September just flew by, didn’t it? This busy month of metal is almost over, but we’re going out with a bang once again, in yet another week of double-digit releases with plenty of easily-recognizable names. This week is actually a first for New & Noteworthy, as the top of our list features both a Grammy winner and a Grammy nominee. It’s a great way to start a list that is jam-packed with amazing metal talent.
I will admit, it was difficult to decide which artist was going to receive top billing today. Both are veteran names with impressive résumés and widespread recognition. Some would say that the Grammy winner should get it automatically, but I don’t agree, because past performance should never dictate the reception of future production. In the end, it comes down to which album has the ability to match or surpass the reputation of its predecessor, and in that area, Machine Head stands alone.
Machine Head, Unto the Locust (Roadrunner)
In the four years since The Blackening arrived, Machine Head has done more and gone further than they had in their entire career up to that point. The Grammy-nominated album earned the band multiple touring slots with Metallica, several prominent festival appearances, and worldwide acclaim as one of the best active bands in all of metal. With such success, many wondered if the follow-up to The Blackening could even come close to matching the older album’s status. Unto the Locust answers the call in incredible fashion, delivering the same amount of subtlety and progression as its predecessor with every bit as much scorching heaviness. The intensity of this album will leave you speechless. Be sure to check out the special edition for two b-sides and an acoustic track.
Mastodon, The Hunter (Reprise)
After Crack the Skye, Mastodon could have very easily released another concept album with the same trappings. However, The Hunter takes an entirely different direction from the previous album, as the second non-concept album of the group’s career. The album has been described by the group as being a much more collaborative effort, instead of being mostly written by Brent Hinds. Musically, the album reminds longtime listeners of the classic Leviathan, while also showing significant progression. Drummer Brann Dailor contributes vocals to multiple songs, even providing lead vocals for the entirety of “Creature Lives.” In other words, it’s exactly what we could expect from new Mastodon material – the unexpected and the exciting.
Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, IV (Ferret)
As with all of their previous albums, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster have been forced to endure some lineup changes between their previous album and this one. In the case of IV, it was bassist Roman Haviland that departed the group, leaving Dallas Taylor as the only remaining original member of the band. Thus, it was understandable that Maylene fans were worried and upset when lead single “Open Your Eyes” began streaming. The use of clean vocals and the atypical style of the song had many believing that the group had given up their Southern metal roots. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. This record is positively filthy, employing Taylor’s gravel-throated screams and the band’s signature Southern metal stylings. Only this time, it’s mixed better with the use of well-placed clean passages and melodies that really light up the record. This is unquestionably an improvement for Maylene, and they would do well to capitalize on it.
Nightrage, Insidious (Lifeforce)
Nightrage is not very well-known in America. Many have heard of the group as “that one death metal band that used to have Tomas Lindberg and Gus G. in it”, but only know that much about them. However, while it’s true that the group did once have a famous lineup, Nightrage deserves notice for the band they are now, rather than the band they used to be. Insidious is the first album from Nightrage to have the same lineup as its predecessor, which is good, because 2009’s Wearing a Martyr’s Crown featured some of Nightrage’s best material to date. The songwriting tandem of guitarists Marios Iliopoulos and Olof Mörck is one of the strongest in melodic death metal, aided by the fact that both are extremely talented guitarists as well. Singer Antony Hämäläinen has settled comfortably into the frontman role, and his performance is incredible throughout the album. Ironically enough, both Gus G. and Tomas Lindberg appear as guests on Insidious, making this the first time that the original lineup has appeared together on recorded material since the group’s demo days. Performances from Evergrey vocalist Tom S. Englund, Firewind singer Apollo Papathanasio, and Dragonland keyboardist Elias Holmlid round out the extremely diverse guest cast.
Also being released this week:
Warbringer, Worlds Torn Asunder (Century Media)
Textures, Dualism (Nuclear Blast)
Landmine Marathon, Gallows (Prosthetic)
Brutal Truth, End Time (Relapse)
Rose Funeral, Gates of Punishment (Metal Blade)
Hatesphere, The Great Bludgeoning (Napalm)
Rwake, Rest (Relapse)
Hundredth, Let Go (Mediaskare)
Van Canto, Break the Silence (Napalm)
Anathema, Falling Deeper (Kscope)
Suffokate, Return to Despair (Mediaskare)
Generation Kill, Red White and Blood (Season of Mist)
Nothing Til Blood, When Lambs Become Lions (Strike First)
Single Bullet Theory, IV (Goomba)
The Fucking Wrath, Valley of the Serpent’s Soul (Tee Pee)
Deserters, Fail Yourself (Mediaskare)
Man Made Machine, Become (Razor & Tie)
Homicidal, State of Mind (Eulogy)
Confession, The Long Way Home (Mediaskare)
Life as a Ghost, Drifter (Eulogy)
Serpentcult, Raised by Wolves (Listenable)
Darasuum, Bite Back (Mediaskare)
Anvil, Monument of Metal: The Very Best of Anvil (The End)
Noothgrush, Live for Nothing (Southern Lord)
Next Week: Is it bad when the week between two huge release weeks is headlined by the solo project of one of nu-metal’s most polarizing frontmen from ten years ago? Let’s find out! Come back next week for more!