Five For Friday: May 13, 2022

Hello, Decibel readers.

As usual, we’ve got five new albums to share with you to keep you up-to-date on the best in the world of heavy music. But first, I have to add my own words about a giant of heavy music we lost this week.

Trevor Strnad was a fan’s frontman.

When I first met him, it was at a record signing at Ozzfest 2005. Me and my buddies had just watched the band totally kill it, with Trevor in his short-hair-and-emo-glasses era proudly leading the charge on the mic. For an 18-year-old metalhead at the time, The Black Dahlia Murder‘s Unhallowed — with its blended riff-salad of melodic black metal and crushing death metal — was an extreme metal classic that we could think of as ours. While a lot of us loved the metalcore that was blowing up at the time, it was Trevor and co. who gave us new death metal heroes to connect us with the mythical past of 80s and early-90s. It was with this in mind that I stood starstruck with my copy of Miasma, praising them as the Cannibal Corpse of our era. Snobs will scoff, but that’s really what the band meant to a lot of us back then.

Upon meeting him again about 10 years later, it was at a BlastBeat Network holiday party, back when I was writing for Metal Injection. By then, Trevor and I were colleagues of a sort, with him contributing his heavily detailed and painstakingly researched “Obituarist” column. Trevor’s dedication to writing about little-known and emerging death metal bands showed a quality that sometimes degrades in veteran musicians — a genuine excitement for the music. Even after touring the world, cranking out album after album and enduring everything that comes with that life, Trevor didn’t get jaded. Most of all, he made you feel like we were all just fans and metal maniacs together, without a shred of snide elitism or pretension about him.

Over the intervening years, I’d run into Trevor at NYC-area shows, including the Decibel Magazine Tour, along with Youth of Today and other random gigs. To my surprise and appreciation, he always recognized me, made a point to come and talk to me and just nerd out about the bands playing that night. In this sense, he became another fellow fan I saw at shows and had drinks with while talking about bands, an activity that weaves the webs that bind the scene together. He was still the frontman of the band that made Nocturnal and Everblack, but there he was cheering on Morbid Angel as they played “Prayer of Hatred” just as I was. After seeing me and my friend at Youth of Today, my friend became another dude Trevor would chat with at hardcore shows. He truly was emblematic of the metal scene at its best, a valuable contributor and an enthusiastic participant.

His passing is a massive loss to all of us, and most of all his family and friends. As is always the case, we’re left with the music, 9 full-length albums of lovingly crafted death metal. Unhallowed remains one of my favorite albums of all time, and have several go-to jams on each of the others. But in closing, I have to reference the first song I ever heard from the band. It was on the demo-version of “The Blackest Incarnation” that I was first blown away by the sheer power of Trevor’s vocals, a skill he would only improve on in later years. It still holds up today. Here’s to you, Trevor.

Aara – Triade II: Hemera

Aara is one of those black metal bands that simply feel like a storm washing over you. There’s so much going on with the screeching vocals, blasting drums and tremolo riffing, and yet each elements stands out perfectly against the others. It’s an invigorating sound that recalls the vibe of Cosmic Church and the ferocity of Spectral Wound. The word “stamina” comes to mind with a band like this.

Stream: Apple Music

Jungle Rot – A Call to Arms

“Yes, I’d like some Vader with some Obituary, please. Yes, I’ll have the Bolt Thrower on the side, thanks.” You know what you’re in for with Jungle Rot, nothing too complicated, nothing too intricate, just pounding riffs that go well with pounding beers. Drink up!

Stream: Apple Music

Misery Index – Complete Control

One of the most reliable names in the game is back with their seventh full-length album. It delivers the ferocity and expertly crafted guitar tones fans have come to expect from the band, along with some hooks and grooves — particularly on the infectious title track.

Stream: Apple Music

Mutilatred – Determined to Rot

Hah! What a name! And what a sound! Those thunderous guitars! Those pummeling drums! And my goodness grandma, what nightmarish vocals you have! All the better to slay you, my dear!

Stream: Apple Music

Terror – Pain Into Power

The keepers of the faith have returned to continue their reign over the world of straightforward, no-nonsense modern hardcore. Pain Into Power gives you exactly what you’d want from a Terror album — all you need to spit your rage, with an extra dose of metallic power that includes a guest spot from Cannibal Corpse-frontman Corpsegrinder on “Can’t Help but Hate.” It’s a nice touch that when you hear “can’t help but hate” it kind of sound like “cannibal hate.” Do you think they did that on purpose?

Stream: Apple Music