The first third of 2017 has been up and down when it comes to the quality of new releases. A couple of months have been excellent, others a little more sparse. April saw a few top-notch albums, but it wasn’t as deep as last month in terms of the quantity of upper echelon releases. Here are our choices for the best albums released in April of 2017.
1. Royal Thunder – Wick (Spinefarm)
Royal Thunder return after a great sophomore record Crooked Doors as their brand of emotive, vocal driven hard rock explores new musical pathways.Wick balances somewhere between gospel and medium paced hard rock as their harder days of CVI are in the distant past.
Whether it be to harmonize with the guitars or act as a bridge between choruses, vocal effects dominate the emotionally heavy side of the album. The majority of these songs are met with equally stirring and beautiful guitar work creating an absolutely immersive atmosphere of self-realization and clarity. Royal Thunder continue to evolve and with album number three they are firmly their own beast and we benefit from it with each new listen.
2. Farsot – Fail-Lure (Lupus Lounge)
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the German black metal band Farsot. A couple of early tracks appeared on last year’s Samhain Celebration compilation, but 2011 was their last studio album. Fail-Lure is a welcome return.
Their third studio album was inspired by the late ’90s film Drowning By Numbers. It’s an ambitious album, blending experimental and avant-garde parts with traditional black metal. The vocals reflect that, with the usual raspy style in places, but also mesmerizing melodic singing. The songs themselves are lengthy, in the 6 to 9 minute range, but the album itself is under 50 minutes. That’s an ideal length, giving the listener a chance to fully absorb the complexities of the extremely well-written and performed music without the fatigue of an hour plus long album.
3. Novembers Doom – Hamartia (The End)
For the past quarter century, Chicago’s Novembers Doom have been building a deep and quality catalog. Every two or three years they release a consistently good doom/death album, and that’s the case with their tenth full-length, Hamartia.
They’ve had quite a few lineup changes over the years, with founding vocalist Paul Kuhr and longtime guitarist Larry Roberts maintaining the core of the band. While they’ve developed a recognizable somber sound, each album finds them making minor changes and tweaks, avoiding stagnation and propelling them ever forward. Tracks like “Ghost” have heavy doom riffs, but also quiet, acoustic sections. They amp up the death metal groove on “Apostasy,” while “”Waves In The Red Cloth” bring melodic vocals front and center. Hamartia is another well-rounded and well constructed album from one of metal’s more underrated bands.
4. Extremity – Extremely Fucking Dead (20 Buck Spin)
hough it’s nice to hear death metal that tests the boundaries, sometimes a person just wants a record with no gimmicks or any kind of shady experimentation. Enter Extremity, a Bay Area group with members from bands including Vastum, VHOL, and Cretin. Their debut release breaks the genre down to its necessary essence and leaves the rest of the filler aside.
Trade-off grunts and screams echo through the soulless pursuit of aural annihilation, never letting off an ounce of rejuvenation. Extremely Fucking Dead is extremely awesome death metal from musicians that know how to perform it with bitter malice and gleeful menace.
5. Labyrinth – Architecture Of A God (Frontiers)
Labyrinth are an Italian band that have been around in one form or another since 1991. Architecture of a God is the band’s eighth full-length album, and first since 2010. It features a revamped keyboard/rhythm section accompanying longtime singer and guitarists Roberto Tiranti, Olaf Thorsen, and Andrea Cantarelli.
Architecture of a God features all the trappings of power metal that make it a fun sub-genre: fast riffs, galloping beats, and uplifting, inspiring lyrics. Progressive complexities tint most of the album, notably the epic title track, while top-notch production gives every instrument room to flourish. This is a fun prog-metal album that deserves a listen.