Hard Rock and Metal New Releases -- April 20
AC/DC, 'Iron Man 2' Soundtrack (Columbia): AC/DC classics like 'Shoot to Thrill,' 'Back in Black,' 'Thunderstruck,' 'T.N.T.,' and 'Highway to Hell' are collected on the soundtrack to what is expected to be a blockbuster, 'Iron Man 2.' This is the soundtrack to Tony Stark's life!
Cathedral, 'The Guessing Game' (Nuclear Blast): Warning: Cathedral's 'Guessing Game' celebrates two years of drabacadabra with a double dose of doom 'n' gloom from these Brits. It's two albums, with 13 songs, most of which hit the six-minute mark and above. If you've got an appointment, don't rush through 'The Guessing Game.' 'Painting in the Dark' is drowning in long riffs designed for maximum headbanging, with a bit of race car rock flair and a slice of psychedelia. Needless to say, Cathedral still f---ing rock.
Circa Survive, 'Blue Sky Noise' (Atlantic): The androgynous, lushly epic sonic drama enacted by Circa Survive on their major label debut, 'Blue Sky Noise,' is beloved by the kids these days. It's not easily classifiable as hard rock, but it's certainly boundless and fans of Deftones could appreciate this record, thanks to its pretty quality.
The Crinn, 'Dreaming Saturn' (Nuclear Blast): Midwestern progressive experimentalists the Crinn take their sonic cues from Tool, Dream Theater, Mastodon and Between the Buried and Me on 'Dreaming Saturn,' an album that is by no means economical. The band stuffs as much into a song as they can. There's two minutes of noodly guitar soundscapes before the vocals kick down the door on opener 'Incipience.' There's pockets of deathcore, death metal and 'look at me' mathy riffery and textures on 'Meat Eating Machines.' The Crinn are thinking man's metal for metal nerds with long attention spans.
Ratt, 'Infestation' (Roadrunner/Loud & Proud): In an age when '80s hairspray and spandexers are enjoying a bit of a revival in pop culture -- look at Poison's Bret Michaels' and 'Rock of Love' -- Ratt aren't relying on gimmicks or TV shows to regain their former luster. Instead, the band focuses on task at hand, and that's the music. 'Infestation' will remind you of why you fell in love with 'Round and Round.' It's got the licks, the hooks, the adenoidal vocals and the masterfully (and criminally) underrated guitaristry of Warren DeMartini. If 'Best of Me' and 'Eat Me Up Alive' don't infest your senses with their catchiness, then pack up shop, go home and hang your head in shame.
Sevendust, 'Cold Day Memory' (7Bros): Sevendust are into their second decade of Southern-marinated, crunchy hard rock with 'Cold Day Memory,' which marks the return of original guitarist Clint Lowery. Perhaps it's reintroduction of the prodigal son to the songwriting mix, but Sevendust haven't sounded this tight or invigorated since their second and third albums. Lajon Witherspoon pipes soulful, almost Gospel-tinted vocals over infectious guitar melodies. The album has a plentiful, healthy range of speeds and moods, but through it all, Sevendust's chunky, scrape-your-teeth-on-cement bluster remains in tact. No matter your region of origin -- West, East, South, or breadbasket -- 'Splinter,' 'Forever' and 'Unraveling' have mass appeal.
Sick of It All, 'Based on a True Story' (Century Media): Sick of It All are as synonymous with New York hardcore as CBGB and Sunday matinees. The band hasn't lost a step on 'Based on a True Story,' which teems with economical, three-minute anthems laced with communal chants, singalongs and pit-inciting breakdowns. 'The Divide,' 'Good Cop,' 'Braveheart' and 'Bent Outta Shape' are blue collar (or is it Lou Koller, like the singer!) and will inspire you to grab your brothers-in-arms, while 'Lowest Common Denominator' has an almost oi tinge.