Some records take a little while to settle. Two of this week’s recommended releases from the worlds of rock, metal, punk and hardcore have a kind of luscious immediacy despite their inherent darkness. The other one doesn’t, but when it lands, it lands hard. Avenged Sevenfold’s decision to unleash their new album without a run-up is the polar opposite of the cavernous and complex achievement of the work itself, so that’s where we begin.
Hello. Chris here. I’m drifting into the first person briefly because I don’t want to implicate Dave in this mea culpa: man, I was wrong about ‘The Stage’ and what it meant for the new Avenged Sevenfold concept album of the same name. The California giants spat The Stage at us out of nowhere last week, and it’s 73 minutes long. That was another portent of boredom. I was wrong again. A7X have delivered big time on the new record. It’s unusual, challenging and expansive. It’s interesting and proggy and inventive and just a little pretentious, but my word it’s impressive stuff. Lesson learned.
If heavy music’s had a stellar year then goth-laden post-punk is, quietly, not far behind. One of the most enjoyable releases from that arena in 2016, Choke is the new album by the brilliant Portland darkwavers Soft Kill and begins in stunning fashion with the synth gloom of opener ‘Whirl’ and the pessimistic post-pop of ‘Frankie’. The archetypal goth sound – jangly guitars, deep vocals and the all-important primacy of the bass guitar – is never far away on Choke, and really comes into its own as the album progresses towards its satisfying conclusion. The title track and ‘Feel Of The Knife’ are masterful compositions.
Sedna are a three-piece black(ish) metal act from Cesena in northern Italy and their second album, Eterno, demonstrates just how much they’re not really a black metal band at all. Its four epic tracks, the third of which clocks in at a rather challenging 21 minutes, are a much more interesting canvas. This record is full of death-doom elements set against a beautiful soundscape of post-black metal and the strained vocals of Alex Crisafulli. Eterno ends on its title track, a crushing ten-minute experiment in atmospheric drone metal. This is an album that’s outwardly negative but packed with ideas.
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