Remember, remember, of all the events in November, clearly the most important is the slew of noteworthy albums dropping throughout the month’s first two weeks.
Aerosmith – Music from Another Dimension
All That Remains – A War You Cannot Win
Isis – Temporal
The swan song of Aaron Turner’s most famous musical project (well, one of them) is actually more an assemblage of scraps and spare parts than an album proper, so diehards may find that they’ve already hunted down many of the demos and b-sides compiled herein. Even so, the three-disc set certainly earns points by mere virtue of bringing all these odds and ends together—as well as supplementing them with several genuine previously unreleased recordings (mostly alternate versions of songs) and a career-spanning DVD of music videos. The total of fourteen tracks spread across the CDs may seem unimpressive to the uninitiated, but because this is Isis, it’s probably a safe bet that both audio discs press on past the 60-minute mark. Some may gripe about exclusions—surely, there has to be more Isis concert footage floating around out there somewhere—but for what it is, Temporal appears a fine and fitting send-off (for now? Please?) for one of post-metal’s heaviest hitters.
Public Enemy – The Evil Empire of Everything
Public Enemy – Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp
Rolo Tomassi – Astraea
Streetlight Manifesto – The Hands That Thieve
Underoath – Anthology: 1999 – 2013
Speaking of send-offs, post-hardcore outfit Underoath bows out with this career-spanning best of collection. Although it may not sound like it, to say that it’s surprising the band lasted as long as it did is not meant as a denigration, but more just a logical response to a group that literally has none of its original lineup at this point, having shed no fewer than ten members since its inception (including two prominent vocalists). It’s also a testament to the band as a unit or idea that it has retained such an effective sound, despite its shifting iterations, from early-day progressive death metal leanings to the more electronic-heavy bent of 2010’s Disambiguation. Listening to the reverse-chronologically structured Anthology may prove an interesting experiment in tracing the band’s evolutionary thread, though most fans will mainly be concerned with the bookends: the release kicks off with two unreleased tracks, the bittersweetly superb “Sunburnt” and “Unsound,” and concludes with “Cries of the Past” and “Heart of Stone” from the band’s long out-of-print Cries of the Past and Act of Depression, respectively. The closest band brings its surprisingly brief farewell tour to Baltimore is Philadelphia’s Union Transfer on January 16—a show which is, unfortunately but unsurprisingly, already sold out.
Deftones – Koi No Yokan
The seventh full-length from artsy, altsy metal group Deftones has a tough act to follow in the form of 2010’s Diamond Eyes, which for some challenged the band’s long-established high water mark White Pony as the best display of Deftones nuanced and varied musical abilities. Fortunately, each of the early tracks released from Koi No Yokan indicate that chief creative forces Chino Moreno, Stephen Carpenter, and company are not only perfectly aware of the astronomical expectations of many listeners, but also perfectly prepared to match them. “Leathers” finds the band pairing patches of atmospheric soundscaping with some of the harshest outbursts Moreno’s shrieked forth since “Rapture” with characteristically cohesive results. Meanwhile, “Tempest” indulges Deftones’ growing affinity for crafting deft epics out of remarkably uncluttered arrangements, with a chorus erupting with just the sort of bizarrely beautiful dissonance that has come to define Deftones’ sound. Should the rest of the album follow suit, we might have yet another dark horse opponent to White Pony for career best.
Brian Eno – Lux
Gifts from Enola – A Healthy Fear
Green Day – Dos!
How to Destroy Angels – An Omen EP
Aaron Lewis – The Road
The Rolling Stones – Grrr!
The Stones’ decision to release yet another hits compilation—this time, ostensibly for the band’s 50th(!) anniversary—is due reason for a fair amount of eye-rolling; after all, at this point, they seem to average around three or four compilations for every actual piece of new output. As such, it’s difficult to recommend Grrr! to anyone but complete newcomers or total diehards, and precious few anywhere in-between. To its credit, the three-disc standard edition clocks in at 50 tracks, putting it ten greater than formerly seminal ‘best of’ set Forty Licks (see what they did there?)—and guaranteeing that those willing to shell out the $25 are getting a sizable chunk of music for their money (a pricier set adds two extra discs, including a collection of the band’s first recordings). Grrr! also contains two newly recorded tracks, “Doom and Gloom” and “One More Shot,” the former of which is a fine cut of surprisingly fierce interplay between the supernaturally not-dead-yet Mick, Keith, Ronnie, and Charlie. Still, though, most tried-and-true fans will likely have most of the material available here already, and for the bulk of these listeners, two new tracks (no matter how skillful) are no great incentive to splurge on this set.
Soundgarden – King Animal
The Weeknd – Trilogy