New Releases - early August 2012

Testament - "Dark Roots of Earth"'

Those many late nights at The Keystone Berkeley, The Stone, the Old Waldorf and Wolfgang's left me keenly attuned to many of the early-80's thrash metal bands. I watched closely as ExodusLääz Rockit and Testament cut their teeth before gaining national attention. That Bay Area trash metal scene was hard for me, because I often struggled to reconcile my desire for melody and harmonic motion with the relative lack of those qualities in the thrash scene. Thrash metal has wandered in and out of my musical tastes over the years but only rarely has a thrash-related band really made its way into my top bands list (e.g. see Megadeth).

So, when I received notice at KGLT that Testament's brand new album, "Dark Roots Of Earth" was available for airplay, I was really not quite sure what to expect. In retrospect, just a week or two later, I really had nothing to worry about. "Dark Roots of Earth" is a powerful release; it is entirely consistent with what we all expect from Testament, and yet assimilates itself naturally into today's dark and foreboding metal styles. I've been listening quite a bit to Mastodon, Orange Goblin and, recently, Baroness and feel that all the songs on "Dark Roots of Earth" would fit perfectly in a shuffled playlist with those sludge/stoner metal bands. There's a darkness to the new Testament album that makes it a natural fit.

I've been playing the "Native Blood" single on my radio show lately, and I love "Rise Up", especially the extended guitar solo. If you're short on time, check out those two songs, along with "A Day In The Death". Honestly, though, just play the album top to bottom. This is true thrash metal...and a lot more.'


Korpiklaani - "Manala"

Even as I write this, I have that same silly smile on my face. It's really hard to avoid that while listening to Korpiklaani; there's something about folk and/or pirate metal that does that to me. But there's more to it. Korpiklaani's latest release, "Manala", is Heavy. Sure, it has all the catchy melodic motion, the accordion and gritty vocals but it also hits you over the head with its sledge hammer guitar tones. An example of that is "Rauta" which begins like a fairly well-behaved folky metal song, and then the rhythm guitars hit you like a cannonball in the gut. Wow.

I have no Finnish chops at all but as best I can tell there are no alcohol songs on this release. You'll have to look to Korpiklaani's earlier releases to get your "Vodka" and "Tequila" fixes (Karkelo and Ukon Wacka, respectively). On this latest release, start by checking out the first three songs on the album ("Kunnia", "Tuonelan Tuvilla" and the aforementioned "Rauta"). See whether you can avoid that silly smile...

Regardless of your facial expression, you can get a full swig of Korpiklaani during their upcoming North American tour in late August and September of 2012. I know that there will be a number of Bozeman metalheads making the drive over to Billing for Korpiklaani's show on September 5th at Manny's. Wherever you live, if Korpiklaani's playing nearby, hoist yourself up off that couch of yours and get yourself to the venue. You owe it to yourself and there's nothing quite like Korpiklaani.

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