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Hard Rock and Metal New Releases — Feb. 23

Last week was a healthy week for metal in stores. HIM debuted at the top spot on the Hard Rock charts, with 26,000 copies scanned in a ‘hearty’ – get it?- debut. Fear Factory landed at 6 on the Hard Rock chart, with 10,300 in sales for their first album with Dino Cazares back in the lineup. 4,000 Overkill fans showed their support this week, marking their biggest first week since 1994 and highest chart debut at 168, while Arsis shifted nearly 2,000 copies of their latest. We accidentally left off our HIM review in last week’s list, but we’re making up for it today!

HIM, ‘Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice’ (WBR): Love is the ‘Heartkiller.’ Just ask HIM vocalist/king of heartbreak Ville Valo. Only HIM can turn the fact that love sucks into pretty pop songs, with a hardened edge. ‘Screamworks’ doesn’t stray from the band’s signature dark and romantic goth but it is easily the poppiest — and dare we say uplifting? — offering of the band’s career. ‘Scared to Death,’ ‘Heartkiller’ and ‘Disarm Me’ are laced with synths and delightful vocal puns and depth. Thank your deity of choice for ‘Screamworks’ if you’re currently in the s—.

High on Fire, ‘Snakes for the Divine’ (E1): You are going to want to head for the nearest shower after a listen to High on Fire’s ‘Snakes for the Divine.’ It’s dirty, filthy metal that will stain your soul with its potent riffs and frontman/guitarist Matt Pike’s liquor-drenched vocal grunts. ‘Snakes’ may only be eight songs, but the album is full of shredtastic riffery and thunderous booms that’ll put hair on your chest. The title song, ‘Frost Hammer’ and ‘Bastard Samurai’ are so metal … that they crap iron ore!

Mutiny Within, ‘Mutiny Within’ (Roadrunner): New Jersey upstarts Mutiny Within traffic in a modern, youthful style of progressive metal. There’s a lot going on, with clean singing, ultra-fast guitar work and plenty of melodic touches. The clean vocals, however, aren’t the band’s attempt to be commercial, since the songs are often lengthy and a bit more complicated than those which are absorbed by radio ears. ‘Awake’ and ‘Year of Affliction’ will appeal to Dream Theater and Shadows Fall fans.

Rotting Christ, ‘Aealo’ (Season of Mist): With a name like Rotting Christ, intentions certainly aren’t being masked. Greece’s RC have been making a blasphemous, deathy racket since 1987 and ‘Aealo’ is a dark metal opus with ominous tones and foreboding riffs and vocals. The title track (which loosely and appropriately translates to ‘thrashing’ and ‘catastrophe) and ‘Noctis Era’ dim the lights thanks to thunderous percussion and barked vocals.

Suffokate, ‘No Mercy, No Forgiveness’ (MediaSkare): Despite the hoakily-spelled moniker, Suffokate turn in surprisingly corrosive metal with ‘No Mercy, No Forgiveness.’ Cookie monster growls live among crunchy, ’90s-metal style groove and the result is something like Six Feet Under, minus those Chris Barnes pig squeals. This might bring out some tough guys, but mid-tempo (as in not blindingly fast) death metal fans should give this a whirl, because it’s totally br00tal.

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