This is not normal. January is supposed to be a month with few, if any, big-name releases. Yet here we are, three weeks into the release calendar, and several extremely significant albums are all hitting shelves this week. The game is changing, it would seem, since January is no longer dead time for the music industry. That’s a very good thing, though, and I welcome it. Enjoy your new music!
Megadeth, Dystopia (UMe)
After the lukewarm reviews for 2013’s Super Collider, Megadeth had a lot of ground to make up. They also needed to fill the drummer and guitarist positions left open by the departing Shawn Drover and Chris Broderick. Fortunately, as he always manages to do, Dave Mustaine got the best possible names for the job, Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler and Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro. Dystopia, by result, is a vast improvement that will surely bring back fans that believed the band had lost their way after the preceding album.
Abbath, Abbath (Season of Mist)
When Abbath split from Immortal last year, it seemed obvious that the most recognizable face in black metal would be back with something else in the future. Sure enough, the singer and guitarist formed his eponymous project shortly after and debuted the band live at Tuska Open Air 2015. Although the group has faced some struggles very early, losing both their drummer and their guitarist in the span of just a few days, Abbath still seems poised to stake their claim in the black metal scene.
Borknagar, Winter Thrice (Century Media)
Borknagar turned a lot of heads in 2012 with Urd, marking a successful return to the band for ICS Vortex and the implementation of a dual-vocalist lineup. The usage of both Vortex and Vintersorg as vocalists has made Borknagar one of the strongest progressive metal bands on the market, and Winter Thrice is their chance to cement that status. This album will be the debut of new drummer Baard Kolstad, who replaces the now-retired David Kinkade.
Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Arc (Relapse)
2015 was a year of big change for Agoraphobic Nosebleed. The seminal grindcore band decided to play live for the first time ever at the Maryland Deathfest, to an outstanding response from the attendees. Given the success of their first gig, the group played more shows afterwards before settling into the groove for creating new music. This new EP Arc sees ANb going outside the norm quite a bit, showcasing doom and sludge ahead of the chaotic grind that we’re used to. Check out “Not a Daughter” and hear it for yourself.
Ulver, ATGCLVLSSCAP (House of Mythology)
Back in February 2014, Ulver played twelve dates at various locations around Europe, proclaiming the shows to contain “new and improv-based material” that couldn’t be created in a studio environment. Multitrack recordings of all twelve shows were then given to guitarist/bassist Daniel O’Sullivan for editing and enhancement, and the rest of the band then added to the recordings later. This album, whose title is an acronym covering all twelve signs of the Zodiac, is the end result, and it will likely be a landmark release for fans of experimental metal.
Grieved, Grieved (Prosthetic)
Grieved is a five-piece hardcore group from Sweden, whose style is sometimes referred to as “dark hardcore” due to its inclusion of post-metal and post-hardcore elements to give it a darker tone. The group was signed to Prosthetic in the spring of last year, and they promptly reissued the group’s debut album Samaritans to get the world acquainted with Grieved. This self-titled album will be the first new music released by Grieved since signing their new deal.