It’s year-end list season! December is typically the leanest month for new music, especially after the first two weeks, but the search never ends. Heavy-hitters Jesus Piece and The Acacia Strain both returned with standalone singles, and each has a tour coming soon. Many bands that release new songs at this time of the year have a January or February release on the way, offering a preview of more to come. In particular, the two singles from the upcoming Katatonia album A Sky Void of Stars are both very promising – expect to see this long-running Swedish progressive metal band covered in full for January’s column.
In Search of Solace – The Endless Ache
Following a three-year absence, In Search of Solace released their second full-length album after dropping four singles throughout the year. The band continues to gain momentum. The album release show for The Endless Ache resulted in the biggest turnout for a performance they headlined to date. Their aggressive style of metalcore is reminiscent of bands like Gideon and Counterparts.
Central to the intense sound of this up-and-coming Minnesota metalcore band is the subject matter that inspires their lyrics. The first two cathartic singles “Death Follows Me” and “Dead Reflections” both convey a sense of inevitability and helplessness following addiction. Guitarist and vocalist Nick Pocock, who also filled in for Silent Planet during their 2022 tour dates, explained that “Death Follows Me” was written about his grief following the loss of many close friends to drugs and alcoholism. “Dead Reflections” explores a similar scenario from the alternate perspective of an individual trapped and succumbing to a cycle of self-destructive behavior. The production and mixing by Ryan Leitru (Nothing Left, ex-For Today), is another strong point, allowing each drop and breakdown to hit harder.
Wake – “Vast and Infinite”
Wake made their mark in 2022 with their sixth full-length Thought Form Descent. Another stage in the gradual progression away from the band’s grindcore roots, its blastbeat-heavy, densely layered sound is an interesting take on blackened death metal. Wake initially limited this standalone cut, possibly a B-side from that album, to a 7″ flexi disc for a Decibel Magazine issue. Later, they released “Vast and Infinite” digitally, making the track exclusively available for purchase and streaming on Bandcamp, in time for the final Bandcamp Friday of 2022. Industrial musician Justin Broadrick (of Jesu and Godflesh fame) provides a darker, more minimalist remix of the track. The Canadian band played some shows with Wayfarer in December, and plan to tour in April 2023 alongside Khemmis and Conjurer.
Jesus Piece – “An Offering to the Night”
This two-minute single marks the first new music for the Philadelphia hardcore band since Only Self in 2018. In the meantime, frontman Aaron Heard was the bassist for the shoegaze band Nothing for several years, until his departure in January 2022 to spend more time raising his son. As with other Jesus Piece songs, “An Offering to the Night” stands in sharp contrast to the existentialist, moody sound of Heard’s work on Nothing’s The Great Dismal. It’s a chaotic, unforgiving track with pummeling riffs and a heavy bass groove. “An Offering to the Night” marks the band’s first music under Century Media, so more is likely to come in 2023.
The Acacia Strain – “Untended Graves”
You can count on The Acacia Strain to deliver. A track reminiscent of their early album The Dead Walk, “Untended Graves” is crushing and heavy, with dissonant guitars adding some atmosphere. Upon close listen, you can hear guitarist Devin Shidaker contribute some backing vocals alongside frontman Vincent Bennett. The Acacia Strain will be touring with Fit For an Autopsy, Full of Hell and Primitive Man in early 2023, and will include “Untended Graves” in the setlist during those shows. And yes, the song’s official visualizer is a nature montage featuring robins feeding nestlings. Birds have been a recurring theme in The Acacia Strain’s album artwork and overall imagery, which is pretty cool. On that note, I’d like to nominate the belted kingfisher or the shrike for a future cover or video – one bird impales its food on thorns, and the other builds its nest from the bones of its prey. Nature is metal and birds are real.
Thousand Below – Hell Finds You Everywhere
Similar to Dayseeker’s recent Dark Sun, Thousand Below’s latest album isn’t strictly a metalcore record and crosses over into a few different genres. A 2020 acoustic EP introduced a much softer aspect of the band, a departure from the clear Underoath influence present on their debut The Love You Let Too Close (which you should also check out). The title track “Hell Finds You Everywhere” is similar to that early sound and includes a short appearance from Bad Omens’ Noah Sebastian on the bridge. All three singles appear in the first half of the album – “Sabotage” in particular is a standout, with a strong buildup and memorable hook. The album’s second half is considerably softer and ventures off into alternative rock and pop, though screamed vocals still make an appearance. “Next Time Around” kicks off this side of the record and also includes a feature – Matt Flood from Caskets. Overall, this is another solid release from one of the more underrated post-hardcore bands on the scene.
December Release Tracker
Katatonia – “Austerity” (Dec 1, progressive metal)
Wake – “Vast and Infinite” (Dec 1, doom death metal/deathgrind)
Zulu – “Fakin Tha Funk” (Dec 1, hardcore/powerviolence)
Distant – “Orphan of Blight” (Dec 2, symphonic deathcore)
Falsifier – “Drown in Misery” (Dec 2, deathcore)
Gideon – “Too Much is Never Enough” (Dec 2, nu metal/metalcore)
PhaseOne/Erra – “World Unknown” (Dec 2, EDM-core/progressive metalcore)
Jesus Piece – “An Offering to the Night” (Dec 5, hardcore)
Casey – “Great Grief” (Dec 5, post-hardcore)
Ne Obliviscaris – “Equus” (Dec 6, progressive metal)
Silent Civilian – “My Addiction” (Dec 6, metalcore)
Zeal and Ardor – “Firewake/Cinq” (Dec 7, black metal/blues rock)
Suicide Silence – “Alter of Self” (Dec 9, deathcore)
Time the Valuator – “Binary Pulse” (Dec 9, progressive metal)
Afterdusk – “Plastic Memories” (Dec 9, metalcore)
The Acacia Strain – “Untended Graves” (Dec 14, deathcore)
Indepth – Ancient Architects (Dec 1, technical death metal)
In Search of Solace – The Endless Ache (Dec 2, hardcore/metalcore)
Dead/Awake – Vile (Dec 2, hardcore)
Despite Exile – Wound (Dec 2, technical death metal/deathcore)
Dystopia A.D. – Doomsday Psalm (Dec 2, melodic death metal/thrash)
Lost Baron – Dark Messiah (Dec 2, blackened death metal)
Obvurt – Triumph Beyond Adversity (Dec 2, technical death metal)
Synestia – Maleficium (Dec 2, deathcore)
Colonial Wound – Easy Laugh (Dec 9, sludge/hardcore)
Crosses – PERMANENT.RADIANT (Dec 9)
Thousand Below – Hell Finds You Everywhere (Dec 9, post-hardcore)
Harakiri for the Sky – Aokigahara MMXXII (Redux) (Dec 9, post-black metal)
Harakiri for the Sky – Harakiri for the Sky MMXXII (Redux) (Dec 9, post-black metal)
Filth – Murder Inc (Dec 9, deathcore)
Greg Puciato – 11/11/12 Los Angeles (Dec 20)