10/6/17 Music Releases (Marilyn Manson, The Black Dahlia Murder, August Burns Red)
"Phantom Anthem" By August Burns Red
Genre: Metalcore/Progressive Metal
Any time someone tells you metalcore is on the decline just remind them that August Burns Red is still going strong. The band has had a continuous streak of critically acclaimed albums their entire career and can seemingly do no wrong. Not a band to rest on its successes, ABR aims to push their sound even further with Phantom Anthem. While the record is still rooted in metalcore, the band's progressive and djent tendencies are pushed to their limit and tests the boundaries of what can still be considered a metalcore song. Opening track "King Of Sorrow" starts things off unorthodox featuring an interesting instrumental portion accompanied by piano sandwiched between sections of incredibly heavy instrumentation. Singles and personal favorite tracks "The Frost" and "Invisible Enemy" hold some of the band's most technically impressive guitar work. Drummer Matt Greiner is no slouch either with his ability to switch between following the serpentine guitar leads and the syncopated chug riffs to make the songs as dynamic as possible. "Coordinates" marks the first usage of melodic singing in August Burns Red's music. It's brief but well done and doesn't feel out of place in the overall melodic track. The latter half of the record experiments a few times with melodic backing vocals on tracks like "Float" and "Carbon Copy". The sparse usage is obvious toe-dipping but it still adds another useful dynamic to the band's music. Phantom Anthem is another shining example of August Burns Red's dedication to improvement and musical exploration. And unlike many of their metalcore peers, they're able to find ways to build on their sound without sacrificing heavyness. ABR continues to be a flagship artist for the metalcore genre with Phantom Anthem being one of my favorite releases of the year.
"Nightbringers" By The Black Dahlia Murder
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
The Black Dahlia Murder is one of the most popular modern extreme metal bands with seven of their albums charting on the Billboard 200. That popularity is largely due to the group's consistency on quality and style. While they don't change their sound much album to album each record goes deep with quality cuts. Their latest effort Nightbringers continues this trend with nary a weak track to be found. The usual TBDM traits of high tempos, blast beats, and predominantly mid to high pitched growls are there. But the band does play around a little with groove on tracks like "Widowmaker" and even more so on the title track "Nightbringers" which, while not a slow track by any means, is incredibly slowed down for The Black Dahlia Murder. "Kings Of The Nightworld" dabbles a bit in thrash territory with more straightforward, punk sections and riffs that would almost feel at home in Megadeth or Anthrax's discography. "As Good As Dead" features a hooky chorus that's almost anthemic in nature and mixes those slower sections in with the speedy parts quite well. Nightbringers has been getting a lot of praise from fans and critics with many even calling the album the band's best. And I'm inclined to agree. No weak tracks, more dynamic than much of their past work, and engaging from start to finish, Nightbringers is the quintessential The Black Dahlia Murder album. For those yet to discover the band this latest effort is a great place to dive in.
"Heaven Upside Down" By Marilyn Manson
Genre: Industrial Metal/Gothic Rock
Marilyn Manson had a very strong critical resurgence with his 2015 album The Pale Emperor. The singer's team up with film scorer Tyler Bates yielded a distinctly blues inspired effort that was a departure from the band's usual industrial sound. Rather than build further on that sound however Heaven Upside Down resembles Manson's classic albums Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals. The record comes with a similar degree of diversity as those albums as well. Opening track "Revelation #12" and lead single "WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE" are classic hard industrial bangers like the one's the band made their name on. "Tattooed In Reverse" is a more electronic centered track with an upbeat stomp-clap rhythm and sing-a-long vocal melodies that should make it a fan favorite. Promotional single "SAY10" is a record highlight that makes strong use of dynamics. The verses are quieter sections that build tension and allow Manson's vocals to be at the forefront before an explosion of guitars buoys the simple chant of the chorus making it a track fit for an arena setting. Tracks like "KILL4ME" and the title track brings back the glam elements the band championed in the past with the former featuring some 80's style synth in the chorus and the latter featuring a prominent blend of acoustic and electric guitars with an upbeat rhythm. "Heaven Upside Down" would sound like a pop rock song if it wasn't for the dirty distortion of the guitars and Manson's distinct, raspy snarl. The closing track "Threat Of Romance" sounds more like something off the last record with its bluesy vibe and piano. There seems to be something from every Manson era to be found on Heaven Upside Down. The diversity of the tracklist keeps the album interesting from start to finish and individually each song is quality. It's almost as if Manson and company wanted to make a statement after having such critical success after a sound change. Heaven Upside Down proves the band can still make enjoyable industrial rock that's instantly recognizable as Marilyn Manson. While the record lacks a hit as big as "Beautiful People" or "Rock Is Dead" the consistent quality of all the tracks more than makes up for it.