Despite all the crap the music industry’s had to endure last year, and will probably have to suffer through for a while longer, we were still blessed with an incredible flow of quality releases. Just look at our reviews, editor’s top lists, and GRIMM’s top albums of 2020, which are all chock-full of amazing music. We therefor see no reason why 2021 shouldn’t enjoy the same blessing. One need only look at the records that have been announced and rumored so far and you know it’ll be a good year for music again even if live shows wouldn’t be happening yet.
While there are already a couple of stellar releases out in the world since last Friday (like Malakhim and Frozen Soul), here are some of our editorial team’s picks of the most anticipated releases of this month:
Dread Sovereign – ‘Alchemical Warfare’
(15/1 – Metal Blade)
A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial with his very recognizable voice and filthy cult old school doom metal, what could go wrong? While this project of his had an almost purely doom metal sound on its first 2 full-lengths, this time it seems they mixed in a bit of black and heavy metal touches. A doomy record that might fit all too well with today’s atmosphere and definitely warrants the time you might put into checking it out.
FireForce – ‘Rage Of War’
(15/1 – Rock Of Angels Records)
For some reason, we don’t have a lot of people in our team of writers that are into heavy/power metal. But when we come across something that seems to be worthwhile and on top of that is a local band, we can temporary set aside our preference for the more extreme. Belgian FireForce brings with ‘Rage of War’ a set of rather exciting metal tracks that, while having the obligatory power metal scream, has a strong old school heavy metal vibe with even some touches of thrash metal here and there. The new vocalist/guitarist Matt definitely comes out strongly and proves to be a good addition. Fans of Sabaton might be into this, just expect a more down-to-earth gritty version.
Front Line Assembly – ‘Mechanical Soul’
(15/1 – Metropolis)
The legendary Canadian industrial outfit Front Line Assembly is back with another entry into their extensive discography. Actually the second release since longtime member Rhys Fulber made a return into the folds of the band. Expect the usual harsh beats, weird samples and atmospheres, with this time also somewhere on the album feature guest appearances by Jean-Luc de Meyer (Front 242) and Dino Cazares (Fear Factory). We’re already getting ready to dance our frustrations away…
Emma Ruth Rundle / Thou – ‘The Helm Of Sorrow’
(15/1 – Sacred Bones)
Last year’s collaboration between songstress of sadness Emma Ruth Rundle and the drone doomsters of Thou ‘May Your Chambers Be Full’ was for quite a couple of people a late entry in their AOTY of 2020. So who are we if we’d complain about getting to hear more music where these artists put their talents together? They’re treating us on 4 more tracks with an EP, including an absolutely great rendition of the Cranberries song ‘Hollywood’:
Asphyx – ‘Necroceros’
(22/1 – Century Media)
The Netherlands has a rather legendary death metal scene that is sadly much underappreciated by many metal fans. However, many of the original bands coming from that scene are revered and praised by some of the greatest musicians in the international metal scene and often even named as a major influence to their playing. One such band is the death/doom outfit Asphyx. And while they’ve gone through many line-up changes throughout the decades, they still hold up the musical traditions of the old school strong and crush it every single time. So their first new full-length in almost 5 years is something we definitely look forward to…
Nervosa – ‘Perpetual Chaos’
(22/1 – Napalm)
2020 has been a hectic year for this Brazilian thrash/death band. Vocalist/bassist Fernanda Lira as well as drummer Luana Dametto left the band back in April. This could have been the end of this fairly young band, had it not been for guitarist Prika Amaral‘s persistence. She quickly assembled a new international lineup with Diva Satanica on vocals, Mia Wallace on bass and Eleni Nota on drums. Luckily, the first two killer singles from the upcoming ‘Perpetual Chaos‘ sound like Nervosa is here to stay.
Wardruna – ‘Kvitravn’
(22/1 – Sony Music/By Norse Music)
Einar Selvik and his mission to bring some of his (and our) heritage into the modern world has been steadily growing in appreciation. There seems to be somewhat of a movement going on in which pagan folk is heralded. Last year we had to cope with the fact that they had to delay the release (the first one in collaboration with a major label) of the new album ‘Kvitravn’ until 2021. So it might not come to you as a big surprise that we’ve been eagerly awaiting to hear the full force of mesmerizing magic that Wardruna brings into the world with each release.
Tribulation – ‘Where The Gloom Becomes Sound’
(29/1 – Century Media)
We at GRIMM were quite dismayed when it was announced Jonathan Hultén had parted ways with Swedish goth rock icons Tribulation. We were lucky enough to catch a few of their concerts, during which we agreed the mesmerizing guitarist’s stage performance was almost intrinsic to the show. In all honesty we can’t help but wonder how his departure will impact the band’s sound. Fortunately this remains a question for the distant future, as Tribulation‘s fifth record will still feature Hultén. Let’s hope he leaves a lasting mark on ‘Where the Gloom Becomes Sound‘ and goes out with a bang.
Harakiri For The Sky – ‘Mӕre‘
(29/1 – AOP)
Austrian post black metal prodigies and longtime GRIMM favourites Harakiri for the Sky, make their grand return with their fifth record, ‘Mӕre‘, the follow-up to 2018’s highly praised ‘Arson’. Along for the ride are once more a plethora of guest artists, among which we’ll find Alcest‘s front man Neige, Audrey Sylvain, the anonymous voice of Gaerea and as session drummer none other than Kerim „Krimh“ Lechner (Septicflesh, live Behemoth). 2021 already seems to demand performances from artists with pedigree that can translate the state of the world in raw emotions.
Splendidula – ‘Somnus’
(29/1 – Argonauta)
Here we are again, supporting a local band. But not just for the sake of doing so. The Belgian doom outfit Splendidula impressed many with their last release ‘Post Mortem’ a couple of years back and have proved themselves on many occasions live, like recently at a COVID-19 safe event at our very own venue Jeugdhuis Asgaard. Also Argonauta Records picked up on the promise this band holds and with their upcoming release ‘Somnus’ they have their first album with the label. On which they seem to continue to deliver on the atmospheric doom and sludge with the versatile vocals of frontwoman Kristien Cools we’ve gotten to know them for by now, complemented by some fresh elements. A must for any doom fan, we’d say!
Eximperituserqethhzebibšiptugakkathšulweliarzaxułum – ‘Šahrartu’
(29/01 – Willowtip Records)
Or Eximperitus, for short. The enigmatic brutal death metal unit who growl their mystic messages in ancient Belarusian finally bring us a full-length follow-up to their 2016 record, the name of which I’ll spare myself the trouble of writing down. Upon listening to that record I knew I’d stumbled on yet another underground marvel. So I’ve kept the band close to me ever since, always on the lookout for new releases. This month they’re set to cast a ray of dark hope on 2021 by unleashing ‘Šahrartu‘, hopefully another BDM epic with the same otherworldly atmosphere they created on their debut. Expect my review by the time it drops.
Therion – ‘Leviathan’
(22/1 – Nuclear Blast)
One of the most renowned outfits in the world of symphonic metal has to be Therion. Every release they have a plethora of guests and additional musicians to create an epic, theatrical and lush sound. While their last release ‘Beloved Antichrist’ seemed a bit too much of a stretch and adventurous undertaking for a lot of fans with the 3 hour spanning “metal opera”, it seems that with ‘Leviathan’ they’re back closer to their older sound. Much to the delight of many fans around the world, this will be another classic symphonic metal release by one of the mainstays in the genre and not to be missed!