1. Acid Witch - Rot Among Us (Detroit, Michigan)
Genre: Doom Metal
Horror Doom Metal from Detroit, MI.
2. Mercy Necromancy - Infirmary 13 (California)
Genre: Indie / Singer-Songwriter
FFO: Nicole Dollanganger
3. Pit Viper - Voidweaver (Croatia)
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Pit Viper is a Technical Death Metal band from Croatia formed in 2017. Influenced by a wide range of musicians, including virtuoso guitar players and tech-death bands. Our aim is to create epic metal music which combines both melody and technicality. Influences: Obscura, Archspire, Necrophagist, Death, Suffocation, Opeth, Jason Becker, Guthrie Govan, Marty Friedman, Al Di Meola, John Petrucci, and Paul Gilbert.
4. Origami Angel - DEPART (Washington D.C.)
Genre: Mathcore / Hardcore
You weren’t ready for another surprise EP from Origami Angel, were you? On Friday, the cult-beloved emo duo came back with the surprise release re: turn, which was prettier and more acoustic-based than most of the band’s previous music. Today, they’ve followed that EP with another one called Depart — or, if you prefer, DEPART. This time around, Origami Angel are moving in a massively different direction. They’re going full hardcore. Origami Angel members Ryland Heagy and Pat Doherty grew up around the hardcore scenes in Philadelphia and Washington, so this new EP is a back-to-the-roots move for them. Depart is a pure pastiche, but it’s a pastiche made by people who clearly love and respect the genre that they’re attempting. The three songs on Depart are all less than two minutes apiece. They’ve got chunky, metallic riffs and big screams and breakdowns and lyrics about how you should keep their name out of your mouth. It’s not the best hardcore EP that you’ll hear this year — these guys didn’t suddenly turn into End It — but it’s a fine take on the genre. Nobody’s getting embarrassed here. - TOM BREIHAN at Stereogum
5. Disembodied Tyrant - The Divine Stigmata
Genre: Slamming Deathcore
International band consisting of two people. Donovan (Vocals) & HVLFERN (Instrumentalist, Sound engineer, Video Editor)
6. Alvvays - Blue Rev (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Genre: Indie Rock
Alvvays never intended to take five years to finish their third album, the nervy joyride that is the compulsively lovable Blue Rev. In fact, the band began writing and cutting its first bits soon after releasing 2017’s Antisocialites, that stunning sophomore record that confirmed the Toronto quintet’s status atop a new generation of winning and whip-smart indie rock. Global lockdowns notwithstanding, circumstances both ordinary and entirely unpredictable stunted those sessions. Alvvays toured more than expected, a surefire interruption for a band that doesn’t write on the road. A watchful thief then broke into singer Molly Rankin’s apartment and swiped a recorder full of demos, one day before a basement flood nearly ruined all the band’s gear. They subsequently lost a rhythm section and, due to border closures, couldn’t rehearse for months with their masterful new one, drummer Sheridan Riley and bassist Abbey Blackwell. At least the five-year wait was worthwhile: Blue Rev doesn’t simply reassert what’s always been great about Alvvays but instead reimagines it. They have, in part and sum, never been better. There are 14 songs on Blue Rev, making it not only the longest Alvvays album but also the most harmonically rich and lyrically provocative. There are newly aggressive moments here—the gleeful and snarling guitar solo at the heart of opener “Pharmacist,” or the explosive cacophony near the middle of “Many Mirrors.” And there are some purely beautiful spans, too—the church- organ fantasia of “Fourth Figure,” or the blue-skies bridge of “Belinda Says.” But the power and magic of Blue Rev stems from Alvvays’ ability to bridge ostensible binaries, to fuse elements that seem antithetical in single songs—cynicism and empathy, anger and play, clatter and melody, the soft and the steely. The luminous poser kiss-off of “Velveteen,” the lovelorn confusion of “Tile by Tile,” the panicked but somehow reassuring rush of “After the Earthquake”. The songs of Blue Rev thrive on immediacy and intricacy, so good on first listen that the subsequent spins where you hear all the details are an inevitability. This perfectly dovetailed sound stems from an unorthodox—and, for Alvvays, wholly surprising—recording process, unlike anything they’ve ever done. Alvvays are fans of fastidious demos, making maps of new tunes so complete they might as well have topographical contour lines. But in October 2021, when they arrived at a Los Angeles studio with fellow Canadian Shawn Everett, he urged them to forget the careful planning they’d done and just play the stuff, straight to tape. On the second day, they ripped through Blue Rev front-to-back twice, pausing only 15 seconds between songs and only 30 minutes between full album takes. And then, as Everett has done on recent albums by The War on Drugs and Kacey Musgraves, he spent an obsessive amount of time alongside Alvvays filling in the cracks, roughing up the surfaces, and mixing the results. This hybridized approach allowed the band to harness each song’s absolute core, then grace it with texture and depth. Notice the way, for instance, that “Tom Verlaine” bursts into a jittery jangle; then marvel at the drums and drum machines ricocheting off one another, the harmonies that crisscross, and the stacks of guitar that rise between riff and hiss, subtle but essential layers that reveal themselves in time. Every element of Alvvays leveled up in the long interim between albums: Riley is a classic dynamo of a drummer, with the power of a rock deity and the finesse of a jazz pedigree. Their roommate, in-demand bassist Blackwell, finds the center of a song and entrenches it. Keyboardist Kerri MacLellan joined Rankin and guitarist Alec O’Hanley to write more this time, reinforcing the band’s collective quest to break patterns heard on their first two albums. The results are beyond question: Blue Rev has more twists and surprises than Alvvays’ cumulative past, and the band seems to revel in these taken chances. This record is fun and often funny, from the hilarious reply-guy bash of “Very Online Guy” to the parodic grind of “Pomeranian Spinster.” Alvvays’ self-titled debut, released when much of the band was still in its early 20s, offered speculation about a distant future—marriage, professionalism, interplanetary citizenship. Antisocialites wrestled with the woes of the now, especially the anxieties of inching toward adulthood. Named for the sugary alcoholic beverage Rankin and MacLellan used to drink as teens on rural Cape Breton, Blue Rev looks both back at that country past and forward at an uncertain world, reckoning with what we lose whenever we make a choice about what we want to become. The spinster with her Pomeranians or Belinda with her babies? The kid fleeing Bristol by train or the loyalist stunned to see old friends return? “How do I gauge whether this is stasis or change?” Rankin sings during the first verse of the plangent and infectious “Easy on Your Own?” In that moment, she pulls the ties tight between past, present, and future to ask hard questions about who we’re going to become, and how. Sure, it arrives a few years later than expected, but the answer for Alvvays is actually simple: They’ve changed gradually, growing on Blue Rev into one of their generation’s most complete and riveting rock bands.
7. Surf Curse - Magic Hour (Reno, Nevada)
Drummer/vocalist Nick Rattigan and guitarist/vocalist Jacob Rubeck first met at the age of 13 in a Las Vegas middle school, making their inauspicious start as Buffalo 66. As to be expected from a couple of kids who name their first band after a Vincent Gallo film, they didn’t find many peers growing up. Inspired by a Brady Bunch episode and the beachy, lo-fi rock that was then sweeping indie culture, the duo eventually changed their name to Surf Curse after moving to Reno, where Rattigan attended college at the University of Nevada and Rubeck washed dishes in senior citizen facilities. Traveling back and forth to LA for gigs, the band built their reputation on hooky songs that lived by the adage of “write what you know” — heartbreak, disillusionment and movies. Over the next decade, Rattigan and Rubeck expanded their artistic reach — Rattigan’s long-running Current Joys project released Voyager on indie rock powerhouse Secretly Canadian earlier this year, while Rubeck has explored his muse in Gap Girls and Casino Hearts.
8. Counterparts - A Eulogy for Those Still Here (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
There’s an anxiety in life that comes from knowing there isn’t anything to do but try to prepare for the inevitability of change. And sometimes the only thing that can make a drastic shift or an ending more difficult is to see it coming. On their seventh full-length, A Eulogy For Those Still Here, Counterparts set out to capture that surreal space in-between, and in the process pushed their sound to its greatest extremes to make their most definitive statement as a band. “I think I deal with things by preparing myself for the end,” explains vocalist Brendan Murphy. “With so much of this record I’m mourning the loss of someone that’s still alive or saying goodbye to something that hasn’t left yet.” Murphy’s preoccupation with endings reaches wide, from relationships dissolving, to friendships fading, to loved ones passing away–and even to his band. Since forming in 2007, Counterparts–made up of Murphy, guitarists Alex Re and Jesse Doreen, bassist Tyler Williams, and drummer Kyle Brownlee–have gone from the Hamilton, Ontario, underground to touring the world as hardcore heavyweights. The band convened at Graphic Nature Audio with their longtime producer/engineer, Will Putney (Knocked Loose, Every Time I Die). In addition to Putney’s reliable hand at the helm, the album sees the return of Doreen and Re. The result feels like Counterparts have honed every element of their sound into its sharpest point, resulting in 11 of their most viscerally compelling songs to date.
9. Sunsleeper - While You Can (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Genre: Alternative / Indie /Rock
Sunsleeper was halfway through the touring cycle for their debut album when the pandemic halted live music. For the Salt Lake City indie rockers, that pause allowed them to reframe what their journey as musicians and people inspires them to create and say. After forming in 2016 and briskly realizing their Nathan Hussey-produced debut EP Stay the Same, the band entered the studio for their debut album, inking a deal with Rude Records. You Can Miss Something and Not Want it Back dropped in summer 2019, with the band celebrating with runs featuring their collaborators and friends in All Get Out, an Audiotree live session, and most recently, a run with TWIABP and Bent Knee in fall 2021. While the pandemic still rages on in uncertain terms, Sunsleeper found themselves more solidified than ever writing their sophomore LP, with their road-tested lineup collaborating cohesively and with united goals. The band even found time to use the pandemic’s themes to rework Mac Miller’s “Come Back to Earth,” highlighting the track’s balance of self-reflection and hopelessness. (Sunsleeper on this recording is vocalist/guitarist Jeffery Mudgett, guitarist Matt Mascarenas, guitarist Cody Capener, bassist Jacob Lara, and drummer Scott Schilling.)
10. Jivebomb - Primitive Desires (Baltimore, Maryland)
Genre: Hardcore / Punk
Formed through friendship and a love for hardcore, Baltimore’s Jivebomb are blasting out music that is fun and enticing. The band self-released their demo, JVBM, in Fall 2021, which caught the attention of Flatspot Records, who Jivebomb are teaming up with for their upcoming debut EP, Primitive Desires. The five songs on the EP pack as much punch on the record as they would at a sweaty live show. The band recorded the EP with producer Matt Redenbo at J. Robbins’ Magpie Cage studio and it was mixed and mastered by Jon Markson (Drug Church, Regulate, Soul Blind). On Primitive Desires, vocalist Kat delivers with ferocity over groove-laden guitars and bouncy mosh parts, reminiscent of bands like Negative Approach and The Rival Mob. Despite only being a band for a short time, they’ve been able to share the stage with some heavy-hitters, from old-school bands like Slapshot to other upcoming acts like Restraining Order and GAG. Keeping things short, fast, and catchy, it’s only a matter of time before Jivebomb stakes their claim as an essential hardcore band.
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