Spring is wending its way towards San Francisco, and the improved weather will be accompanied by an array of exciting metal albums and the tours that follow in their wake. Bands both local and national will have new wares on display -- here are a few of the choicest to anticipate.

Jucifer
- Throned in Blood (April 6th, 2010, Nomadic Fortress Records)

No matter how many times I enumerate Jucifer's essential details, they're still completely captivating. To wit, Amber Valentine and Edgar Livengood are the world's heaviest husband-and-wife team. As if that weren't quirky-cool enough, they're also officially nomadic, having no base of operations other than their rock and roll RV and a trailer full of amps -- guitarist/singer Valentine plays the loudest, largest guitar rig I've ever experienced personally. When I saw them at Annie's Social (RIP!) she had 11 cabs set up.

The music is an arresting blend of sludge, shoe-gaze, noise, stoner-metal, and thrash, and its played with an atavistic conviction that most bands can only dream about (In a recent interview, Valentine mentioned that her husband's hands are frequently damaged, due to his habit of playing cymbals with his fists). Their previous release L'Autrichienne (Relapse, 2008) was a masterful concept album about the French Revolution, capturing the band at its versatile best. Judging from the cover art, the new LP has a similar historical bent; presumably they'll play some of it live when they rumble Thee Parkside on March 18th.

[audio: http://www.circuitbreakermedia.com/audio/jucifer-contempt.mp3]
Jucifer - Contempt

Bison B.C. - Dark Ages (April 13th, 2010, Metal Blade Records)

This Vancouver band specializes in the kind of fuzzy, uptempo, thrash-influenced stoner metal that's all the rage these days, and the quality of their riffs inducts them easily into the company of bands like High on Fire, Saviours, or Portland's Red Fang. Though the denim jacket aesthetic and vintage amp guitar tone promulgated by the band aren't groundbreaking in and of themselves, Bison's relentless creativity, death metal growls, and off-kilter approach (the lead single features a french horn) help distinguish them from their peers. A quick listen to "Stressed Elephant" below will convey things more eloquently than I can. The band is also remarkably prolific (Dark Ages being their third album in four years) -- always a nice thing to be able to add to the plus column. They'll be appearing (with Mastodon, High on Fire, Between the Buried and Me, Baroness, Priestess, and Black Cobra) at the mind-bendingly epic Missing Link festival, at Oakland's Fox Theater May 8th.

"Stressed Elephant" at Explore Music

Exodus - Exhibit B: The Human Condition (May 7th, 2010, Nuclear Blast Records)

Oakland native sons Exodus have had few problems adapting their brand of vicious thrash to the modern metal landscape, and they've been hard at work in the studio with Megadeth producer Andy Sneap, crafting the follow-up to 2007's The Atrocity Exhibition...Exhibit A. This will be the third LP to feature guitar tech-turned singer Rob Dukes, whose vitriolic delivery compliments the band's razor wire attack perfectly. Judging from the demo track "Hammer and Life" released to the band's MySpace, the new album will continue in the same direction as the rest of the band's latter day releases, relying on violent grooves spearheaded by lead guitarist Gary Holt and the precise, inventive drumming of founding member Tom Hunting.

Exodus was slated to appear at January's lamentably canceled Cow Palace Slayer show, and though they've signed on for Megadeth's self-congratulatory Rust in Peace 20th anniversary tour, Mr. Mustaine is not gracing SF with his presence this time out. The band's Bay Area roots are sure to bring them back before long, however, and their headbanging faithful will be taught "A Lesson in Violence" as the genre's grandmasters round out a season of exciting new releases.

Shredification is a monthly expedition into the world of heavy music led by San Francisco Bay Guardian and Bay Bridged writer Ben Richardson. Combining album reviews, news, and general commentary, it uses the power of forgotten heathen rituals to surreptitiously devour your soul. Ben can be reached at ben.richardson@thebaybridged.com.

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