Essential Metal Releases – Spring 2022

1. // Meshuggah : Immutable (Atomic Fire Records)

The Swedish Metal titans have returned with album number nine and their first in four years, delivering quite a remarkable record which shows that over 30 years into their career, they are still just as hungry as ever. Immutable sees a progression in their Technical-Death Metal sound, which is somewhat stripped back and raw. Known for their complex poly-rhythms and arrangements, Immutable links together the sum of its parts into an almost continuous robotic like juddering groove, beneath the wild and abrasive vocals of frontman Jens Kidman.

Meshuggah are true innovators of extreme metal and have a created a body of sound on Immutable, almost Sci-Fi like in the tone of its execution. There are just a few moments of calmer respite using a myriad of different cleaner guitar styles, dripped sparingly inbetween the incessant clanking, mechanical rhythms. The instrumental sections have a tone reminiscent of Tool in places, but their is a bitter darkness beyond, and the relentlessly ferocious vocals are delivered with a power and aggression, that is on another level altogether.

2. // Cave In : Heavy Pendulum (Relapse Records)

Cave In are a band who having burst out of the Boston Hardcore scene in the mid 90’s, have released a body of work which often varies from album to album, with styles ranging from Alternative Rock with clean singing, to straight up Metal with harsher vocals. On Heavy Pendulum they have captured all the finer points of the various styles they have flirted with, and created a record bursting with an eclectic set of songs where the heavier cuts blend perfectly with the more melodic, all combining to create arguably their finest work to date.

Production wise the whole album sounds absolutely stunning, which is no surprise as it was recorded and mixed by engineering wizard Kurt Ballou (Converge) at his notorious God City Studio. It is also their first album writing with Nate Newton (Converge / Doomriders) following the passing of their original Bass player Caleb Schofield in 2018. And as well as bringing his own undeniably heavy tone and style to their low end, he also provides ferocious backing vocals which perfectly compliment the cleaner singer style of frontman and guitarist Stephan Brodsky.

3. // Absent In Body : Plague God (Relapse Records)

A sublime blend of artists have come together to form Absent In Body, a ‘side project’ first created by Amenra duo Colin H. Van Eeckhout (vocals) and Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove (guitar) with legendary Neurosis vocalist/guitarist Scott Kelly. And for Plague God they have also utilised the talents of human drumming machine Igor Cavalera (ex Sepultura / Cavalera Conspiracy), bringing a whole new level to the percussive elements of their work.

Plague God is a sharp blast through five tracks of exquisite heavy Post-Metal, with an industrial tinge which at times is aggressive and chaotic, but with moments of calm, such as on the meandering spoken word section in ‘In Spirit In Spite’, and with an air of mysticism entwined amongst the anger in ‘The Acres The Ache’. The standout track sits with the beautiful simplicity of ‘Sarin’, and the hook of its minimal riff which swirls around your brain, drawing you deeper into its relentlessly mesmerising groove.

4. // Heriot : Profound Mortality (Church Road Records)

A strong debut release from one the UK’s finest emerging talents in the underground Metal scene. And on this showing the hype comes with good reason, as HERIOT have created a mini album of eight tracks, that’s over in just 20 minutes and leaving you wanting more. The record flows from start to finish, taking your mind on a short sharp journey, that encompasses the extreme heaviness of Post-Hardcore and Death Metal, with interludes of post-apocalyptic industrial soundscapes.

The harshness of the deep growling vocals from Bassist Jake Packer, blends with the screams of Guitarist Debbie Gough, who also switches to a haunting clean singing style during periods of melodic respite, perfectly complimenting the abrasiveness of the band at full steam, and reminiscent of Oathbreaker at times. The sound of the album is perfectly produced, with an encapsulating crisp definition that shows, despite being their debut release, that this is a band who have honed their skills together over the last few years of gigging and writing together, and are now ready to take their career to the next level.

5. // Animals As Leaders : Parrhesia (Sumerian Records)

Parrhesia is the fifth album from the mind bending instrumentalists, who merge the virtuoso guitar skills of Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, with the technical and progressive metal prowess of Meshuggah and Tool. Guitar and Bass duties are shared by the extraordinary talents of Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes, who primarily use customised 8 string instruments to create an Earth shattering tone on the lows, while also being able to emphatically shred on the highs. They create sonics unheard of elsewhere, combining all of the above elements with influences of Jazz, creating complex poly-rhythms which are neatly held together by percussionist Matt Garstka.

This record is one of the strongest selection of tracks the band have put together, no doubt enhanced by experience in both the execution of their instruments, and arrangement of their intricate compositions. The use of synths is also strong throughout the album accompanying the more melodic moments and creating a John Carpenter vibe in places. But it is when the band are playing to their fullest and most powerful that the music really comes alive. Clanking, metallic and all consuming instrumental music, which is an assault on the senses in the best possible way.

6. // Gloson : The Rift (Indie Recordings)

Brilliant second album from Gloson, who veer on the sludgier side of the Post-Metal sound, not too dissimilar from their fellow Swedish countrymen Cult Of Luna. In fact as with their debut album, this sophomore release has been mastered by Magnus Lindberg, founding guitar player with Cult Of Luna who has also worked his production magic for the likes of Converge’s recent Blood Moon project and Birds In Row, helping to create a truly stunning sound for the band.

The Rift is an impressive record full of chugging riffs, creating powerful and emotional music, and with deep rasping vocals all executed perfectly to provide an intriguing and engaging listen. The record is heavy throughout, with intricate rhythms and great layered guitar playing from Anders Persson and Christian Larsson, who also share vocal duties along with Bassist Kristofer Bruhn. The Metal scene in Sweden has always been strong with bands in the 90’s such as Entombed and At The Gates pioneering the European Death sound, and new wave Post bands such as Gloson are undoubtedly continuing to fly the flag for the scene, here in 2022.

7. // Ibaraki : Rashomon (Nuclear Blast Records)

Ibaraki the long awaited and hotly anticipated side project from Matt Heafy of Trivium, finally landed this spring with great aplomb. Heafy had often spoken about the Black Metal music he was working on in interviews over the last decade, and it was well known that he had been collaborating with the mighty Ihsahn from Emperor, who is one of the most well known purveyors of the style, rising from the notorious 90’s Norwegian scene. And although Rashomon is far from the purist sound of the genre some were hoping for, it’s Black Metal influence mixed with elements of classic Progressive Metal, delivers a uniquely interesting experience.

There are moments of pure aggression and ferocious vocals throughout, entwined with passages of strong clean singing from Heafy. Rashomon also introduces elements of traditional Far Eastern folk music, to combine and create a concept inspired by the spirits of an ancient Japanese mythology. This is an album that is epic and grandiose, theatrical in parts and featuring guest performances from the likes of Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance), in addition to Ihsahn himself. Ibaraki has been labour of love for Heafy, which has allowed him to spread his creative wings, and deviate from the tried and tested formula of his day job.

8. // E-L-R : Vexier (Prophecy)

A lush and beautifully textured blend of some of the finer elements of shoe-gaze, mixed with the Post-Rock and Metal genres. Vexier is the second album from the Avantgarde Swiss three piece and each track is a layered journey of sound. With hypnotic flowing riffs and the subtle use of almost chant like vocals, which sit deep down in the mix allowing the all consuming musical hook of each track to take centre stage.

E-L-R have created an ethereal sounding album, which cleverly manages to simultaneously be both mellow and heavy, with intricately laid melodies that weave their way through your subconscious with an almost dream like quality. Their music is perfectly complimented by a style and tone on the artwork, which creates a natural autumnal like visual representation of their sound, combining elegantly together for an immersive listening experience

Words by Abstrakt_Soul


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