Steve Albini's incendiary final album with Shellac is his Bowie "Blackstar"

On May 7, the world of underground (and not-as-underground) music suffered an incredible loss. Steve Albini, pioneering recording engineer and artist, died at 61 from a heart attack. A multitude of meaningful tributes and memorial from artists like Jack White and Dave Ghrol paid respect to the incredible body of work Steve left us with. But he died having one more piece of work to share: To All Trains, the highly-anticipated new album from his band Shellac, the first in ten years, that was just released today.

The album opens with a simple groove before ripping into an array of distortion, drums, bass, and Albini's iconic vocals. This thread is pulled through the rest of the album. Every song has an incredible groove, practically made for a live crowd. The mastering, as expected, is incredible, with everything exquisitely mixed with every part of every track standing out on its own. Each song almost tells a story through its melody alone, while Albini will go from Big Black-esque screams to spoken word in the snap of a finger.

The album has an almost blues feel throughout, giving vibes of the Raconteurs, but with an angrier, harsher edge, so sharp it might cut you. Compared to the rest of Albini's work, it stands out in the same way Blackstar, Bowie's final album, did in comparison to his discography. To All Trains maintains a darker, moodier tone throughout the entire project, as if it was made for this moment. It is a perfect mashup of Albini's best qualities all tightly packaged. 

I'd recommend anyone, even those unfamiliar with the rest of Steve's work, to give this album a listen. At under half an hour, it packs a punch an album quadruple its length could only hope to achieve.

To All Trains is available now through Touch and Go records on CD and vinyl, with the latter temporarily out of stock, and streaming. 

Here's "WSOD" from the record:

Previously: Read Steve Albini`s famous essay on the music industry`s problems