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Hard Rock and Metal New Releases — March 9

Congrats to High on Fire, whose ‘Snakes for the Divine’ sold nearly 10,000 copies its first week on shelves. That’s nearly double what their last album sold in its first week, and this is their fifth studio album. It’s incredible to see the band having forward progress deep into their career and reversing a trend.

AbscessAbscess, ‘Dawn of Inhumanity’ (Peaceville): Mirror, mirror on the wall; who’s the goriest of them all? Why, Abscess, that’s who. The long-running, gore-glazed death metal outfit keep their boot on the acceleration pedal throughout the whole of ‘Dawn of Inhumanity,’ a grainy, deadly slab of metal with some punk rock strains to it. Think Obituary meets Motörhead on ‘Goddess of Filth and Plague’ or ‘Never Sane Again.’

The Breathing Process, ‘Odyssey (Un)Dead’ (Candlelight): Black metal is either overly arty or completely from the gutter, but the Breathing Process shift between pugnacious and pretty here. It’s like peeling an onion, as there are layers upon layers of blackened death metal here. Ethereal keys (check ‘Leveller’ for keyboards used in black metal in a fresh way) and processed grunts and growls live among riffs played at whiplash speed.

Dark TranquilityDark Tranquility, ‘We Are the Void (CMR): SMDM. No, that’s not a S&M bondage club. It’s Swedish melodic death metal, which is what Dark Tranquility have always served up on their platters. ‘We Are the Void’ dabbles in dark, memorable melodies and chunky, razor sharp riffage. If you like Killswitch Engage, In Flames and Soilwork, then you’ll have a hard on for Dark Tranquility. ‘Shadow in Our Blood’ is a shredfest, while ‘The Fatalist’ opens with keys and proceeds to let her rip!

DaughtersDaughters, ‘Daughters(HydraHead): These Providence, R.I. psychotics are often deemed art-metal, much to their chagrin. It can be deemed avant-metal because it’s played at breakneck speed and fuses the weird, the artful and the extreme. This self-titled affair gnashes steel against steel, shows its seams and hangs out near the warning track. ‘The Virgin’ sounds like warped, math-metal and hip-hop after a one night stand, while ‘The First Supper’ reminds me of what a Beastie Boys and Dillinger Escape Plan collaboration would sound like. It’s big and unpredictable.

Demon Hunter, ‘The World Is a Thorn (Solid State): Their feet may be firmly planted in the Christian metal scene, but Demon Hunter shy away from any ‘metalcore’ associations. Their fifth full-length, ‘The World is a Thorn,’ is mid-tempo metal that has more in common with Machine Head and Sepultura than it does with As I Lay Dying. Fiery guitars and Ryan Clark’s melodic vocals give the album a memorable sheen. The album gets better as you got deeper. ‘Driving Nails’ is a contemplative ballad and it’s followed by the fastest DH song ever.

Eluveitie, ‘Everything Remains (as It Never Was) (NBA): Ah, those pagan metallers. They love the stringed instruments. Here, we have a mix of Swedish melodic death metal with ancient folk instruments. Be forewarned, though. This is ‘love it or hate it’ metal, and these madrigals are an acquired taste, since growly and female vocals are situated alongside heavy artillery riffery and Old World strings, which lace the music with a decidedly ‘period’ feel.

FinntrollFinntroll, ‘Nifelvind (CMR): Trolls! Trolls! Who doesn’t love trolls? Finntroll’s ‘Nifelvind’ isn’t as trolltastic as you might think. It’s ultra-fast, deathy metal with plenty of epic, galloping keyboards that soften some of the music’s edge, but in a good way. ‘Solsagan’ and ‘Den Frusna Munnen’ incorporate folky, string instruments into the metallic bluster.

ImmolationImmolation, ‘Majesty and Decay (Nuclear Blast): Man, it’s a deadly week for metal and NYDM stalwarts Immolation strike fear in the hearts of mortals with ‘Majesty and Decay,’ which is jam-packed with blinding leads, solos, terrifying lyrics and vocal vomit! ‘The Purge’ and ‘A Token of Malice’ will please speed freaks.

White Wizzard

White Wizzard, ‘Over the Top (Earache): Given White Wizzard’s worship of ’80s metal, metal fans might be quick to write the L.A. band off as a non-serious metal parody act. Nothing could be further from the truth, as White Wizzard pay tribute to the glory days of Dio, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden with their solo-drenched, siren-vocal filled tunes.

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