The metal release calendar has quickly gotten up to speed since the beginning of the year, and that doesn’t look to stop anytime soon. So many incredible bands are releasing new albums, and despite the slumping recording industry, rock and metal are creeping into the charts more and more, infiltrating the Top 200 much more than they have in a long time. One only needs to look at Metal by Numbers from last week to see the proof of that. Of course, lots of credit for that goes to the fact that rock and metal fans are more likely to buy full albums than fans of more popular genres that sell more singles than full albums. Still, though, metal fans should be proud of what has been accomplished for the artists this year. We still have yet to score a #1 debut for a metal artist, though, but the year is still young, and time will tell just how many times metal will top the charts in 2012.
This week is yet another that is loaded with new albums, and a recurring theme of this list is artists proving that they can replicate their previous successes. Leading the list is a classic heavy metal group, coming off a humongous comeback album, and delivering an album that is just as good, if not better than, their comeback album. There are a few other bands with similar stories, proving their staying power through follow-ups to either successful debuts or comeback albums. Those are in addition to the other groups releasing new albums today. Read on, because this is a week that you won’t want to miss!
Accept, Stalingrad (Nuclear Blast)
One of the best stories of metal in recent years is the comeback of Accept, still as potent as ever with Mark Tornillo on vocals instead of Udo Dirkschneider. 2010’s Blood of the Nations was universally acclaimed as one of the best traditional heavy metal albums released that year, and despite its relatively low chart position, topping out at #187, Accept still made their mark in the metal community with that album. Stalingrad picks up right where Blood of the Nations left off, with aggressive heavy metal that is purely Accept and is already earning the album very strong reviews. The best possibility that could occur here is that the strength of Blood of the Nations will create a strong buzz for Stalingrad and give it the push needed to land a higher position on the charts. Accept has been influential since their inception, and they’ve certainly paid their dues for long enough to earn some more recognition. Picking up Stalingrad should be a requirement for every fan of classic heavy metal this week.
Demon Hunter, True Defiance (Solid State)
After 2010’s masterful The World is a Thorn, Demon Hunter had set a new level for themselves and for all of their contemporaries. As I said then, Demon Hunter may not be the most popular Christian metalcore band in the country, but they continue to prove that they are the most talented and most well-rounded in the pack. The musicianship on True Defiance is practically guaranteed to be even more excellent this time around due to the addition of Jeremiah Scott (bassist for The Showdown) on rhythm guitar, because Scott has also proven himself to be an amazing songwriter and top-quality musician in recent years, not to mention his production skills that are evidenced on the most recent albums from The Showdown. Lyrically, True Defiance does the impossible by being even more intense, insightful, and evocative than its predecessors. Ryan Clark does not shy away from any topic that he feels needs addressing, which has always been one of the defining characteristics of Demon Hunter. True Defiance deserves your attention if you want an honest, intelligent, and unique metal album that doesn’t compromise quality for accessibility. The Deluxe Edition comes with bonus tracks, a DVD, and plenty of other awesome items that are well worth the price.
Job for a Cowboy, Demonocracy (Metal Blade)
I remember when Job for a Cowboy received heavy criticism from metal purists, as they became one of the first widely-popularized deathcore groups in the days of the Doom EP. It’s been a long time since then, though, and I’m glad those days are over now. Job for a Cowboy has proven in the past few years that they’re a talented band with plenty to offer in the death metal community. 2009’s Ruination also introduced the world to the immensely talented Jon “The Charn” Rice, an absolute delight for drum enthusiasts everywhere and a big reason why Ruination was such a great achievement for the band. Since then, the band has added guitarist Tony Sannicandro to the lineup, and also brought in Cephalic Carnage bassist Nick Schendzielos. This revamped lineup put together Demonocracy, an album that is already earning positive reviews and will further cement Job for a Cowboy’s high position in the hierarchy of American death metal.
Municipal Waste, The Fatal Feast (Nuclear Blast)
Crossover thrash kings Municipal Waste have been around for over a decade at this point, and are now unleashing their fifth album of pure insanity on the masses. However, the period since 2009’s Massive Aggressive has been a time of rapid growth for the Virginia group. They contributed to the soundtrack for the 2010 Splatterhouse video game, which is fitting for a group that manages to make even gore and horror into humorous subjects for their songs. More importantly, though, the group left longtime home Earache Records for a slot on Nuclear Blast’s roster, which will potentially give Municipal Waste even wider exposure, especially in the international community. These party thrashers don’t look to be stopping anytime soon, which is exactly what the fans want to hear.
Dirge Within, There Will Be Blood (Rocket Science/THC)
Dirge Within’s 2009 debut Force Fed Lies was a powerful album that, coupled with relentless touring, earned the band a solid reputation as a talented young group with a bright future. However, numerous lineup changes between 2009 and 2011 have left the group in a very different position now. They still have vocalist Jeremy “Jerms” Genske, whose unique style will help to link this new album to its predecessor, but most of the rest of the band entirely new. This will be a new beginning for Dirge Within, and it will be interesting to see if this new album is as well-received as Force Fed Lies. Meanwhile, the talent of Dirge Within’s past members did not go unnoticed – guitarist Matt Szlachta is now playing second guitar in Chimaira.
Also being released this week:
Jeff Loomis, Plains of Oblivion (Century Media)
Halestorm, The Strange Case Of… (Atlantic)
Taproot, The Episodes (Victory)
Upon a Burning Body, Red. White. Green. (Sumerian)
Pelican, Ataraxia/Taraxis (Southern Lord)
Fastway, Eat Dog Eat (SPV/Steamhammer)
Emmure, Slave to the Game (Victory)
Inverloch, Dusk Subside (Relapse)
Exumer, Fire & Damnation (Metal Blade)
Ancestors, In Dreams & Time (Tee Pee)
Rise to Fall, Defying the Gods (Coroner)
Enthroned, Obsidium (Agonia)
Mpire of Evil, Hell to the Holy (Scarlet)
Murder Bay, Never Was an Angel (Megaforce)
Outcase, Awaken the Reason (Listenable)
Rattleshake, Rattleshake (Megaforce)
Evenoire, Vitriol (Scarlet)
Secrets of the Moon, Seven Bells (Prophecy)
Next Week: We transition from groups proving they can remain successful to groups that need to prove their ability to retain their success. Chief among them: a power metal group with a worldwide reputation that is coming off the replacement of a vital part of their lineup. Come back next week for more information!