Best New Releases, Jan. 20: Tribunal, John Cale and more

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best new albums Tribunal

Friday’s here again, and the list of new releases is starting to stack up even higher than before. Among today’s highlights are a pair of excellent new metal albums, the return of a rock ‘n’ roll legend, a synth-pop group hitting a new era of excellence, and of course, our Album of the Week. Check out this week’s best new albums.

Tribunal Weight of Remembrance
20 Buck Spin

Tribunal – The Weight of Remembrance

In the depths of winter, it’s still doom metal season. It’s doom metal season year round for some of us, but it always sounds best when the trees are barren, the ground is damp and you can see the breath in front of your face. That’s how it feels with Tribunal, anyhow, a Vancouver doom metal band with mournful melodies in the vein of Pagan Altar and early Pallbearer, and more than a little cello beneath their epic, minor-key riffs. There’s a grace and elegance to their brand of doom, less defined by the sheer immensity or bong-resin textures than the sheer, eerie atmosphere, gothic and sickly scented with dying flowers. The songs, themselves, are outstanding, particularly given that this is the band’s debut—to hear a group arrive like this, fully formed in both concept and execution is something to celebrate.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Merchbar (vinyl)

best new albums rian treanor
Nyege Nyege Tapes

Rian Treanor and Ocen James – Saccades

Our Album of the Week is the debut collaboration between British producer Rian Treanor and Ugandan rigi rigi player Ocen James, Saccades. It’s a thrilling hybrid of electronic and acoustic sounds, and rarely in a way that feels expected. In our review of the album, we said, “A work of two unmistakable talents, it’s often where the lines blur and the frequencies overlap that Saccades is at its most compelling.” An early highlight for electronic music this year, it offers an interdisciplinary, intercontinental collaboration defined by vibrant imagination, energy and rhythm. An essential listen.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Merchbar (vinyl)

best new albums john cale
Double Six/Domino

John Cale – Mercy

The first new album in a decade from former Velvet Underground member and rock legend John Cale is one that finds him in the company of a lot of notable names: Weyes Blood, Actress, Laurel Halo and Animal Collective. But while the company Cale keeps here is representative of the fact that he’s got good taste in collaborators, he’s also delivered some of his best songs in years, and at 80 years old he still has his finger on the pulse of what’s current while offering something timeless in its ability to harness the spectrum of human experience. In our review of the album, J. Smith described Mercy as “a surreal dozen songs made from floating melodies, limitless understanding of music and a lifetime of human experience.” After an entire career’s worth of innovations and accomplishments, Cale’s still finding new ground to tread.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Merchbar (vinyl)

Ladytron new album Time's Arrow

Ladytron – Time’s Arrow

The first new album from Ladytron in four years finds the British synth-pop group embracing psychedelia and dense, dreamy textures to a more pronounced degree, resulting in some of the richest material of their career. The dense arrangement of “Misery Remember Me,” paired with Helen Marnie’s impressive vocal range, is a headphone feast, while “California” is awash in sparkling, Lush-like dream-pop guitars and the title track nods to the machine pulse of the band’s earliest recordings, as it escalates toward a kind of burlesque cabaret dirge. After more than two decades together, Ladytron have entered a newly inspired era, one in which their signature synth-pop sounds of before are the foundation of their creative output, but by no means the whole of it. We’ll have more on this album next week, as well—look out for that. Plus read our Greatest Hits feature with Ladytron on some of their best songs.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp | Merchbar (vinyl)

Dryad Abyssal Plain

Dryad – The Abyssal Plain

The same week that we get a spectacular doom metal debut, there’s also a similarly awesome black metal debut coming from North America. Iowa City’s Dryad have a raw, old school sensibility, but there’s an almost punk-rock level of unrelenting energy on The Abyssal Plain, which drives malevolent rippers like “Bottomfeeder,” burly mosh-pit chugger “Brine Pool Abberation” and the gloriously evil 91-second tantrum “Loki’s Castle.” In their subtler moments, Dryad cast themselves in a cloak of haunted synthesizer or allow a moment of chorus-guitar shimmer to resonate before they channel the aggression, as they do on highlight “Pompeii Worm,” though by and large it’s their screeching intensity that’s the main event here. Play it loud, play it repeatedly, feel the malevolence for a half hour and leave with a smile on your face.

Listen/Buy: Bandcamp

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