If there’s one appropriate way to close out “March is Metal Month”, it’s by having the last Friday in March be the busiest day on the release calendar up to that point for the year. So it is today, with a deluge of new albums taking over the charts and our ears. The most intriguing part about it is that a lot of high-profile artists have albums coming out, leading us to wonder if one or more of them will have an album in a high chart position next week. While we wait for that information, though, taking the time to check out a lot of these albums is an excellent idea. See who’s here to make an impact, mount a comeback, or start a legacy among the artists with new music today!
Amon Amarth, Jomsviking (Metal Blade)
For a band trying hard to not be identified as Viking metal, Amon Amarth has done a good job embracing that label on their newest album. Not only does the title contain the word “Viking” in it, but the concept behind the album is entwined with the history of the band of Viking mercenaries for which the album is named. Veteran fans of the band will want the deluxe edition of the album that has a digibook and a bonus track included, but the diehards will instead this exclusive version that comes with even more extras, including a collectible Viking ship miniature that is only serving to cement the Viking metal status.
Judas Priest, Battle Cry (Epic)
Judas Priest was supposedly done touring in 2012, but after the release of Redeemer of Souls, the band decided to get back on the road to support that album. The tour to support Redeemer of Souls ran through 2014 and 2015, and included a main stage headlining performance at Wacken Open Air 2015. Battle Cry contains that 15-song set from Wacken, which spans the band’s entire career and was described by many as one of the greatest shows the band had ever played.
Metal Church, XI (Rat Pak)
Metal Church reformed in 2012 following a three-year hiatus, and released Generation Nothing to positive critical reception. However, vocalist Ronny Munroe departed the band in 2014 to pursue other interests, and the band pledged to continue on without him. Replacing Munroe is former singer Mike Howe, who performed with the band from 1988 to 1994 and sang on three of their classic albums. Those that have heard Howe during this new run say that he sounds just as good as his first stint with the band, so expect XI to deliver some high-quality heavy metal.
Asking Alexandria, The Black (Sumerian)
Already one of the biggest acts in American heavy music and not showing any signs of slowing down, Asking Alexandria is back with album number four. This is the band’s first album with new vocalist Denis Stoff, who replaces Danny Worsnop following the latter’s departure from the band last year. The other members of the band say that this album is a return to form and to their roots, after having to make large compromises during the recording of From Death to Destiny just to keep Worsnop in the band. Hopefully The Black will be able to live up to the band’s traditionally high sales figures as well.
American Head Charge, Tango Umbrella (Napalm)
It has been eleven years since we last saw a full-length studio release from American Head Charge. In that time, the band lost guitarist Bryan Ottoson to an accidental prescription drug overdose, released a compilation DVD, broke up for two years, and released a post-reunion EP. For the recording of this album, American Head Charge ran an Indiegogo campaign with a target fund of $46,000, managing to exceed that goal and end with over $53,000. American Head Charge will be touring the US in May to support the album, with Motograter as main support.
Walls of Jericho, No One Can Save You from Yourself (Napalm)
Another band that has had a long gap between releases, Walls of Jericho released The American Dream in 2008 and then essentially dropped off the radar while the band members worked on other projects and family matters. The band returned to activity in 2012, and released a demo of a new song “Relentless” in 2014. That song does appear on this new album, which is 13 tracks long and hits harder than anything in the band’s history. Clearly, Walls of Jericho have a lot to get out of their systems after so long away from the scene.
Caliban, Gravity (Century Media)
Ten albums into their career, Caliban is still one of the most consistent and heavy-hitting bands in the German scene. 2014’s Ghost Empire debuted at #7 on the German charts, the highest position the band has ever reached in their homeland. They spent over a year on the road supporting that album, before returning to the studio to craft Gravity. Critics and fans are already predicting that this album could be Caliban’s first shot at a Top 5 debut in Germany.
Blood Ceremony, Lord of Misrule (Rise Above)
Doom metal with flute parts may be the layman’s description of Blood Ceremony, but there is so much more to this Canadian band that has to be heard to be believed. The four-piece group has been making a slow ascent through the doom metal scene, and as their popularity has grown, so too has their affinity for experimentation. Lord of Misrule is the group’s fourth album, and it is here that the band has truly earned the description of a heavier, folkier Black Sabbath.
Spiritual Beggars, Sunrise to Sundown (Century Media)
For much of their early career, Spiritual Beggars seemed to be little more than the side project that Michael Amott and Sharlee D’Angelo worked on during downtime from Arch Enemy. However, since ex-Firewind vocalist Apollo Papathanasio joined the band in 2010, Spiritual Beggars has truly become a force to be reckoned with in the doom metal sphere. Sunrise to Sundown is the ninth album released by Spiritual Beggars, and their third with Papathanasio as the frontman.
Rotten Sound, Abuse to Suffer (Season of Mist)
Finnish grind veterans Rotten Sound are back with their first full-length album in five years. True to form for their genre, Rotten Sound keeps it short and brutal here, with Abuse to Suffer clocking in at just over 28 minutes on the standard version (the deluxe edition adds two tracks to break the 32 minute mark). One could say that Abuse to Suffer is a landmark release for Rotten Sound, as it is the first album from the band in more than a decade to feature a song longer than four minutes.
Wormed, Krighsu (Season of Mist)
Imagine, if you will, what it would sound like if Suffocation and Obscura formed a supergroup and wrote songs about astrophysics. The resulting band that just formed in your head is Wormed. This Spanish group formed in 1998, and their debut album Planisphærium earned them a strong underground following. Ten years and a contract with Willowtip later, the sophomore album Exodromos followed, earning the group international notice. Now on Season of Mist, Krighsu signals that Wormed is here to stay.
Cobalt, Slow Forever (Profound Lore)
Playing black metal with heavy experimental influence akin to Nachtmystium’s style, Cobalt is a two-person group from Greeley, Colorado that has been around for over fifteen years. Slow Forever marks the start of a new era for Cobalt, as the group’s founder, Phil McSorley, left the project in 2014 to join the US military. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Charlie Fell, best known for his time in Abigail Williams and Lord Mantis, has replaced McSorley as primary vocalist, while Erik Wunder continues to perform all instruments and provide backup vocals.
Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae (Rise Above)
One would not picture sunny, happy Fresno, CA as the ideal location for forming a doom metal band. However, this just furthers the image that Beastmaker wishes to project. Lusus Naturae (which means “Freak of Nature” in Latin) is the debut album for this three-piece group, and for every classic doom metal element that is featured on the album, there is an element that will set them apart from the scene as well. Chief among these is song structure – unlike most doom albums, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a song longer than five minutes on this album. It’s just one of the things that gives Beastmaker their own unique identity in a rapidly-expanding scene.
Necronomicon, Advent of the Human God (Season of Mist)
For nearly three decades, Necronomicon has been unceasing in their celebration of the occult and all things related to magick. In recent years, the Canadian death metal band has begun dabbling into a blackened death metal style similar to Behemoth, with mostly positive results. That stylistic evolution continues on Advent of the Human God, an album that explores the idea of challenging established systems and breaking free of enslavement that has existed from birth.
Lody Kong, Dreams and Visions (Mascot)
The sons of Max Cavalera are officially making their stamp on the metal world today, with Lody Kong’s debut album Dreams and Visions. With Zyon on drums and Igor Jr. on vocals and guitar, Dreams and Visions has many of the elements that made the Sepultura and Soulfly frontman into a metal legend – unrelenting thrash guitars, frenetic punk compositions, and zero tolerance for the ills of modern society. However, Dreams and Visions is no clone of Roots – the boys have added heavy doses of grunge and post-hardcore to their sound to make it all their own.
Hammer Fight, Profound and Profane (Napalm)
Some bands just want to embrace the good old days when all that mattered was having fun and getting the most out of life. Hammer Fight is one such band, and the New Jersey natives have made it their mission to get the metal community back on the “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” train as soon as possible. Profound and Profane, the group’s sophomore album, is twelve tracks of intense thrash that worships the glory days of rock and metal, longing for those good times to return.