It’s at this point I’m supposed to write something about how even though summer is winding down, the metal releases are “heating up” right? Say what you will for terrible cliches, there’s some truth to that statement. For your listening pleasure, here’s a handful of metal releases that you should put in your ear holes immediately…
Ruby The Hatchet – Planetary Space Child
For me personally, there have been a lot of metal releases this year that when announced had me salivating. The proverbial drool was flowing heavily at the thought of a new album from psych rock masters, Ruby The Hatchet. Few bands have rocketed onto the scene in recent years and blown me away as swiftly and with such deadly precision as this one. The Philadelphia-based quintet pick up where they left on new release, Planetary Space Child, deftly combining the heaviness of traditional doom with the ethereal aesthetics of 60s and 70s psych rock. Unlike a lot of their compatriots though this band can write a hook that stays with you for days and days. (Look no further than the track “Killer” to get a sense of how their brand of new age proto-metal could successfully ride the radio airwaves. Sirius XM’s Liquid Metal I’m looking squarely in your direction with one leering eyebrow raised in smarmy dissatisfaction right now.) Equal parts throwback and rocket-propelled blast forward, Ruby The Hatchet are simply a force of nature – both to be respected and held in wonderment. Run, do not walk, to experience this record.
Integrity – Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume
I need to be perfectly honest with you all before I go any further. I am a fully admitted Integrity fanboy. Outside of Coalesce there is no band in the world who emanated from the hardcore pantheon that I love more. Their brand of dark, metallic hardcore always was and remains something so unique in a musical world that often revels in stagnation, and their newest release is not only a testament to this fact, but expounds on a legacy that has never seen anyone come close to duplication. Integrity was one of a handful of hardcore bands that was never afraid to embrace their metal routes as much as their punk ones. (Shameless Plug Alert: There’s solid justification for me including multiple Integrity albums in my book, 666 Days of Metal.) On their newest album, aptly released through Relapse, it’s as if Dwid and his band of not-so-merry-men decided to take everything to “11” while bending and stretching each song to their fevered will. From the Slayer-worship guitar solos to the thrash bits that dot the album’s landscape, Integrity generate a raucous marriage between their metal and punk family trees. This doesn’t even touch on the other, almost surreal elements that Integrity throws in for good measure. Look no further than the bonus tracks to this album to see just how far this band is willing to travel to create something wholly memorable, and slightly terrifying to boot. When it’s all said and done this record has “album of the year” potential written all over it in stark, ghastly letters.
GRIZZLOR – Destructoid
Connecticut’s finest purveyors of sludgy, nasty noise rock, GRIZZLOR, are returning next month with their newest slab of sonic destruction. I feel almost like a poorly trained Jedi every time this band releases new music – I can feel a disturbance in the Force but the hell if I know exactly what it is until it smacks me right in the face. And there it is, a three-man avalanche of discordance and sonic hellfire pummeling me before I even know what hit. Anyone get the plate number on that fiery truck that just ran me over…again… At some point I’ll learn my lesson and remember to brace for impact before I put the headphones on. On second thought, probably not, because one of GRIZZLOR’s selling points is their ability to continually rattle you out of whatever mundane coma you’re riding until death decides its had enough of toying with you like a cat with a baby bunny rabbit. Just rip the fucker’s head off already and put it out of its misery. Just make sure you’ve got some GRIZZLOR on the soundtrack when it all goes down.
One Master – Lycanthropic Burowing
Black metal at its finest, in its purest form, is wholly uncompromising. Yet somehow USBM stalwarts, One Master, has somehow managed to take the genre into even darker realms. Their brand of atmospheric meets second wave black metal is at times completely unsettling yet entirely mesmerizing, not unlike what I imagine staring into the eyes of Old Scratch himself might feel like. Their 2015 release, Reclusive Blasphemy, was an absolute triumph and for me personally, as well as others, it ranked as one of the top albums of that calendar year. If their collective goal was to create an album that was even more vicious than previous efforts, and an album that latched directly to the darkest parts of your psyche, then mission accomplished. Few albums released this year have as much vitriol and spite towards all things good and holy as this album. It’s the type of album that grows as unsettling as you allow it to, a veritable Pandora’s Box of epic proportions. One need to look no further than the harrowing closing track to see just how deep this band is willing to dive to deliver us unto evil. It’s a thrill ride worth taking and an experience worth being consumed by in totality over and over again.
Poison Blood – Poison Blood
So let’s get the particulars out of the way first. Neill Jameson is the mastermind/vocalist for one of the most important USBM bands of the last twenty years, Krieg. Jenks Miller is the man behind one of the more unique acts of the last decade, Horseback. (Not to mention the guitar player in one of my all-time favorite non-metal acts, Mount Moriah, but I digress.) Color me intrigued when it was announced that these two would be joining forces for a project that was to meld the psych-twinged blasts of Horseback (album closer “Circles of Salt” is the closest you get to something resembling a Horseback track) with the unearthly growls normally found on the frostbitten Krieg catalog. The end result is the debut from Poison Blood, an album that channels second wave black metal and filters it through Miller’s ever-interesting musical palette. On paper this musical marriage seemed like a potentially remarkable conjoining of Miller’s penchant for a non-traditional take on extreme metal with Jameson’s barrage of peerless vocals. The final product leaves no doubts as to whether the two were able to create something memorable and worthy of your time.