Last year was certainly solid in terms of new music but it never quite reached the lofty heights of 2010 (of course, a new Iron Maiden album will triumph over all else so excuse my lack of objectivity). With the year only three months old, I figured now would be an apt time to take a look ahead at what’s shaping up to be an excellent year in new releases, and indeed, take a cursory glance at what has already graced our digital CD shelves thus far.
Alcest – Les Voyages de L’Âme
French shoegazing/black metal project Alcest headed up by Neige released the follow up to Écailles de Lune as the new year rang in. Like its predecessor, it’s a combination of dreamy soundscapes and crushinglyheavy guitar riffs. They’ve done this well in the past and continue to do so here.
The Big Pink – Future This
I was a big fan of their debut record a couple of years back, so imagine my surprise to discover that their second effort had slipped beneath my radar was already out. I’d be lying if I said, upon first listen, I wasn’t a little disappointed with what I heard. That grimy grungey, electro rock sound I had come to love was replaced with something much cleaner and clinical. It’s almost as if they mainstreamified their sound in order to appeal to a larger audience, which is rather boggling considering they had quite a hit with Dominos. Still, after getting adjusted to this new direction, I was able to enjoy the album on consequent listens.
Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth
Let me preface this by saying I’ve only fully listened to it, in its entirety, once. After the exceptionally bad single Tattoo, I went in having extremely low expectations. It seems those expectations were about spot on. While none of the songs reach the aforementioned single’s level of aural offensiveness, the remaining tracks don’t exactly scream quality either. They’re not bad per se just utterly unremarkable. And that’s about the most apt feeling I got from this album, leaving me with no desire to bring it for a spin again; unremarkable.
Primal Rock Rebellion – Awoken Broken
Released only a mere few days ago yet I can safely say this is currently my musical highlight of year. Adrian Smith of Maiden fame on guitar was all I needed to hear to know that this would be worth my attention. It doesn’t really sound remotely like Maiden, in the best possible sense, and it was nice to hear Adrian experiment with a different kind of sound, one which teeters more on the alternative side of metal than the heavy. Sure, it doesn’t do anything new or ground breaking, it’s just an extremely competent rock record. And there’s nothing wrong with that.