The release calendar is slowing down as the holidays near, but we’re seeing a handful of November push from artists across both soft and heavy genres. In that regard, this may just be the most diverse Fast Five we’ve come up with yet, featuring ambient post-rock and deathcore alongside one another. On the lighter side, Hammock serves up their third in a trilogy of orchestra-driven ambient albums about grief. In the middle, two new indie rock/emo acts in Greet Death and Macseal put out impressive full-lengths a few weeks back, and we couldn’t help but shine the spotlight on them this week. Then, on the heavier end, Left Behind continues their romp with a hardcore sound infused with sludge metal, while Despised Icon finally make their return to the metal scene worthwhile with their blend of several -core sub genres.
Despised Icon – Purgatory
A staple of 2000s metal, Despised Icon reunited after four years of absence at the beginning of this decade. The first album since their departure didn’t quite warrant the band’s reunion, hinging on the past path they carved rather than moving forward. The follow-up to 2016’s Beast, Purgatory, begins to take new steps with a more ferocious and technical metal sound than the group has offered previously. What has made Despised Icon a force to be reckoned with is a relentless mix of different metal sounds, and they’re all amped up in full across this record. From the machine-gun death metal pace of “Light Speed” to the dense chugs of the metalcore-meets-deathcore “Snake in the Grass” to the hardcore overtones scattered across the LP’s instrumental and vocal delivery, there’s something for every metal listener on the heavy music spectrum. Purgatory is tenacious, tremendous, and captivating all the way through.
Greet Death – New Hell
It came out over a week ago, but we can’t ignore an up-and-coming indie rock outfit with the potential Greet Death showcases on New Hell. With hints of emo, shoegaze, and alternative rock, as well some folk and slowcore vibes at times, the band doesn’t stick to one formula and rather overwhelms their musical canvas with all things moody. The one constant is a thick, atmospheric sound, with “Do You Feel Nothing?” exploding with fuzzy guitars and “You’re Gonna Hate What You’ve Done” taking a winding post-rock approach across its nine-minute runtime. The vocals may be a tad too nasally (both Sam Boyhtari and Logan Gaval contribute their efforts) and and the musicality a bit too glacial for everyone’s taste, but it’s a rewarding listen for the immense soundscapes Greet Death fully captures. If anything, it’s an accurate — especially in the band’s home state of Michigan — soundtrack to a fall season that’s slowly turning cold and bleak.
Hammock – Silencia
Hammock has been on a roll lately, releasing album after album of stirring ambient sounds with no signs of slowing down. This included crafting the score to the 2017 film Columbus, the critically acclaimed film by South Korea’s Kogonada. They continue with their orchestra-driven ambient textures on Silencia, laid out in a similar vein on their previous two records. Even the album art is similar, signifying the journey the group has been on since the passing of one of the duo’s nephews initiated the confrontation of grief on Mysterium. Now, Silencia (the Spanish word for “silence”) finds Hammock moving forward with the typical guitars, synths, and strings. The trilogy of releases makes for a haunting package of soothing ambient sounds ideal for placing one’s grief and loneliness. Silencia is a welcome addition to the trilogy that doesn’t do much different, but still finds a necessary identity in peace and closure regardless.
Left Behind – No One Goes to Heaven
Left Behind’s debut Pure Noise Records album in 2017 made its full impact as an assault of a release that expertly combined metal and hardcore. The band continues its crossover command on heavy music listeners with No One Goes to Heaven. Slow-moving but nonetheless bitter and heavy, the second LP from the group is ideal for throwing down, despite relying on downtuned, repetitive riffage almost to a fault. But the dirty and sludgy mix is right where Left Behind is most comfortable, whether the guitars are wailing or hurtling along like a meteor. Vocalist Zach Hatfield makes an impression right away with his hardcore-styled vocals behind instrumental whacks on “Hell Rains from Above.” But they become more exploratory as the record chugs along. On songs like “Throwing Stones” and “God Calls Out,” the band’s steady, stoner-like tendencies calm the hardcore onslaught, with drawn-out intros giving way to hearty drum beats and red-hot guitars.
Macseal – Super Enthusiast
Another album that came out on November 8, Macseal’s Super Enthusiast is just too enjoyable to be overlooked. Coming out of a Long Island indie rock scene that’s been burgeoning lately (see: Oso Oso’s magnificent August release), the group’s first album after a series of EPs feels like a part two to their fellow islanders’ Basking in the Glow. That is, they capture some of the same beaming hooks and gliding guitar melodies. But while they feel like b-sides to “A Morning Song” and “Impossible Game” at times, they manage to find their niche beyond straightforward guitar rock and emo sensibility in their lyrics. There are hints of math rock (“Mystery Inc.”) and punk (“Nothing’s a Sure Thing, Shelly”) throughout Super Enthusiast’s run time, too. Macseal is showing themselves to be an indie rock band with identity and potential, and they realize quite a bit of both on this introductory full-length.