Self-titled albums are almost always never a good sign, and with the release of Satyricon’s ninth full-length album, this tenet is proven correct once again. It’s true that Satyricon has become another one of those Norwegian black metal veterans who fell into the shoegazy clutches of post-black metal. But make no mistake; that in itself isn’t a crime worthy of death by inverted crucifixion. What’s wrong with this new album is its failure to do what frontman Satyr claimed in a press release statement: “There are a lot of surprises here, but I think it’s gonna be a record that’s gonna help the black metal movement perhaps find a new way for the future.”

There is nothing fluffy to be said about the sixth and upcoming new studio album from American metalcore veterans Norma Jean – it’s simply straight-up, almost radio-friendly metalcore that will not be remembered by posterity. “If You Got It At Five, You Got It At Fifty”, the second track off the new record and the first to be released in its entirety on YouTube, is an accurate representation of the record in general: it’s fast, it’s kinda noise-rocky, it has breakdowns, and there are only hoarse screams for vocals. Nothing surprising or aurally breath-taking here.

“SIX, SIX, SIX PARTY WITH THE DEVIL, BITCH!” This is seriously a line that vocalist Chris “Fronz” Fronzak belts out with no shame at all numerous times in this utterly shallow and expletive-ridden song. But this extreme display of shallowness is to be expected, I guess, seeing as how Attila is a rap/metalcore band (That’s right; Rap. Metal. Core. Holy sheeeet!!).

Continuing their tradition of making intense and melodic metal, Soilwork serves up an excellent packet of sugar-free ear candy this time round; the songs manage to sound palatable without excessive pop inclinations. The Living Infinite is the first double album by the seminal Swedish metal band, and apart from presenting twice the usual aural pleasure for old and new fans alike, its blueprint is possibly one of the best templates today for Soilwork’s peers to adopt.

The guys who institutionalized the swamp as being a legitimate geographic feature to sing about in metal music are back with their seventh studio album. At first look, the album title seems really silly. After all, who the heck makes a portmanteau word out of “swamp” and “symphony”? And then proceed to up the WTF factor by stringing it together with “seventh” to coin a phrase that seems to be referring to cello metal group Apocalyptica’s last album?

They are already on their ninth studio outing, and as with many big-name extreme metal acts, this New York death metal squad has proven to be a reliable group to fall back on when the experimental metal or latest progressive tech-death thingamajiggy gets banal. Graced by eye-catching, dystopian artwork from the mighty Pär Olofsson, one can easily tell that this record hurls the usual dark and misanthropic verbal brickbats at postmodern society (y’know, ordinary people being suppressed by governmental forces and shit), and it’s a great visual aid to the punishing music.

Fire up your home heaters and stock up on necessities. Bring the dogs and cats in and shutter your windows. Make sure you have enough food and water to last your family for the imminent Ice Age. This autumn, the grand Wintersun shall freeze the world over again after an eight-year absence from the extreme metal scene. Be prepared for the frigid beauty of Time I.

Metallica favorites Mnemic are back with their fifth consecutive studio album for Nuclear Blast, Mnemesis. The Danish modern metal quintet are still peddling that trademark every-modern-metal-band-seem-to-sound-the-same sound that blends pop-flavored choruses with the harsher and heavier elements of extreme metal, and one of the standout tracks off their latest effort is the ninth and penultimate track, “Ocean Of Void”.

The North Carolina metalcore outfit A Hero A Fake is back with their third studio album, and its disappointments far outweigh its pleasant bits. Listening to this record makes you want to revisit the quintet’s earlier full-length albums (which were way longer and more qualified to be considered “full-length” albums than this 28-minute outing), just like trying to forget the “Snow White And The Huntsman” movie exists by revisiting the 1937 animated Walt Disney version.

If your dad were a rockstar, what would you want to do for a living? You are not constrained by the budgetary and job squeeze concerns in today’s unpredictable world economic climate, and the “paper chase” is not really relevant to you, since why should you give a damn about whether HR personnel from typical companies think you’re a worthy human being based on their judgment of your personal worth in mere GPA points? You can simply tap into your rock-star dad’s reservoirs of cash and already established reputation to do whatever you want (like going on a world sightseeing tour and ending it off with a space shuttle flight to the International Space Station)!

Even in the largely-ignored-by-mainstream-press realm of extreme metal, certain bands have gone through what major bands frequently experience: that major bitch of a lineup shakeup called LSC (Lead Singer Change). While most certainly turning the heads of self-respecting metalheads out there who are well-connected to the grapevine, even a neutral bystander who might not even necessarily be remotely interested in metal music as a whole can probably understand the huge reaction. What is contemporary music without vocals?

You know when a band has one of their songs appear in the Guitar Hero/Rock Band song list, that they’re a group no metal purist/elitist will want anything to do with. Well, well, well, lookie here… Shadows Fall, a once-melodic-death-metal-but-they-didn’t-like-that-label-and-decided-to-go-metalcore-instead band that first grew to mainstream prominence with their classic album The War Within (with a song playable in Guitar Hero 2) is about to release their seventh studio album to hit music stores worldwide with the force of an offended Justin Bieber fangal’s slap.

In light of the release of Exumer’s third studio album, and first in over 25 years, I caught up with frontman and vocalist Mem Von Stein to discuss among other things, the new record Fire & Damnation, his day job and his view on why Exumer didn’t make it into the revered ranks of the Big Three of teutonic thrash metal. Von Stein and I also go on to speak about the difficulties faced by the band over the years, his retrospective views on the unholy trio’s success, the surprisingly un-metal activities he does outside of his music career, and an inane question from yours Truly. Read on and enjoy!