Some side projects, collaborations, and supergroups are basically inevitable. Friends from different groups coming together to create a new band, longtime producers joining the musicians they’ve worked with for years, and bandmates starting a new project based on mutual interests are some of the most common ways that these new ventures come about. What makes the inevitable groups different from other supergroups, though, is that they have been in the works for years, with the first seeds of such groups being sown long before they became official projects. Times Of Grace is one such project that made a big impact last year, and today we get the debut of a second project that has been in the works for a long time – the collaboration of two of the biggest names in progressive music worldwide.
There is another great prog collaboration also making this week’s list, but all that is balanced out by several death metal releases, including one highly-anticipated album from a French band not named Gojira, and a highly talented young group from America that has generated plenty of excitement. Read on, my friends, and witness the excellence that is given to you!
Storm Corrosion, Storm Corrosion (Roadrunner)
The very notion of Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson and Opeth’s Mikael Akerfledt collaborating to create music is cause for ecstasy among progressive music fans. Having known each other for over a decade, and having discussed this project for just as long, it was only a matter of time before Storm Corrosion finally came to be. But for all the hype that has come from it, almost no one can say for certain what it will sound like. We know that only 15-20% of the album will feature drums, according to Wilson, which is why Adrenaline Mob’s Mike Portnoy was not featured on the project as originally intended. We know that Akerfledt did most of the guitar work, while Wilson performed the keyboards and arranged most of the songs. And finally, we know that all six songs on the album are over ten minutes long, which would be par for the course on an Opeth record and not wholly unexpected for a Porcupine Tree album. Beyond that, what should we expect? I can only say this: prog fans are guaranteed to be happy, and everyone else will just have to listen and decide for themselves.
Gorod, A Perfect Absolution (Unique Leader)
This technical death metal group is France’s best kept secret in the metal world. Although some bands like Gojira have become more popular, and other bands like Scarve have been around for longer, Gorod has made a name for themselves in the European underground, toiling for eight years under the name Gorgasm and then affecting their moniker change to avoid confusion with the American death metal band of the same name. Gorod’s increasing fame in the States can be attributed to key appearances in big-name festivals, most prominently their two stints at the Maryland Deathfest. A Perfect Absolution features some guest guitar work from Christian Muenzner of Obscura and Mike Keene from The Faceless, which only adds to the high caliber of performance already delivered on this album. If there is any other must-buy technical death metal album of this year besides Meshuggah’s Koloss, it is surely A Perfect Absolution.
Allegaeon, Formshifter (Metal Blade)
Emerging from the underground two years with their debut Fragments of Form and Function, Allegaeon has impressed a great many critics with their tight, technical style of melodic death metal. The young group from Colorado then spent a year and a half on the road, proving that they could hold their own very well in both support slots and headlining shows. Their unique style helps them stand out in the very talented pack of new American melodic death metal bands, and Formshifter promises to continue that reputation. Recorded at Lambesis Studios in January, this album sees Allegaeon pulling out all the stops to make sure every song sticks in your head. Look for this album to be a driving force leading to Allegaeon’s big breakout.
Trioscapes, Separate Realities (Metal Blade)
Apparently being in one of the biggest prog bands in the world right now just isn’t geeky enough for Dan Briggs. Better known for his day job as bassist for Between the Buried and Me, Briggs found some time for a side project and one-off live show last summer with saxophonist/flutist Walter Fancourt and drummer Matt Lynch, all based around a re-working of the piece “Celestial Terrestrial Commuters” by the Mahavishnu Orchestra. After that one-off show, though, the three musicians decided they weren’t ready to shelve the project, and started writing original material that eventually became Separate Realities. This is jazz fusion at its finest, and even if it barely qualifies as metal, it’s just as likely to entice and entrance prog metal fanatics as it is longtime prog rock listeners.
Cattle Decapitation, Monolith of Inhumanity (Metal Blade)
Well-known for their outspoken opinions regarding animal treatment and their provocative album artwork reflecting said opinions, Cattle Decapitation has never sounded quite as angry as they do in 2012. Unbeknownst to many at the time of its release, frontman Travis Ryan’s guest appearance on “World Scum” by Soulfly was something of a precursor for what was to come on Monolith of Inhumanity. Crammed full of condemning lyrics and explosive compositions, this new album puts Cattle Decapitation’s signature grindcore sound and makes it even more razor sharp, destroying anything and everything in its path. It’s a feat that would seem impossible after The Harvest Floor, but these guys did it, and it needs to be heard to be believed.
Moonspell, Alpha Noir (Napalm)
The Portuguese gothic metal group has gone out of their way to make their ninth full-length album as special and different as they possibly could. By itself, Alpha Noir stands out as one of the most aggressive releases in Moonspell’s catalogue, incorporating heavy doses of thrash and melodic death/black metal to create a truly unique sound for a band that has not sounded this angry in almost two decades. However, the truly amazing moments come on the deluxe double album version, which features Alpha Noir‘s musical foil Omega White as the second disc. Taking their sound in the completely opposite direction, the band describes Omega White as “pure atmosphere and shadow”, taking cues from their second album Irreligious. It’s remarkable to hear the same band performing songs influenced by Bathory and Testament on one disc, and then hearing songs influenced by Type O Negative and The Sisters of Mercy on the other. Moonspell fans need to acquire the special edition of this album by any means necessary – you’re missing out on almost all of the magic if you don’t.
Also being released this week:
John 5, God Told Me To (Rocket Science)
Huntress, Spell Eater (Napalm)
Tenafly Viper, The Queen, the Night, and the Liars (The Royal Potato Family)
Lionheart, Undisputed (Mediaskare)
Horseback, Half Blood (Relapse)
Way Of Purity, Equate (Prosthetic)
Daytrader, Twelve Years (Rise)
Hung, Hung (The End)
Words Of Farewell, Immersion (AFM)
Impiety, Ravage & Conquer (Pulverised)
Last Kingdom, Chronicles of the North (Limb)
Paul Di’Anno, Wrathchild – The Anthology (Cleopatra)
Next Week: It’s extremely rare for a reissue of an old album to top the weekly list, so when it does, you know it’s a special occasion. See what classic album from the ’90s is being reissued next week, to the delight of metal fans worldwide!