jawbox/Burning Airlines) worked as sound engineer during the recording process and even lent his own instrumentation to the mix. The end result is a blisteringly good punk record that will remind you how much better things used to be when a band could squeeze 11 songs into 34 minutes. Classic. –James Bennett

Butterfly Bones
Pretty Feelings
Secret Sauce Records
Street: 08.08
Butterfly Bones = Starfucker + Hot Chip + Dan Deacon
Borrowing heavily from the likes of Starfucker and their ilk, Butterfly Bones’ latest EP showers us with glittery synths and dance-heavy indie-pop grooves. The band is made up of the typical keys, drums, guitar and some funky electronics that make up most dance-pop outfits. Without breaking out of too many molds, these guys still create a good overall sound. All of the songs are sure to elicit some sort of booty-shaking if played in the right moment. Also, while I haven't seen them live myself, word on the street (read: Internet) is that these guys put on a pretty fantastic live set. Judging from their whimsical style and that more than half of the shows on their current tour are at house parties, these guys are definitely a fun little band. Don't take them too seriously, and you'll probably enjoy them quite a bit, too. –Ross Solomon

Candiria
Toying with the Insanities Vol. 1
Rising Pulse Records
Street: 09.09
Candiria = a hardcore band remixed until it isn’t hardcore anymore
This isn’t an unexpected sort of sanctioned release by Candiria. The NYC band is no stranger to remixes and experimentation; they also have plenty of roots in the hip-hop realm of sampling and yes, remixing. The formula needed to make a successful remix album was not met with Toying with the Insanities Vol. 1, which hopefully will not set the trend for the next three remix and rarity records (hmm, anyone recall Isis doing this with much more success?). This first installment isn’t all bad; there are a whole two tracks that are worth listening to that feel like an actual composed song instead of a jumbled mishmash of useless and annoying sounds adding up to many moments you might think the CD is skipping. Either way, if you’re purchasing this in any form, you must be a diehard fan of Candiria. That said, buyer beware if you enjoyed the past hardcore style of Canidria or the last couple albums with a more progressive and melodic sound—don’t expect either to pop up on this or most likely any of the other volumes of this series. –Bryer Wharton

Chord
Flora
Neurot
Street: 04.2009
Chord = Guitorchestra + Sunn O))) – chutzpah
I get it. You pick a chord and express the limits of that chord’s texture, rhythm and tone purely through guitar noise and feedback over the course of 16 minutes plus. You push the boundaries of sound, exploring the freedom that comes from self-imposed limitations. You name the tracks after the chord you’re exploring: “Am7,” “Am,” “E9” (the best track, by the way), “Gmaj (flat 13).” It’s very drone chic. It’s so now. However, although Chord sometimes capture the primal essence that I feel they’re going after, and live, they may be stunning, I think other bands are doing the ambient, slow drone exploration better—i.e., Sunn O))), who they opened for (along with Eagle Twin) in July of this year. Sometimes limitations can expand music’s horizon of possibilities, but I think here the one-chord thing artificially caps all that drone can mean and accomplish. –Rebecca Vernon

Converge
Axe to Fall
Street: 10.20
Epitaph
Converge = Coalesce + Tom Waits + Municipal Waste
There may be a couple of reasons Converge released “Dark Horse” and “Axe to Fall” prior to the release of Axe to Fall––one obviously being that they are two of the best songs on the album, but it may also be that they are trying to show a return to all around ass-kickery after the muddy No Heroes. Unfortunately, there is still some of that “been here done that” feel to a good chunk of Axe to Fall. There are four or five tracks where Converge has ultimately found itself in the artistic rut of writing Converge songs. However, there are plenty of shining moments in the album that show just how seriously Converge take their art form. “Cruel Bloom” (which features Steve Von Till of Neurosis) is hands down the best and most musically interesting and nontraditional Converge song in their catalog and along with “Wretched World” is one of the two most interesting on the album. Maybe I’m just getting older and fast guitars and screaming aren’t all there is to music anymore. I’m sure Converge has come to that realization as well. The current 80s thrash revival isn’t lost on Converge either, with “Reap What You Sow” and “Cutter” being their own blistering take on the resurgence. As for a good portion of the rest of the album, what can be said? They melt speakers, and it’s good to know that 20 years into being a band you can be relevant, maintain artistic integrity and still show everyone how it’s done.  (Saltair: 10.09) –Peter Fryer

Cormorant
Metazoa
Saturnine Media
Street: 09.22
Cormorant = Opeth + Agalloch + Novembers Doom + a hint of Neurosis
California’s four-piece Cormorant display plenty of strengths on their debut full-length, Metazoa, all culminating with an album that blends extreme and melodic metal genres. The record to me feels like one that bridges the gap from Opeth and Agalloch-type fare with hints at doom metal into a more standard progressive form. There isn’t an actual prog band I would attribute the sound on the album to; it’s just one of those records that’s progressive in nature with fluid songwriting and diverse and complex yet accessible melodies. There is plenty to keep the ears of a multitude of metal genre fans busy with Metazoa. Songwriting is tight and keeps you interested and that’s an important factor when your record is over an hour long. Cormorant’s blend of melodic death, doom, post-hardcore, and touches of black metal are performed with quite a bit of success on the band’s debut. –Bryer Wharton

Crucifist
Demon Haunted World
Profound Lore
Street: 09.22
Crucifist = Venom + Celtic Frost + Hellhammer + Black Sabbath
Forget about the trend that playing old-school classic metal is becoming popular these days and it having any connection with NYC’s Crucifist. It doesn’t matter that bassist Danny Lilker has been playing metal for just about as long as I’ve been alive. Yes, the influences played out on Crucifist’s Demon Haunted World bear some strong resemblances to metal forefathers, but hell if they do it in an original way that makes you scratch your head and think the band came straight from that era of metal. The guitar tone is just nasty on this sucker—it has that rusted metal-on-metal sound to it all. Bass guitar and drums provide a crazy rhythmic backdrop to vocals that are just as in your face as anything Cronos has done. This beast is the aborted fetus you didn’t tell your mom about because the cynics will come out about this, but there is no ignoring the killer metal found in Demon Haunted World. –Bryer Wharton

Crystal Method
Divided by Night
Ingrooves
Street Date: 05.12
Crystal Method = “Con Air” Soundtrack – Chemical Brothers – Daft Punk - Justice
While Crystal Method may very well have pioneered a large chunk of what electronic music sounds like today, I couldn’t help but feel like Divided by Night was a desperate attempt to get into what’s “hot” today (evidenced by the Matisyahu and LMFAO guest appearances) and a corresponding failure. While the production is flawless and the electronic sounds are some of the best, the songs lack any sort of unique flare and sound, like the background of a bad 90s action film. As an electronic music aficionado and occasional DJ, I was really hoping for the best on this album, but was sorely let down. Remember the movie Mortal Kombat? The soundtrack to that movie is WAY better than this album. How sad. –Ryan Powers

Cymbals Eat Guitars
Why There Are Mountains
Sister’s Den Records
Street: 09.22
Cymbals Eat Guitars = Modest Mouse + The Shins + Pavement
Cymbals really do eat guitars, as Lou Reed once famously complained about, but you won’t find much  Velvet Underground influence anywhere within earshot of this album. What you will find is a comfortable knit sweater with patches from all your favorite indie bands of past and present sewn prominently on the sleeves. Modest Mouse, Pavement, Built to Spill, The Shins, Superchunk, Polvo, even a small My Bloody Valentine pin tacked on the lapel. Most of the songs are pleasantly forgettable––hazy pastiches of scribbled guitar, twinkling keyboards and gentle ambiences, but perhaps these things are indicators that the album is a slow grower that needs more than five or six spins to blossom and make its fruits known.  Or maybe it’s just an indicator that I’m too old and cranky to care about another wave of indie rock. Yeah, probably. –Ryan Fedor

Eddy Current Suppression Ring
Self-Titled
Goner Records
Street: 09.04
Eddy Current Suppression Ring = The Stooges + Jay Reatard + The Fall
This self-titled re-release of Australian Eddy Currant Suppression Ring is a much-needed mess of distorted grunge rock. Instead of overproduced recording, you have the distant quality of late-night basement shows and closely packed, sweaty bodies. Which is definitely a good thing. The fast, simple, repetitive riffs counter mouth-punched lyrics as crashing bass and drums bind it together. The shifting tempos from song to song keep the album exciting to the end. Breakdowns in “Precious Rose” give the right build for the quick wah-ing keyboards in “Insufficient Funds.” “Winters Warm” and “It’s All Square” build momentum into the energizing, heavily bassed “Turn Your Page.” An abrupt end will have you reaching for the play button again. –Jessica Davis

The Entrance Band
Self-Titled
Ecstatic Peace!
Street 09.01
Entrance = Devendra Banhart + Will Oldham + Cat Power
The Entrance Band is the current musical outlet for guitarist/vocalist Guy Blakeslee, drummer Derek James and bassist Paz Lenchantin (Zwan, A Perfect Circle). On this disc, the hard, psychedelic-folk trio errs on the powerful side of psyche music without being crippled too much by the fanciful, glitter-strewn muck that sometimes infects those who turn to the 60s for inspiration. Truth be told, though, Entrance sounds more like a 1980s goth-rock band. There is a serious Ian Astbury/The Cult feel to this disc, with the band’s forays into guitar orchestration, mysticism and an AC/DC-style three-chord smack. Thankfully, the music is heavy but completely void of the pluggy, ambient style that has recently become the trend in metal music. It is listenable, but really not that remarkable. None of the 10 tracks really stood out to me, and I feel strongly that there are better representations of this style of music out there. Sure, the songs are good and they are well performed and recorded, but my overall reaction was, “So what?” If I wanted to listen to The Cult, I would listen to The Cult. And if I wanted to listen to something that was put out by a former member of Zwan, I would put on the LP of acoustic Misfits covers recently released by David Pajo. –James Bennett

Every Time I Die
New Junk Aesthetic
Epitaph
Street: 09.15
Every Time I Die = Botch + The Bronx + Her Candane
New Junk Aesthetic begins with a quiet feedback squelch, a stony groove and dark lyrics that stay the course of the band’s fifth album. “Roman Holiday” is an uncharacteristic side note from the band that seems to get bigger every month. “For the Record” is a more typically frenetic ETID song that has primo pit potential, while “Turtles All the Way Down” keeps it slower and brings the Southern groove in rebel-flag-clad droves. ETID’s signature wall of buzzy guitars and frantic yells are as prominent as ever on this disc. Matt Caughthran of The Bronx appears on “The Sweet Life,” but Keith Buckley’s voice is so similar that the guest spot seems a bit unnecessary. The artwork (all drawn by guitarist Jordan Buckley) is impressive and strewn about the packaging, while the supplemental DVD is a bit lackluster compared to Shit Happens. New Junk Aesthetic is a different version of the same flavor, but kids will line up to give this one a taste. –Nick Parker

Exene Cervenka
Somewhere Gone
Bloodshot Records
Street: 10.06
Exene Cervenka = Sara Carter (Carter Family) + Emmylou Harris + Patti Smith
Probably the best voice in all of punk rock as the lead singer of X, Cervenka shows another side of herself on Somewhere Gone. Her voice set to the melody of a folk song such as “The Willow Tree” is hauntingly stunning. Along with her evocative vocal talents, there has been some brilliant production work done jointly by Cervenka and Lou Whitney of The Skeletons, where they’ve taken a less-is-more approach and let the song get served up on a silver singing platter. Cervenka’s lyrics are poetry. “Paper weight and pen heavy/Sound escape and stream ready,” a line from the song, “Sound of Coming Down,” is just one example of many instances on this record where melody and word join together perfectly. It’s amazing that this woman has already made her mark on history and is still challenging herself with projects as daunting and intensely personal as this one. –James Orme

The Few Against Many
Sot
Pulverised Records
Street: 09.15
TFAM = The Project Hate MCMXCIX + early Disarmonia Mundi + Dark Tranquility
Sweden’s The Few Against Many have an interesting release here, mainly due to the use of keyboards. The death metal is very apparent, but most of the tracks use keyboards ever so subtly to carry some catchy melody, especially on the bridges and choruses. The metal itself is fairly average and heavier than many of their contemporaries, but these guys come from a thriving scene of melodic death metal bands, which some may argue is a dry well. However, I think TFAM has some interesting ideas here and those who have played their Dark Tranquility and mid-era Soilwork albums to death will probably enjoy this quite a bit. With several very decent songs and a pretty memorable album closer, there’s definitely not much to complain about here. –Conor Dow

Gorod
Process of a New Decline
Willowtip
Street: 07.28
Gorod = Brain Drill + Necrophagist + Origin
Adding jazz-inspired musical scales, time changes and improvisational feelings isn’t new territory for death metal, but it is making technical death metal a favorite these days in the underground scene. But there is a point when a band can get too carried away with the technical aspect of the music, leaving the actual death metal up for debate. Gorod gloriously keep each in tune with one another, taking songwriting into extreme consideration—the flow of this album is superb and balanced as tech death metal should be. The technical guitar leads and soloing is seamless, interwoven with drumming that goes beyond the normal blastbeat fare, and yet there are those moments of utmost gritty and furious brutality. All this good stuff culminates into sheer amazement and repeated listen-ability. –Bryer Wharton

Guilt Machine
On This Perfect Day
Mascot Records
Street: 09.29
Guilt Machine = Porcupine Tree + Pink Floyd + Green Carnation + Ayreon
Yes, Guilt Machine is a new effort out of many projects from Arjen Lucassen, the main brain behind the prog-rock/metal powerhouse Ayreon. Fortunately for Guilt Machine, listening comes with ease because, while stunning at times, Ayreon can be a massive undertaking to listen to. Also enlisted in Guilt Machine is vocalist Jasper Steverlinck. Not a traditional prog dude, he fronts an alternative Belgian rock group called Arid. Guilt Machine purveys a weightless, airy feeling with just as much a foundation in regular melodic rock music—with strong ties to later-era Pink Floyd—as traditional prog rock tendencies. Most of the songs run over 10 minutes in length, but feel shorter whilst listening and each has its own little layers to peel back and discover with each listen. Guilt Machine deliver a greatly textured and pleasing rock experience, easily Arjen Lucassen’s most accessible and clean, yet diverse, projects to date. –Bryer Wharton

Guitar Bomb
Happy Hour at the Silverado
Crafty/Rock Park
Street: 2009
Guitar Bomb = T-Model Ford + the Stooges + Sea Sick Steve + Scott H. Biram
Taking the soul of Delta blues and combining it with the ferocity of punk rock, Guitar Bomb has struck creative gold. This two-man drum-and-guitar band has found their sound. These 10 originals and one Motörhead cover are leaps and bounds better than what I’ve previously heard from this band. The only reason I even remember them is because they sent out a firecracker as part of their press kit. Mikey Devigne’s guitarwork has character to spare as he blasts through each track, and the fact that he’s only accompanied by the thunderous drum work of Matt Brunrett blew me away. Songs like “Bullet Proof” and “Going Going Gone” add backwoods country flavor and are a nice change of pace from the hard-rockin’ numbers like “Dia De Los Muertos.” When Jack White of the White Stripes hears this, he’ll weep for a week because he’ll know he could never pull anything like this off. –James Orme

Hardcore Superstar
Beg for It
Nuclear Blast
Street: 06.05
Hardcore Superstar = Wig Wam + Poison + Warrant + Motley Crue
Now I’ve seen it all—porn metal? Just kidding, I had to say it—the band’s name just lends itself to it. Hardcore Superstar, some may say, are a band that started in the late 90s and are stuck in the 80s—the glam rock 80s, to be exact. There is absolutely nothing wrong with playing glam-inspired hard rock in this day and age; a good hunk of the bands that made the style so popular are still rocking and rolling and playing to huge crowds and still making records that are nowhere near as fun as what these Swedish rockers are doing. The album’s production lends itself well to the sound of Hardcore Superstar: The hooks and power chords sound slick and thick, with guitar solos fully drenched in glam-rock cheese. While the album may lack hit-song power, Beg for It is an enjoyable listen if you ever find yourself still stuck in the 80s or just in a glammie mood. –Bryer Wharton

Harvestman
In a Dark Tongue
Neurot
Street: 04.14
Harvestman = Tangerine Dream + Hoth(e) + Logan’s Run soundtrack
We all know that 9 times out of 10, side projects of famous musicians pale in the shadow of their original musical behemoth. But Steve Von Till (Neurosis) must have found the magic elixir to be part of the lucky 10%. Taking heavy influence from krautrock, In a Dark Tongue (Harvestman’s second release) takes us on a spacey, proggy, synthtastic journey past primordial cavefires surrounded by Cro-Magnons playing humankind’s first rudimentary instruments, past spines of meteorites crisscrossing the arcs of our solar system’s outermost orbits. Oort cloud, here we come. This would serve as an equally awesome soundtrack for Conan the Barbarian or Space Odyssey 2001. Origins and advancement, Alpha and Omega. Otherworldly, always. A sonic document of our civilization’s biggest triumphs and our biggest letdowns; the barbarism of war and the progression of science. It’s that epic. Heavy urgency via driving guitar chords oozes out like evil paste in between noisy fuzz and anguished single guitar notes in “The Hawk of Achill,” collapsing into episodes of splendid, sprawling guitar soloing and white static. You’re definitely gonna wanna fit this purchase into your skintight recession budget. –Rebecca Vernon

HEALTH
Get Color
Lovepump United
Street: 09.08
HEALTH = Justice + Holy Fuck
The clear, bold text on the album cover gives one simple instruction to the listener: “THIS RECORD SHOULD BE PLAYED AT A MINIMUM OF 90DB.” If you’ve listened to their previous, self-titled release, you should certainly know this by now. But for all the newcomers to HEALTH’s distorted cacophony, heed their message carefully. Driven by an amazingly talented drummer and layered with intricate, driving noise, distortion and ghostly vocals, Get Color was designed for you to push your ears to their limits. Notable tracks include the explosive “Die Slow,” punch-distorted “Death+” and the tightly orchestrated “We Are Water.” As of right now, noise rock really does not get much better than this. –Ross Solomon

The Hi-Nobles
Shake!
Zaentz Records
Street: 09.29
The Hi-Nobles = Pearl Jam (vocals) + James Brown + Faces
This is one of those things that sound great on paper¬¬—garage/mod guitar riffs with soul/blues influences—but it just doesn’t come together. I can’t handle this guy’s voice. He sounds like Eddie Vedder’s whiny nephew. I just hear him trying to grind out song after song and it pulls the rest of the band down. Mediocrity is the battle cry on Shake! Instead of fusing these great genres together into something new and exciting, they’ve picked apart and stripped away pieces of somebody else’s proven formula and turned it into dull, unimaginative fare. The actual instrumentation of the Hi-Nobles is alright, but I feel like we’ve all heard most of these rehashed riffs and rhythms before. If there’s a bright spot, it’s the fella on the organ. He has chops to spare … too bad it’s all in a losing effort. Shake! is better left unshaken. –James Orme

Insomnium
Across the Dark
Candlelight
Street: 08.09
Insomnium = Dark Tranquillity + Amorphis
Well, the latest from Sweden’s Dark Tranquillity, err … I mean, Finland’s Insomnium … or wait, which it is I can’t quite tell. Hmm, it can’t be Dark Tranquillity, as this has way too much pointless pseudo-melancholic melodies and not enough actual punch. I enjoyed the first couple albums from Insomnium because they did have that punch, but it seems like with the last record and this, their fourth, they’ve kind of stuck themselves in third gear and are just grinding gears. The record is pleasing, with plenty of melodic moments you’d think would be kind of catchy, but they just wind up sounding terribly the same. It’s sad because there is talent here, but it’s just not applied to write creative songs, only to purvey the fact that they can sound pretty damn similar to Dark Tranquillity with a tinge of gothic metal à la Amorphis, which is new territory for the band, and eww, it doesn’t work. –Bryer Wharton

It Dies Today
Lividity
Trustkill Records
Street: 09.15
It Dies Today = Caliban + As I Lay Dying + Haste the Day
The Caitiff Choir was undoubtedly It Dies Today’s magnum opus. Their second album, Sirens, overshot the blurry line between metalcore and serenaded vocals—it sucked. Lividity is the third offering from the Buffalo natives, and it’s somewhere between its predecessors. The album begins with a thrash-based chug-off called “This Ghost.” The second song is a weak remembrance of Caitiff’s agility between heavy and pretty. The next few songs meld together in a gooey, dumbed-down, Killswitch kind of way. Midway through is the murky yet pretty “Martyr of Truth.” “Complacence Without Pursuit” is probably the best on the disk, as it finds the metalcore sweetspot between Cookie Monster and emotastic post-hardcore vocals. The “bonus” cover song of Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” is phoned in and unimaginative, but the super-secret, Scottish-themed drinking song at the end is comical—albeit headache inducing. The progression from Sirens is decent, but It Dies Today is still making up for lost post-Caitiff time. –Nick Parker

Jeff The Brotherhood
Heavy Days
Infinity Cat Records
Street: 10.13
Jeff The Brotherhood = Butthole Surfers + Ramones + Roxanne
Three guitar strings, four drums and vocals is all that the two Orrall brothers use to compose their sound. Bananas! These guys remind me of Sonic Youth circa Confusion Is Sex– rough and raw around the edges, just like ya momma. The thing that I really appreciate about these dudes is that they are gnarly sounding yet are poppy as fuck. I feel like I am being scrubbed down with some steel wool at a magical theme park. One thing that bothers me about this release is that it is a vinyl-only release. So dumb, because people totally have record players in their cars. Vinyl snobs can bite it! –Jon Robertson

Joe Gideon & The Shark
Harum Scarum
Bronzerat Records
Street: 03.09
Joe Gideon & The Shark = Lou Reed + David Bowie
People are going to tell you crazy things, like that you need to jump on this JG&S bandwagon because they’ll be the next White Stripes and you better hurry and get in on the ground floor. Music doesn’t work like the stock markets, so don’t listen to them––remember when those same assholes told you to buy Crocs? If you want to listen to a Brit who thinks he’s better than you talk and gush about his PG Trainspotting-esque life and his too-rich parents, jump all over this. –Cinnamon Brown

Karl Blau
Zebra
K Records
Street: 10.06
Karl Blau = The Microphones + Beck
On Zebra, Karl Blau pays tribute to Africa and its musical influences, but you really wouldn’t think “Africa” by listening to his latest effort. It’s more like a psychedelic, hint-of-jazz and breezy indie-rock album. The intro track, “Waiting For the Wind,” introduces Blau’s out-of-key voice over what sounds like a bicycle bell, warning the audience of his presence. “Crucial Contact” is full of space-influenced beeps and blips over a droning bass line, reminding me of Brigitte Bardot’s very own “Contact.” By far the standout track is “Apology To Pollinateurs,” with its smooth and pulsating deep bass, simple drums, and Beck-like voice joined with guest vocalist Melanie Valera (a.k.a. Tender Forever). This album is just too smart for its own good. It’s cleverly put together and engaging, with a subtle surprise at every stop, all the way until the final fuzzy, spaced-out, electric, ass-backwards track, “Gnos LeVohs.” –Courtney Blair

KRISTEENYOUNG
Strippers, Hookers, and the Odd On-Looker
Tony Visconti Productions
Street: 10.13
KRISTEENYOUNG = Tori Amos + Dresden Dolls
KRISTEENYOUNG is a guitarless duo featuring the pounding drums of “Baby” Jef White paired up with the continuous piano beatings of Kristeen Young. They have been abusing us since 1997 and on Strippers, Hookers, and the Odd On-Looker, it continues with the opening track slapping you across the face with heavy thumping chords and Young’s killer Kate Bush impression on “Son of Man.” Track two hits and the problem is obvious––it sounds just like the first track … meh … boring. They redeem themselves briefly on “You Must Love Me,” showing some variety and sharing qualities of Bush’s beautiful “Big Sky.” The duo will gain commercial points on “That’s What It Takes, Dear” which features Patrick Vaughan Stump of Fall Out Boy on vocals. Thank God the album has an end. Quick, someone dust off Hounds of Love to comfort me after this abusive mess. –Courtney Blair

Laudanum   
The Coronation
20 Buck Spin
Street: 08.25
Laudanum = Graves at Sea + Asunder + Wolf Eyes
This here is a definite downer of a record, in a very good way. Combining ambient/noise with crushing doom seems to be a growing trend, but Laudanum have set themselves apart from the rest of the pack by creating not only one of the heaviest records I’ve heard in quite some time, but also one of the most supremely depressing records as well. The opener, “Procession,” is four minutes of droning noise that would make Throbbing Gristle proud, and the combination of ambient and doom throughout the remainder of the release creates an effect that, in my opinion, was last equaled on AsvA’s What You Don’t Know is Frontier, or Gnaw’s brilliant This Face. I recommend this highly to those who like their music downright grimy. –Gavin Hoffman

Liturgy
Renihilation
20 Buck Spin
Street: 08.25
Liturgy = Ulver (Nattens Madrigal) + Blut Aus Nord + Mayhem + Deathspell Omega
Need to have your jaw drop a few inches permanently? Brooklyn, New York’s Liturgy have released quite possibly the best black metal offering this year. With firm roots planted and influences worn with a badge of honor, Renihilation twists its black metal into a mind-bending, brain-altering trip and further pushes the boundaries on modern black metal. If one wants to get technical, Liturgy take the artful approach to their black-drenched themes: it’s eerily clean-sounding yet nowhere near overproduced or remotely slow or soothing-sounding. The songs are arranged in a partition fashion with two (or one) black metal cuts split up by odd and ghostly short, matter-of-fact drone noise tracks. The dual guitar approach within Liturgy’s sound works amazingly well while giving the songs the wall-of-sound effect. Yet it still somehow captures the essence that there actually is space in between the riffing when there quite honestly isn’t most of the time. The entire album culminates in the buzzing sensory assault that literally pulsates your cranium. Also, the louder you play the album, the bigger the result. –Bryer Wharton

Lou Barlow
Goodnight Unknown
Merge Records
Street 10.06
Lou Barlow = Dinosaur Jr. + Sebadoh – J. Mascis, Murph and Eric Gaffney
Lou Barlow sometimes gets lost in the mix. As he collaborates with bandmates from both Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh, his contributions can sometimes seem like those of a hired hand—technically sound, but without much heart. Every couple of years, though, Barlow does a solo record that reminds us all of how capable and inventive he is. Goodnight Unknown is a heavy record. It is as dense and impenetrable as bulletproof glass. The songs are shorter than they seem, all about two-and-a-half minutes long, and packed to the gills with layer upon layer of instrumentation. It is sometimes reminiscent of early Sebadoh in the sense that the songs are aggressive yet composed with acoustic instruments. There is more synthesizer and keyboard work here than I would normally associate with Barlow, but the overall forceful nature of the record is completely him (force that comes at times from Dale Crover (Melvins) on drums). An all-around great disc. (10.31: Urban Lounge) –James Bennett

Lullabye Arkestra
Threats / Worship
Vice
Street: 10.13
Lullabye Arkestra = Big Business + Death From Above 1979 + The White Stripes
Lullabye Arkestra consists of Kat Taylor-Small on bass and vocals and Justin Small (Do Make Say Think, Broken Social Scene) on drums and vocals. These two are married and I would think that being in a band with someone that you were doin’ it with would be really strange, but to each their own. Even though these two are boning, I still have respect for their music. I have always had a fondness for bands that are duos, because it always seems that they are fully capable of making thick, full songs as bands with a million musicians. These two lovers are legit. They are all about Mudhoneying it up all fuzzed-out and post-punk style. Plus, I wanna see them make out. –Jon Robertson

Malfeitor
Incubus
Agonia Records
Street: 08.31
Malfeitor = Marduk + Horna + early black metal Rotting Christ
This black metal band from Italy shares various members from projects such as Blood Tsunami, Thorns, the better known Aborym and several others. Despite the various works they have all done, Malfeitor is pretty standard black metal. The album builds a nice atmosphere for a lot of nasty aggression, but they space it out neatly by taking time to build up. One notable thing about the production is the drums, which sound fantastic. That isn’t to say that the album is clean and crisply produced like all recent Dimmu Borgir work, but the clear drum sound allows for that aggression to be better communicated, rather than beating the trashcan lid snare to death. Don’t expect this project to change the face of black metal, but they certainly represent a lot of potential here. –Conor Dow

Merauder
God is I
Regain Records
Street: 08.18
Merauder = All Out War + Sick of It All + Slayer
Believe it or not, there was a time when the word metalcore didn’t induce cringes. Instead, it referred to bands that began to break the barriers between the worlds of hardcore and metal. Merauder was one of the torchbearers of this particular genre. Although they are at the head of the class when it comes to crossing over, they don’t seem to be given the same amount of thought as others that came during the same time or shortly thereafter. Fortunately, with the release of God is I, Merauder brings credibility back to “metalcore.” Although the album feeds off of newer trends in the genre (namely, cleaner production, the double bass work, and skews more Shadows Fall than Sick of it All), there is still plenty of hardcore and metal worship in there. Merauder brings it legitimately and keeps the hardcore vibe alive as very few bands can do. Poseurs need not apply—for Merauder, God is I is a return to form while simultaneously moving forward. –Peter Fryer

Merrimack   
Grey Rigorism
Moribund Records
Street: 08.25
Merrimack = Sargeist + Antaeus + Temple of Baal
You like your metal black? Look no further than France’s Merrimack. I’ve had my eye on these guys for quite awhile, but I’ve never been 100% sold … until Grey Rigorisms. The band’s fourth full-length, and third on Moribund Records showcases them “coming into their own,” so to speak. They’ve nailed the N.E.D./Ajna Offensive “sound,” but instead of coming across as simple rip-offs, they’ve allowed themselves to continue to be their own damned selves. The slow, boomy, de-tuned parts should draw automatic comparisons to fellow countrymen Deathspell Omega, but Merrimack does a helluva good job being able to avoid them. –Gavin Hoffman

Mew
No More Stories ...
Columbia Records
Street: 08.25
Mew = Yes + Rush + SSPU
I admire a band whose intro song on their new album is completely backwards––and if they pull it off, all the better. Mew does just that with their fifth album and they do it well. This band does an excellent job of straddling very different genres, as most great bands seem to do, and even garnered an opening spot on some NIN tour dates––they’re that spectacular. Before you get the wrong impression about these Danes, don’t think they’re industrial and NIN-y– they’re quite the opposite. Their sonic soundscape is somewhere between a land comprised of lush-looking grasslands and scary forests. Some of the highlights of No More Stories ... include some very interesting rhythms on the second track, “Introducing Palace Players,” with some classic Mew riffs and some great keys underpinning an almost perfect song, and their awesome utilization of some sort of mallet percussion on “Hawaii.” If you’re just now hearing of them, pickthis up and give a spin to Frengers for a great experience. –JP

Miles Benjamin Anthony
Robinson
Summer of Fear
Saddle Creek
Street: 10.20
Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson = The Sleepy Jackson
Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson’s self-titled release in 2008 was my small addiction for the past year. With Robinson recently signed to Saddle Creek Records, Summer of Fear held high expectations. The album starts strong with “Shake a Shot.” The bold bass drum and Robinson’s low gruff vocals draw you in and carry you through “Always an Anchor,” which lightly mixes in glockenspiel and stringed instruments. Then the album takes a bit of a stumble with almost cheesy 90s “smooth jazz” keys and overbearing back-up vocals. At points, even Robinson’s vocals make it hard to enjoy. Luckily, it fades back to the simplicity that works well for Robinson—stable acoustic guitar, the occasional keys and best of all, raw storytelling. –Jessica Davis

Mother of Mercy
III
Six Feet Under Records
Street: 07.07
Mother of Mercy = Living Hell + Integrity + Go It Alone
Right off the bat, the thing I really enjoy about III is the vocal delivery. The vocals vacillate between those of a youth crew revival band and those of a late 90s metallic-tinged hardcore band. This is a welcome delivery and contrast to the harsh, tough-guy approach favored in this genre. That variance, along with the recording that is raw and has the bass brought to the front, are great touches that bring Mother of Mercy’s sound above that of their peers, who simply pay homage to the late 90s. III isn’t breakneck fast, but it still manages to blaze through 10 songs in about 19 minutes. Towards the end of the album, some more dirty rock n’ roll guitar lines come through, but fit well in the album as a whole. Mother of Mercy certainly know what genre they are comfortable in and instead find their creativity and relevance in their execution. –Peter Fryer

The Mountain Goats
The Life of the World to Come
4AD
Street: 10.06
The Mountain Goats = Iron & Wine + Bob Dylan + Aesop's Fables
I’ve always really enjoyed The Mountain Goats. From their roots of lo-fi recordings, it’s been fun watching them evolve through the years. Though their recent recorded material leans toward studio quality these past few years, I don’t really think they’ve lost their edge. The lyrics sung by John Darnielle are still interesting (and also very unconventional), and their music still has that small-town Americana folk panache to it. This album has a certain confidence to it that has really stood out to me, as well as a pretty prominent use of piano and drums, which I have enjoyed immensely. Just in time for fall, I am certain this will get a lot of spins from my player. –Conor Dow

My Own Grave
Necrology
Pulverised Records
Street: 08.11
My Own Grave = Grave + Bloodbath + Pestilence
I’ll give it to Pulverised Records; I’ve yet to come across a release from the label that I truly despise—they either dish out a terrific album/band or an OK album/band. That said, My Own Grave sits in the OK-to-borderline good. The Swedish death metal band has a good balance of the old-school Swedish death-metal sound mixed with a more modern but definitely European-sounding death metal. The main guitar tone is fairly beefy with just a small bite of the old-school raw flavor. The guys aren’t out to reinvent the notion of death metal and by all means, why should any band have to? I’m quite content with My Own Grave metalling it out with the fast-&-heavy groove approach. The album reminds me a bit of the latest album from Pestilence, just played faster. The only real complaint is the guitar solos and leads aren’t as loud as I’d like, but it’s a minor one. Necrology is like comfort food; it’s familiar and done well, so why not enjoy? –Bryer Wharton

NAILS
Obscene Humanity
Six Feet Under Records
Street: 06.03
Nails = Trap Them + Ceremony
No website, no Myspace, just balls-to-the-wall hardcore punk. That’s what NAILS is all about. Folks talk about NAILS’s pedigree as reason to either listen to them or dismiss them as all hype. Exactly what that pedigree is remains murky. Members (as far as my Internet detective skills could find) were in Carry On, Terror, Knife Fight, and Fight Everyone, among other bands. Here is what’s clear: it takes NAILS 11 minutes to break down the door, punch you in the face, tear the walls out, set the house on fire and leave. The recording of Obscene Humanity is thick, filthy and distorted—a big middle finger to all of the slickly produced hardcore records that come out these days, and a refreshing change of pace. Only one track, “Lies,” is over two minutes long and it’s heavy as hell. The grooving breakdown that lingers for a good minute and a half during the song is the culmination of the album’s rage and subsequent catharsis. If you like thick guitars, loud-as-hell production and short bursts of rage, Obscene Humanity is for you. –Peter Fryer

Nines Even
Seamsan Over
Independent
Street: 10.06
Nines Even = Bush + Finger Eleven
I love it when you read a band’s press sheet and they claim to be this grandiose, amazing band. Without fail, there is always some bogus literature hooting and hollering about how special the band is. Nines Even is no exception. In their press sheet, they claim to be influenced by all the greatest groups around, from Tool to Radiohead to Nine Inch Nails. Now, if a band were able to pull off all the cool elements of all three of these bands, they would be the most amazing band of all time and every time anybody ever listened to them, their brains would turn into pudding. But Nines Even is far from the most amazing band of all time. I think instead of pulling out all the cool elements of these bands, they grabbed all the bogus ones. There is potential for these dudes; I think the ambition is there, but that’s about all they have going for them. – Jon Robertson

Nisennenmondai
Destination Tokyo
Smalltown Supersound
Street: 08.11
Nisennenmondai = This Heat + Neu + Sonic Youth
Hearing this album for the first time brought me back to the very first time I ever heard Sonic Youth and though, “How in the world are they making those sounds?” The first track, “Souzousuru Neji,” consists of what sounds like multiple loops of bowed guitar or bass set over a hypnotic triple-speed krautrock pulse. The remaining tracks don’t stray too far from that idea: High-speed repetitive drumming, jumpy octave basslines, and malfunctioning music-box guitar lines, all working together like the parts of a well-oiled train. A train carrying singing clowns and circus animals, with steam clouds hissing under the relentless clackity-clack of the wheels, on its way from Germany to Tokyo. If you like music you can turn on and trance out to while cleaning the bathroom or making a nice strudel, give this album a shot. -ryan fedor

OM
God is Good
Drag City
Street: 09.08
OM = Sleep + earlier Pink Floyd +chanting monks
Although considered stoner metal by many, some may think OM barely sounds metal at all. Having created contemplative, trance-inducing music as a duo since their formation, and with Emil Amos from Grails taking over on drums, their creation is still evolving ever so gradually and reverently. Along with the usual humble bass guitar and single drumset formation, God is Good has a few moments with piano, tamboura, and flute as well, adding some very nice touches. OM’s purpose is to create a meditative and rhythmic momentum for the purpose of worship and to seek personal growth. Whether OM is successful in this is solely up to the listener to decide. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed their music and the earnestness in their artistic direction, and I am absolutely not disappointed in this release. In fact, it very well may be my favorite release of theirs yet. –Conor Dow

Onslaught
Live Damnation
Candlelight
Street: 08.11
Onslaught = Destruction + Exodus + Kreator
As much as I may complain about all the new bands attempting to play old-school thrash metal and just sounding like so many bands that went before, I shouldn’t. Why, you ask? Because the resurgence with new bands sounding old gives way for old bands to regroup or just keep on going. In this case, it’s with UK’s Onslaught, who broke up after their 1989 album, In Search of Sanity, and returned in 2007 with Killing Peace. While the quality of those albums is questionable, this short but sweet live album recorded at the Damnation Festival in Leeds, England, in 2008 is a finely produced, blazing thrash live album, which in my opinion, is the best way to experience thrash metal. I’ll admit, I’m not big into the back history of Onslaught and whatnot, but just jamming this will have me searching the catalogue, so fan or newcomer, Live Damnation isn’t a bad way to witness the Onslaught. –Bryer Wharton

Pantheon I
Worlds I Create
Candlelight
Street: 07.28
Pantheon I = Satyricon (Nemesis Divine era) + Old Man’s Child + Blood Stained Dusk
With members of 1349, Nidingr, Sarkom and plenty of other Norwegian black metal acts, Pantheon I’s Worlds I Create has the chops to stand with the big Norwegian crews. Cello instrumentation adds a nice touch and a much-needed layer to the record. In many ways, the album is carried by its extra elements—they give it the necessary boost that if it was purely a guitar-drums-vocals-and-bass affair, the songs would lose diversity. This is not one of those screamingly harsh black metal albums—there are a few cuts that represent that mayhem, though they tend to fade into the background as the tracks that are more textured, with cello and actual melodies. give more depth and cause the album to travel further out of the standard black-metal custom. Pantheon I is basically a sure bet for black-metal listeners that enjoy some melodic additions to their tunes, melancholy as they may be. –Bryer Wharton

Peaches
I Feel Cream
XL Records
Street Date = 05.05
Peaches = Gossip + Soulwax + Le Tigre
What first stunned me about I Feel Cream was the production and maturity of the songs in contrast to Peaches’ earlier, grittier, riot grrl electroclash that was more Gravy Train and less Glass Candy. While some may see this as a digression, or “selling out,” I couldn’t disagree more. The guest production has truly expanded the songwriting of Peaches. Instead of being constrained by a small bank of lo-fi sounds and drum beats, she has truly embraced a fuller, more mature sound—more diva, less punk rock. The sexual energy and trademark sass remain peppered throughout the album, but it seems they are less of the meat and more of the spice. –Ryan Powers

Pestilential Shadows
In Memoriam, Ill Omen
Pulverised Records
Street: 08.11
Pestilential Shadows = Bethlehem + Beatrik + Darkthrone
There is always a bit of safety when playing a familiar sound. Australia’s Pestilential Shadows do take the safe route when it comes to playing a traditional form of black metal, but they do it rather well. In Memoriam, Ill Omen is equal parts grit-and-grime-filled, down-and-dirty black metal and melancholy, mid-tempo-paced tunes with a small bit of atmospheric piano. That classic black-metal guitar tone and almost constant sound with a highly audible bass player gives a wafting and primal sense of hate and darkened, depressive sounds. Everything is so well performed, placed and timed that you’ll forget about all the bands you’ve heard playing this style of black metal and take a faithful leap into the blackened abyss divvied out by the album. –Bryer Wharton

Pissed Jeans
King of Jeans
Sub Pop Records
Street: 08.19
Pissed Jeans = The Birthday Party + Flipper + The Melvins
This album should be sweet redemption for anyone who was disappointed by Hope for Men after hearing the glorious slice of dumb-guy Flipper rock that was their first album, Shallow. Pissed Jeans have tightened their focus while retaining an appropriate looseness in both style and production, eliminating the types of songs that plagued Hope for Men. (See “The Jogger” and “Scrapbooking”)  The production perfectly matches the music, huge slabs of guitar and bass slide and bulge out over pounded rhythms, barely contained within the sound field.  Lyrically, “False Jesii Part 2” sums up the vibe of the album nicely: “I could put on a tight black shirt / but I don’t bother / I could hit the gym so it looks real nice / but I don’t bother.”  If any band is ready to wear the pig-filth encrusted crown that bands like The Birthday Party and The Jesus Lizard left behind, it is these men from Allentown, continuing to provide hope for our future. –Ryan Fedor

Purple Rhinestone Eagle
Amorum Tali
Eolian Records
Street: 03.10
Purple Rhinestone Eagle = Black Sabbath + Von Iva + X-Ray Spex
That equation is highly generous; I’m not impressed with this record, even if it was released as a “5-song, 12-inch EP pressed on turquoise vinyl with “bold, colorful silkscreened covers” and that it was recorded in a “beautifully built all-analogue studio, perfectly captured,” and that they played “numerous shows at SXSW” this year. The music speaks for itself, and this music is a diluted, dumbed-down echo of original 60s psychedelic rock. Some early 80s punk flairs catch the ear, such as in “Sleep, Golden Sleep” and “Tidal Wave.” The lyrics are playful, rote ruminations on drugs, love, wizards and “cosmic serpents.” The guitar solos are straightforward, boring affairs that seem restricted to a certain speed and area of the guitar neck. Honestly, if you want to hear female-fronted bands that are killin it with the retro vintage psychedelic throwbacks via warm, organic amp fuzz, look no further than Jex Thoth and Blood Ceremony. –Rebecca Vernon

Ravage
The End of Tomorrow
Metal Blade
Street: 08.18
Ravage = Hammerfall + Iron Maiden + Grave Digger
Boston’s Ravage has done a fantastic job of amping up the energy for what would normally be a traditionally heavy-metal album—the songs are just played faster than, say, most Maiden tracks. The Maiden comparison here is fairly large, since the band’s vocalist hit some notes that sound eerily similar to Mr. Bruce Dickinson. If you’re a power-, speed- or just heavy-metal junkie, there’s plenty of goodies lying in wait on The End of Tomorrow, which is filled with fancy but not over-the-top guitar riffing, melodies and nicely played solos. Ravage actually fill in a large gap between the awesomeness of Iron Maiden and the usually awful, cheesy and boring songwriting of Hammerfall. –Bryer Wharton

Reno Divorce
Tears Before Breakfast
I Scream
Street: 09.02
Reno Divorce = Social Distortion + The Generators + Green Day + Custom Made Scare
This Denver quartet has the melodic punk rock n’ roll anthem down–in fact, that’s how I would describe each and every one of the 11 tracks on Tears Before Breakfast. All the songs have fast-placed rhythms and don’t change too much in style, either. Rapid guitar riffs and street-tough vocals play well, but melodies turn a little too poppy at times, like on the song “All Show and No Go.” Lyrics like “When we’re walking in the moonlight and holding hands, I don’t wanna let go” bounce along to a sweet, predictable tune. At the same time, a blistering rocker like “Firecracker” will get even the staunchest punk moving. The bottom line is that we’ve heard so much of this down-and-out music before, that even though Reno Divorce does it pretty well, I still want to hear more dimension from a band like this, like some different instrumentation; i.e., let’s hear some different guitar distortion or no distortion at all. I want to hear them build on all the stuff they’ve obviously been influenced by. Don’t regurgitate Social Distortion and expect us to call it fresh and new. –James Orme

Reverend Horton Heat
Laughin’ and Cryin’
Yep Roc
Street: 08.25
Reverend Horton Heat = Carl Perkins + ZZ Top + Screaming Jay Hawkins + Johnny Horton
It’s funny that this record has been touted as having more country leaning––I personally think The Rev’s last record, Revival, had more country to it, but that doesn’t mean the cowboy hat The Rev has been wearing isn’t well deserved. “Aw the Humanity” is a slow-moving, cheeky tune, and “There’s a little bit of everything in Texas,” is a fun little country tune that bumps along. There are a few times where I could have sworn the same riffs used on low-point songs could be found on previous records, but the moments of brilliance, like the fast-paced “Death Metal Guys” more than make up for any redundancies. This band has still got it: great instrumentation, Jim Heath even playing pedal steel guitar on “Space Walk,” Jimbo Wallace’s standup bass perfectly complementing the Heath guitar virtuosity, and new skinman Paul Simmons fitting right in with this band known for being amazing players. –James Orme

Rodrigo y Gabriela
11:11
ATO Records
Street: 09.07
Rodrigo y Gabriela = modern Flamenco pioneers + Kirk Hammett
I’ll be the first to admit, my knowledge of Spanish guitar artists is nearly nonexistent. However, one thing I appreciate about this duo is that they make the style accessible and give the listener a foot in the door to a whole new world of music that may have otherwise gone undiscovered. This being their fourth album, they’ve gained quite a lot of popularity in the past several years. The eleven tracks for 11:11 are all nods to artists ranging anywhere from Santana and Hendrix to Dimebag Darrell and Pink Floyd, who have inspired them in the past. Because of this, each song is memorable in its own way, my favorite being the final and title track, which indeed, has a very nice David Gilmour feel to it. This is highly recommended for fans of all music. –Conor Dow

Sanctification
Black Reign
Pulverised Records
Street: 05.12
Sanctification = Behemoth + Vader + Blood Red Throne
One would think that Sweden’s Sanctification’s second full-length, Black Reign, would be one brutal death-metal kill-fest—just with the lineup alone, you’d think it should promise victorious death-metal goodness. The band features the vocalist and drummer from Dark Funeral, amongst other members that have a laundry list of bands associated with them and with which they are still active. The only thing I can think that may have happened is the album was rushed, especially with a new Dark Funeral output on the horizon. Black Reign isn’t a terrible output—it has some big ol’ epic, thundering riffs, thick, syrupy production and frenzied and varied drumming—but it all gets old after a few listens. The guitar soloing lacks the depth it needs to further the songs and make them memorable, and the songwriting is just lacking—even just after the second play through, you’ll notice the riffs sound a bit rehashed. It’s a shame, because there is a monster hidden in this lineup and sound. –Bryer Wharton

Scar Symmetry
Dark Matter Dimensions
Nuclear Blast
Street: 10.10
Scar Symmetry = Mercenary + Nightingale + Soilwork
While Sweden’s Scar Symmetry started out playing modern-type melodic death metal à la the modern era of In Flames and Soilwork, with Dark Matter Dimensions, the band does largely, a progression away from said style. The new record teeters from the modern melodic death metal to progressive metal with death growls. Unfortunately, the new progression doesn’t help the band that sounded stale before, it actually makes listening to the album worse. Before, the band had one vocalist, now they have a clean vocalist and a harsh vocalist and both are pretty average, though the clean singer has some moments that resemble Dan Swano’s style. The album isn’t all bad; there are some good songs for the genre, so I get the feeling that the production for the guitar tone may be bogging this album down in terms of diversifying. The main down-tuned riffing gets fairly annoying quickly and at times, sounds borderline like breakdowns. If you enjoyed the band previously, this album may not float your boat. –Bryer Wharton

The Shaky Hands
Let It Die
Kill Rock Stars
Street: 09.29
The Shaky Hands = Blitzen Trapper + Kings of Leon
The Shaky Hands have entered the “trendy” rock/folk category. There is nothing overtly bad about this except the nagging feeling that I’ve heard it before. That aside, Let it Die is a decent album. The opening and title track, “Let it Die,” is dancey enough to get even the coolest of the hipsters moving. “Slip Away” brings in a catchy, constant downbeat of piano keys and repetitive guitars. All seem to continue through the album with a few false endings to try and throw you off. The good part is Nicholas Delff’s vocals, which hold a familiar low roughness, drawing you in for another listen. (Kilby Court 10.09) –Jessica Davis

Shrinebuilder   
Shrinebuilder
Neurot
Street: 10.20
Shrinebuilder = Wino + Melvins + Om + Neurosis
To attempt to delve into the musical history of each of the collective members of Shrinebuilder, which is, for all intents and purposes, a doom-metal “supergroup,” would take up more room than I’m allowed for the review. Suffice it to say, the debut effort from Wino (Saint Vitus, The Hidden Hand), Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Al Cisneros (Sleep, Om), and Dale Crover (Melvins), is almost exactly what one would expect from the sum of the band’s parts—absolutely incredible. Essentially, if you are a fan of any of the bands whose members take part in this amazing recording, this is an absolute necessity, right down to the gong. –Gavin Hoffman

Skyfire
Esoteric
Pivotal Rockordings
Street: 10.13
Skyfire = Norther + Bal Sagoth + Samael
Apparently, Sweden’s Skyfire has a hefty reputation, judging by raving reviews of previous albums. I entered into Esoteric as a newcomer to the band. Skyfire plays heavily orchestrated melodic death metal. I went into three thought processes while listening to the record. 1) The first listen felt like sensory overload. There is a lot of keyboard orchestration and choir samples and I mean a lot, almost taking the music in a baroque style of excess. It nearly drowned out the rest of the music. 2) The second stage was simply satisfaction with everything clicking together. 3) Then there’s the third stage of discovering plenty of redundancy amongst the albums tracks. For fans of melodic death metal and symphonic metal, you could do much worse than this album; just listen to any Children of Bodom album after Follow the Reaper. Point being is there are parts of Esoteric that work extremely well and listening can derive a stunning and awe-inspiring, metallic feeling. Then there are parts that in the end, will simply make you want to skip to the next track. –Bryer Wharton

The Slits
Trapped Animal
Narnack Records
Street: 10.06
The Slits = Lizzy Mercier Descloux + PiL + Lee Perry
Punky-reggae queens Ari Up and Tessa Pollitt have made a grand return with a few new members: Hollie Cook (Sex Pistols’ Paul Cook’s daughter), Anna Schulte and Adele Wilson. They continue their punky-reggae sound mission but dive further into afro-rhythms, dub, dancehall and electro beats. The first few tracks showcase the band’s newfound love for techno-alternative dance beats, especially on “Pay Rent.” The funkiest moment is found on the title track, “Trapped Animal”—it’s built like a Broadway musical with varying vocal harmonies being passed back and forth. “Peer Pressure” has a South American flair featuring Up’s classic birdlike falsetto chirps and yelps. The warmest moment is found on the downbeat style of “Cry Baby,” with Hollie taking over the writing and singing duties. The Slits are the legendary queens of punky-reggae for a reason—they paved the way for women in music and we must never forget that. –Courtney Blair

Sonata Arctica
The Days of Grays
Nuclear Blast
Street: 09.18
Sonata Arctica = Nocturnal Rites + Stratovarius + Thunderstone
There is no question or hiding what Sonata Arctica is—pure, straight-up symphonic power metal. With that statement, if you have absolutely no interest in said genre, then you don’t even need to continue reading. As for myself, I’m a fair-weather fan. The music can be refreshing, especially after long listening periods involving any sort of extreme music. The Finnish band’s last album, Unia, was pretty awful—not in the overly cheesy sort of way, either, just bad as in terrible songs on top of terrible everything. Thankfully, for fans of the band, Sonata Arctica are back doing what they do best: lots of power chords, uber-pleasing melodies, intricate keyboard work and diverse arrays of vocal ranges, both male and female. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There are plenty of bands that wish they could play as well as this band and the other leaders in the genre, and it’s usually a surefire bet to stick with a leader, right? –Bryer Wharton

Soriah
Atlan
Projekt
Street: 08.25
Soriah = [(Dead Can Dance - Lisa Gerrard) + Peter Murphy] x Paul Pena
This third release by Soriah is an unsettling, esoteric gumbo of central Asian throat singing, Mesoamerican tradition and darkwave stylings. Soriah, a.k.a. Enrique Ugalde, intones dark, otherworldly meditations over Ashlelon Sain’s (Trance to the Sun) ambient layers of sound and rhythm. No dabbler in Tuvan-style throat singing, Ugalde was recently named “Best Foreigner” in an Ustuu-Khuree festival competition. The seven Nahuatl (Aztec) language songs, two traditional Tuvan chants and two instrumental tracks would be equally at home in a horror film or as the aural background for a romantic evening (the part after dinner, when something earthy and not-too-distracting sets the mood for, uh, “romance”). The title track and “Xopancuicatl” are the most contemporary, with beats an expressive dancer could catch and release bats to, but don’t expect to hear this disc at the club, and don’t add it to your “Driving All Night” playlist. –Madelyn Boudreaux

Still Life Still
Girls Come Too
Canvas Media
Street: 08.25
Still Life Still = Minus the Bear + Broken Social Scene + Moving Mountains
My affection for this CD stems almost entirely from the chorus of the track “T-shirts:” “If you don’t mind my cum on your tits/Then I don’t mind your blood on my dick.” Poetry! And the rest of the album’s all right, too, I guess, even if the references to pearl necklaces and period sex end there. Still Life Still play guitar pop with a dash of shoegaze and general indie weirdness, and just when you think they might be getting a little too dreamy, they hold your attention with surprisingly sharp lyrics and just a touch of grunge. It’s satisfying, in a way where you can either zone out or dance around to it. –Cléa Major

Sunset Rubdown
Dragonslayer
JagJaguwar
Street: 10.13
Sunset Rubdwon = Antony & The Johnsons + R.E. M.
It’s so awesome when you hear about a record and how it’s the next coming of Jesus himself and then you actually listen to it and realize that the majority of music magazines and websites are so out of touch with what quality music is that it’s insane that they are still in business. I have read review after review about how Sunset Rubdown’s Dragonslayer is so good that you should chop off your balls and sell them to science just to make sure you have the money to go out and purchase this lame-ass, self-righteous Stars business. Don’t buy into the hype. Sunset Rubdown is no second coming of Christ. I would definitely save your balls and sell them to science for the next hyped piece of shit that comes out. – Jon Robertson

Theater of Tragedy
Forever is the World
AFM Records
Street: 09.18
Theater of Tragedy = Tristania + The Sins of Thy Beloved + Midnattsol
I think my appreciation for gothic metal is a sure sign of my largely masochistic personality. For many years now, I have been willing to munch my way through an enormous amount of terrible gothic-metal, floaty turds to find the occasional dark chocolate bar. I am happy to say that after many recent months of turd-munching, Theater of Tragedy has finally helped my palette. With a rather engaging opening track, I will say that the album loses my attention from the second song forward, but comes back rather strongly with a head-turning vocal pattern on track six that reminds me of something from early Massive Attack, of all things. Forever is the World has more of a consistent mid-tempo rock pace to it than most of its influences, but if gothic metal is a secret pleasure for you, you will likely enjoy this. Just don’t tell your “kvlt” buddies. –Conor Dow

Thomas Function
In the Valley of Sickness
Fat Possum
Street 10.13
Tomas Function = Television + solo Tom Verlaine + Jane’s Addiction
Thomas Function is a four-piece, flowery-pop shoegaze band from Huntsville, Alabama. That is really the best way I can describe them: flowery. I don’t mean this in a bad way, though. Flowery in the sense that their music immediately invokes visions of lush green hills covered with wild flowers, people in paisley-print shirts and dancing men with beards. Again, I fear this visual may turn several of you away. I don’t mean to. The music is actually quite good. There is an obvious tip of the hat to early Television in the way the singer draws out his syllables, sounds vaguely British and sings right along with the melody. It’s happy, cheery stuff. But just when you think it is going to drown you in some sort of sweet, thick syrup, it starts hitting harder and harder—guitar parts that really cut to the bone. In some songs, Thomas Function is just one steel drum away from sounding like Jane’s Addiction, both in the effects-heavy guitar riffing and in the way the music follows an almost bratty bounce. Still, it is worth a listen. In the Valley of Sickness is an immensely catchy pop-punk record with fewer references to dragons than the music would seem to dictate, but still more than you probably need. –James Bennett

Threat Signal
Vigilance
Nuclear Blast
Street: 08.28
Threat Signal = Lamb of God + Linkin Park + Stone Sour + Shadows Fall
One can write so many reviews and wind up feeling like they’ve repeated the same thing again and again. This is where I’m at with the new album from Threat Signal. I could say oh, I’ll toss my bias aside and review the artistic merits of the album—unfortunately for this album and me not wanting to silence my opinion bias, there is no artistic merit for this modern metalcore-type garbage. Unless you enjoy songwriting that lacks any imagination where every track has some chugga-chugga riff with absolutely ass-lickingly poor vocals screamed, sung and farted from Jon Howard’s mouth—add in some guitar solos that make you scratch your head wondering why they’re even there because they don’t provide any sort of entertainment or enlightenment. I know there is a scene for this type of music, but why should a piss-poor band get big label support when there are bands even in our own backyard (yeah, I’m talking to you, Separation of Self) that can at least come up with decent songs. –Bryer Wharton

Thrice
Beggars
Vagrant
Street: 09.15
Thrice = Thursday + Alexisonfire + boysetsfire
Let’s get this out of the way: Thrice is pretentious. Shocking, right? Usually only modest musicians conquer lofty concept albums (the elementally themed Alchemy Index), inject their music with Christian themes (most of Earth and a good chunk of Vheissu), or write two separate songs about a single mythological story (“Daedalus” and “The Melting Point of Wax”). Beggars is also shocking, but only because it’s far less adventurous than the last few Thrice projects. The furious energy and harsh vocals of early Thrice are all but gone, giving way to a more subdued style that isn’t exactly radio-friendly, but is definitely accessible. “All the World is Mad” delivers sharp bursts of guitar over a plodding baseline, and “Doublespeak” throws in some piano, but the title track is probably the album’s best, building nicely from a quiet beginning to an explosive finale. This isn’t as revolutionary as Vheissu or The Alchemy Index, but it also isn’t as heavy-handed. This is a solid rock album, no more and no less. –Ricky Vigil

Toxik Society
Living Kufeso Demo
Self Released
Street: 08.01
Toxik Society = Metallica + Destruction + Exodus + Slayer
Thrash revivalist band or not, Spain’s Toxik Society play it fast and raw, just as any band capturing the classic style of thrash metal should. The three-track Living Kufeso demo holds studio-quality production, which is refreshing for a demo. Each track displays its own identity nicely. With all the thrash-revival sort of bands getting signed like it’s Christmas for new thrash bands, I’d be surprised if I didn’t see Toxik Society getting some sort of metal-label signing. The songs have a terrific balance of punk rooting with groove thrashing à la Metallica and the raw speed of European thrashers, with a vocalist that does more than just goes through the motions. The only problem I see in the future for the band is the name similarity with Toxic Holocaust. –Bryer Wharton

The Twilight Sad
Forget the Night Ahead
Fat Cat
Street: 09.22
The Twilight Sad = The National + Frightened Rabbit + Explosions in the Sky
Starting off with a stellar debut full-length, The Twilight Sad has been a band that many have had their eyes on since Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters’ release in 2007. Their heavy, reverberated and emotionally charged tunes were a pleasure to listen to, and have made a full comeback in their most recent LP. Vocalist James Graham’s signature Scottish accent adds something special to the already dramatic lyrics. The album also features many instrumentals by ex-Aerogramme member Dok, as well as some violin by Laura McFarlane from My Latest Novel. Take all of this and combine it with some incredibly expansive and heavy instrumentals (à la Explosions in the Sky), and we’ve got another fantastic album from our friends in Scotland. –Ross Solomon

Various Artists
Grind Madness at the BBC
Earache
Street: 10.13
Various Artists = legendary and infamous grind
I wish all I had to say to give a legitimate review of this three-disc, three-hour, 37-minute compilation of classic 80s-era grind was that it is ess-fucking-ential! Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror, Carcass, Bolt Thrower, Godflesh, Unseen Terror, Heresy, and Intense Degree are all showcased on this compilation of recordings taken from the legendary “Peel Sessions,” the BBC radio hosted by the late John Peel. Not only did these sessions unleash grind to the masses, but they actually allowed some artists to lay previously recorded songs to better-produced tracks. So you may say you already have some of the songs from the sessions, but you don’t have the specific live-recorded sessions of these choice, grinding, crusty, downright dirty and brilliantly brutal tunes. Collector or just grind fan, there is absolutely no going wrong owning this massive amount of grind goodies. –Bryer Wharton

Vladislav Delay
Tummaa
The Leaf Label
Street: 09.08
Vladislav Delay = Electric Birds + Tierbeobachtungen
For 12 years now, Seasu Ripatti has been composing minimal dub under the Vladislav Delay moniker. Seemingly lacking direction to the uninitiated, Tummaa showcases Delay's culmination of experience painting unique and delicate ambient soundscapes. Some of the tracks have noticeably more rhythm than his previous works, but this only makes this album more accessible to newcomers. The sound also tends to be more organic, as nearly all samples have acoustic origins as opposed to pure electronics. Notable tracks include “Toive,” which melds dubstep with Delay's signature ambient drifting, and the title track, “Tummaa.” As is the general rule with good ambient such as this, it will take several listens to really soak the nuances in. Having done just this, Tummaa has earned its spot as one of the best of the year thus far. –Ross Solomon