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

Here I present a grip of the most essential metal-related releases from the month of August 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: Kobold, Moenen of Xezbeth, Siege Column, Abhorrent Deformity, Tuscoma, Halcyon Way, Stormland, Abigail, Transient w/Bastard Noise, Tongue Eating Louse, Gloam, Obscure Evil, Pyreficativm, Private Life, Spacetrucker, Tile, Act of Impalement, Kill Everything, A Dying Planet, Tymo, Wild, Lord, Night Club, Exhalants, Devil’s Teeth, Esoteric, Jesus Piece, Subtype Zero, Farooq, Sarcofago, Defecal of Gerbe, Opprobrium, Wheel in the Sky, Tornado, Descent, Throat, Krakow, The Secret, Kvlt of Eblis, Ghost World and a few split releases. Most or all of these band’s current releases will still be reviewed post-August. August saw some small focus on lists with several more in the works for the remainder of the year, as the end approaches. Ten From the Tomb has been really fun and a reasonable, hopefully respectful, way to quickly talk about some overlooked releases. An ‘An Exhaustive Study’ session will be released imminently, as well. I would like to take a moment to express grief for the loss of musician Timo Knopf (Eternal Dirge) whose heavy and experimental death/thrash metal inspired the underground worldwide for decades and will from beyond.

It was an incredible month for music and I am still reeling from a few massive releases, while rabidly trying to catch up with others. August’s list will focus on being slightly more democratic than July’s death metal stew, but I won’t be placing anything just for the sake of eclectic appearances. I have challenged myself to take a deeper look at both things I instantly like and the music I find equally difficult. So, I’ve actually been more tedious than ever with longer reviews and fewer of them. I will have to speed up as the end of the year approaches and September is incredibly packed with releases, but I have to say it has been worthwhile slow down and really savor the records I’ve chosen to focus on. If you don’t see your favorite album 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!


Artist Mongrel’s Cross
Title [Type] Psalter of the Royal Dragon Court [Full-length]
 Rating [4.5/5.0] CLICK HERE to read my REVIEW

The return of Mongrel’s Cross should be inspiration for the legions of contemporaries with keen enough ears. Their second full-length is the result of taking the necessary time to focus, work hard on their craft, and not simply iterate for the sake of visibility. ‘Psalter of the Royal Dragon Court’ isn’t a ‘hint’ of mutilated influences, nor a bland black/death-by-numbers gasp to stay alive, but a healthy unit collaborating with precision and true love for heavy metal’s underground history and heroics. At least that I what comes across on this meticulously arranged blackened death metal album that focuses on epic heavy metal and Hellenic black metal influences. This is the sort of guitar work that thrills me to no end, I could not put this record down from the moment I received it. I have been singing this band’s praises since 2011 and am grateful for the time I spent with this second album.


Artist Faustcoven
Title [Type] In the Shadow of Doom [Full-length]
Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

I’d actually been collecting my thoughts on this Norwegian black/doom legend’s fourth album for a while thinking it’s official release was August 31st, but hadn’t realized that some formats had released on the last day of July. So, the middle of the two release dates felt like the right time to share my thoughts. This is perhaps a deeper turn towards heavier influence from traditional doom metal riffing for Faustcoven as additional guitar work and an incredible snarling tone make for one of my personal favorite records of the year. Looking back on the project’s discography and seeing the progression towards this point was inspiring in it’s own right but what resonated even more with me was the sense that they’d made this record by their own will, on their own time (much like Mongrel’s Cross did). ‘In the Shadow of Doom’ is a truly terrifying beast as it stomps and growls through what I consider some of the best guitar work of the year thus far, simple yet effective heaviness placed with intent and feeling is a rare ‘old school’ sort of coffin spirited thing and I appreciated the album a great deal.


Artist Nachash
Title [Type] Phantasmal Triunity [Full-length]
 Rating [4.75/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

The only major struggle I feel in keeping up with such a high volume of music is consistently feeling self-conscious about being swept up in hype and excitement for a new record by my favorite band. The struggle isn’t from feeling foolish about effective marketing and word-of-mouth discussions but from wondering why enthusiasm is such an issue when thorough review dissolves most hype to a vapor. I cannot help but still be enthusiastic about Norwegian black/death metal band Nachash‘s debut as the trio pulls influence from the heart of black metal’s oldest ways and wrangles that style into today’s wormhole, making it their own burden. It is no secret that I have long been a fanatic of Hellenic and ‘eastern’ European black metal concurrent with the Norse stuff and Nachash almost exclusively avoids the brazen excess of the second wave on ‘Phantasmal Triunity’. I remain but a dancing snake to it’s pungi.


Artist Thou
Title [Type] Magus [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Like so many fans I discovered Thou back in 2014 with ‘Heathen’, an album I am comfortable in calling essential sludge metal listening for both old and new schools. I cannot even begin to talk about ‘Magus’ as it’s own separate entity without acknowledging this ‘year of Thou‘ where they’ve released essentially three mini-albums in different styles and now this massive follow-up to ‘Heathen’ that is the ultimate sludge metal statement for the year. ‘Magus’ is not catharsis to sit and brood your overworked mind over, though you can use it how you see fit, it is quite frankly a call to community and a lifting of the listener’s spirits towards action and reclamation of our humanity. I don’t know that even as a serious fan I’d taken Thou quite as serious as I have been forced to in 2018 and it is at the very least some kind of insistent brilliance. I only wish they’d included some of that Alice in Chains influence felt on ‘Inconsolable’ and ‘Rhea Sylvia’, but I understand the need for separation.


Artist Radiant Knife
Title [Type] Science Fiction [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

There was no doubt that Radiant Knife had the potential for an album like ‘Science Fiction’ but it was no less surprising to actually get such a resonant, evolved piece so soon after their debut. It is an inspired album of progressive and noise rock influenced sludge metal that has a wide appeal that spans from stoner rock heads to downtempo sludge fanatics. There is a certain amount of grit and honesty felt here that comes in earnest, DIY fashion. And this is a big deal to me as they could just as easily sign with a big label and pump out glossy sludge rock considering the skill and experience involved in the making of ‘Science Fiction’. One of the most essential sludge records of the year.


Artist Maligner
Title [Type] Attraction to Annihilation [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

If you’re a death/thrash fanatic and have any salt in discerning the post-melodeath fallout from the genuine old school article I’m guessing the internet has called you an elitist at some point. Don’t worry, I’m a jerk like that too and if folks don’t understand the different value offered between Hypnosia and Legion of the Damned they are hopeless. This is that good stuff, the sort of death/thrash so maniacally fast and ripping that it verges on technical death metal levels of speed and fury. It is the ultimate brutal evolution of thrash metal and thanks to Kreator and Dark Angel influenced bands like Merciless, Massacra, RaptureAgressor, Hypnosia etc. it has thrived for decades underground. So, consider this Maligner debut an ultimate vision of brutally ripping death/thrash thanks to two Chilean musicians who emigrated to Malmö, Sweden. It is a hammer of death/thrash metal and a relentless barrage of high speed riffs.


Artist Haunt
Title [Type] Burst Into Flame [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Having the promo for ‘Burst Into Flame’ a couple months early really provided an appropriate amount of time to soak it up and figure how it’d settle into my mind. This type of heavy metal/hard rock album has a way of staying afloat in my collection for a few weeks then being largely ignored until the end of the year when it is time to reflect. I think the hype wave rode hard over Haunt and largely due to the hype surrounding Church‘s crazy busy release schedule for Beastmaker. Now with an additional month to reflect on the album post-review I have softened on it’s lasting value only slightly and it remains one of the better metal records in the hard rock spectrum this year. What keeps it knocking around my head is largely the guitar work, which is a brilliant speed metallic/NWOBHM influenced matter save for the Thin Lizzy stuff that I’m kinda burnt out on. I might be the only one who hears some Rhoads era Ozzy Osbourne in the guitar work, but it still makes me smile when it hear it.


Artist Witchfyre
Title [Type] Grimorium Verum [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

A traditional heavy metal band that effortlessly spins between Enforcer style speed metal and NWOBHM influenced heavy metal. Witchfyre ends sounding akin to early Trial, Mercyful Fate, and some US 80’s power metal like Riot and Helstar. This is pure and true heavy metal and not a casual hipster take on the style.  Iron Hunter vocalist Emi Ramírez kicks ass on this album incorporating more King Diamond highs than usual and really providing a spirited and charismatic performance. As I said in the review there is a balance here between the hard rocking NWOBHM ‘street metal’ and epic speed metal and that balance is a beautiful thing.


Artist Throat
Title [Type] Bareback [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

Noise rock is one of my favorite sub-genres but it always seems to get pushed to the back of my listening habits each month and August was no different. Between Throat, Tile and Uniform this was a solid month for the genre. This gloomy, initially sluggish album from Finnish rock band Throat veers into what I’d call art-rock territory at times without losing that fiery punkish noise heard on their first album. The first song isn’t exactly Swans but sets a weird fuckin’ pace for a record that picks up fast afterwards. They’re going places, strange places, and I appreciated that I could never predict what they’d do next. Tile‘s ‘Come On Home, Stranger’ album is pretty much just as good, I just haven’t spent as much time with it yet.


Artist Psykopath
Title [Type] Primal Instinct [EP]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

This young Norwegian thrash metal band is directed by a pure classic thrash metal sound and intention. Their style is immediately reminiscent of the German wave of Bay Area influenced thrash metal post-‘Master of Puppets’ but with just a hint of Kreator‘s savagery. The guitar work is impressive in that they’ve captured the intensity and swagger of Artillery‘s finest moments but also hit upon the tighter compositions from Heathen and Forbidden of that same era. Psykopath are onto something here and although I’m not sure where they’ll go with it, remembering how promising groups like Crisix were early on too, but this is a debut EP worth spinning several times if not only for the nostalgia and ripping riffs.


Artist Cemetery Urn
Title [Type] Barbaric Retribution [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Some big changes for Cemetery Urn on their latest record ‘Barbaric Retribution’ which comes surprisingly soon after their last but, what hasn’t changed is their dedication to old school death metal. A new vocalist and a slight return to their less Incantation-styled earlier albums brings what I’d consider their best release to date in terms of sheer impact and repeatability. Guitarist A. Gillon (Abominator, Bestial Warlust) is the star of the show for me, beyond the glass-hoarking vocals of S. Geoffry, and goddamn if he doesn’t outdo their self-titled from 2017 with a more varied and heavy performance. A good recommend for fans of Drawn and Quartered, Funebrarum, etc.


Artist Ill Omen
Title [Type] The Grand Usurper [EP]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

If you see the name Ill Omen and stagger back in fear based on their more recent set of albums exploring combinations of funeral doom and black metal consider that ‘The Grand Usurper’ is a departure towards more traditional speeds of black metal. There is still a menacing, atmospheric stagger to the EP but in a style closer to early The Ruins of Beverast and guitar work that reminds me of the second Burzum album. I am consistently impressed with his work in Temple Nightside and past innovations in Austere, so to have been given the chance to dive deeper into Ill Omen‘s discography was actually more redeeming than I thought and I love the direction of this EP even if it is a diversion and won’t necessarily be reflected on any future full-lengths.


Artist Trappist
Title [Type] Ancient Brewing Tactics [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

A hardcore punk/powerviolence album from Chris Dodge (Spazz, Lack of Interest), Phil Vera (Crom, Despise You) and  Grill ‘Em All co-owner Ryan Harkins. Fast, angry, funny, kinda heavy and kinda dumb. I had a great time listening to this album for a couple of months and the whole shtick of microbrewery elitism in place of straight edge hardcore preachiness was either hilarious, or unintentionally hilarious. Totally one of those albums I buy for the album art and only listen to a few times a year, but still one of the best hardcore punk-related albums I’ve heard this year.


Artist Void Rot
Title [Type] Consumed by Oblivion [EP]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

This debut EP from Minneapolis, Minnesota atmospheric death/doom crew Void Rot is a strong step in the right direction for a promising concept. They’ve found a medium between the more atmospheric side of Krypts and the funereal gloom of Shrine of the Serpent and Convocation. It is a solid death/doom metal effort that should immediately appeal to fans of the style though it doesn’t necessarily out perform it’s peers this year. The EP wasn’t quite ‘there’ for me, they didn’t nail it, but I still feel comfortable recommending it as one of the best releases I’d heard this month.


Artist Gulch
Title [Type] Burning Desire to Draw Last Breath [EP]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

I had some trouble finishing this list because while I liked everything I would have included a great deal… None of them really stuck with me long after the review process. So, looking to the stable of releases I had not yet reviewed this death metal influenced, noisy hardcore punk EP from Gulch was actually one of the few releases I spun fairly regularly despite it not being high in the review queue. At first it just seems like a noisy, harsh, grooving heavy hardcore EP but I was drawn to it’s quick, dense trip. ‘Burning Desire to Draw Last Breath’ offers a quick blast of righteously brutal insanity that sticks around just long enough to whet the ears and leaves just before it starts to piss me off. The perfect house guest, really. Runners-up for this spot would mostly be Crawl, Mutilate, Pando, and Mørketida.

Honorable mentions [Click/Tap to Read Reviews]

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