Behold what is likely to be one of the biggest, most talked-about weeks on the metal release calendar for all of 2012! Technically, most of these albums were actually released yesterday, March 26, but that’s not the point. Today’s list reads like a who’s who of the metal world, featuring artists from virtually every single era, genre, and fan niche that can be identified. It’s unprecedented that we’d have such a comprehensive list, and even more so when you identify just how well each genre is represented. Big names abound on today’s list, and will make this week a big money draw for every metal lover out there!
Let’s not waste any time, though. There is a lot to cover, and I’m only allowed so much space before I lose your attention, right? Here it is, folks – the biggest release week thus far in the year! Enjoy the grand finale of March is Metal Month, and celebrate by helping our artists invade the top of the charts!
Meshuggah, Koloss (Nuclear Blast)
I mentioned this album as one of the most anticipated albums of 2012 before it even had a name, and it has already proven that designation accurate before its release. The hype for this album has been monumental, only increased by their upcoming tour with Baroness and Decapitated. Does it live up to the reputation of its immortal predecessor obZen? Koloss does that and more, setting a new high standard of technical metal for the entire world. Bands that call Meshuggah an influence will have a wealth of new aspects from which to draw inspiration, and the number of bands that call Meshuggah an influence will increase exponentially after this new album. In short, Meshuggah has once again proven why they are the biggest, most vital technical metal group in the world.
Ministry, Relapse (13th Planet/AFM)
We’ve already had one Al Jourgensen release this year back in January, but this is the one that everyone has been waiting for. After a three year hiatus, it’s pretty safe to say that Ministry fans were very excited that they would get new music this year. The five year period between albums is the longest that Ministry fans have had to wait between albums, making this the longest break between releases for the group and only adding to the anticipation. The first single “Double Tap” has already earned great praise, while early reviews of the album have corroborated that assessment for the entirety of the album. Unfortunately, according to Jourgensen, Ministry is done again after Relapse and the subsequent touring. So fans should savor this taste of Ministry while it’s still fresh, so that maybe Jourgensen will consider making another album in a few years.
Overkill, The Electric Age (eOne)
2010’s Ironbound was undoubtedly the best thrash album of that year. And for a band that was thirty years and fifteen albums into their career at the time, Ironbound was the definitive statement of Overkill’s excellence and longevity. What is the best possible way they could have followed it up? With The Electric Age, an album that is every bit as ferocious, powerful, and outstanding as Ironbound, if not more so. The Electric Age surpasses even the highest expectations that anyone could have for the album, and acts as a major middle finger to any critics that saw Ironbound as the pinnacle of the band’s career or a fluke in the band’s career. If you need proof of how awesome this album is, catch Overkill on The Electric Age Tour happening in April and May, with main support coming from another group on today’s list…
God Forbid, Equilibrium (Victory)
After 2009’s Earthsblood, God Forbid closed the chapter on their long-standing relationship with Century Media Records, whom they’d been with since 2001. Earthsblood also marked the end of rhythm guitarist Dallas Coyle’s time with the band, after helping start the band thirteen years prior. But like all resilient bands, God Forbid move on, forging a new relationship with Victory Records and recruiting former Himsa guitarist Matt Wicklund into the group. Equilibrium is a bit of a back-to-basics record for the Jersey group, with almost none of the prog elements that permeated Earthsblood. God Forbid will be showcasing Equilibrium as main support for Overkill on The Electric Age Tour, so be sure to catch this tour if you want to see the best that New Jersey has to offer in the metal world.
Borknagar, Urd (Century Media)
Yet another band with lineup changes since their last album, Borknagar lost drummer David Kinkade to international distance and his commitments to Soulfly. Kinkade did record the drums for Urd, though, marking his final contribution to the Norwegian group. But even as Kinkade’s tenure in Borknagar ends, the tenure of another has resumed. Bassist and vocalist ICS Vortex has returned to the group after a decade apart (during which time Vortex was part of Dimmu Borgir). The vocal tandem of Vortex and lead vocalist Vintersorg already has prog fans feeling positively euphoric about Urd, and the preliminary reviews of the album confirm the assumption that Vortex and Vintersorg together are the newest dual-vocal powerhouse in metal.
3 Inches of Blood, Long Live Heavy Metal (Century Media)
The Vancouver metal group got a powerhouse addition recently, in the form of bassist Byron Stroud (ex-Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad) joining the lineup. Stroud did not record on Long Live Heavy Metal, but his presence will definitely improve the group’s live show. As for this new album, Long Live Heavy Metal is the group’s fifth overall album and second for Century Media. This is the first time that 3 Inches of Blood has maintained the same recording lineup from one album to the next, which is both good and bad for them. It’s good that none of the band’s core members have left in the past few years, but it’s bad that the group can’t find a bassist that is more than a touring member. Hopefully Stroud will fulfill that role for the group now, but it will be a few years until we determine that.
Iron Maiden, En Vivo! (Universal)
Iron Maiden’s latest DVD/ live CD release captures their show in Santiago, Chile, from the 2011 portion of The Final Frontier World Tour. The live show covers highlights of their career from the earliest albums to the newest material, and also marks one of the first appearances of the newest incarnation of Eddie. Filmed completely in HD, this is one concert experience you don’t want to miss. The second disc of the release features the brand-new “Behind the Beast” documentary, the World Tour show introduction, and the extended director’s cut of “Satellite 15…The Final Frontier”, among other special features. There is also the limited “Steel Box” edition of the DVD for fans looking for collector pieces, while HD enthusiasts can pick it up on Blu-ray.
Also being released this week:
Angel Witch, As Above So Below (Metal Blade)
General Surgery, A Collection of Depravation (Relapse)
The Mars Volta, Noctourniquet (Warner Bros.)
Wretched, Son of Perdition (Victory)
Stick to Your Guns, Diamond (Sumerian)
Naglfar, Teras (Century Media)
The Used, Vulnerable (Hopeless)
Black Breath, Sentenced to Life (Southern Lord)
Astra, The Black Chord (Metal Blade)
The Burial, Lights & Perfections (Facedown)
Hour of Penance, Sedition (Prosthetic)
O.S.I., Fire Make Thunder (Metal Blade)
Modern Day Escape, Under the Gun (Victory)
The Alligators, Time’s Up You’re Dead (Bridge 9)
Leaders, Now We Are Free (Facedown)
By Night, Sympathy for Tomorrow (Self-released)
Mencea, Pyrophoric (Prosthetic)
A Sound of Thunder, Out of the Darkness (Nightmare)
Adestria, Chapters (Artery)
Dark Empire, From Refuge to Ruin (Nightmare)
Black Messiah, The Final Journey (AFM)
Hemina, Synthetic (Nightmare)
Next Week: A veteran stoner rock group dominates next week’s list as the sole big name release. Come back in seven days to find out who it is!