It’s time for another installment of Heavy Side Up! Brace yourself, because this past week has been a treasure trove of captivating releases.
Our first featured album of the week is The Density Parameter by Australian act Mesarthim. This purported duo plays an intriguing combination of depressive black metal and space rock, heavy on synthesizers without ever feeling like their presence is too dominating. It’s often as transcendent in its sound as it is celestial, and those who enjoy black metal won’t want to miss this unique iteration on the genre:
The next featured album of the week is the self-titled debut from Blackwater Holylight, an all-female band from Oregon. Their music could perhaps best be described as a take on stoner/hard rock with an equal influence of both doom and psychedelia. Whatever the case, it’s ripe with fuzzy goodness, and definitely worthy of a jam:
The next album is one I’m inclined to call one of the most interesting musical discoveries this year; a collaborative project between Israel’s Yossi Sassi & The Oriental Rock Orchestra, titled Illusion of Choice. It’s a progressive metal album that manages to be both indescribably experimental and richly melodic, possessing a distinctly Middle Eastern sound that makes it one of the most memorable things I’ve heard in a while:
There were quite a few other considerably strong/interesting releases this week, and I’ll start with the shorter, punchier releases. First is the UK’s Valis Ablaze, who have finally followed up several years of EPs and singles with their first full-length album, Boundless. It’s on the more “djent”y side of prog metal, albeit a considerably atmospheric and accessible take on the genre. If you’re into bands like Tesseract, you should check it out – it’s streaming in full here. Next is Abjection Ritual, who have released their third album, Soul of Ruin, Body of Filth. The band description was presented as “industrial infused doom metal” when I stumbled upon them, and while it’s certainly not inaccurate, it also doesn’t quite articulate just what a strange and eclectic mix of influences this album is – much less how relentlessly creepy and unsettling it sounds. If you’re curious to hear it, you can do so here.
This was also one hell of a week for lengthy sprawling epics – with three noteworthy acts all releasing ambitious albums that far exceed the one hour mark (but are all well worth the listen!). First up is Well of the Disquieted, the third album by Canadian black metal/progressive death metal band Hands of Despair. Meticulously crafted and remarkably audacious in scope, you can hear it in full here. Next is The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness (I and II) by Panopticon, an experimental one-man black metal/folk project from Kentucky. Clocking in at two hours, the first half of the album is geared more towards atmospheric metal, while the second half veers into country/Americana/folk music. If it sounds weird – well, it is – but it somehow works really well. You can give it a listen here. Lastly, we have the new album from French progressive/avant-garde metal band HYPNO5E, titled Alba – Les Hombres Errantes. The band has well established themselves as an act who can craft lush musical soundscapes while still bringing the heaviness, but here they drop the latter and lean further into the former than ever before; the album is an absorbing cinematic score to a film project made by one of the band members, and can be heard here.
Other artists who released albums this week include Russian alternative metal band 7000$, French metalcore band Across the Divide, Spanish heavy metal band Ad Eternum, Indian heavy metal band Against Evil, Greek heavy/power metal band Alphastate, British hard rock band The Amorettes, black metal band Anshelm, Dutch hardcore band Arrow Minds, death metal band Aseitas, German industrial metal act Auger, Italian stoner rock band Black Rainbows, German doom metal/psychadelic rock hybrid Black Salvation, hard rock band Black Sun Trine, hard rock band Blackberry Smoke, Scottish metalcore band Bleed from Within, Polish heavy metal band Bloody Mess, thrash metal band Blue Collar War, Canadian stoner rock band Bort (my band is also named Bort), Swiss thrash metal band Broken Fate, ska punk band Bumpin’ Uglies, German metalcore band Caliban, blackened thrash/death metal band Casket Raider, German post/black metal band Convictive, hard rock duo Cousins Road, heavy metal/hardcore band Crooked Hills, Australian hard rock band The Dead Daisies, Brazillian death/thrash metal band Demolishment, Canadian one-man black metal act Devotee, progressive hard rock band Earth to Ashes, Australian sludge/post-metal band Encircling Sea, German melodic death metal band Fake Smile Revolution, German groove metal band Fall of Carthage, deathcore band The Fallen Prodigy, alternative grunge/punk/stoner rock band A Gathering of None, French black metal band Glorior Belli, death metal band The Grotesquery, black/death metal band Hellfire Deathcult, Canadian one-man black metal act Hezrou, Belgian death metal band Human Barbecue, Ukranian deathcore band The Infestation, collaborative European death metal project Johansson & Speckmann, Finnish melodic death metal band Kalmah, power metal band Kamelot, British hard rock band Kasai, solo metalcore artist Kenny Geriets, Australian stoner/hard rock band Khan, thrash metal band Killix, sludge metal band Kolossor, Ukranian black/folk metal band Kroda, technical death metal band Lecherous Nocturne, stoner/hard rock band Lord Ellis, Chilean heavy metal band Lucifer’s Hammer, Italian black metal band Malnàtt, Australian metalcore band Massacre of Innocence, British hard rock band Maverick, German heavy/thrash metal band Me Against the World, Italian doom metal band Messa, stoner metal band Mindscrub, Finnish melodic death metal band Mors Subita, alternative metalcore band No Ghost, British black metal band Nokturnal Ritual, thrash metal/hardcore band Nuse, Swedish melodic death metal band Orbit Culture, British melodic hardcore band Palm Reader, Canadian punk band The Penske File, Italian heavy metal band Phoenix Rage, Australian thrash metal band Requiem, Hungarian hard rock band Road, Swedish speed metal band Rocka Rollas, British hard rock band The Rocket Dolls, Swedish heavy/power metal band Runelord, deathcore band Scapegoat, Belgian hard rock band Sharp Treble, German death metal band Slamister, Swedish hard rock band Spiders, international hard rock collaboration Stagma, Spanish metalcore band Suddenly Flatline, hard rock band Sundown, Spanish death metal band Survival is Suicide, black metal duo Tordenskrall, German melodic hardcore band Traced by Enemies, Australian black metal band Trenches, Christian metalcore band Underoath, Iranian funeral doom band Urnscent, Finnish progressive metal band Valermada, Australian stoner rock band Valhalla, French symphonic metal band Whyzdom, British black metal band Winterfylleth, Irish melodic death/black metal band Wintriness, British hard rock band Yur Mum, and Russian death metal/grindcore band Zoebeast.
There were also new EPs by Mexican melodic death metal band Ex Umbra, post-hardcore band Eyes on Satellites, stoner/doom metal band Frayle, alternative deathcore band The Hearkening, Spanish melodic death metal band Last Dissonance, Japanese metalcore band Nocturnal Bloodlust, progressive metal band Of Origins, Indonesian metalcore/post-hardcore band With This Fake, Peruvian melodic death/doom metal band Whisper of Death.
I’d just like to finish by highlighting a couple of releases from March that didn’t land on my radar until after the fact, both of which are considerably strong/interesting albums. First is Weekend Demons, the debut album by Californian band Duendes. They play a really cool blend of progressive rock, math rock and post-hardcore, with a bit of psychedelic/desert rock thrown in. It’s infectious as hell, and you can check it out here. The other album is The Bleak Shall Inherit the Earth, by Cave Bastard, who also hail from California. Playing a blackened take on death/doom metal, this band’s sound is like a jackhammer straight through the skull – an indefatigable assault on the senses that leaves you completely wrecked. Give it a listen here if you’re game!
So, what have you been rocking out to?
BONUS QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Do you have a favourite depiction of the heavy music scene in cinema? (Think along the lines of This is Spinal Tap, Green Room, etc.)