We lead off this week’s list with the most prolific Viking metal band in the world, renowned for always producing quality and always performing fantastically in the live setting. It is just the beginning of a heavily-stocked list that you’ll all want to review. Check it out!
Amon Amarth, Deceiver of the Gods (Metal Blade)
The Swedish titans have returned with their ninth studio album, once again ready to dominate the charts. Two years ago, Surtur Rising debuted at #34 on the charts, their highest-selling debut to date. It led naturally into their tremendously successful North American tour, where the album was performed in its entirety as part of a two-set concert. Fast forward two years, and Amon Amarth is following a similar formula of releasing their album and immediately hitting the road. However, this time the live shows will be a bit different. Instead of taking the entire spotlight and performing two sets, Amon Amarth will instead take part in the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, opening up the main stage for Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, and Mastodon. It might seem less prestigious to be playing as quasi-openers instead of headliners, but in this case, Amon Amarth has the chance to reach a much wider audience than they would on a headlining tour. That wider reach is what could push this album into the top 20 of the charts. Those purchasing the deluxe edition will also receive the Under the Influence EP, which features four brand-new songs paying tribute to the bands that influenced Amon Amarth during their formation and creative growth.
August Burns Red, Rescue & Restore (Solid State)
At this point, it seems to be pretty clear that August Burns Red is the poster band for metalcore’s middle years. While Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, and All That Remains have become the elder statesmen of the genre that began in the early 2000s, August Burns Red came onto the scene later and have reached the same level of popularity as the more experienced bands. One only needs to look at the charts and see that 2011’s Leveler debuted at #11 on the Billboard charts to see that. However, the Pennsylvania-based group has stated that they’re trying to push the boundaries of their genre. JB Brubaker has stated in interviews that this album is focused on pushing themselves, other metalcore bands, and fans of metalcore to look for more than just the current trends. He even went so far as to say that “…there’s not much of a difference between a metalcore song that has a couple breakdowns with a repeating chorus and the latest Lady Gaga song.” While some might say that Brubaker is calling out his peers, those who know August Burns Red and the band’s Christian background know better. Brubaker is simply stating the obvious – there is a lack of creativity in the metalcore genre right now, and it’s up to the current popular bands and the up-and-comers to bring creativity back into it.
Queensrÿche, Queensrÿche (Century Media)
Some of you may be confused, given that we had a new release from Queensrÿche only two months ago. However, as I stated at that time, there are currently two different versions of Queensrÿche in existence, following their highly-publicized split and legal battles from last year. The version of Queensrÿche that released Frequency Unknown in April was Geoff Tate’s iteration of the band. Today, we get the release from the Queensrÿche that features founding members Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, and Scott Rockenfield. Joined by guitarist Parker Lundgren and vocalist Todd La Torre, this version of Queensrÿche has created a self-titled album that is already receiving nearly-unanimous praise. Critics are stating that Queensrÿche reminds them of the band’s early albums like Operation: Mindcrime and Promised Land. About the only criticism for the album, in fact, centers around the fact that it’s the shortest Queensrÿche album in existence, clocking in at just over 35 minutes. Even still, though, this album is quite a statement from the group. How it performs in sales next to Tate’s album remains to be seen.
Extol, Extol (Facedown)
Extol is back in action after taking a hiatus from 2007 to 2012. The Norwegian progressive metal group, known for embracing and playing almost any genre that they could learn to write, was most famous for their unique brand of death metal, as was shown on their albums Burial and Undeceived. Extol’s hiatus was never truly explained, but several of the members of the 2007 lineup went on to join Norwegian progressive death metal group Mantric. It wasn’t until last year, when singer Peter Espevoll decided to reform the band with drummer David Husvik and guitarist Ole Børud, that the possibility of new music became very real. The only mystery left is what style this new album will take. No one is sure if it will be death metal like their early material, progressive like their later songs, or a mixture of the two in some way. It’s even possible that this album could take on a whole new style altogether. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Also being released this week:
Serj Tankian, Orca Symphony No. 1 (Serjical Strike)
Havok, Unnatural Selection (Candlelight)
Orphaned Land, All is One (Century Media)
Attila, About That Life (Razor & Tie)
White Wizzard, Devil’s Cut (Earache)
Deeds of Flesh, Portals to Canaan (Unique Leader)
Mouth of the Architect, Dawning (Translation Loss)
Mumakil, Flies Will Starve (Relapse)
Scorpion Child, Scorpion Child (Nuclear Blast)
Abnormal Thought Patterns, Manipulation Under Anesthesia (Lifeforce)
Locrian, Return to Annihilation (Relapse)
Moon Hooch, Moon Hooch (Megaforce)
Ramming Speed, Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die (Prosthetic)
Svartsyn, Black Testament (Agonia)
Lesbian, Forestelevision (Translation Loss)
Skeletal Spectre, Voodoo Dawn (Pulverised)
Death Valley High, Positive Euth (Minus Head)
Palms, Palms (Ipecac)
Watain, All That May Bleed EP (Century Media)
Dio, Magica (Deluxe Edition) (Niji)
Next Week: A wide variety of genres help to bring in the month of July. Come on back and see what we have for you then!