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

Here I present a grip of the most essential metal-related releases from the month of July 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.

July reviews still in progress: Into the Cave, Glanville, With the End in Mind, Not My Master, Secret Cutter, Blasphemy [rehearsal], Witchkiss, Dygora, Pa Vesh En, Isdal, Temple Desecration, No Gods, Mordant Rapture, Graven Maul, Destroyer Attack, Fedag Den 13e, Arcticcircle, Survival, Sahon, Vanhavd, Her Despair, Finnr’s Cane, Wolfblood, Parius, Creatures, Carnal Decay, Aprthiva Raktadhara, Nagaarum, Weed Demon, Outline, Albionic Hermeticism, Black Howling, Flood Peak, Decline of the I, Traveler/Coronary split, Lower Automation, Degrave, Saint Karloff, Axis of Despair, Ritual Aesthetic, Shed the Skin, Woebegone Obscured, Cancer (Aus), Cinzas, Bastian, The Last Crime, Witchgoat, Paganland, Skeletonwitch, Churchburn, Craft and a few split releases. Most or all of these band’s current releases will still be reviewed post-July. July saw some small focus on lists with several more in the works for August. Ten From the Tomb has been really fun and a reasonable, hopefully respectful, way to quickly talk about some overlooked releases. I’ll also make an effort to get back on the ‘An Exhaustive Study’ session train in August, but I was not able to make time in July. I would like to take a moment to express grief for the loss of two musicians with endless passion for heavy music, Stefan Pettersson (Usurpress) and Mark Shelton (Manilla Road), who both inspired me for the last decade and will from beyond.

It was an interesting month for me as some of my longtime favorites in death metal came out with long anticipated releases alongside some surprisingly good thrash variants and several sharp-as-knives debuts. July’s list will again include a fair amount of death metal because the releases have been consistently good in the genre this year with July as no exception. What I am realizing lately is that I gravitate towards a ‘sure thing’ more often than I challenge myself with certain styles of music, so I will start to consciously correct that in the coming months. 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 Burial Invocation
Title [Type] Abiogenesis [Full-length]
 Rating [4.5/5.0] CLICK HERE to read my REVIEW

Progressive, brutal, cumulative, and dignified in their return after a decade’s work Turkish death metal project Burial Invocation relight the pyres of death metal’s past while translating their own vision into modern times. Four extended 9-12 minute songs usher in a stream of death metal consciousness both ripping and philosophically driven. ‘Abiogenesis’ is almost too much to take in and appreciate as each track’s daunting length requires some greater attention span. This might suggest that you’re getting overblown, falsely dramatic modern atmosphere but in reality Burial Invocation still represent a cloister of ideas spun from a love of Gorguts, Death, Incantation, and Amorphis with a path carved neatly connecting each band’s multiple old school innovations. I might not find this album eternally memorable, nor did my review do it as much justice as Last Rites review did in explaining style, but it has endured in my rotation throughout July because there is much to glean from it’s ranting, brutal arc.


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Artist Drawn and Quartered
Title [Type] The One Who Lurks [Full-length]
Rating [4.5/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Ah, Drawn and Quartered, -the- death metal band that helped carry my interest in all things death metal through the early 2000’s when I was sure brutal death metal would depopulate all of my metal loving peers who couldn’t stomach the grating sounds of then modern death. ‘The One Who Lurks’ is par for the course from a band that has been incredibly consistent and occasionally classic since their inception in 1993. In some ways it is as traditional as can be in terms of lyrics and imagery that’d fit in back in the early days of Cannibal Corpse along with a sound that has always pushed it’s way as a buffer between NYDM like Immolation and Incantation as well as influences from brutal death and black metal. It is atmospheric in the sense that it crawls like a beast and scrapes at the walls like imminent death. I am biased in this case, though, as I’ve been a fan of this band since their early records and I consider their music a gold standard for a certain era of death metal.


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Artist Runemagick
Title [Type] Evoked From Abysmal Sleep [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Another band reappearing after a long hiatus, this time a full decade, and shows up largely unscathed but with a new ear for death/doom. Runemagick are one of the most interesting bands to come from the Gothenburg scene in that early members were involved in Dissection, Death Breath, Deathwitch, Sacramentum, and several other bands before the band would start their run of roughly twelve full-lengths as a mix of melodic black/death metal and Bolt Thrower riffs. From there the project mutated towards death/doom and then again towards ominously wandering death/doom with a clear Electric Wizard style glint in their eyes. Ten years after their 11th album and coming hot off of a string of impressive work as Heavydeath, Runemagick offer something uniquely rhythmic to the world of modern death/doom metal. I know this band’s discography and history inside and out and have some extra excitement for ‘Evoked From Abysmal Sleep’ because of years of dedication to their output. It is surprisingly good, considering how much time Rudolfsson puts into other bands Saltas, Necrocurse, and Heavydeath. If you’re still not sure what to expect, think along the lines of Druid Lord and Hooded Menace.


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Artist Imperial Triumphant
Title [Type] Vile Luxury [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

This band caught my attention off the back of discovering Pyrrhon due to shared members at the time and ‘Abyssal Gods’ was perhaps a still gestating form now that I’ve analysed ‘Vile Luxury’. After listening to it for the past month considering every angle of Imperial Triumphant‘s symphonic free-jazz black metal bulges and tech-death-like whirlwind guitar work. It reeks of the innovative Brooklyn, New York black metal scene but freakishly caked with rotten garbage, gravel and a wet puddle of anxiety reflecting the broken neon lights of the city. Not only is there some joy in puzzling through a complex, cinematic album like ‘Vile Luxury’ but it leaves a lovely impression if just left to play and do it’s own thing. The fusion of stark math-metal influence with extreme metal might appear to have weak legs, but bands like Imperial Triumphant already show immense stamina. If the project pushed the limits before, here they’ve pulled back and written digestibly cryptic music that provides a journey that feels very human.


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Artist Hellish
Title [Type] The Spectre of Lonely Souls [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Unspeakable Axe Records have invaded the summer months with a powerful string of releases that lead with a heavy dose of thrashing madness. The most striking from July comes from Chile, a place where they must teach how to ‘old school thrash’ in public schools. Hellish have been around for a decade and from the start they used a heavy German speed metal influence and a sound akin to early Toxic Holocaust. From there they’ve come a long way in forming their own distinct sound beyond their first full-length, this follow-up ‘The Spectre of Lonely Souls’ their sound is bursting with blackened thrash metal energy and just stacks of big riffs that go beyond the imitations of genre classics they’d relied upon for earlier releases. This is Hellish‘s own sound and though black/thrash might be highly in fashion all over the world, nobody quite lands in the same tent as these guys.


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Artist Mutilation Rites
Title [Type] Chasm [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

So, you’re telling me a rough-fuckin’ modern black n’ roll band that came from the Fenriz inspired new wave of blackened extreme heavy metal blah-blah put out a solid, mystifying and esoterically satisfying old school death metal record full of black metal riffs… and it’s really good? Yep. In fact these are literally the riffs of the month. The kind of guitar work that doesn’t just snake in your butt like a pop song, but the kind of riff that nails itself in the mind and lays it’s eggs. I found myself walking around Seattle’s concrete hills -feeling- some of these riffs work their way through my brain; All of this despite clogging my mind with a hundred other albums this month. ‘Chasm’ actually has the goods. I shouldn’t be reductive and downplay their previous output, particularly their second full-length which is good in it’s own right… but I was surprised and delighted by Mutilation Rites on this album. It fit me like a glove.


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Artist Atavisma
Title [Type] The Chthonic Rituals [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

French death/doom metal band Atavisma have clearly worked hard in preparation for their debut full-length and ‘The Chthonic Rituals’ is one step beyond their love for Finnish death a la early Amorphis and the crawling animosity of early Incantation. Like Krypts, Symptom and Vastum before them Atavisma have worthwhile contribution to make to a relatively well trodden sub-genre of death metal and they do so with pride for it’s past. This mix of new ideas and traditional sounds is was equally alluring as Burial Invocation‘s full-length this month in terms of ‘new old school death metal’ that doesn’t really concern itself with hipster trend. I have to give some credit to Memento Mori for releasing a string of impressive underground death metal releases this year without the need for hype.


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Artist Gravewards
Title [Type] Ruinous Ensoulment [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Greek death metal trio Gravewards are out of control good. Yes, the vocals are straightforward death/thrash and sure much of the album is a brutal onslaught of riffs that vary from death metal’s heaviest to thrash metal’s mild complexity but that is the beauty of ‘Ruinous Ensoulment’. The first two bands that come to mind as a death/thrash fanboy were Cancer (UK) and Chemical Breath, each took some influence from classic thrash metal and Florida’s death metal scene and translated their own brutal vision through an array of death/thrash releases. That isn’t the full story though as there are moments that remind me of Bolt Thrower, Armoured Angel, and even Gorefest overall. But if you set aside my weird ass need to associate the old with the new, ‘Ruinous Ensoulment’ is still a solid mash of thrash metal and the ‘old school’ brutality of fellow Greeks Resurgency. It isn’t a hugely memorable listen and they’ve got a ways to go in terms of creating more than just one mood, but for this type of death metal none of that really matters so much as how hard Gravewards hits each time I listen.


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Artist Black Space Riders
Title [Type] Amoretum Vol. 2 [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Hmm, a well-meaning progressive/space/stoner/modern rock record with love as a major theme in the middle of all of these putrid, nihilistic extreme metal albums? Yeah, actually I really enjoy this band’s ‘all in’ approach to songwriting as there is no fear or self-consciousness felt in the exploration within ‘Amoretum Vol. 1 & 2’. It is a refreshing experience that takes several unexpected turns on it’s second volume. A double album in and of itself the nearly 70 minute ‘part two’ of Amoretum is less a melange of random odds-and-ends and thankfully harbors just as much strong material as the first volume. The main difference is felt in that previously mentioned freedom of expression where Black Space Riders dip into many genres for style and are driven by hooks, their own distinct musical personality, and a sincere message.


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Artist Zombiefication
Title [Type] Below the Grief [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Taking a bold turn away from their already impressive old school death metal discography, and stretching beyond the already admirable ‘Procession Through Infestation’. It hits like a death/thrash record, floods with the ominous psychedelia of modern death metal, and toys with the malleable art of black metal riffing all without losing their own sound. Yes, it is a far leap from their doomed God Macabre-meets-Nirvana 2002 buzzsaw attack but this new sound is just as polished, and even more interesting if you’re looking for more than plain Swedeath worship. It is a bold step to take when extreme metal fans typically become very dedicated to a band’s original sound, but in this case I think ‘Below the Grief’ shows two very capable songwriters finding their own sound.


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Artist Invocation Spells
Title [Type] Spread Cruelty in the Abyss [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Another distinct and ripping blackened thrash metal band from Chile that is on a warpath. Four years and four albums has found Invocation Spells landing upon their own niche with their third album ‘The Flame of Hate’ and now on thier fourth the band have further refined their thrash attack. Remember the reckless Darkthrone-muddled abandon of early Aura Noir? Invocation Spells have that crazed mush of blackened hysteria down pat and they serve it with razor sharp bursts of thrash a la early Nifelheim. My review really focused on how they nail the attack of thrash and embody what made German satanic speed metal so special from it’s inception. If a bunch of ripping thrash riffs and a cacophony of acceptably reverberating blackness isn’t enough to have you jumping out of your chair and cursing the supposed creator through the wall, maybe you’re not into thrash like I am.


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Artist Oxygen Destroyer
Title [Type] Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

I’ve been frickin’ salty asking for damn thrash metal for months and finally July was the first friggin’ month to really bring some hefty thrash metal monsters to my dinner table. Oxygen Destroyer don’t fully have their own sound yet and that isn’t a big deal in the realm of death/thrash as few bands take such sharp notes from the likes of early Vader and Demolition Hammer the way these Seattle based guys do. “If you like those bands, you’ll like this…” is phrasal comfort food for thrash metal kids and I’m on board for it. I get how the whole Kaiju thing is at least cooler than Slugdge‘s dumb slug thing and it helps that these guys are pretty awesome for just showing up to the death/thrash party with some solid influences and a passion to learn and improve over time. They’re on a great trajectory and deserve some hype.


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Artist Khôrada
Title [Type] Salt [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

Another surprise for me as I’m not really a big fan of Agalloch or Giant Squid but I found myself drawn back to this album for it’s strange mix of post-everything/atmospheric sludge and just generally high artistry. You know I really just wanted to throw Extremity‘s album up here, because it rips shit up (same drummer, even) but honestly this god a good 20+ spins from me this month. Is it going to hold up all year and change my life? Nah, but I can’t deny that listening to it has me reaching for old Killing Joke, Killdozer and Neurosis records hoping to keep the party going.


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Artist Cemetery Lust
Title [Type] Rotting in Piss [Full-length]
 Rating [X.X/5.0] REVIEW coming SOON!

What are my favorite records of all time in metal? Look, I could go on for hours about what a shitty question that is in terms of needing to sum up my love for a hundred incredible sub-genres etc. But straight up I love death/thrash and that began with discovering Possessed ‘Seven Churches’, Sepultura ‘Schizophrenia’ and Terrorizer ‘World Downfall’. They aren’t the be-all-end-all in music but when I hear an album like ‘Rotting in Piss’ from Cemetery Lust, (which is comparable to early (Abomination/Death Strike) every endorphin my brain can muster jumps into action as it plays. Garage shaking sound, snarling shouts from an insane mind, and a barrage of riffs all lead this old school death/thrash attack down a spiral of foot-licking, horn-rimming depravity. The dumbest, biggest part of my brain loves this stuff and I’ve found it to be one of the best jams of the month by far.


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Artist Tunjum
Title [Type] Deidades del Inframundo [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click Here to read my REVIEW

One of the more memorable death metal albums from July was this debut full-length from Tunjum. With ancient Peruvian culture as their guiding mythos and theme Tunjum represent a barreling mix of the early black/death native to South America, some Bolt Thrower-esque guitar work, and the old school death/doom traditions of the United States. With these influences they create their own rhythmically intoxicating hammer of mid-paced death metal as savage as it is sophisticated. Much like Gravewards they create their own sound with various influence but they don’t really get adventurous with it as much as they find a nice set of variations within a theme. Runners-up for this last spot was between Faithxtractor, Engulf, Extremity, and the latest Immortal. All strong material equally worth hearing.


Honorable mentions [Click/Tap to Read Reviews]

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