We enter October with one of the most anticipated releases of the year. I realize that I’ve been opening these articles with some variation on that phrase quite a bit over the past month, but each time its use has been incredibly justified, and this week is no different. Truth be told, this album has been a hotly-anticipated commodity since its predecessor was released four years ago, so with a preceding reputation of that caliber, of course it would be one of the most sought-after releases of 2016. As always, there are a number of top-notch albums that follow the lead this week, so be sure to read the whole list and explore everything that graces our speakers today!
Meshuggah, The Violent Sleep of Reason (Nuclear Blast)
Meshuggah’s goal for album number eight was to present an “honest” representation of their sound. Drummer Tomas Haake describes 2008’s obZen and 2012’s Koloss as being “too perfect” because the sound was recorded piece by piece, with layering and editing allowing for the exact sound desired to be created. The Violent Sleep of Reason was recorded entirely live, to create the raw effect of albums from the ’80s and ’90s that inspired the band in their early career. It’s apparently worked well for the band, as early reviews are already raving that this is the best album of 2016.
Alter Bridge, The Last Hero (Self-released)
Departing from the grunge-inspired aesthetic of their previous releases, Alter Bridge have opted to get more insightful and opinionated on their fifth album. The title of the album comes from the idea of being a hero in modern society, and much of the album’s lyrical content is political in nature. This could be a major step in the evolution of Alter Bridge’s career, and may signal a new direction for the band as a whole.
The Devil Wears Prada, Transit Blues (Rise)
After only releasing one album for Roadrunner Records in 2013, The Devil Wears Prada resigned to their early label home Rise for their sixth album. However, the period since the release of 8:18 has been marked with lineup changes, as founding members Chris Rubey and Daniel Williams both left the band during that period. That has not deterred the band from continuing their work, though, as they released the successful Space EP last year. The hope is that Transit Blues acts as a catalyst for stability within the group going forward.
Candiria, While They Were Sleeping (Metal Blade)
Candiria has endured a lot during their nearly 25-year career. Lineup changes, label changes, accidents – Candiria has seen it all and somehow managed to endure. Candiria’s last full-length release was 2009’s Kiss the Lie, an album that was well-received critically but did not create a lot of movement on the charts. However, with the popularity of progressive and experimental metal in 2016, it’s reasonable to expect that Candiria’s forward-thinking style will be a hit with listeners.
NOFX, First Ditch Effort (Fat Wreck)
Although the members of NOFX are pushing 50 at this point, they haven’t lost any of their edge. In fact, time has only proven to be a force for improvement in the East Bay legends, as their music has taken on a more reflective tone while addressing real-life issues. First Ditch Effort walks the line between sardonic and serious with the expertise that only NOFX have managed, and it is proof positive that the punk legends are still at the top of their game.
Sonata Arctica, The Ninth Hour (Nuclear Blast)
Continuing on their path of domination across the globe, Sonata Arctica’s appropriately-titled ninth album is already being hailed by some critics as their best since 2007’s Unia. With catchy and compelling melodies paired with Tony Kakko’s inimitable vocal style, The Ninth Hour builds on the power-prog core of Sonata Arctica and pushes them on the next step of their sonic growth. Thematically, the album is an unapologetic criticism of global warming and humanity’s relationship with the Earth, and the band does a great job presenting their issues without getting preachy.
Fit for a King, Deathgrip (Solid State)
The metalcore landscape has undergone a drastic shift in recent years, with many bands opting for a more commercially accessible sound and greater emphasis on melody. Fit for a King has instead doubled down on the sound that got them to where they are today, crafting an intense, hard-hitting traditional metalcore album that would fit right alongside the biggest hits of Killswitch Engage and Atreyu from last decade. Deathgrip is a winner from beginning to end, plain and simple.
Gatecreeper, Sonoran Depravation (Relapse)
Gatecreeper got their start in Arizona three years ago, advancing through the death metal underground the hard way. The band released one EP and participated in three split albums before Relapse took notice of their intensity and crossover appeal. Aiming to appeal to both traditional death metal fans and hardcore stalwarts, Gatecreeper mixes their hardcore influences into key parts of a death metal framework, resulting in a unique sound that highlights the best parts of both.
Dayshell, Nexus (Spinefarm)
Formed after Shayley Bourget departed Of Mice & Men in 2012, Dayshell was initially a side project, but the three-piece post-hardcore group quickly drew the attention of Sumerian Records, who signed the band for their 2013 self-titled debut. The band has since left Sumerian and joined the roster of Spinefarm. Bourget’s mission after leaving Of Mice & Men was to create music that was true to all of his influences, and Dayshell is that outlet, exhibiting influences both from within and beyond the metal spectrum.
Watchtower, Concepts of Math: Book One (Prosthetic)
A seminal progressive outfit since the early 1980s, Watchtower reunited for the second time late in 2015, with the intent to finally complete and release their unfinished third album Mathematics. In anticipation of that, Watchtower is releasing this EP, which contains four previously-released tracks and one new song. If this is a preview of what’s to come on Mathematics, then prog fans should start getting excited for that album now, because all of the material here is excellent and unique.
Mouth of the Architect, Path of Eight (Translation Loss)
The post-metal world has slowly recovered from the losses of Neurosis and Isis, but fans sometimes forget that other bands have been around for years, even from before the two mainstays hung up their guitars for the last time. Mouth of the Architect has been around since 2003, quietly becoming one of the most consistent and excellent bands in the whole genre along the way. Path of Eight highlights the band’s various combinations of sludge, groove, ambience, and Southern rock as a complete package that will rock your speakers. A sleeper pick for some top ten lists as the year’s end rapidly approaches.