This week’s list alternates between the deeply melodic and the insanely heavy. A fair amount of it comes from overseas, and nearly all of it consists of well-known acts. Dig in, because the material here is some of the best you will get in 2014!
Within Temptation, Hydra (Nuclear Blast)
The Dutch symphonic metal group’s first album with Nuclear Blast is a star-studded affair, featuring guest vocals from ex-Killswitch Engage and current Devil You Know vocalist Howard Jones, ex-Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen, Soul Asylum frontman Dave Pirner, and most confusingly of all, rapper and car enthusiast Xzibit. While that last choice may raise some eyebrows, early reviews of the album are all calling it an unabashed success. Get the digipak edition for a second disc of covers and bonus songs. Alternatively, if you’re a diehard fan with quick fingers, you can try to be one of 2,000 lucky people to get the limited edition box set of Hydra, which features the album and bonus disc on both CD and vinyl, a songbook, and much more.
Behemoth, The Satanist (Metal Blade)
Behemoth’s return to the limelight of extreme metal has been long-awaited. But now that all illnesses have been healed and all court cases have been resolved, Behemoth can now get back to doing what they do best – playing amazing blackened death metal and speaking every blasphemy that they can manage. Fun piece of trivia – Russian painter and occultist Denis Forkas mixed lead singer Nergal’s blood into the paint that was used to create the cover art for The Satanist.
Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang, Four Foot Shack (ATO)
The latest “solo” venture from the talented Primus frontman is actually a duo with M.I.R.V. guitarist Bryan Kehoe. On Four Foot Shack, Claypool and Kehoe perform a selection of original songs and covers. The covers are drawn from sources including Alice in Chains, the Bee Gees, and even Primus, just for kicks.
For Today, Fight the Silence (Razor & Tie)
For Today went through some lineup changes after the release of 2012’s Immortal, the most well-known of which was guitarist Mike Reynolds departing after a controversy caused by an anti-homosexual comment made on Twitter. With the release of Fight the Silence, For Today hopes to put the drama behind them and get back to focusing on the music. The group is currently on a headlining tour with support from Like Moths to Flames, Stray from the Path, The Plot in You, and Fit for a King.
Grand Magus, Triumph and Power (Nuclear Blast)
Grand Magus has been on the rise ever since 2010’s Hammer of the North finally got them the exposure they deserve in the US. 2012’s The Hunt was a strong follow-up, and now the band is looking for their breakout success with Triumph and Power. Grand Magus is currently preparing for a long string of European tour dates that will cover most of March. We here in the US wait with bated breath for that excellent live show to make its way across the Atlantic.
Caliban, Ghost Empire (Century Media)
Since signing to Century Media in 2009, Caliban has been slowly on the rise once again. Their albums are charting higher than ever, and the band has remained truer than ever to their style. The bonus track on Ghost Empire, entitled “Falling Downwards”, features a guest vocal spot by Trivium frontman Matt Heafy, who is apparently a big fan of Caliban.
Sunn O))) and Ulver, Terrestrials (Southern Lord)
This is not a split album at all, but in fact, it is a collaboration between two very different bands to create new music. The fusion of Sunn O)))’s droning doom metal with Ulver’s unpredictable, progressive style is sure to yield something that will be atypical for fans of both bands. Regardless, though, given the high talent that both groups have on their own, this collaborative effort is sure to be a hit on both sides.
MaYaN, Antagonise (Nuclear Blast)
MaYaN is the side project of Epica founder Mark Jansen. Antagonise is the group’s second album, and much like their debut Quarterpast, there is a definite political lean to the lyrics. Floor Jansen (Nightwish, ReVamp) and Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion) both perform guest vocal spots of Antagonise.
Prostitute Disfigurement, From Crotch to Crown (Willowtip)
After their fourth full-length, Descendants of Depraviy, Prostitute Disfigurement disbanded for reasons unknown. However, in 2010, the group got back together, and after some more lineup changes, the band settled down enough to record From Crotch to Crown. There still is no information anywhere about the band’s breakup or reassembly, though.
Truckfighters, Universe (Fuzzorama/MRI)
Another Swedish rock group making today’s list, Truckfighters had originally scheduled this album to be released this past fall. However, the album had to be pushed back for various reasons, so the band released an EP entitled The Chairman in October. Hopefully sales of this album will help spread notice for the EP, as well.
Exmortus, Slave to the Sword (Prosthetic)
Exmortus is a rare group that will give most genre classifies a headache. While officially stated as being melodic thrash, their style adds elements of technical metal, melodic death metal, and good classic heavy metal to the mix. Exmortus has been around for over a decade, and Slave to the Sword is their third full-length album.
Next Week: An a capella metal act leads off a list of relative unknowns. Be prepared for an interesting list next week!