Great minds breed great music. If we’ve learned nothing from the past twenty years, that truth applies to metal artists more than most other genres. The names of metal’s elite composers and musicians that have filled the minds and hearts of fans worldwide continue to be powerful to this very day – Wilson, Akerfeldt, Portnoy, Hoglan, and Thordendal are just some of the names that have become synonymous with excellence for metalheads. One name that has stood in such a position for many years has had quite a run in the past few years, with a solo project that has skyrocketed to the top with each release. We honor that project today with a live release that trumps almost every other live album released this year. There is plenty more to follow, as well, so prepare for an amazing week of new music!
The Devin Townsend Project, By a Thread – Live in London 2011 (Inside Out/EMI)
In November of 2011, Devin Townsend played four sold-out shows in London. At each show, he performed one of each of his past four CD’s in its entirety. Over the course of four nights, fans got to hear Ki, Addicted, Ghost, and Deconstruction from start to finish. It was the ultimate experience for Devin Townsend fans, and now it can be experienced by fans everywhere. This phenomenal four DVD, five CD collection includes audio and video of each night’s performance. No live collection in recent memory has contained so much material, and as any fan of Devin Townsend knows, no release this year has contained or will contain a more diverse musical landscape than what is offered here.
Ihsahn, Eremita (Candlelight)
Since the dissolving of Emperor, Ihsahn has devoted himself to his solo career, much in the same way that Devin Townsend did after Strapping Young Lad disbanded. And while Ihsahn’s career may not be as well-known as Townsend’s, he has nonetheless enjoyed great success, with his dark brand of progressive metal that carries the strongest hints of Emperor’s sound without sounding the same. Ihsahn’s solo project is unique in its use of saxophone within the musical structure, adding some jazz fusion elements without the incorporation of the subgenre’s other known characteristics. 2010’s After closed the three-album trilogy that started Ihsahn’s solo career, meaning that Eremita will be the first album created entirely without the boundaries caused by such a structure.
Whitechapel, Whitechapel (Metal Blade)
When one of the most popular deathcore bands in the entire country is third on the list of new releases, you know that it’s a good week. Whitechapel is the fourth album for the Knoxville-based group, and they have their work cut out for themselves now that they’ve hit their stride. 2010’s A New Era of Corruption debuted at #43 on the Billboard charts in its first week, which is outstanding for any metal band these days, and even more so for a band on only their third full-length album. This will be the group’s first full-length album with former Knights of the Abyss drummer Ben Harclerode, who replaced former skinsman Kevin Lane in winter of 2010. Harclerode did perform on last year’s Recorrupted EP, and the track “Section 8”, which was the only all-new original material on that EP, is also part of this new album.
Spineshank, Anger Denial Acceptance (Century Media)
At the height of their popularity, Spineshank were nominated for a Grammy and had their third album Self-Destructive Pattern at #89 on the Billboard 200 charts. That was almost a decade ago, though. Since then, the group has changed singers, broken up, and reformed in their original lineup, all of which has contributed to the growth and maturity of a band that was once the face of fusion between nu-metal and industrial. This newly reformed Spineshank has not changed their game plan at all, sticking to the styles they know best. They’ve only gotten better at those styles, though, possibly due to time in other projects or just the fire to become even greater than they once were. Either way, this is a vastly improved version of the band we once knew, and they are in much better position to succeed.
Mnemic, Mnemesis (Nuclear Blast)
We are now up to the fifth album from the Danish industrial metal group with the name that no one can pronounce (spoiler alert: the first M is silent). One of the styles that Mnemic began to pioneer early this decade was fusing industrial metal (in the style of their main influence Fear Factory) with the melodic death metal sounds of Soilwork and Dark Tranquillity. The result was good on the first two albums, but it took on a life of its own after 2007’s Passenger, and became truly remarkable on 2010’s Sons of the System when other elements entered the mix. The latter album was a true blend of industrial, melodic death, thrash, prog, and groove in the best portions, and I can say with utter certainty that no album has received more spins in my car than Sons of the System over the past two years. If Mnemesis turns out to be even half as good as its predecessor, then Mnemic can be proud of themselves for having created yet another remarkably solid album.
Also being released this week:
Dying Fetus, Reign Supreme (Relapse)
The Ghost Inside, Get What You Give (Epitaph)
Lita Ford, Living Like a Runaway (SPV/Steamhammer)
Eye Empire, Impact (Vertusent)
Malice, New Breed of Godz (SPV/Steamhammer)
Chelsea Grin, Evolve (Razor & Tie)
Mantas, Death by Metal (Relapse)
Burning Love, Rotten Thing to Say (Southern Lord)
Dr. Acula, Nation (Victory)
At Vance, Facing Your Enemy (AFM)
The Flower Kings, Banks of Eden (Inside Out/EMI)
Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, Ghostmaker (Candlelight)
The Overseer, We Search, We Dig (Solid State)
Exotic Animal Petting Zoo, Tree of Tongues (Mediaskare)
The Murder of My Sweet, Bye Bye Lullaby (AFM)
For All Those Sleeping, Outspoken (Fearless)
xLooking Forwardx, Down With the Ship (Facedown)
Dawn of Demise, Rejoice in Vengeance (Unique Leader)
My Dynamite, My Dynamite (Listenable)
U.D.O., Celebrator – Rare Tracks (AFM)
Next Week: Another progressive metal release tops the list, but this time, it’s one of the biggest metal bands ever to come out of France. Coming off a four-year silence, these guys are ready to make a huge splash! Come on back and find out what’s in store!