Voivod Streams “Post Society” Track

Progressive thrash act Voivod is streaming the title track from its upcoming EP, Post Society. The new release marks the band’s first official recording since 2013’s Target Earth.

Blabbermouth reported last year that a new album is currently in the works and slated for a 2016 release.

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Sunn O))) Detail “Kannon”

Drone act Sunn O))) has announced its new album Kannon. The album is slated for a December 4 release via Southern Lord Records and marks the band’s first new studio material since Soused, 2014’s collaborative album with Scott Walker.

The record is set to contain three tracks, a split self-titled composition comprising the entirety of the album. According to Southern Lord’s news post, the album will build off ideas established in the wake of recent collaborative recordings and the band;s 2009 album Monoliths and Dimensions.

More information about the band’s upcoming album can be found at Southern Lord’s official website.

Artist Spotlight: Monolord

Those harboring a love of all things heavy and massive are bound to fall head over heels for Monolord. The Swedish three-piece has been destroying amplifiers and caving in ceilings for just two years now, but their sound carries the confidence of the genre’s toughest veterans. Look no further than the sinister surge of “Empress Rising” off the band’s debut album. It’s a nasty piece of doom metal that conjures the dreariest images. The band’s sound plays out like a slow motion bludgeoning, a prospect sure to please any extreme metal fanatics.

“Vaenir,” the band’s sophomore album, only cements Monolord’s position as one of the best doom metal acts going today. Bigger and better than its predecessor, “Vaenir” is equal parts consolidation and expansion of the band’s talents. Look no further than the title track — a mammoth sixteen minute closer that swarms and surges with a sickening primordial stomp. It’s my personal metal album of the year so far, and likely to be a favorite of many others as well. So give it a shot. You won’t be wanting for a heavy riff.

More information regarding the artist can be found at the band’s official website.

10 Years Address Two Audiences on the Conflicted “From Birth to Burial”

One of the most respectable aspects of alternative veterans 10 Years is their refusal to release the same album twice. It would’ve been easy to ride the success of 2005’s excellent “The Autumn Effect” for years to come, but Jesse Hasek and company opted for the rougher road. Rather than give in to expectations, the band denied them with “Division” and utterly ignored them on “Feeding the Wolves.” It wasn’t until the band’s 2012 effort “Minus the Machine” that 10 Years decided to tap back into the atmospheric art rock vibes of their seminal recording, if only in sporadic bursts. Enter 2015, and here we have an album bearing that iconic hummingbird – skeletal and reflected over the eerie image of a child locked in utero. Sure, this is a blatant throwback, but it’s one that’s likely to ease fans into yet another sonic shift for the band. Sadly, this newest iteration of 10 Years seems split – much like the mirror image reflection of their logo — into two distinct halves: one embracing the band’s penchant for ethereal vibrancy and the other drowning in the ugliest recess of alternative metal banality.

For the positives, 10 Years still knows how to play 10 Years. Album closer “Moisture Residue” makes this abundantly clear, running through a slew of plaintive piano chords and sighing strings beneath Hasek’s trademarked croon. It’s enthralling when Hasek’s voice pierces through the thickening soundscape and singlehandedly underscores why he’s the group’s greatest asset. It’s as deflating of a closer as one could hope to ask for, playing out like a bleak epiphany in slow motion. “Vertigo” is yet another winner for 10 Years, channeling the band’s signature stylistics into a mid-tempo rocker replete with a soaring chorus and downtrodden, uncomfortable verses. Here, the band fires on all cylinders to deliver one of its finest songs in years; it’s concise, engaging, and meanwhile manages to retool the band’s established sound into a new, edgier angle. “From Birth to Burial” is at its best when it reinvigorates established concepts with a murkier slant. It does this often, but not often enough to save the record from numerous wasted minutes.

Problems begin to surface when the band deviates from its own blueprint. Rather than opt into a total consolidation of its strengths, roughly half of “From Birth to Burial” plays into the least engaging aspects of the alternative metal scene. Tracks such as the feverish “Triggers and Tripwires” totally eschew any hint of the band’s personality in favor of mundane exercises in musical weightlifting. Riffs abound, but the band’s muscle seems far more atrophied than in their less metallic recordings. Rare exceptions snap the listener back to attention, such as the simplistic, energetic crunch of lead single “Miscellanea” and the rollicking head-smasher of the title track. For the most part, however, the least engaging moments on “From Birth to Burial” come from its loudest. It’s a shame, really, because these surges of muddy force come far more frequently than on previous albums.

Unfortunately, the album’s cover says a lot more about the state of the band than they probably realize. That split image reflection of the hummingbird, the band’s logo, shows two distinct entities – two bands. With “From Birth to Burial,” 10 Years and 10 Years are playing to two separate, contradictory audiences. Half of the album winds through darkened permutations of the band’s atmospheric tendencies while the other half fights for the adoration of head-bobbing alternative addicts stuck in the mire of nu-metal. It’s unclear whether or not 10 Years will consolidate itself, but one thing is certain: 10 Years will always stay 10 Years, for better or worse.

6/10

High on Fire Announce “Luminiferous”

Stoner metal veterans High on Fire have announced their seventh studio album, “Luminiferous.” The record is currently scheduled  for release June 23 at eOne Music. The album features production from Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou and was recorded at GodCity Studios in Salem, Massachusetts.

“Luminiferous” follows up their 2012 release “De Vermis Mysteris,” which received near-universal acclaim from music critics.

High-On-Fire_Luminiferous_Cover-565x565

1. The Black Plot
2. Carcosa
3. The Sunless Years
4. Slave the Hive
5. The Falconist
6. Dark Side of the Compass
7. The Cave
8. Luminiferous
9. The Lethal Chamber

Steven Wilson Reaches an Artistic Peak with “Hand. Cannot. Erase.”

With each new addition to Wilson’s solo discography, the esteemed British rocker edged closer to the brink of burying himself beneath an inescapable mound of nostalgia. The mysterious ambiance of 08’s “Insurgentes” quickly gave way to better, impeccably crafted records, but each progression sent Wilson further back in time until “The Raven…” threatened to drown him in a sea of mellotron and extended jams. Sure, the seventies may have come and gone, but for Wilson, that time never left. The reverence was beyond obvious, almost as if he’d captured the very essence of the decade into a frame, fixated and possessed all at once. “Hand. Cannot. Erase.,” though, marks another story. That frame, once revered like some religious obelisk, seems cast aside, left to collect dust in some darkened corner. For the first time in years, Wilson seems free of that all-consuming obsession, finally stretching creative muscles in ways that audiences haven’t heard in years. Welcome to 2015, Steve.

This isn’t to suggest that the seventies have been abandoned entirely. Rather, that sonic reverence has been refocused into a more nuanced expression in a larger artistic vision. Throughout “Hand. Cannot. Erase.,” Wilson draws from his entire repertoire, bringing ambient, electronica, pop and metal into the larger schematic of the record’s design. These disparate elements coalesce far more effectively than anyone might have imagined. “Ancestral,” the emotional peak of the album, seamlessly welds each of these varied methods together into a perplexingly logical whole. Stuttered electronic beats punctuate the distanced verses, setting a mood of perfect foreboding before the track, minutes later, erupts in a feverish rush of primal force. Wilson may not pen the most creative metallic riffs, but when timed to such perfection the effect is staggering. None of this craftsmanship would matter, though, without a solid production to bring the intricacies of Wilson’s music to life.

Fortunately, the Britain’s talent for sound engineering isn’t lost on “Hand. Cannot. Erase.” The record’s fourth cut, “Perfect Life,” exemplifies this knack for exceptional production as the mechanical rhythms give way to the track’s first verse and Wilson’s vocals pierce the ambience with chilling effect. It’s a rare moment when the audience not only hears the artist’s voice, but feels it, too – like a palpable presence emerging from the speakers. “Routine,” undoubtedly one of the album’s highlights, wouldn’t carry such weight without the spacious mix allowing the acoustic guitars, violins, keyboard and percussion each its own room to breathe in crowded company. Here, Wilson’s talents as a songwriter and aural mechanic work in tandem to bring the ambitious recording to life.

And, really, if one word could summarize Wilson’s latest offering, ambitious just might be the one. As the album winds through its tale of isolation, loss and love in the metropolitan jungles of fast-lane life, it becomes increasingly obvious that this isn’t just an important album: it’s a critical one. “Hand. Cannot. Erase.” tells a story that’s vital to so many of us. Track after track, it only becomes easier to imagine the frenzied rush through the swarm of silhouettes, blank faces immediately forgotten against the insanity of the bustling streets. It’s rare for a record to even conjure an emotional response like this, and its rarer still for that record to linger afterwards and demand further investment. Unfortunately, given Wilson’s penchant for the underground, mainstream recognition just isn’t in the cards — no matter how deserved it may be. But, we can dream. We can always lose ourselves in that sprawling monstrosity of modern metropolis, captivated, terrified, and dream to disappear.

9.8/10

Faith No More Get Super with “Superhero”

Faith No More have debuted their new song “Superhero” via a collabroative effort with superhero comic juggernaut Marvel. This song and the previously released track “Motherfucker” mark the band’s first new material since 1997’s “Album of the Year.” The new record, “Sol Invictus,” releases May 19.

An exclusive interview with Bill Gould, the band’s bassist, can be found here at Marvel’s website.

Napalm Death Returns with a Vengeance on “Apex Predator – Easy Meat”

Few bands can claim to be the forefathers of their genre. It’s an honor reserved only for the masters of a particular craft or those accidental visionaries creating the sounds of tomorrow. Napalm Death is one of those rare bands who might just be both. Beginning with 1987’s debut “Scum,” the Englishmen began a continuous campaign of sonic warfare, setting the metal underground to the torch. Before the release of that critical album, metal had rarely been so visceral — so inexplicably kinetic and violent. “Scum,” then, gave birth to the grindcore genre, setting the stage for innumerable imitators. Since that time, a number of impressive bands have come and gone, furthering and reveling in the sounds first set to tape so many years ago. But, Napalm Death has been churning along with the horde, releasing record after record of pure punishment.  Less revelation and more solidification, Napalm Death’s 16th studio album is far less concerned with pushing envelopes than furthering the band’s narrative. “Apex Predator – Easy Meat” is just the next wave of the onslaught.

Kicking off with the title track, one thing is immediately clear: the band knows how to make an entrance. Druidic chants build and build before giving way to pounding industrial percussion as manic howls pierce the cacophony. It’s nothing if not an effective start, setting an ominous tone for what’s to come. Swirling guitars, frenzied growls and tidal waves of percussion follow, reminding any listeners who may have lost the plot that this is, in fact, Napalm Death, back and ready to pulverize the masses. Lead single “Smash A Single Digit” features the band trading harsh and clean vocals as the maelstrom surges beneath, building to a funk-laden groove to close out the proceedings. If there’s a mission statement track to be found on the record, this just might be it, surging with primal fury and the pure momentum we’ve come to expect from the Englishmen. Later, “Dear Slum Landlord…” effectively halts the record’s breakneck pace, opting for slow, winding lead-work before it culminates in Barney’s explosive roars battling over the mechanical percussion. It’s a smart move, one that keeps “Apex Predator” from devolving into pure indulgence as it transitions back into the madness with “Cesspits,” one of the record’s heaviest numbers.

If any concerns are likely to be leveled at Napalm Death’s “Apex Predator – Easy Meat,” it’s not with the music itself; rather, it’s the state of the band in general that may come into question. Typically speaking, the longer a group stays together, the more necessary – and the less likely – change becomes. For now, that doesn’t seem to be an issue for the four Englishmen, who’ve crafted yet another solid entry in their storied catalog, but given time, all empires fall, and the band may come face to face with the realization that their trademarked brand of brutality might not cut it anymore. Even so, that’s a worry for another day, because for now, “Apex Predator” certainly lives up to its title.

8.1/10

Enslaved Drop “Thurisaz Dreaming”

Norwegian progressive black metal band Enslaved have debuted an edited cut of “Thurisaz Dreaming,” the first track from their upcoming album, “In Times.” The track finds the band reconciling with their blackened roots while maintaining the 70’s rock slant of their latest recordings.

The album is slated for release on the Nuclear Blast label March 6th.