With most of the big summer tours just weeks away, the summer release calendar has been a little slow in recent weeks. Next week picks things up again, but we have another short list today. However, a theme that has lasted through the long and short lists is the release of albums from groups that are leading the summer tours. Summer Slaughter headliners The Black Dahlia Murder and Mayhem Festival participants In Flames both released new albums two weeks ago, and three more Mayhem groups have releases in the next month, including one today. That means plenty of new music to enjoy at these live shows, and I for one am really looking forward to it all.
Today’s lead artist is, in my opinion, one of the most consistent artists in all of modern metal. I have yet to hear a song from them that wasn’t excellent, and I have yet to see a live performance from them that wasn’t incredible. Your mileage may vary, of course, as everyone’s tastes are different, but their consistency is one of the highlights of their history. This new album is just the latest example of this, and I already love it.
Unearth, Darkness in the Light (Metal Blade)
After last year’s departure of drummer Derek Kerswill, Unearth recruited Killswitch Engage drummer Justin Foley to provide session drums on Darkness in the Light. This makes sense, as super producer and KSE guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz is once again behind the board for Unearth. Foley will also be joining Unearth on the Mayhem Festival this summer, which should definitely add a great deal to the group’s live show. On its own, Darkness in the Light is an awesome album that strikes a good balance between the highly technical In the Eyes of Fire and the more organic The March. This is Unearth’s best album since 2004’s masterpiece The Oncoming Storm.
Pop Evil, War of Angels (eOne)
Pop Evil has gained a lot of popularity in the past year and a half, all of which has occurred during the recording of the group’s follow-up to 2008’s Lipstick on the Mirror. This album was initially scheduled to be released in February, but due to what was referred to as “conflicts outside the band’s control,” the release was delayed until now. However, that might turn out to be a good thing, as the single “Last Man Standing” was featured on the NHL Network during the Stanley Cup Finals, thus giving the band a little bit of advance promotion. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons between Pop Evil and other new hard rock groups like Anew Revolution and Adelita’s Way, so fans of those bands will probably find a lot to like here.
Exhumed, All Guts, No Glory (Relapse)
The goregrind masters have been out of the picture since 2005’s cover album Garbage Daze Re-Regurgitated, and it’s been eight years since their last album of completely new material, Anatomy is Destiny. The only remaining founding member is guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey, who saw the band through countless demos and EP’s in their early days. Although the group began in 1990, it took them eight years to release their debut album Gore Metal. Knowing that makes it less surprising to realize that All Guts, No Glory is only the group’s fourth album of original music. I don’t doubt, though, that this album will be just as repulsive to mainstream critics as its three predecessors.
A Hill to Die Upon, Omens (Bombworks)
I’ve never heard of this trio from Illinois before, but my research on them has left me very intrigued. From what I can tell, A Hill to Die Upon is one of the rare Christian black metal groups, the first that I’m aware of to come from the US. Very few bands are even willing to attempt such a style, and fewer still are able to gain popularity through it. The most well-known are groups like Antestor, Horde, and Crimson Moonlight, which come from overseas locations and barely are known in our country. I’m interested to see what kind of reaction A Hill to Die Upon will get from the American black metal scene and fans, and if Christian black metal can gain any footing here.
Also being released this week:
Through the Fire, Until Forever Meets an End (Eulogy)
Sarke, Oldarhian (The End)
Intensus, Intensus (Metal Blade)
Murder Death Kill, Investigate Infiltrate Annihilate (Mediaskare)
Hands, Give Me Rest (Facedown)
Spirits of the Dead, Great God Pan (The End)
Regardless of Me, Pleasures and Fear (Unexploded)
Broken Silence, Discerning the Times (Retroactive)
Next Week: No comeback has been as hotly anticipated as the band leading next week’s list, overcoming death and tragedy to achieve glory once again. Find out who it is next time around!