Upcoming Albums

Albums of 2/16/24

The most interesting releases of 2/16/24

Stellar Remains – Wastelands

Stellar Remains is a one-man death metal band from Australia, here to give us some proggy death metal released on Gutter Prince Cabal Records. This EP is on the shorter side, but Wastelands still has plenty of time to expand and evolve over the course of the release. Stellar Remains start off with some atmospheric guitar sounds that would normally be a waste of time. Instead these guitar melodies quickly meld into something resembling a song with structure and interesting moments that will serve as good anchoring for the rest of the release. Despite how short this EP is, the opening feels meaningful and worth the listener’s time.

After the intro, “Obsolescence” hits you with straightforward death metal. The drum patterns and riffs meld nicely together and the song itself is quite enjoyable at first, but upon repeat listens the song really shines due to where Wastelands goes afterwards. In between the bit punches, the song hints at what will come later on the EP. As the songs march on, the punishing death metal fades back into a softer prog approach, mirroring more closely what happens in the intro than in the first full song. Growls give way to clean vocals, guitar distortion is dialed back a bit, and snare strikes turn to cymbals. Eventually death metal leads the way again, but in a changed form that sounds different than the opening moments partially due to the musical journey the listener has been on.

These shifts remains incomplete as Wastelands remains through and through a death metal release until the end. The musical priorities simply change as the EP evolves, never losing its identity but never staying still. It is absurd that this is a debut release from a one-man band given how polished and deep the music feels. This project feels like Blood Incantation after listening to Radiohead and is absolutely worth your time.

Acrid Death – Abominable Presence Of Blight

Absolute bludgeoning psycopath death metal from Rising Nemesis Records. Also another debut release, this time from Germany. As much as I love the progressive, varied sounds of groups like Stellar Remains, I also need albums like Abominable Presence Of Blight in my life. Acrid Death have made this sub-thirty minute album that is shorter than wastelands a full-length release rather than an EP because in a digital world these terms are increasingly becoming meaningless. Acrid Death will give you nothing but muscly death metal and you will like it.

For those who don’t like Acrid Death, this album will sound one-dimensional and stale. For those like me who do like it, the songs are focused, tight, and effective. If your listening tastes never went past Left Hand Path or Clandestine, if you view Wolverine Blues and Heartwork as selling out, Acrid Death will be your friends. This release is relentless, satisfying, uncompromising, and memorable. Abominable Presence Of Blight works due to the attitude of the performances as much as the songwriting.

Von Hertzen Brothers – Live At Tavastia

Live albums evoke a sort of cautious ambivalence, and albums over the fifty minute mark usually set of red flags. That Von Hertzen Brothers have followed up 2022’s excellent Red Alter In The Blue Forest with an 80 minute long unwieldy jello skyscraper of a live album signals that this is for existing fans alone. However, even if you’ve never heard of this group, Live At Tavastia could still be an early-year gem. The album contains progressive rock that mostly just stays in its lane and fully fleshes out the experience of rock rather than trying to get weird or exploratory. Some people get upset when progressive music doesn’t progress humanity’s understanding of sound and how we interpret it as music, but anyone who doesn’t severely misinterpret the genre’s name will be fine.

Von Hertzen Brothers, so-named because the group consists of three brothers whose last name you will never guess, have released an album that showcases the band’s progressive rock career. Because this is a live album, you get to hear songs from various points in the band’s timeline, played without guardrails or second takes and with the energy of a live audience. The songs themselves are as great as you would expect prime selections from a multi-decade career would be. If you’re a fan, new versions of songs you probably already love or fresh takes on tracks you’re familiar with can be a great experience. If you’re not, and you’re into progressive music, then congrats on having a new discography to explore.

Darkspace – Darkspace -II

Darkspace have given us another monumental atmoblack on Season of Mist. This is atmospheric in the truest sense ,wrapping around the listener like a thick fog and redefining the expected structure of metal music before truly building up a feeling. Despite being named -II, this is the band’s fifth full-length release.

Long tracks are always a risk. With Darkspace they’re also a necessity, which is part of what makes the band’s continued success, as long as that of affiliated band Paysage d’Hiver, so impressive. -II isn’t anything other than what you’d expect from Darkspace, so writing too many words seems meaningless. If the idea of an almost-50 minute long atmoblack track that explores repetitious songwriting and leans more on the atmo than the black appeals to you, then you’ve already listened to -II a dozen times and have formed your own opinion. If that description repels you, nothing about -II will change that. For me, I have had a very good time with -II and find it engaging and mood-setting.