This Week’s Best Albums: August 14, 2012

This Week's Best Albums: August 14, 2012

Each week, editor-in-chief Chris Force and music editor Scott Morrow choose ALARM’s favorite new releases for This Week’s Best Albums, an eclectic set of reviews presenting exceptional music.

Jerseyband: Forever Hammer (self-released)

"Not Hammer"

When we last heard from “lungcore” septet Jerseyband, the NYC ensemble had self-released Beast Wedding, a monster of mutated metal that conjoined Meshuggah-like “djent” with unwieldy horn-formed power chords. (Read more here.)

Now the unheralded group is back to launch hammers into space with Forever Hammer, a four-track EP that expands the jazz elements to more than fleeting moments. “Tosm” and “Not Hammer” are more overt in skronky influence; each ends with wailing, free-jazz sax solos, and “Not Hammer” in particular is the most improvised that we’ve heard a Jerseyband horn.

- Text by Scott Morrow. Read the full review here.

Why?: Sod in the Seed (Anticon)

"Sod in the Seed"

Just when you think that indie-hop group Why? has hit a plateau or become a fully realized version of itself, the trio of Yoni Wolf, brother Josiah Wolf, and Doug McDiarmid gives itself a healthy shock to the system. With the Sod in the Seed EP, which teases the full-length Mumps, Etc. coming in October, that means an assortment of new sounds and a brand-new member (Liz Wolf, Yoni's wife).

Mumps, Etc. promises robust instrumentation, with a string quartet, an eight-person choir, woodwinds, and horns. The six-song Sod in the Seed (whose title track is Mumps' only repeat) is organically performed/recorded too, and there are many hints of what's coming — a Rhodes electric piano here, a marimba there — but it's more of a warmup to the big show. Limber up.

- Scott Morrow

Ephel Duath: On Death and Cosmos (Agonia)

"Black Prism"

Clocking in at 20 minutes, this three-track EP evinces the best of Ephel Duath’s avant-metal gloom, though it foregoes the melodic vocalizations and complex instrumentations used on albums like Rephormula (2002) and The Painter’s Palette (2003).

As the directness of its title suggests, On Death and Cosmos opts for a more intense and aggressive approach. It doesn’t leave much room for reckoning, but that seems to be the point. It’s an intermission for a fated expedition — Into Thin Air, Italian style.

- Text by Benjamin van Loon. Read the full review here.

Taras Bul'ba: Amur (Handshake Inc. / Grindcore Karaoke)

"Coup de Grace"

If you've come across the latest release from Italian power trio Taras Bul'ba, you might have spotted the misleading phrase "extreme jazz terror" that has been tagged on the band. Alas, this is no Naked City from John Zorn and co. but rather some mathy, noisy, progressive post-metal a la Dysrhythmia, but with a bit more balance between soft and loud passages. And that's just fine.

Thick, distorted bass grooves and crashing, thudding rock beats underpin the guitar, which is alternately melodic and dissonant. Strange vocal samples are interwoven on many tracks, and in order to make them out and appreciate the quality of the recording, this one comes recommended for a serious sound system. Download the album here and name your price.

- Scott Morrow

Honorable Mentions:

Darkness by Oath: Near Death Experience (Metal Blade)

Locrian: The Clearing / The Final Epoch (Relapse)

Nuclear Death Terror: Chaos Reigns (Southern Lord)

Paper Tiger: Summer EP (Doomtree)

Seth: Les Blessures de l’Ame (Season of Mist)

Otto Von Shirach: Supermeng (Monkeytown)

Xibalba: Hasta la Muerte (Southern Lord)