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

Here I present a grip of the most essential metal-related releases from the month of June 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. I’ll get to all of the promos I’ve received throughout the year 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 June.

June reviews still in progress: World Demise, Ricarda Cometa, Northwoods, Rongeur, Funeral Sun, The Flesh, Glorior Belli, Isenordal, Shitty Person, Human Cull, Raum Kingdom, Casket Feeder, Ribspreader, Caveman Cult, Crurifragium, The Last Seed, Winterblut, Posthuman Abomination, Lesser Glow, Surmiser, Torii, Naut, Pelagos, Falcun, Vhäldemar, Enhailer, Blasphamagoatachrist, Frayle, Dischordia, Comess, Gyre, Blood Worship, Neorhythm, Consecration, Disgusted Geist, Eskhaton, Curse Upon a Prayer, Brass Owl, Mick’s Jaguar, Musmahhu, Atomicide, Doomed, Mutanter, Cavern, Neutral Bombs, Satan My Master, Runescarred, Blind Justice, Hate Diplomacy, Bookakee, A Scar for the Wicked, Vrsa, Centauro and several split releases that are low-priority for now. Most or all of these band’s current releases will still be reviewed post-June. June saw some larger focus on lists with several more in the works for July. I’ll be focusing on catching up with lists that will attempt to deal with my backlog of reviews head on. I’ve worked out a weekly 5-10 album feature that will debut the first week of July and continue as long as there are records to talk about. I’ll also make an effort to do a monthly An Exhaustive Study session for Melodic Black Metal that will begin to alternate with a new undertaking focusing on NWOBHM.

It was an interesting month for me as I zeroed in on particularly strong death and black metal releases. I’ve found that I am largely attracting promos from extreme metal press relations and with a general lack of thrash, doom, and stoner rock/stoner metal releases this month… June’s list will include a great deal of death metal. Genre matters very little if the music is redeeming, but in June I began to worry that I’d pigeonholed myself as solely an extreme metal fanatic. Not a huge deal because 2018 has been one of the best years in recent memory for death, black and doom metal release. If you don’t see your favorite record from this month message me and let me know what I missed, or check the Honorable Mention list at the end. 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 Embrace of Thorns
Title [Type] Scorn Aesthetics [Full-length]
 Rating [5.0/5.0] CLICK HERE to read my REVIEW

Because I have not made clear my methodology, rating system and general ethos I’ve gotten a small amount of shit for giving out three perfect ratings this year with the first two being Portal‘s ‘Ion’ and Ghastly‘s ‘Death Velour’. It is as if metal fellows rabidly need consensus for any possible perfect scores, I don’t and it is imperative that all readers understand that my ratings are entirely independent. Without getting too deep into statistics I’ve listened to and rated roughly fifteen thousand releases since 2005 and I’ve been keeping track of them in two databases since 2011. In 2018 I’ve reviewed nearly 450 releases and Embrace of Thorns is the absolute best one for my taste.

I might find 10 more 5/5 albums this year, I might find zero, but the fact remains that ‘Scorn Aesthetics’ is genuinely one of them. Though they formed as a war metal outfit in the late 90’s this Greek blackened death metal band would eventually gain crucial insight and personal style through touring and evolving taste. They especially garnered great praise after including a member of Dead Congregation a couple of albums ago and some of that methodology has stuck while ‘Scorn Aesthetics’ takes a wild, ripping strike at the world of epic heavy metal influenced classic Greek black metal (see: Varathron, Kawir) style.


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Artist Funeral Mist
Title [Type] Hekatomb [Full-length]
Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Although I have some great appreciation for ‘Devilry’ and ‘Salvation’ I’d largely forgotten Funeral Mist existed over the last decade and to slide right back into Arioch‘s sound has felt incredibly natural. ‘Hekatomb’ is the sort of record that mystifies me and begs for repeated listening. The guitar tone is razor sharpened as he refines previous experimentation with slower pacing on ‘Marantha’ and introduces new channels that connect his ripping Marduk-esque riffs and blasts with both modern and ancient influence. I found I could revisit this album any number of times and get lost in it’s details and delivery. It isn’t necessarily a replacement for ‘Devilry’ in my mind, but an extension of it’s core with similar use of keyboards and guitar performance. I’ve put ‘Hekatomb’ high on the list this month because it has continued to draw me in for additional listens even beyond satiation.


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Artist Tomb Mold
Title [Type] Manor of Infinite Forms [Full-length]
 Rating [4.75/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Throughout most of May and June I wore Tomb Mold‘s sophomore full-length like a favorite pair of jeans. There wasn’t a single day where I didn’t listen to at least one of it’s songs and when my ears grew calloused I’d search out articles and interviews in reference to the band. It felt great to be an enthusiastic fan of death metal again in the first six months of 2018, Tomb Mold‘s impeccable death metal treatment has been a much needed shove back into the fray in the truest sense. This’ll likely be one of my “Hey, I bought the t-shirt” moments for 2018 depending on if 20 Buck Spin is out of Ghastly ones yet or not.

‘Manor of Infinite Forms’ offers an incredibly effective evocation of Finnish death metal’s bounding complexity in the early 90’s as well as the reaping thrust of groups like Mercyless and Funebrarum. With such appreciation for it’s style, their riffs, the incredible cover art, and the semi-technical verve of Tomb Mold it might not have stuck so deeply in my head without obsessive listening. I often feel like death metal fans are ‘bullied’ into critically well-received albums that are this dense and they’re either quickly forgotten or a small backlash balances things out shortly after release; In this case I believe ‘Manor of Infinite Forms’ will hold steadfast on folk’s ‘Best of 2018’. Any other year I’d be able to promise Top 5 but this year, I’ll have to resign to Top 10.


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Artist Mutilate
Title [Type] Tormentium [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

This New York death metal band might be very freshly conceived but they show great promise and a knack for memorable old school death metal riffing on their full-length debut. ‘Tormentium’ has an old and rusty sounding buzz about it that is meant to invoke early Acheron, Goatlord, and Deathstrike and they do a great job of getting that sound right. I would additionally point to bands like Devastation, Morgue, and Cianide for their songwriting ability and general sound. That’s really all I personally need to go ape shit for Mutilate‘s sound and I still find myself listening to this LP as well as their upcoming EP that comes in July. If you’re not into primitive death metal or extreme metal’s origins I’m sure your mileage will vary, for my taste ‘Tormentium’ creates a groove and a sound that really hits me hard.


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Artist Taphos
Title [Type] Come Ethereal Somberness [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Taphos offer something distinctly old school and atmospheric at the same time not unlike the more recent album from Krypts but with the death/doom input rescinded in favor of the Degial and Necrovation school of ripping old school death/thrash. They represent an intelligent new breed of modern death metal artist that builds upon their favorite old school death metal styles but doesn’t ape any one distinct scene so much that it becomes pandering or imitation. This is the basic sensibility shared by a small handful of brilliant Danish death metal bands in recent years and Taphos is perhaps one of the most distinct and their blackened edge and frantic guitar riffs remind me of Vorum, but not too closely. ‘Come Ethereal Somberness’ is definitely one of the most unsung death metal releases of June as it gathered very little steam from critics. I believe this might be the sort of band that would need to impress in stage before completely convincing the average fan to dig deeply into their recordings. I’d say give it some time and a few good listens, it grew on me more as I made sense of its ranting Ensnared style riffs and songwriting.


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Artist Matterhorn
Title [Type] Crass Cleansing [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

How much do you love Celtic Frost and Hellhammer? Me, I find their releases to be some of the most distinct creations to come from the rise of extreme metal and they had monumental influence upon some of my favorite bands be it death/doom, black metal, death metal or thrash. Matterhorn immediately invoke the attitude and sonic spirit of thier influences on their debut ‘Crass Cleansing’ but make that swagger entirely their own rhythmic monster. Because it begins to rival Dream Death‘s ‘Journey Into Mystery’ and other comparably influenced works I feel some greater enthusiasm for the future of Matterhorn‘s output. Hell, they’ve already promised a 2019 full-length.

Although I’ve already repeatedly over-emphasized their resemblance of some of extreme metal’s most classic groups I want to downplay the Celtic Frost side of things and suggest there are hints of Slaughter, Excruciation, and even Repulsion in this work and that it shouldn’t be seen as an album so entirely focused on it’s influences. It is a cyclone of thrashing energy, a multitude of cyclical riffing and classic extreme metal posturing that stirred up some considerable excitement as I repeatedly listened. ‘Crass Cleansing’ may be simple, repetitive by design, and tonally very straight-forward that is one of the reasons it should be so resonant. They’ve tapped into the core of what made extreme metal special, not variations and combinations of other people’s work, not impossibly complex noodling and conceptual masturbation, but just straight up heavy and hard-hitting riffs that groove.


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Artist Khemmis
Title [Type] Desolation [Full-length]
 Rating [4.5/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Although I think many fans were expecting and hoping for ‘more of everything’ in their approach, Khemmis have found a great shining balance in their sound on ‘Desolation’. Instead of diving headfirst into more death/doom ideas and growling it out they’ve resigned to some brief blackened death growls that are actually fairly common in groups like Cardinal’s Folly, Wheel, and such. Their focus instead shifts towards writing pristine, evocative pure epic heavy metal that still carries with it a long trail of doom. It isn’t as catchy as an of your old Candlemass records, nor does it try to outdo the charming Maiden-isms of Visigoth but what ‘Desolation’ does is no less special.

Phil Pendergast‘s vocals come dangerously close to being the most important draw on the album and you can hear the rest of the band stepping up behind him. Their compatriots Spirit Adrift put out a somewhat similarly conceived album last year to perhaps equal accolades, though I believe the extra distribution from Nuclear Blast really helped get word out bigger and faster. I really didn’t feel like this was going to be a contender on my best of the year but ‘Desolation’ is of impeccable quality and they’ve shown immaculate consistency across three very good full-lengths.


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Artist Deathwards
Title [Type] Towards Death [EP]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

I will readily admit that I am starved for thrash metal and that 2018 has been a light and hard to grub over time for thrash records that stick to my ribs. Rapture‘s ‘Paroxysm of Hatred’ was absolutely mind-blowing early on but there have been few and far between mind-blowing riff machines since. Deathwards has the solution with their death/thrash debut EP ‘Towards Death’ that functions as a brutal old school introduction to their exceptional taste in extreme thrash metal. Snapping my neck to their sound, which is heavily influenced by Sepultura ‘Schizophrenia’, Dark Angel, Obliveon, and Pestilence  has provided the best EP experience of 2018 and fills some of the greater void I’m feeling without much thrash coming into my life lately.

The fact that this band can cover Infernäl Mäjesty faithfully and still retain their sound says most of what you need to know. This is the type of thrash that burst from every corner of the world once ‘Hell Awaits’ was released and they’ve found a way to write those oldest of old school death/thrash songs without sounding like wannabe kids. It helps that these guys have some greater love for classic thrash and with members from Communion and Executed they already understand the need for a distinctive personality beyond influences and name drops. Here’s hoping for much, much more from these Chileans.


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Artist Lago
Title [Type] Sea of Duress [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

This one hit me fast and hard and I’m still reeling from it. I bought this a while back, I’m not in the loop with Unique Leader, but I usually take a long time to get around to physical copies anyhow. If eighteen year old me had discovered this sort of dissonant, depressive and bludgeoning death metal record back in 2001… Oh wait, yeah actually back then it was Morbid Angel‘s ‘Gateways to Annihilation’ and Immolation‘s ‘Close to a World Below’. I feel like I’m listening to a very professional realization of the album I’d dream about that’d combine those two styles… Oh wait, yeah actually Drawn and Quartered have been doing that for like 20 years. But hey at the same time I didn’t imagine that set of influences could be re-juiced with an ear for innovation that Lago‘s Cole Jacobson possesses. ‘Sea of Duress’ feels doomed, it sludges and sways with cruel self-mockery and demonic furor but it feels modern as Lago carries the experience with their own weighty atmospherics. This, along with Ritual Necromancy and Construct of Lethe are likely not going to get enough love this year, so make an effort and don’t miss any of them.


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Artist Jyotisavedanga
Title [Type] Thermogravimetry Warp Continuum [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Could you ever have guessed I might be recommending what is basically a science fiction-themed, cavernous-assed war metal album built upon harsh psychedelic experimental noise? Yeah dude, I dunno it hit me like a ton of bricks though. I mean it has a member of the underrated SS-18 and their sound has even more atmosphere than Genocide Shrines but I’m pretty new to appreciating higher ratios of noise in extreme metal. It is definitely one of those ‘cut yourself to feel something’ kind of deals but not at all literally. I still can’t listen to Gnaw Their Tongues but Jyotisavedanga builds a bridge between the harsh ear-rape of Tetragrammacide and groups like Antediluvian for me that feels comfortable, vacuous, and ultimately very satisfying in atmosphere. It has no chance of outmoding easier to swallow stuff like Golgothan Remains but perhaps ‘Thermogravimetry Warp Continuum’ belongs in it’s own entirely different category.


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Artist The Konsortium
Title [Type] Rogaland [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

‘Rogaland’ is an album that deserves a lot of hype but received very little outside of it’s primary markets. I saw a ton of very low ratings for it after release and not a lot of very serious or interested reviews since. The Konsortium might initially appear as an answer to modern Enslaved but their pedigree and original, less-serious sound (think Sarke) on their 2011 debut is taken to an incredible next level of ‘Rogaland’. This band features Teloch who is best known for his work on Mayhem‘s ‘Esoteric Warfare’ and Nidingr. He is an incredible guitarist and his tone and style elevate this progressive and prideful album to it’s full ambitions. It is a dance of Norwegian black metal styles not unlike the myriad insanity of Urarv but with the production value of modern Taake or Vreid. It is the sort of record I suppose I have more enthusiasm for than most, but I would suggest at least giving it a try, especially if you felt their 2011 album was cheese.


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Artist Abstracter
Title [Type] Cinereous Incarnate [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Abstracter have created an ocean of firestorm-plagued oil that suffocates the spirit on their third full-length. It surprises with deeper blackened tones and only hints of their original atmospheric sludge style, but decimates all things past with bellows of atmospheric death metal and funereal dirges that left me flattened. Experimental noise heads to begin with, they’ve employed new and former collaborators in members of Only Now and Sutekh Hexen as incredible atmospheric adornment worthy of the classics of funeral doom. I find it incredible that the darkest music of the year so far has come largely in the middle of the summer and frankly there is even more coming in the next couple of months. It shouldn’t lessen the impact of Abstracter‘s contribution, but I do feel like this is the sort of album that will get lost in the shuffle. Plus hey, I don’t think I’ll ever see another review where I namedrop Agrimonia and Disembowelment in the same paragraph.


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Artist Battleroar
Title [Type] Codex Epicus [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

This epic heavy metal band from Greece has a long history and pretty solid discography that mixes elements of classic 80’s power metal with epic heavy metal. Their epic metal influences conjure a sound similar to a lot of modern Italian bands as they take great inspiration from the masters Manilla Road. On this album Mark Shelton even co-writes and performs vocals on a song that comes close to overshadowing some of the other tracks. The band has featured Gerrit Mutz (Dawn of Winter, Sacred Steel) on vocals for two albums now and he’s been able to differentiate his diction away from greater resemblance of Sacred Steel on this album, I love his style on this record and he really carries it’s epic sense of storytelling. ‘Codex Epicus’ doesn’t outshine Gatekeeper‘s debut earlier this year but it does offer a different take on epic metal that stands out in 2018. It is great to see this band return with a solid record after many line-up changes and some amount of identity crisis.


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Artist Throneum
Title [Type] The Tight Deathrope Act Over Rubicon [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Considering their straight-forward and generally raw, underground obsessed sound I did not expect Throneum‘s eighth album to be as adventurous as it is. Their usual style is a slurry of blackened death/thrash that takes guitar technique from Sabbat, early Merciless, and Order From Chaos. For the curiously titled ‘The Tight Deathrope Act Over Rubicon’ these Polish lifers have extended themselves into the realm of old school progressive thrash and death metal. Their references are brilliantly obscure and this means atmospheric influence from early Abruptum, riffs and progressions from Mekong Delta, and the grinding crawling wreck of Carbonized.

It isn’t an experience of precision but rather a series of movements akin to the most ugly of progressive thrash structures. This ends up resembling albums like Execration‘s ‘Morbid Dimensions’ as much as it does Order From Chaos‘ ‘Stillbirth Machine’. This one really surprised me and I didn’t necessarily think it would be anything new, not because I have no faith in Throneum but because they historically and expressly have stated they will never reinvent the wheel. I love that they’ve made a truly weird and different death metal record and have to commend the results.


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Artist Burial in the Sky
Title [Type] Creatio et Hominus [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] Click Here to read my REVIEW

Young and talented as Burial in the Sky are they’ve tapped into a more soulful, rhythmic form of progressive death metal that is accessible but never sterilized. Whether you discovered them through Rivers of Nihil comparisons, or perhaps more apt comparisons to the adventures of Inanimate Existence and Fallujah, you likely discovered music that at least pretends to explore some sort of wider appeal and personal enlightenment. That is par for the course of prog death since Death and Cynic but ‘Creatio et Hominus’ offers something that escapes the frenetic anxiety of tech death entirely. This alone makes it a special record, though it doesn’t top what Sutrah did last year it does belong within earshot of their mention. Also, I just kinda love that album artwork.


Honorable mentions [Click/Tap to Read Reviews]

Did I miss your favorite metal/rock album released in June? 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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