Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo
Vice Records

The Black Lips exist in a world where there was never prog rock, techno or metal. Their influences are no younger than 25 years old, and on Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo, a live disc recorded in Tijuana, they play as though they don’t give a damn what the world thinks. Take old garage bands like the Troggs or the Raspberries, throw in a little Brian Jones-era Stones, add some modern obnoxiousness similar to the Dwarves or the old Replacements, and out of the old mix you get one of the most subversive records of the year. This band takes the rules, throws them out the window and thumbs its nose at the same time. Nobody should ever tell them they can play or write decent melodies and songs (which they can) — taking themselves too seriously would ruin everything.

— Steven Booth

Static Thought
In the Trenches
Hellcat Records

Normally, In the Trenches would be a promising punk album, if nothing revolutionary: the guitar-bass-drums attack has a nice punch. There are some good hooks, some barked vocals in the Tim Armstrong vein by singer Eric Urbach, and a social conscience that generally avoids preachiness. What makes it special is that half the band is only in their teens. This would be a mature and confident outing for guys 10 years their senior. On “Ignorance of the Youth,” Urbach rails against his generation’s indifference, while on “Infiltrated Minds,” he goes on about the subliminal brainwashing of the media. Yeah, it’s all been done before, but not this well by such a young band. The hope is that they build on this promise and don’t piss it away like many of their mentors have.

— Steven Booth

Chimaira
Resurrection
Ferret Music

Dark metal is stealing the thunder from those who prefer their guitar music on the edge, away from the emasculated punk and hardcore scenes. While Chimaira isn’t at the top of the metal food chain, on its new disc, the band certainly delivers the goods for die-hard metal fans. Resurrection features the genre’s requisite machine-gun drumming and death-march guitars; there are some flirtations with hardcore and more melodic stuff, but they never depart too far from the metal blueprint. Their saving grace is their strong songwriting: they talk — well, scream — about real life issues as opposed to the satanic charades many of their ilk are famous for. And unlike some other bands, they’re not out to reinvent or redefine the genre. Chimaira plays with a force and consistency that keep things fresh and exciting.

— Steven Booth