Given what day it is, I would be remiss if I did not start this column with words of remembrance. So to all that lost loved ones on this day eleven years ago, we still bear your sorrows with you. And although it has been said infinite times before, it can never be said enough – thank you to every single person, especially the brave public servants of our police and fire departments, that risked life and limb to help others, forgetting all inhibitions caused by self-preservation. You are the true heroes, and you make me proud to be a resident of the US.
Moving on to our new music, metal fans are often told by labels, PR gurus, and the music press that a certain band is, and I quote, “the best (insert genre name here) band that you’ve never heard”. It’s a catch-all phrase that’s designed to raise expectations and hype around the newest young act in a particular genre, regardless of where they stand within that genre. Very few bands ever actually live up to such descriptions, but today’s lead act might just be able to pull it off. In a list stocked with underground talent, the oldest band is king. Read on!
Threshold, March of Progress (Nuclear Blast)
Threshold is a progressive band from the UK, bearing many similarities in style to Circus Maximus, Fates Warning, and Pagan’s Mind. March of Progress is the group’s ninth studio album, which might make it hard to believe that next year marks the band’s 25th anniversary. It also may cause skepticism in some readers, who would question how good the band really is if they’ve been around for a quarter-century and still not achieved widespread fame like some other bands that haven’t been around as long. To such naysayers, I will say this – before levying too much criticism, remember that Metallica only released eight studio albums in the same amount of time (at least three of which can be completely ignored). Also, bear in mind that some bands do better when taking an extended break to write and record – just look at Tool. Threshold has never quite reached that level of being consistently inconsistent, but they are similar to another great prog band, Symphony X, in that they take their time to carefully put together an album, crafting songs that will come together to create a successful musical experience. March of Progress, the band’s second album with Nuclear Blast, should do just that, so be sure to check it out if you are a prog listener that’s never tried out these British veterans. They may just surprise you.
Ex Deo, Caligvla (Napalm)
Before anyone asks, I will state flat-out for the record that this album does NOT contain any Roman orgies. We’re not watching the movie here, people! That being said, Caligvla does a great job of recounting the oft-forgotten history of violence, war, and death that is the other legacy of Roman Emperor Caligula. The members of Ex Deo, four of whom you might know better as the roster of Kataklysm, have come together in a way that pays the best possible tribute to a man whose only memorable attributes (at least in the eyes of history) are hedonism, aggression, and bloodlust. As with its predecessor Romulus, Caligvla features an impressive guest cast, including members of Septic Flesh, Tristania, Graveworm, and All Shall Perish. The band had intended to release this album on August 31st, to coincide with what is believed to be the 2000th anniversary of Caligula. Bu that did not happen, unfortunately, so we’ll have to just accept the release occurring on a date relatively close to that anniversary.
Pantera, Original Album Series (Warner UK)
I have to stipulate from the get-go that this collection is only being released in the UK, and your only means of acquiring it if you live in the US by ordering it online. That being said, though, if you ever wanted to own a copy of every single album that contributed to Pantera’s true metal legacy, then this collection is perfect for you. Featuring all of the classics – Cowboys from Hell, Vulgar Display of Power, Far Beyond Driven, The Great Southern Trendkill, and Reinventing the Steel – this box set has everything you could ever want to hear from Pantera. I’m not sure if there are any bonus features or other goodies in this collection, but even without something extra, this is quite an awesome compilation of great music from a band that can only ever be imitated, not duplicated.
Also being released this week:
Neal Morse, Momentum (Metal Blade)
Grave Digger, Clash of the Gods (Napalm)
Serpentine Path, Serpentine Path (Relapse)
Deserters, The Slow Rhythms of a Dead-Beat (Mediaskare)
Prototype, Catalyst (Nightmare)
Hooded Menace, Effigies of Evil (Relapse)
Cloudscape, New Era (Nightmare)
Set Free, Set Free (Eulogy)
Khors, Wisdom of Centuries (Candlelight)
Spheric Universe Experience, The New Eve (Nightmare)
The Graviators, Evil Deeds (Napalm)
Alastor, Syndroms of the Cities (Metal Mind)
Next Week: Get ready for the big one, folks, because a huge bundle of new releases is coming our way in just seven days! This promises to be an eventful list, with a ton of recognizable names and undeniable talent, so join us next week and find out what artists that you love will have new albums coming soon!