Beyond Creation – Earthborn Evolution

I’m no technical death metal fiend, but I’ve been warming up to the new Beyond Creation album lately, and I’m really liking what I’m hearing. These guys dropped a debut album in 2011, but Season of Mist reissuing the record in 2013 gave the band some serious momentum.

It’s not hard to figure out why a label like SoM would salivate at the prospect of working with a band like this. The playing maybe be flashy, but the writing being executed here incredibly catchy and tasteful. Not only that, but the band’s incorporation of fretless bass leads to a sound unlike any relevant technical death metal act out there today.

It’s great to hear bass playing such a pivotal role in a genre where it’s typically tacked on in the background. Plus, the fretless’ fluid, smooth tone brings finesse to a metal style that is typically a little too rigid for my ears.

I could go on, but I’d rather save something for the review, ya know? Stream Beyond Creation’s sophomore album via the widget above, and enjoy!

The Bug – “Mi Lost” ft. Miss Red

If there’s a way to hold attention, it’s to hint at a payoff that never arrives. The Bug’s trap-dub influenced beat swells quite a few times throughout the, but the song dissolves into a formless chorus before any kind of release is ever achieved. Miss Red’s vocals are a prime example of the childish delivery that has become omnipresent in British electronic music. They are passable at best and verge on grating at points. Nevertheless, The Bug’s masterful manipulation of tension alone makes the song worth a listen.

Check out a review of the latest Bug album right here.

- Garrett Cottingham

Black Rain – Dark Pool

A tense and frightening fusion of electronic music and dark ambient coming together here on this Black Rain album, which recently dropped via Blackest Ever Black. Give it a listen via the embed above, and enjoy!

From what I understand, physical copies are currently sold out, but you can still grab mp3s on Bandcamp.

Sterilizer – Self-Titled

Ready yourself for some of the most crushing, distorted industrial metal you’ll hear this year! It comes from a one-man project by the name of Sterilizer, and this new self-titled album has some fantastically visceral riffs and drum beats all over it–even the instrumental tracks stay pretty engaging despite the lack of a lead vocal.

Hellish, rigid, and merciless: This is industrial distilled to its core elements, and then executing them immaculately.

Jessica Pratt – “Back, Baby”

With a voice like Janis Joplin minus the cigarettes and guitar playing like an angel with problems, Jessica Pratt seems to be a rising contender in the folk rock world. Pratt’s original and peculiar approach is simple, but allows her to enter a completely different category to modern folk rockers: a strummed or plucked guitar, and vocals that hold such unfamiliar nuances that their beauty really lies in the heart of the listener. “Back, Baby” is a single from her upcoming album titled On Your Own Love Again, which is being released on January the 27th.

Although the track is similar to her previous work, there seems to have been some emotional progression. Reminiscent of a pregnant Joan Baez at Woodstock, Pratt tells a tale of a lover from the past, a man she wishes she could revisit, but understands the consequences could be dire. As she “sometimes prays for the rain,” I pray her new album lives up to the standard that this single has set.

- Fin Worrall

The Dodos – “Competition”

Indie-rock duo The Dodos have had a nice little trajectory, breaking through with their second record, Visiter, and following that up with nicely produced variations on their themes, with slightly hit-or-miss results: 2009′s Time to Die was a little forgettable, while 2011′s No Color was sharp and vibrant. On last year’s Carrier, The Dodos showed a slightly mellower, more contemplative side–especially since much of it was based on how the pair felt in the wake of the death of a friend. But now they’re back with their sixth record, Individ, due out next year, and the first single to be dropped from it a cool Dodos-style rocker. Kicking off with a deep, quick drum beat, the song already sounds like an insistent breath of fresh air coming after Carrier‘s more muted tones. The song still lacks a little bit of frontman Meric Long’s oft-incredible guitar work–just check out older tunes like “Jodi” and “Paint the Rust”–but it’s a splendid tasting of what the album could offer. There was a time when The Dodos were both thoughtful and fun, and it looks like they could be headed back there.

Individ is out Jan 27, via Polyvinyl.

José González – “Every Age”

Stream: José González – “Every Age”

Swedish singer-songwriter José González hasn’t released a solo record since 2007′s lovely In Our Nature, but he hasn’t stayed completely silent. He has released two records with his band Junip, which are certainly worth looking into. But now he’s back on the solo path with Vestiges and Claws, and with it comes the first single, “Every Age.” González’ solo stuff has been almost completely reliant on his deft classical guitar and gentle voice, with lo-fi production. He will occasionally include little flourishes, like the stick-clicking on “It’s Time to Send Someone Away,” but it’s usually pretty spare. On “Every Age,” he more or less continues that trend, though this time his guitar feels more resonant, there’s a simple drum beat, and the production value is higher. As always, González shows off his knack for a beautiful melody, and the song feels like a nice welcoming back to his most intimate material.

Vestiges and Claws is out on Feb 17, via Mute. Stream the song above via NPR.

Lee Bannon – Main/Flex EP

After the success of his Alternate/Endings full-length earlier this year, I think it’s safe to say music fans and critics alike have accepted Lee Bannon‘s sudden transition into the world of drum ‘n’ bass.

The West Coast producer is now backing that move up with a new EP titled Main/Flex, which features a surprising and varied guest list: Hak of Ratking, Deejay Earl, and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante. Not only that, but Lee’s typically atmospheric production feels even more vast at some points–I mean, the track “RMF-2″ is pretty much an ambient cut.

Give a listen to this EP via the embed above, and pick it up on iTunes here.

Wizard Rifle – Here in the Deadlights

With the new addition of a bassist filling the sound of Here in the Deadlights, Portland trio Wizard Rifle seems to finally be on their way to some international recognition. Although not the heaviest, nor the most progressive, nor even the most unique sounding heavy rock group, Wizard Rifle draws their influence from several 70s rock and punk bands, which neatly arranges itself into a thick mesh of sound, founded mostly on the energetic dual singing and playing from drummer Sam Ford and guitarist Max Dameron. If one thing can be said, these guys are seriously tight, bouncing from riff to riff, dynamic to dynamic, with as much ease as such a noisy plethora of sonance will allow. Often compared to King Crimson or Misfits, Here in the Deadlights sounds more like an early Uriah Heep album, sludgy, but playing heavily with volume and movement. Track after track seems to be an epic little escapade in its own right, building up into a crescendo of churning guitar lines and drum riffs, moving inch by careful inch towards the refined heavy rock sound they constantly seem to be searching for.

- Fin Worrall

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – I’m In Your Mind Fuzz

Australia really seems to be producing some of the world’s top modern psychedelic rock bands these days, and in the spotlight this week is I’m In Your Mind Fuzz by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, which may be one of the year’s most foot-tapping, head-nodding psychedelic rock albums – especially when compared to Oddments, the group’s previous effort released earlier this year, which wasn’t anywhere near as catchy. With fast paced singles like “Cellophane” and the band’s distinct sound comprised of wavy off-kilter vocals and synth leads, propulsive old-school drumming, myriad harmonica solos, and a bit of sitar, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard might not be making groundbreaking music exactly, but they’ve certainly delivered one of the grooviest weirdo albums of the year.

- Fin Worrall