This Week’s Best Albums: October 16, 2012

This Week's Best Albums: October 16, 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.

Dethklok: Dethalbum III (Williams Street)

"I Ejaculate Fire"


It shreds? Check. It pummels? Check. It has a song called "I Ejaculate Fire"? Checkity check check.

Dethalbum III, the latest from Metalocalypse's virtual band Dethklok, is another musical offering by creator Brendon Small that stands just fine on its own. Of course, with music from the second, third, and fourth seasons of the show, you also can relive the animated hijinks of Nathan Explosion, Skwisgaar Skwigelf, Toki Wartooth, Pickles, and William Murderface.

Again joined on drums by the mighty Gene Hoglan (Death, Testament, Devin Townsend, Strapping Young Lad) and veteran bassist Bryan Beller (Steve Vai, Z), Small keeps the music squarely in the camp of melodic death metal, joining the rhythmic riffage of Gothenburg metal with wailing power-metal leads and the occasional backing keyboard. Dethalbum III isn't reinventing the dethwheel, but for a cartoon band, it's surprisingly relevant.

- Scott Morrow

Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)

It’s been more than a decade since Godspeed You! Black Emperor has released an album. But now, with Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!, the masters of celestial crescendo have returned to the fold as though they never missed a beat.

Packed full of discordant build-ups, anthemic explosions, climactic doses of highs and lows, and arrangements tangled in tenacity and tension, the album clocks in at 53 minutes despite being only four tracks. It is a cosmic comeback — a meditation on restraint and stamina, as the songs cascade into looming sounds of dissonance, distortion, and dread. A welcome return indeed.

- Michael Danaher

Pinback: Information Retrieved (Temporary Residence)

"His Phase"


Rob Crow is one of those prolific (albeit underrated) songwriters who can dabble in any genre at any given time. Keeping busy with his many projects (including his solo singer/songwriter material as well as his heavy-metal outfit Goblin Cock), Crow is perhaps best known for his work with indie outfit Pinback.

Now he and Zach Smith (Three Mile Pilot) have released their latest Pinback effort, and once again, the San Diego-based duo has created another mix of crisp, clean-cut guitars, noodling bass lines, tight and terse drumming, and tinkerings of piano and strings, all fronted by Crow’s distinct tenor. With standout tracks like “Proceed to Memory” and “Glide” in tow, it’s a shame Crow doesn’t visit Pinback more often than he already does.

- Michael Danaher

Matmos: The Ganzfeld EP (Thrill Jockey)

"Very Large Green Triangles"


For parapsychologists, a ganzfeld experiment is used to test extrasensory perception, or ESP. For MC Schmidt and Drew Daniel, the two-man team running the Matmos show, the goal was to communicate the concept of the next Matmos album. (This EP is a prelude to a full-length that uses the same method.) Anything spoken or hummed or described by test subjects became part of the music.

“Just Waves” takes the experiment most seriously. A small roster of vocalists, including Schmidt and Daniel as well as Dan Deacon, Dirty Projectors Angel Deradoorian, and Fovea Hex’s Clodagh Simonds, speak-sing excerpts from the purportedly telepathic transcript. “Very Large Green Triangles” is more accessible, a three-and-a-half-minute electronic piece with dense strings and a pulsing dance beat.

As a collection of songs, The Ganzfeld EP requires a unique brand of curiosity. As an idea, it’s brilliant. The full-length will be an even weirder blend of danceable esoterica. We can feel it.

- Timothy A. Schuler

Honorable Mentions:

Beaten by Them: Kinder Machines (Logicpole)

Hundred Waters: s/t (OWSLA)

Majeure: Solar Maximum (Temporary Residence)

Mamiffer / Pyramids: s/t (Hydra Head)

Chelsea Wolfe: Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs (Sargent House)