Upcoming Albums

Albums of 4/5/24

The most interesting releases of the week!

Manasseh – Tunneling To Paradise

Happy I, Voidhanger day. Manasseh is a new project from the Howls Of Ebb guy that sounds as if someone took all of the good interludes ever released on death metal albums and smashed them together. He also released a new Herxheim release that’s metal if you’d rather go in that direction. On Tunneling To Paradise, there is atmospheric noise, acoustic guitar plucking, spooky spoken word sections, and tentative drums.

I’m not sure what caused Manasseh to release this obvious Halloween music in April, but the sound is fine no matter the season. Tunneling To Paradise contains no massive moments of release or big swelling climaxes. Instead it stays in the area of subdued uncomfort for the full forty minute runtime of the album. This exploration of the soundspace usually reserved for 2-minute skippable moments won’t be for everyone, and I certainly won’t be in the mood for it all the time, but when the mood for Tunneling To Paradise strikes, it sounds like a sound unfolding its body and truly stretching its legs.

Concrete Age – Motherland

I wrote and deleted a whole paragraph complaining about the use of the term “ethnic metal” to describe this or any album, but it took away from the music too much so instead I’ll just just say that this music is not a gimmick and it would be nice to have genre descriptions that are actually descriptive.

Concrete Age‘s Motherland is “A hymn to (the band’s) birthplace” released on Soundage Productions. The album sounds like a celebration, and manages to be a fun time and an emotional release at once. Motherland sounds more like dancing music than mosh pit music and is a passionate and serious exploration of music outside the normal metal dogma. It’s a more lively Moonsorrow if they came from a different part of the world. A successful hymn. The production holds Motherland back, especially with vocals that sound artificial and separate from the instruments. Otherwise, this album is full of great songwriting and captivating music.

Dialith – Alter

A new independently-released EP from the excellent power metal outfit Dialith. I’ve been waiting for this since the band’s 2019 release Extinction Six, which is their only full-length to date. Apparently they released another EP between then and now and I just missed it. Oops. Dialith do a great job of blending catchy riff into catchy chorus into longing vocal lines into yet another catchy chorus. You aren’t getting a deep exploration of new territory here, you’re getting harmonized, adventurous-sounding choruses about Brandon Sanderson books and such. And it’s so great.

On Alter, Dialith have a focused and concise approach to songwriting. There’s not as much full-album cohesion as there was on Extinction Six thanks to the release format, but taking the songs as individual paint-by-numbers power metal tracks really brings the band’s talents forward. Alter works because Dialith can write excellent melodies and know how to structure songs to keep them moving forward, flexible, and fresh. Alter could easily be just another power metal release, but the band can can make memorable music that uses the same tools as everyone else to create something more.

Kvadrat – The Horrible Dissonance Of Oblivion

The Horrible Dissonance Of Oblivion is Kvadrat‘s debut full-length, released on Nuclear Winter Records. The title is accurate. Kvadrat give us very dense and dark blackened death metal with one and only one emotional push throughout the album. They call this a “documentation of collective and individual downfall” and you can feel the sense of a trapdoor closing to block out the last light source throughout this release.

One issue with this style of music is the turning it up to 11 problem. If the standard is dense, horrifying, dissonant nightmares, how does the music provoke any emotional response past the first two minutes? Kvadrat answer this question via riffs. The guitar lines on The Horrible Dissonance Of Oblivion demand that the listener pay attention anew whenever their mind wanders. This spikes the mind all over again, resulting in an album that keeps its emotional grip longer than it has any right to. The music itself also takes breathers and explores the damp dungeon it finds itself in with enough variety that the album doesn’t bog down. For those that wish cavernous death metal had another level to go to, Kvadrat have a satisfying answer.

Coffins – Sinister Oath

I know that Sinister Oath was released last week, but I was too busy to write anything last week so I’m talking about it this week instead. Coffins are rightfully legends, and Sinister Oath, released on Relapse Records, continues that legend. Sinister Oath isn’t their best, but it’s more than enough to satisfy fans who have been waiting since Beyond The Circular Demise for a follow-up.

Coffins plays a groovy, rolling style of death doom that’s about as far from funeral doom as you can be while still being called doom. They’ve always had crunchy riffs and amazing drum patterns, and Sinister Oath just keeps rolling on. There’s nothing new here, no innovation, but none is needed when you already sound like this. The production on Sinister Oath is excellent and far better than some of the band’s older releases. The album sounds deep, heavy, and driven. I am more than happy to wait five years for an album when it ends up like this.