Last week was another healthy week of hard rock sales, with Scorpions scanning 18,500 records of what is reported to be their final album. Perhaps there is power in the suggestion of goodbye. New Jersey's beloved Dillinger Escape Plan debuted at 6 on the hard rock charts, selling 7,136 units. That's an increase from their last album, so again, it's a beautiful thing to see a band increase its scans several albums into its career and buck the trend of declining with every album!

Darkthrone, 'Circle the Wagons' (Peaceville): Oscar the Grouch is probably the biggest fan of Darkthrone's previous material, which was cloven-hoofed blackmetal that could have been recorded in a trash can similar to witch Oscar resides in. But while the production values on 'Circle the Wagons' remain as gritty and grimy as ever, the band's continues to play dirty, blackened punk, like Motörhead and the Misfits going mano y mano in Scandinavia. 'Eyes Burst at Dawn' is our writhing-on-the-floor favorite.

Barren Earth, 'Curse of the Red River' (Peaceville): Barren Earth's 'Curse of the Red River' may semantically make us think of Life of Agony, but the music is quite Opeth'ian in its scope and style, as it mixes throaty, larynx-tearing howls with intricate, complex riffery. The band doses its death metal passages with folky, mellow moments. It's clear that Mike Akerfeldt and his crew have worn off on Barren Earth. 'Our Twilight' and 'The Ritual of Dawn' are as pretty as they are pungent. If 'Beauty and the Beast' were a metal concept and not a fairytale, Barren Earth would be a keen representative of such a notion.

Jucifer, 'Throned in Blood' (Nomadic Fortress): When a girl makes this much of a guttural noise, heads will spin like Reagan's in 'The Excorcist.' Jucifer's 'Throned in Blood' opens with a thunderous roar and proceeds to throw a Molotov cocktail of biting riffs, vicious screams and urgent percussion out of your speakers. There's a dirge-like and sonically threatening tone to much of 'Throned in Blood,' which is centered on the affects wars have on humanity. The clang and clatter of 'Contempt' is enough to make you pass out cold. Two people make this much noise?

Negura Bunget, 'Maeistrait' (Prophecy): Transylvanian black metal? Dracula-core? That's Negura Bunget. The band is re-interpreting its 2000 debut, 'Maeistrait Sfetnic,' and the result is epic, sweeping black metal with songs that often surpass the six-minute mark. It's vicious, nihilistic and definitely a must for Negura Bunget fans. It sounds like music you need to listen to when its snowy, when you are visiting Norway and you are particularly pissed at the big G.

Slash, 'Slash' (EMI): When you're Slash and your riffs are as distinct as your dental records, you can pull in an mad impressive cast of guest vocalists. Ozzy Osbourne. The Cult's Ian Astbury. Lemmy. Chris Cornell. M. Shadows? Cool. Fergie? On paper, you'd think not so much, but she adds a sexy touch to 'Beautiful Dangerous.' All these voices give each song its own unique vibe. The Lemmy track, 'Doctor Alibi,' is faster and punkier than most, while Astbury's tune is bluesier than the others. The M. Shadows jam has a modern thrash sound reminiscent of Avenged Sevenfold. Even with multiple singers, the album still feels cohesive and the common thread of Slash's axe ties it all together.