This Week’s Best Albums: January 8, 2013

This Week's Best Albums: January 8, 2013

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.

Dropkick Murphys: Signed and Sealed in Blood (Born & Bred)

"Rose Tattoo"

In 2011, Dropkick Murphys gave the concept album a try with Going Out in Style. Enjoying the experience but getting a few headaches along the way, the band jumped straight back into the studio for a more straightforward new record, Signed and Sealed in Blood. And it’s another pure blast of Celtic-tinged punk, with familiar themes of drinking, baseball, and sailing.

Opening with the triumphant “The Boys are Back,” the album is subtly varied. Keeping The Pogues’ formula fresh seems difficult, but Dropkick Murphys delivers again with skillful songwriting and obvious passion. The tunes are all sing-a-longs, destined for a debauched, Guinness-soaked house party and Fenway Park alike.

- Lincoln Eddy

Vera Cruz: Skinandteethandnails (Season of Mist)

"Black Walls"

Following a release overseas, French metalcore quartet Vera Cruz now makes a fist-pumping, head-banging, mosh-inducing debut in the US with Skinandteethandnails, the band’s first release for home-country label Season of Mist.

On the 11-song full-length, the down-tuned fury intermixes with a handful of melodic choruses and clean vocals, and a few other surprises turn up unexpectedly. “Black Walls” is the best example of said surprises, as a minute of high-octane punk/hardcore transitions from a final screamed phrase to an eerie, lengthy, plunking banjo outro with a whistling background.

The heaviness — closest on the spectrum to punk-ish, chugging metalcore — is a blend of Every Time I Die, Trash Talk, and Hatebreed. Prepare for breakdowns galore.

- Scott Morrow

Honorable Mentions:

Broadcast: Berberian Sound Studio soundtrack (Warp)

The Herbaliser: There Were Seven (Department H / Redeye)

Il Sogno del Marinaio: La Busta Gialla (Clenchedwrench)

Kontinuum: Earth Blood Magic (Candlelight)

Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals / Warbeast: War of the Gargantuas split EP (Housecore)