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

Here I present a grip of the most essential metal-related releases from the month of September 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 the lasting value 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 monthly feature I’m focusing on records I either 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 September, this month’s to-do list is still daunting.

September reviews still in progress: Attan, The Crotals, Arabrot, Kingcrow, Bestra, The Primals, Saddayah, Conaxia, Common Eider King Eider, Trash Deity, Teksti-TV 666, Flummox, La Chinga, Blasphemy, Phobos, Goat Sperm, Aeolian, Xalpen, Astor Voltares, Future Usses, Witch King, Infernal Coil, An Autumn For Crippled Children, Osmium Guillotine, Horsewhip, Anisoptera, Ominous Eclipse, Crucible of Hate, Technical Damage, Dalkhu, Lost Tribes of the Moon, Superfjord, Bangladeafy, Gnosis, Juicer, Perpetuum Mobile, Wytch Hazel, Cosmic Void Ritual, Yylva, Hermodr, Runeshard, Daagh, Mourning by Morning, Graveborne, Spectrum Mortis, Mystagos, Qayin Regis, Ossuary Anex, Empty, Ambassador, Black Funeral, Sunflo’er, Dakhma, Prophetic Scourge, To End it All, Death Worship, Asylum, Immortal Guardian, Morte Incandescente, Asbest, Paranoid, Helrunar, Terror, Pillars, A Forest of Stars, This Will Destroy You, Forcefed Horsehead, Darkenhold (Reissue), The Projectionist and a few split releases. Most all of these band’s current releases will still be reviewed post-September in some form, first priority goes to (current drafts of) Mystagos, Valdrin, Bonehunter, Blood of Serpents, Besra, Akula, Psychotomy and Mirrors For Psychic Warfare coming in the next 2-3 weeks.

September was really just all about keeping the momentum going as the end of the year approaches. I have a few lists in the works for the remainder of the year, much like last year where I made 20 item lists focusing on ‘underground’ releases within specific sub-genres; The main difference this year is that I will be pulling from a backlog of promos and releases that haven’t been reviewed yet. The sub-genres covered will again include: Thrash, Death, Black, and Doom for metal sub-genres. I was going to dice it down to include sub-sub-genres but it’d make for less variety and would stretch out into too many mediocre releases. 2-3 additional lists will include Noise Rock, Experimental/Avant-garde music, and possibly instrumental/non-vocal artistsTen From the Tomb has been fun. It will continue to evolve and will now start to focus on releases from the previous or current month and won’t necessarily have a theme every time; The experience is almost more interesting when drawing the albums at random. Part VIII of ‘An Exhaustive Study: Melodic Black Metal (1991-Present)‘ is in the works. It will likely be the last entry in the series for 2018, it will cover ’06-’07.

It was an incredible month for music and I am still in the process of digesting the month’s biggest releases. I know I missed a few really great records and unfortunately I can only personally absorb a certain amount of meaning and interest within the space of a month. September’s list is less eclectic than August because when faced with some of my most anticipated releases of the year I can’t help but show major leanings towards esoteric death metal, traditional heavy metal, and extreme doom metal. I would like to have represented black metal a bit more but, there will be further opportunities across the next two months. October is incredibly packed with releases, to the point where I’ll almost have to do 4-5 reviews per day to keep up with the absolute best releases. 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.

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Artist Sepulcher
Title [Type] Panoptic Horror [Full-length]
 Rating [5.0/5.0] CLICK HERE to read my REVIEW

Norwegian psychedelia-laced death/thrash band Sepulcher crafted a modern day classic with their second full-length in vaulting off of the grizzled black/thrashing whirlwind of their debut and injecting a bit more of the psych-prog death metal influences that Execration, Morbus Chron and Obliteration have made a big deal. I felt this release was remarkable for the clear love for old school thrash metal, modern death metal, and remain incredibly impressed at both the production value and songwriting of ‘Panoptic Horror’. I have been tormented by the prospect of picking a Top 50 albums of 2018 thanks to the sudden appearance of this alongside Horrendous, Satan, and the announcement of a new Obliteration record as well because it’ll be next to impossible to be satisfied with the arrangement of any Top 10 that I manage. For what it is worth, this is one of the strongest contenders for the top spot of 2018.


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Artist Satan
Title [Type] Cruel Magic [Full-length]
Rating [5.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

My affinity and high scoring review for Satan’s latest album comes from years of fandom and idolatry. As enthusiastic as folks are about bands like Iron Maiden, I am equally enthused by the legacy of these musicians through many names and many projects (Blitzkrieg, Skyclad, Pariah, Blind Fury, etc.) their distinct talents for both heavy metal riffs and soaring melodies is unchallenged by any and all of their old early 80’s contemporaries. On ‘Cruel Magic’ the band take more than a few moments of reflection as they slow the pace, at least compared to their previous two ‘comeback’ records, and write an appropriately sour opus for trouble times. It is some of Brian Ross‘ best work to date and that is saying a lot considering the many true classics of heavy metal he has been involved in. I am a bit biased as a long-time fan, even decades before the reformation under the Satan name, but I think most folks will still be impressed by their classic NWOBHM melodic sensibilities and still-effective influential guitar work.


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Artist Horrendous
Title [Type] Idol [Full-length]
 Rating [4.75/5.0] Click HERE to Read my REVIEW

Although it needs more time to sink in, seeing Horrendous take their time (nearly three years) to painstakingly create their ‘Unquestionable Presence’ moment is truly inspiring. Their death metal ambitions reach as far into old school progressive death metal coffers as they can without becoming a jittery tech-death group or Cynic-esque fluff; ‘Idol’ is impressively organic and stark, it feels like a monumental progression but they still believably resemble the same band that released ‘The Chills’ back in 2012. ‘Idol’ makes up for some of the slightly overreaching moments of ‘Anareta’ and brings in some of gruff miasma of ‘Ecdysis’. If I did not have so much music to cover over the next 8 weeks, I would honestly spend the entirety of October listening to this and Tomb Mold on alternate while I try to 100% Hollow Knight. Both albums will be in my top 10 for the year.


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Artist Scorched
Title [Type] Ecliptic Butchery [Full-length]
 Rating [4.5/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

To finally get that ‘big’ album from Scorched three years after discovering their first demo through Unspeakable Axe Records is damn exciting and although I think I kinda bad-mouthed ‘Echoes of Dismemberment’ too much in my review, this is just leagues better. From the incredible artwork to the teeth-gnashing horror inspired death metal within, ‘Ecliptic Butchery’ makes clear the value of old school brutality within modern death metal’s high-character, high-fidelity world of balance. Much like early Broken Hope and Rottrevore, the riffs carry the experience with brutality held high but Scorched elevate those snappy rhythms with their death/thrash and sci-fi/horror atmospherics. With this the tenth of twelve great releases for 20 Buck Spin this year everyone will soon be gushing over how incredible a feat 2018 has been for the label, despite relocating across country, and Scorched is no small part of this greater success.


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Artist Pantheïst
Title [Type] Seeking Infinity [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Another band I’ve gone ape for over the years returns with their funeral death/doom sound revived beyond the progressive doom metal of their two records previous. ‘Seeking Infinity’ makes it on my list for reasons other than nepotism or nostalgia, though. The high-concept science fiction theme and hefty death/doom metal sound offer a new beginning for Panagiotou’s vision with a fully restaffed line-up and a modest budget. The result is satisfying in both texture and resonance as Pantheïst calls back to their first album while still being somewhat cumulative of the progression since. Between this album, Ennui, Sektarism, and Un‘s latest it was an incredible month for funeral doom related projects.


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Artist Malthusian
Title [Type] Across Deaths [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

Irish atmospheric blackened death metal project Malthusian have finally realized their hazy psychotropic vision of brutal surrealism with ‘Across Deaths’, a sunless chasm of serpentine riff and hammer alike. Their collective past/present in extreme doom metal projects seem to inform the arc of this debut more than expected with a sound and approach that is as related to Grave Upheaval‘s recent echoes as it is Mitochondrian. The album is dense and nearly sludge-like in its staggering rhythms. I found ‘Across Deaths’ grew on me more and more with every listen, even beyond the point of review and was easily one of my favorite records of September.


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Artist Morne
Title [Type] To the Night Unknown [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Morne‘s fourth full-length is unsurprisingly the heaviest and most professional modern doom metal album of the month and one of the strongest of the year. It is depression, regret, isolation, frustration and remorse embodied in earnest through extreme doom metal tones. It is a further extension of the sound established on their last two albums that moved fully away from their crust punk influenced sound (the band features a key member of Filth of Mankind) towards a sludge/doom combination that begins to equal the heaviness of melodic death/doom metal. I don’t think a fan of modern doom metal, with no interest in retro-taunting elements, can do better than ‘To the Night Unknown’ this year and atmospheric sludge metal fans should find a lot to like, as well.


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Artist Furze
Title [Type] The Presence… [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Discovering Norwegian black metal/traditional doom metal project Furze last month, and subsequently spending countless hours rooting through his full discography, has offered one of the most redeeming surprises of the last several weeks. Every release offers something unexpected, something bravely experimental and all in good taste. To have been inspired by Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Hellhammer, Bathory, Barathrum is a personal success but to draw a line between them all in creating a style of psychedelic, doom riffing, speed metal conscious blackened horror is worthy of some great praise. A lot of my excitement comes from the bulk of Furze‘s discography as a discovery, but ‘The Presence…’ is all the more special when viewed within the progression of that discography. In speeding up on the last two albums beyond his most psychedelic and doom fueled era, a sort of ‘old school’ analog feeling grit ended up making it on my daily rotation for several weeks before I had to move on to other things. ‘The Presence…’ makes it on this list because it has retained value well beyond 15-20 full listens, casual or focused.


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

Binah might be a studio-only project but in 2018 this is not an anomaly and their music is no less serious or professional. ‘Phobiate’ is so successfully dynamic and intricately achieved that it began to grow as an entity in my mind almost immediately, a dark beast of Swedish death metal guitar growls that extrudes a sort of amalgam of Tiamat‘s first three records with moods that shift from Autopsy slapping, Nirvana 2002‘s grinding chasmic hits, all the way towards a God Macabre-like sorrow. There is a gorgeous duality of gripping death and atmospheric bewilderment running throughout the tracklist and I found myself still coming back to ‘Phobiate’ for the experience. I suppose every year there is a record using a maxed Boss HM-2 that really hits me hard, and this one is up there at the top so far next to Ripped to Shreds and Angerot.


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Artist Electric Citizen
Title [Type] Helltown [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Call it heavy rock, hard rock, heavy psych, or what you will Electric Citizen have put out one of the prettiest looking and most seriously banging ‘almost-heavy metal’ records of 2018 with their third full-length ‘Helltown’. Not only is the album art the sort of thing I’d hang in my office but ‘Helltown’ takes this Cincinnati, Ohio quartet to another level with a more urgent sound that crosses wires between ‘Vol. 4’ era Sabbath and frickin’ Joan Jett. A band like this needs a strong vocal personality up front and Laura Dolan has this stoned, oozing-snarl about her that is engaging but never forced like so many similar projects and this is accentuated by a sharp-assed set of tracks that feel as much like Psychedelic Witchcraft as they do Kadavar or Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats. I wasn’t expecting much, and it isn’t mind-blowing in terms of style, but I was so impressed by the entire package and the improvements Electric Citizen have made across their discography thus far.


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Artist Prezir
Title [Type] As Rats Devour Lions [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

This Wisconsin based black/death metal band offer a storm of riffs on their debut full-length ‘As Rats Devour Lions’. This is the sort of album I’d buy just for the guitar performances alone as they find connections between Dawn, Emperor and Grand Belial’s Key while incorporating a Nile or Angelcorpse kinda vibe when things lean into death metal. Of the many projects these guys come from, I think they’ve hit upon something special in collaboration and the overall ‘tightness’ of their performances and songwriting sees great improvement since their ‘Contempt’ EP back in 2017. It takes pretty standout riff-craft to get me to repeatedly dig into a black/death metal record and I can fully get behind the these guys in that respect. There is something to be said about the lyrical themes as I admire the eye set upon false saviors, revisionist history, and the ability of absolutely shit people to lead idiots towards dishonest revolt and charlatan revolution.


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

Not a year goes by where RidingEasy Records doesn’t impress me with their selection of artists and many of them have been releasing immaculate full-lengths and follow-ups that showcase impressive growth while retaining retro-rock specificity. Norwegian fellows Dunbarrow aim for that sort of ‘proto-metal’ era of hard rock in ’68-’73 and hit that bulls-eye again on their second album. It will surely appeal to folks who already love Witchcraft, Witchfinder General, Demon Head, Pentagram, Demon’s Eye etc. but I would suggest that the songwriting here is almost intensely personal in their examination of love’s tension, throes, and effects. It feels warm in statement and yet ‘occult rock’ in sound and I found it alluring to no end. With no derision of Dunbarrow‘s first album I feel like I can’t overstate the improved performance and presence of the vocalist on this second album, it ‘makes’ the experience and this personal stroke helped make this one of the best albums of September.


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Artist All My Sins
Title [Type] Pra Sila – Vukov Totem [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

Serbia is a land holding the Wolf up high as both a old spiritual guide and a representation of the people’s resilience, as such that symbolism persists through art, politics and history. This totem of the wolf, ‘Pra Sila – Vukov Totem’ is a gift to pagan black metal and melodic black metal alike as All My Sins‘ debut centers around their nation’s ancient spirituality on the heels of their brilliant ‘Lunar / Solar’ EP from 2018. It should be no surprise that I am a huge fans of this work as it features the guitarist from Kawir‘s ‘Isotheos’ employing some of the same approach with a fair amount of melodic black metal to add to the atmosphere of the record. I described it as an interconnection between Sorhin and early Kampfar in approximating All My Sins‘ sound. I had no expectations for this album but it turned out to be a nice surprise as this melodic pagan black metal sound is exactly my sort of thing.


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Artist Hessian
Title [Type] Mercenary Retrograde [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

I’ll be totally honest in saying that when Hessian‘s first album came out it was shockingly unpalatable and the prospect of a second album was not up there in terms of my own priorities. Yet with a full restaffing and an almost entirely new focus ‘Mercenary Retrograde’ finds Angus McFarland showing some true genius on his second crack at Hessian. Staggering out of a pub and eating a bag of psilocybe cubensis ‘Mercenary Retrograde’ is strangely memorable as this lovechild of Sir Lord Baltimore, punchy post-punk, and Slough Feg (or older Clutch, even). The album has a distinct sound with a big loud boppin’ bass sound on mostly uptempo heavy rock songs. I’d been expecting the sort of janky speed metal of their earlier work but this one really has the 80’s rock trend on point.


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Artist Un
Title [Type] Sentiment [Full-length]
 Rating [4.5/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

The way I see Seattle, Washington funeral death/doom metal band Un is the sort of reasonable spawn of bands like Mournful Congregation and Evoken, somewhat along the lines of Lycus, Ahab, and Bell Witch but with a bit of early Pallbearer in there to warm things up. ‘The Tomb of All Things’ was severely underrated and I believe ‘Sentiment’ will make up for this in droves. I didn’t expect this to overtake my obsession with Ennui (who could just as easily had this spot) and admittedly they are two very different things, but this is hands down one of the best funeral doom records of the year. I’m tentative to prattle on about it because I’ve not had enough time with the record to really see how it holds up but, goddamn this thing is massive and so gorgeously ‘present’.


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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