Metal of the Month: May’s Finest 15 Releases (2018)

Here I present a grip of the most essential metal-related releases from the month of May in the year 2018. I’ve chosen them entirely based on my opinions, meaning I’m primarily taking into account the hours of immersion, personal connection and enjoyment I got out of each album before moving on to other things. There are several albums that I will have to leave out of this list for now, but they’ll still be considered for end of the year lists,. So, for this list I’m focusing on records I reviewed, spent the most time with as well as a few that are pending review. To put things into perspective, in May I have a backlog of roughly 50 promos left to review and several more from each month of 2018. This doesn’t include the releases coming out in June, July or August yet. I’ll get to all of it, but it’ll take time. I am eternally grateful to have so much to choose from! Here’s a glimpse of stuff I’m still planning on reviewing that released in May.

April reviews still in progress: Raven Throne, Verilun, Heads, Lustrum, Trautonist, Rauch Raah, Archelon, Novae Militae, Fading Bliss, Wolvhammer, Vampilla, Orgullo Nativo, Woechanter, Flesh Hoarder, Abraham, Aborted Fetus, Zarraza, Airborn, Dunnock, Xael, Barst, Apocrophex, The Shive Hypothesis, Nequient, Flame Acausal, Second to Sun, Xenocorp, Stortregn, Infrared, Unflesh, Sacrocurse, Neurosis, Self-Hatred, Christ on Parade, Alms, Dying Awkward Angel, Light This City, Duvel, Fili Nigrantium Infernalium, Skogen, H E X, Hatred Reigns, The Black Sorcery, Goddess of Fate, Vitamin X and more re-issues/repackagings that are quite frankly low-priority unless limited release to begin with. Most or all of these band’s current releases will still be reviewed post-May. It was a busy month for releases but I’ve started to focus on writing lengthier, hopefully more interesting reviews rather than burning through 4-5 per day. It means about 3 reviews a day instead of 5 but I personally think my thoughts are more coherent and worthwhile. May was redeeming for me but for June I’ll be focusing on catching up and making lists. Two huge lists will attempt to deal with my backlog of reviews head on. The first will be a collection of 35-40 albums from 2017 that have yet to be reviewed. The second will be a ‘Lost in the Shuffle’ series of lists covering everything I have yet to review from January to June, 2-3 paragraphs per album and around 20-30 releases per month covered.

It was an interesting month for ‘genre entries’ as I zeroed in on particularly strong extreme metal and doom/stoner releases. With no love lost I’ve found very little thrill in average sludge releases as of late. I really do my best to represent variety. Genre matters very little if the music is redeeming, but in May my taste really gravitated towards death, black, and doom metal sub-genre variants. Additionally, I’ve found reviewing post-metal releases troublesome because they are often so amateur or derivative that they’re better described in 1-2 paragraphs on a list rather than a full, extended review. The gist of what I’m getting at here is that I’m going to be writing more lists. There are simply too many albums from May to give shout-outs to them all, so if you don’t see your favorite one either message me and let me know what I missed, or check the Honorable Mention list at the end. Overall May featured a solid punch of unexpected releases and a few great ‘return to form’ moments from established bands. I’m very grateful to have tons of great bands, record labels, PR companies, and Patrons supporting the continuation of this site and welcome any/all feedback and collaboration along the way. Enjoy!


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Artist Urfaust
Title [Type/Score] The Constellatory Practice [Full-length/4.5]
CLICK HERE to read my REVIEW

With a sudden and quite unexpected return so soon after ‘Empty Space Meditation’ I wasn’t prepared for the reemergence of German atmospheric black/doom metal band Urfaust. Hell, I still feel like I’m soaking up the nuance and glory of ‘The Constellatory Practice’ a full month later. I hear modern ambitions equal to those of The Ruins of Beverast and I hear ambient call-backs to Abruptum as much as I hear the epic doom of Candlemass in this massive album. Know for their ambiance as much as their caterwauling vocals, Urfaust have matured without losing their core musical personalities and this must be commended. Polished and lush as this record might be it is still has harrowing and spacious as the rest of their extensive and respected discography.


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Artist Valgrind
Title [Type/Score] Blackest Horizon [Full-length/4.25]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

My second favorite release from May is Italian death metal band Valgrind‘s third full-length. Their death/thrash style that blends Nocturnus, Immolation, and a violent old school death/thrash attack amounts to a modern sci-fi/horror death metal classic. The riffs come blazing fast and in vicious throngs of Hellwitch-esque speed but the technical ‘roids of ‘Dawn of Possession’-like riffs make for an album I think both fans of old school death metal and stuff like Mithras will enjoy quite a bit. I particularly love the drum performance on this album as he just slides in and out of several styles while keeping the attack up. Easily my most heavily spun record of the month.


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Artist Melan Selas
Title [Type/Score] Ῥέον [Full-length/4.25]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Melan Selas is a duo from Trikala, Greece who conjure a mix of classic heavy/thrash metal guitar work and incorporate it into old school Greek black metal style. Largely the brainchild of Riffobia‘s guitarist D.K. ‘Ῥέον’ compiles the bands 2016 EP and an eponymous EP of new songs in one release. The style here is immediately evocative of the epic doom/heavy metal tinged style of black metal popularized by bands like Varathron and Kawir in the early 90’s and heavy nods to thrash metal a la Zemial and Bathory are also incorporated. The ‘flow’ of the album is as equally impressive as it’s heaviness and this is perhaps one of my favorite new discoveries of the year so far. I hope they are inspired to fire up a true full-length very soon.


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Artist Witch Mountain
Title [Type/Score] Witch Mountain [Full-length/4.0]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

With a new vocalist, new bassist, and about four years to road test the whole affair Witch Mountain are reborn stronger and more defiant than ever. From trials and tribulations come the best artists and while they were notable before I think this self-titled return is the best version and example of Witch Mountain. The same way Cardinal’s Folly sometimes break into death growls briefly so does new vocalist Kayla Dixon, the major difference being her soaring and expressive classically-trained vocals. I feel the music capitalizes on her greater range with an admirably dynamic set of songs that retain the personality that popularized the band.


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Artist Oksennus
Title [Type/Score] Kolme Toista [Full-length/3.75]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Let ‘Kolme Toista’ be a gateway to the world of experimental death metal that forgoes traditional atmospherics, arrangement, and strips the listeners layered expectations down to nude aggression. Oksennus have a thrilling history of atmospheric death metal on bandcamp but this latest full-length is something entirely different from even their last two full-lengths. I can’t confirm if it is pure free-improvisation but it certainly feels as such as it meanders between three 13 minute tracks that function more like movements in classical music. Not too far removed from what Chaos Echœs did on ‘Mouvement’ earliest this year, this is one extended jam that features more frequent vocal appearances and helps keep the ‘death metal’ alive in the avant-jammed blender of ‘Kolme Toista’. Something to keep the mind open, at least.


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Artist Wayfarer
Title [Type/Score] World’s Blood [Full-length/4.0]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

I have to admit I was not particularly excited to fire up ‘World’s Blood’ because I found the first two full-lengths from Denver, Colorado atmospheric black metal band Wayfarer somewhat average. Where bands like Saor took melodic, folk instrumentation and beautifully detailed themes I felt Wayfarer began as a post-metal polishing of Cascadian black metal trends. Perhaps that is both a cruel reductive thought and a non-linear comparison, but that is how I felt until I heard ‘World’s Blood’. Folk is out and the jangling futurist floods of black metal give waves of alien greatness amidst tales surrounding the horrific genocide of native american people. Subtle influences from post-metal, atmospheric sludge, and even some nods to neofolk dribble into a deep pool of atmospheric black metal that doesn’t feel rote to my ears. I hesitate to spread prophecy that this will be memorable a year from now, but so far ‘World’s Blood’ has been a cushy haven to set upon and muse over.


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Artist Torture Rack
Title [Type/Score] Malefic Humiliation [Full-length/4.0]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

When I first fired up ‘Malefic Humiliation’ I let out a huge grunt, flexed my arms and began furiously barbecue-ing my pets. These Portland chug-thugs convene in the dreaded, crumbling pioneer cemeteries of Oregon to plot the riff-based murder and weight-lifting bro-fests alike. The resume is hilariously strong here with folks from Witch Vomit, Cemetery Lust, and Blood Freak and this damn album conjures the bloodiest post-‘Eaten Back to Life’ era of death metal where the ‘Corpse was king-kong and they had “Fucked With a Knife” causing Mom-assed fainting spells from coast to coast. ‘Malefic Humiliation’ is a crushing riff fest that pulls from the NYDM register (Baphomet, Cannibal Corpse) and the less appreciated Texas early 90’s chuggers as well as Autopsy. Great stuff if gore and riffs give you a stiffy.


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Artist 夢遊病者 [Sleepwalker]
Title [Type/Score] 一期一会 [Full-length/3.75]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Sentient Ruin is definitely a label that picks licenses carefully and with good taste, I can generally grab anything and expect it to be a ‘grower’ rather than a cheap spectacle and Osaka-based 夢遊病者 [Sleepwalker] is no exception. “Experimental atmospheric black metal with influences from noise rock, sludge, free-jazz, and drone” might sound like a recipe for diarrhea at the seafood buffet but the method and detail of composition and performance is transcendent of genre expectations. ‘一期一会’ expresses as a performance and cares only to move forward building upon every moment with something new. This might sounds like another one of my weird free-improvisational interests but consider it as a ‘fusion’ performance rather than improv. The joy of Sigh‘s more avant-garde moments and the mystère of Kekal‘s earlier spirit of adventure appear pompous by comparison and the earthen psychedelic cluster of Sleepwalker‘s music is felt as something unique but not pretentiously so. It is ‘live in studio’ and maybe more lo-fi than expected but no less listenable.


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Artist Professor Black
Title [Type/Score] You Bastard! [Full-length/4.0]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Professor Black aka The Hammer aka Chris Black aka Christopher Maycock is an incredibly prolific traditional heavy metal artist, producer, publisher, and itinerant writer active since the mid-90’s. He always does basically everything himself save some mastering/mixing and ‘You Bastard!’ kicks off his latest branding with a High Spirits-esque EP of catchy rock music played like it’s 1984 when NWOBHM was still hot and the Scorpions were just trying to get ballad-laid. This is the guy from High Spirits, Dawnbreaker, Aktor, and Pharaoh so expect: Verse-chorus-verse solo chorus and a good time had by all. His voice reminds me of a less dramatic Brian Ross (Blitzkrieg, Satan) and I get hints of Tank, OzRiot and Züül within these catchy traditional heavy metal songs. One of the easiest records from the month to just keep on repeat all day long.


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Artist Ritual Necromancy
Title [Type/Score] Disinterred Horror [Full-length/3.75]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Another Portland, Oregon based death metal band but these folks specialize in atmospheric ritualistic worship of ‘Mortal Throne of the Nazarene’. Their debut in 2011 was a messy thing with two clashing distortion tones and some rough-assed drumming. Maybe it was the recording or they were just too green to kick into gear but they picked up the ball by 2014 with a great EP and four years later they’ve realized their greater ambitions. The addition of Rites of Thy Degringolade‘s guitarist on second fiddle has apparently amped up the creative approach taking Ritual Necromancy from average cavern-core towards some damn impressive atmospheric death metal with death/doom sections that are mind blowing when they show up. I think a lot of folks are tired of Incantation-alikes but the fickle verve of trendy twats isn’t a good reason to skip out on the marked improvement felt on ‘Disinterred Horror’.


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Artist Graveyard
Title [Type/Score] Peace [Full-length/4.0]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

As they petered out inspiration across several heavy blues rock records Swedes Graveyard could never quite outdo their classic ‘Hisingen Blues’ album. I enjoyed this album because it found new inspiration, greater variation and didn’t rely on old tricks for familiarity. It sounds like their other albums but heavier and less interested in pure retro sound. I wouldn’t say ‘Peace’ is ultra modern or whatever but it feels like an on-par example of hard rock along the lines of the also somewhat revived Kadavar. I’m probably going to be far more hyped for the next Witchcraft compared to this, because I’m much more of a doom fan than a pure hard rock listener, but I still highly recommend this more than most of the hard rock releases from the month. Spiral Skies debut was also great, but perhaps greener in their songwriting.


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Artist Hoth
Title [Type/Score] Astral Necromancy [Full-length/4.0]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

This Seattle, Washington based melodic black/death metal band are heavily influenced by the generations of Scandinavian melodic extreme metal birthed in the 90’s. ‘Astral Necromancy’ makes further strides into their own void and away from obvious resemblance of their influences. I rated this highly because I felt Hoth improved upon every aspect of their art from conception, theme, poetics, recording quality and lead guitar performances. They might not be the most forward-thinking or sharply riffing melodic black metal band on the planet but I am so inspired to see musicians putting earnest effort into improvements and not just casual iteration through emulation. On just a base level several of these songs are just memorable and ‘epic’ in delivery. So, if you’re not a huge fan of 90’s melodic black/death it might not be thrilling but if you love stuff like King of Asgard, Dark Forest, and Månegarm this’ll be worth trying.


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Artist Adversvm
Title [Type/Score] Aion Sitra Ahra [Full-length/4.0]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

German funeral death/doom metal project Adversvm is a flawless recording in terms of sound and style. Relatively fuss-free with a huge funeral doom sound and death metal tonality ‘Aion Sitra Ahra’ is monstrously atmospheric. I understand that extreme doom metal has such a long and rich lineage of strange as hell traditions from unfitting keyboards, psychedelic rants, gothic metal elements, and often lo-fi production quality; What Adversvm capitalizes upon is a large space in the market for a big, loud and uncluttered guitar album. Closer to Evoken or Lycus at their most deathly, I found this record held up well with casual listening this month. I’m still hung up on Mournful Congregation from a few months back, but this offered something different and far less demanding than a lot of the 80-90 minute records of late. I am slightly wary of sounding like I appreciate this album for what it isn’t rather than what it is, but that is mostly the fault of expository writing. Not a perfect funeral doom/death doom record but a worthy debut.


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Artist Superstition
Title [Type/Score] Surging Throng of Evil’s Might [Full-length/4.0]
Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Santa Fe, New Mexico old school death/thrash metal band Superstition struck gold the moment they hit record with their first demo ‘Surging Throng of Evil’s Might’. It channels the spirit of Incubus, Necrovore, and early Morbid Angel as much as it does the early Chilean death/thrash scene. I mean this is my jam that period of the 80’s where death/black/thrash metal were all intermingling and extreme thrash gave birth to death/thrash classics prior to the explosion of death metal worldwide. Superstition, featuring members of Predatory Light, tap into that rotten sound of the past beautifully. I’ve spent decades obsessing over this type of music and find this demo incredibly promising. Haven’t made many vinyl purchases this year, but this is one of the more likely ones on my list when I’m able.


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Artist Twilight
Title [Type/Score] Trident Death Rattle [EP/4.0]
Click Here to read my REVIEW

Twilight was an amorphous collaboration between accomplished artists spearheaded by Blake Judd (Nachtmystium) and Jef Whitehead aka Wrest (Leviathan, Lurker of Chalice). This post-mortem EP includes three unreleased tracks from the sessions for ‘III: Beneath the Trident’s Tomb’, an undeniably underrated album that deserves revisit. If you thought the psychedelic black metal of their swan song was ‘out there’ then understand these extra tracks were too much for even that forward-thinking mixture of noise rock, psychedelia, black metal, and one of my favorite drum performances from Wrest. The EP also features Sanford Parker who is not only a celebrated producer in his own right but also well known for his work in Minsk and Graves at Sea. Perhaps most importantly Judd emphasizes that these four songs were written in full collaboration with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth who contributed guitar and vocal work to ‘III: Beneath the Trident’s Tomb’. I have to say as a longtime Moore fan I didn’t realize the potential for his style of guitar playing in a black metal context until I heard the album and this additional EP goes even further in depth. This could just be one of those things I’m on a desert island alone in loving, but I really couldn’t stop listening to it all month.


Honorable mentions [Click/Tap to Read Reviews]

Did I miss your favorite metal/rock album released in May? Tell me about it, I know I missed a lot! This list is representative of my opinions and personal favorites taking into consideration influence, innovation, replay value, arrangement, cover art, production style, nostalgia, and quality of experience. There are hundreds more releases from the month and I might have overlooked something amazing, let me know. Don’t worry, no piece of music is ever too old to review! Again I want to thank the bands, labels, hardworking PR folks, and my Patreon Patrons for their support and contributions! This is a dream for a lifelong fan and collector like me.

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