Welcome to 2019. Have you settled in yet? No, us neither. Still, January has already thrown up a bunch of great albums. And just in case you’ve missed them, we've rounded up 10 of the very best that have been released this month. From Lovebites’ futureshock power metal to Fever 333’s incendiary aggro-noise, there's something here for everyone. And the best thing? 2019 has only just started…
A Pale Horse Named Death – When The World Becomes Undone
We say: The third album from Type O Negative drummer turned singer Sal Abruscato’s current outfit expands their vision, delivering all the concussive riffs and glacial pacing you’d expect, but with a sharper focus on the brighter elements of their sound. Warm, wistful melodies percolate through booming dirges like Fell In My Hole and We All Break Down, while on cuts like Love The Ones You Hate they ratchet up the tempos and unleash a splintery squall of distorted guitars and massive choruses. Every Type O fan should listen.
Cane Hill – Kill The Sun
Cane Hill’s new mini-album is so far from their former nu metal-inspired bounce: industrial-tinged atmospherics, melancholic hooks and Elijah Witt’s Layne Staley-esque vocals open new horizons. The approach is more measured, but it’s tempered with squealing guitar solos and expansive ambience. Out with the nu, in with the new – Kill The Sun celebrates the element of surprise.
We say: On their debut full-length, Jason Aalon Butler’s post-LetLive trio flit between genres with ease; rock, metal, hip hop, post-hardcore, punk and drum’n’bass are all assimilated and spat out into an inflammatory, feverish stew that is set to incite pits and unite dissenters worldwide. The album rarely sits still, with riffs, rhymes and refrains that would be cornerstones of records by Korn, Marmozets or even RATM delivered and discarded in quick succession. Motion is constant and listening to Strength… gives one the courage to believe that change is not only possible but inevitable.
We say: Three albums in and we really are nowhere near close enough to knowing just what to really think about the divisive and controversial King 810. If you are bored and appalled by the endless, overly aggressive gun talk and gangster strutting, then songs like A Million Dollars or Bang Guns will do nothing to win you around. But the second half of the record sees them stepping outside of their comfort zone for old blues style numbers, robotic nightmare vibes and even piano led ballads.
We say: What slaps you in the face first is just how fearless everything sounds. Even the title, Clockwork Immortality, feels like a defiant reminder that releasing music at bullet train speed hasn’t been at the expense of artistic growth. It’s all tighter than a flea’s arse and there isn’t a bad track here, but even then, the songwriting has improved. While anyone with half an ear could hear Lovebites’ potential on their debut, it did suffer from overblown sonic fatigue by the end. In comparison, each track on Clockwork Immortality stands tall and defiant, brilliantly crafted and memorable in its own right.
Malevolent Creation – The 13th Beast
We say: With only guitarist Phil Fasciana remaining from the original Malevolent Creation line-up, fans may be a little nervous about the band’s first album in four years. Those fears are entirely unfounded, of course, as The 13th Beast proudly and violently serves up more of the brutal same. As with Cannibal Corpse, MC have always made a virtue of the direct approach, with just enough rhythmic and melodic invention to ensure that songs connect with maximum force. A masterful marriage of old-school ethics and new-school sonics, The 13th Beast is aptly named.
We say: Like its predecessor, Crooked Teeth, this 10th album is heavy on production and industrial layers but it takes bolder risks stylistically. An incohesive tracklisting and eclectic influences make for a confused and unconvincing first listen, but it has immense growing power thanks to some seriously catchy tracks with memorable riffs and melodies aplenty.
We say: For a debut album this is a mightily impressive and quirky little record. The seductive and soothing croon of Jock Norton might be less Bruce Dickinson and more Rivers Cuomo from Weezer, but such is his grasp of twisting melodies out of every corner of his mind, you’ll find yourself humming along with the hook to a song like Entombed without even realising it has plonked itself into your head. when Puppy do want to kick up a storm, they’ve got some serious riffs in their arsenal. Vengeance will get the head of any fan of Mötley Crüe banging with its sleazy, slide guitar and punk pace, Norton channels his inner Randy Rhodes on the excellent And So I Burn, and Bath In Blood could be an early unheard Ghost cut.
Soilwork – Verkligheten
Verkligheten is what would happen if Van Halen made death metal. A plethora of moments are 100% classic rock, like the AC/DC swagger of Bleeder Despoiler, the bluesy grit of Ageless Whisper’s opening and the not-so-subtle Thin Lizzy love letter, clean singing before concluding on a Rob Halford-esque wail.Despite these adventures into far more vintage territory, diehard Soilwork loyalists shouldn’t be apprehensive. The energetic power and catchiness that many fans have fallen for remain and are, if anything, amplified by a newfound emphasis on operatic cleans, stomping drums and virtuoso guitars. By shifting tone while still maintaining their music’s same intrinsic pleasures, Soilwork have made a masterclass in how a metal band should adapt their sound.
Juha Raivo has been keeping himself busy since the tragic death of his life partner and Trees Of Eternity bandmate Aleah Starbridge in 2016, channelling his grief into first-class doom metal. Elegant melancholy has always been their MO, but this album’s gloom cannot help but devastate even more utterly in the shadow of such profound loss. Even the acoustic campfire strumming takes on a dejected hue, the moments of hushed delicacy even more crushing than the sluggish descent of power chords. STS could never be accused of skimping on emotional intensity, but the rawness and realness of the pain behind this album leaves their previous work sounding breezily untroubled in comparison.