Nov. 3Cannibal Corpse, “Red Before Black”If you have any connection to metal music at all, then you know Cannibal Corpse. The death metal stalwarts have been releasing music steadily since before I was born, with topics riding the line of offensive and horrifying the entire time. You would be hard pressed to find a metalhead who couldn’t tell you their favorite Cannibal Corpse record, and almost all would have a different answer. They seem to have found the sweet spot on the last couple albums, starting off a new renaissance with “Torture” back in 2012, bringing in searing riffs which the mountain of a man, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, can wail over. There is no subtlety in this kind of death metal. “Red Before Black” refers to exactly what you think it does. “Code of the Slashers” has an awesome groove to it that any veteran Cannibal fan will immediately fall into. Nothing unfamiliar awaits you on this record, just riffs, gore, screams, and headbanging.
Batushka, “Litourgiya”Batushka stormed onto the underground black metal scene with their debut “Litourgiya” back in 2015. Now, Metal Blade Records has taken notice, and is poised to bring the orthodox black metal of Batushka to the world. The riffs pound with a shrieking vocal delivery cutting through the grim. Then, like a blessing from on high, the riffs melt away and soaring Gregorian-esque chanting comes in to fill the void. Each track is called a Litany, or Vekteniya, in the mysterious band’s native Polish. And deservedly so. Each feels grandiose in scale and sound, bringing a genuinely unique approach to the traditional black metal sound. It would’ve been easy to categorize the chanting and overtly religious themes as a gimmick, but they work so well in the context of the work that it is impossible to do so. I usually don’t review old material, but this record is an astounding piece of work, and I am grateful that, with the Metal Blade re-release, more people may be able to appreciate one of the best metal albums to come out in the last few years.
Anti Flag, “American Fall”The only thing that sucks about Anti Flag is that the people who need to listen to their music are never going to. Where some bands are content to dance around some subjects permeating discourse about being American right now, Anti Flag is not content to let people misconstrue their words. The song “Racists” does not beat around any bushes. “Just cuz you don’t know you’re racist/ a bigot with a checklist/ you don’t get a pass for your ignorance. “Offended by the claim of bigotry more than the racism in your face.” These are things that need to be said and confronted. Subtlety has its place, as does directness. Anti Flag has that directness in spades, all delivered through the poppy punk sound and nasally vocals that fans have been familiar with for years.
Other notable releases: Maroon 5, Blitzen Trapper, Sondre Lerch, Stereophonics, Chris Brown, Kid Rock, Sam Smith, Blake Shelton, Moonspell, Like Moths to Flames, Legendary Shack Shakers, U-Men (Reissue), Throbbing Gristle (Reissue)Cooper Stapleton