Last week was a good week for metal and hard rock. Circa Survive enjoyed nearly 30,000 copies sold of their Atlantic debut, which was a bump up from their prior effort, while Sevendust also moved around 27,000 copies, which was a nearly 2,000 piece increase from their previous album. So in a declining climate, two hard rock bands defied trends and went up rather than down! Ratt also returned to Ratt 'n' Roll with 'Infestion,' their first studio platter in 11 years. They sold nearly 15,000 copies. Welcome back, boys.

The Austerity Program, 'Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn' (Hydra Head): The Austerity Program specialize in an indie metal, push 'n pull style. Think garage hard rock with a bit of an artsy bend and a thoroughly metallic bite. 'Song 2' is a chunky anthem that gnashes like two steel four-by-fours.

Deftones, 'Diamond Eyes' (WBR): It's like 'Around the Fur' and 'White Pony,' the band's two best albums, but it doesn't sound like the album that should have come in between both or after 'Pony.' No, 'Diamond Eyes' is its own maniacal animal, pitting the low-end, granite-heavy riff doling of Stephen Carpenter against the dreamy wails of P.J. Harvey lover, Chino Moreno. (See the atmospheric 'Beauty School.') It's all quiet-loud dynamics, emphasis on the loud. Steph likes Meshuggah. Chino likes Weezer and Beach House. Those two polar opposites collide on 'CMND/CTRL,' 'Royal' and the scorching 'Rocket Skates.' This is the loudest, most metallic Deftones release to date. Even moodier cuts like 'You've Seen the Butcher,' with its tooth-loosening boom, retain heft.

Godsmack, 'The Oracle' (Universal): Yes, Godsmack are still around and blasting your eardrums with radio friendly, aggro. 'Cryin' Like a B----' is vintage 'Smack: hooks, choruses that strippers, truckers and meat eaters like to sing along to and that verbal one liner that makes you want to shoulder mosh. Godsmack always enjoyed an association with grunge, but they've always been surlier and burlier than that genre, with their Alice in Chains and Metallica influences, and 'The Oracle' doesn't ameliorate that tradition. Godsmack remain a gateway band with 'Oracle' and we welcome them back.

Mondo Cane, 'Mondo Cane' (Ipecac): Here's an equation for you. Mike Patton plus Italian oldies can only equal one thing: unpredictability. Patton's skills as a vocal acrobat are on full display in 'Mondo Cane.' He croons like Italian was his first language – and really, he is fluent- on his renditions of classic songs from the Italian music pantheon. Since these are considered to be Italian standards, they are still Pattonized with the singer's fingerprint-distinct voice.'Che Notte!' and 'Urlo Negro' have an aggressive rock flair, namely the latter, with its call-to-arms tone. (The original was a civil rights-inspired song!) In typical Patton form, these songs don't shape him; he shapes them. 'Deep Down' sounds like an Italian wedding song; I feel like I should be watching one of my cousins exchange vows and collect envelopes containing wads of lire!

Nonpoint, 'Miracle' (954 Records): Despite having enjoyed most of their success in the early '00s, Florida's Nonpoint never stray from the path. Mid-tempo, muscular metal, clean vocals, bottom and heavy guitar blasts define 'Miracle,' which siphons from the same tank as Mudvayne, Sevendust and Stone Sour. The title track is gritty and catchy, with a driving energy while 'Shadow' slows things down slightly, but the impact leaves a mark. Past singles like 'What a Day' and 'Circles' were memorable, and I found myself searching for those sort of hooks on 'Miracle' but not locating them quickly. That said, definitely recommended as a 'my first metal band' for those dipping their toes in the metal pool for the first time and aren't quite ready for Slayer! Pst ... they also cover Pantera's 'Five Minutes Alone.'

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