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

Here I present a grip of the most essential metal-related releases from the month of October 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, but they’ll all still be considered for end of the year lists. So, for this monthly feature I’m focusing on records I either reviewed or spent the most time with, as well as a few releases where the review is still in the draft stage. 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.

October reviews still in progress: Nechochwen, Dissentience, Putrisect, Bloodbath, Silver Talon, Domkraft, Moab, Druj, Apatheia, Gnophos, Void, Unholy Baptism, Holocausto, Mongol, The Exploding Eyes, Minsk/Zatokrev, Sol, Hammer King, Iron Lamb, Holocausto Em Chamas, Skraeckoedlan, Demenseed, Black Mold, Summoning Death, Valkyria, Rodent Epoch, Set and Setting, Northern Crown, Odious Construct, Iskandr, Helsott, Cherubs, Eosphoros, Witches Hammer, Deadly Carnage, Adverso, This Will Destroy You, Greyhawk, Tezcatlipoca, Black Lotus, The Living, Voidhaven, Antiverse, Sundrifter, Negativa, Exxxekutioner, Evil, Kraanium, Skepticism, Ophidian Forest, Vanik, Weltschmerz, Icarus Witch, Sumeru, Serocs, Rising, Aihos, The Order of Apollyon, Lifelost, Ashes Reborn, Kommandant, Trollheim’s Grott, Shallow Grave, Scolex/Mortuous, Rituals and a few split releases. Most all of these band’s current releases will still be reviewed post-October in some form, first priority goes to (current drafts of) Pulverized, Deadpressure, Silver Grime, Domkraft, Moab coming in the next 2-3 weeks.

October was tough because I went on a vacation that threw off the momentum I’d built up heading into the month. I ended up doing a lot more listening than writing with most releases but still managed a handful of priority releases. I have gone against my word in terms of keeping it light and shorter with reviews, now most are climbing up to about 800+ words and I don’t necessarily plan to slow that down. While there were some really heavy hitting death and black metal releases this month you’ll notice I was most impressed by the doom and thrash metal arena overall. Some of the quality stuff I came across and didn’t have time to review will make it into end of the year lists in some form. I could list about ~50 albums from October that deserve high praise and mention, so this list took a while to figure out.

November is incredibly packed with releases but there will be at least one list per week in place of either Ten From the Tomb or any video game blog I had been planning. There will be limited video game coverage (BACKLOG or otherwise) until I finish my ‘Best of 2018’ list for Video Games. 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 House of Atreus
Title [Type] From the Madness of Ixion [Full-length]
 Rating [5.0/5.0] CLICK HERE to read my REVIEW

When I first heard ‘Incorrigible Bigotry’ back in the early 2000’s it was a shocking moment, not for the lyrics or even for the sublime guitar work, but there was a sense of shock in realizing that the underground world of music held so much more cleverness and innovation than I’d realized. It changed the way I approach music in general and opened my mind to the idea that a band might remind you of a hundred other bands but 99% of them have their own soul and something of their own to contribute. So much work goes into heavy metal’s creation that it becomes hard to suffer fools who cannot see past the brim of their own hat; Those who would that hear House of Atreus and say “Arghoslent sounds like that!” and slap their flipper fists down on the table before moving on. The approach is influenced as such for sure, some of their influences and approach are shared even, but House of Atreus put their own mark on melodic ‘epic’ death metal style from the start and do not at any point represent a clone. Rant aside, this is just hands down one of (if not the) strongest death metal records of the year in terms of melodic interest, variety, and riffs. Riffs matter above all else and I’d bet a cowboy’s ass in hell they spent the three years between releases writing all of these grand guitar riffs like their lives depended on it. Death metal so very rarely offers truly high art and in the case of ‘From Madness of Ixion’ that depth runs deeper than the simply headbanging riff-pumped heavy metal record they’ve created. Nothing less than inspirational craft.


Artist Brainoil
Title [Type] Singularity to Extinction [Full-length]
Rating [4.5/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

No doubt that it helps that Brainoil have Greg Wilkinson at the helm 24/7 spinning knobs, playing bass and writing songs but no way in hell was I expecting their typically traditional sludge metal style to transmogrify into a death-grinding sludge horror. There was no way any band was going to shake Thou from my mind this year, yet just a couple of months later ‘Singularity to Extinction’ side-swiped me hard. I mean Deathgrave was pretty hot shit to begin with, tons of groove, wild guitar work and all that but in the past Brainoil hadn’t really done more than slam my Eyehategod g-spot. Now they’re up to some of that too, but at this point they’re neck and neck with Acephalix in terms of rubbing crusted sludge up against the glory of late 80’s/early 90’s death metal of Carcass and Bolt Thrower. ‘Singularity to Extinction’ is raw, exciting, and incredibly heavy beyond expectations and all thanks to the flow-and-seizure of the guitar work; Riffs are as freshly stoned as they are bloodthirsty. I’m still listening to this one long after reviewing it and as I said it’ll be up there in my best of the year for sludge and metal in general.


Artist Sacral Rage
Title [Type] Beyond Celestial Echoes [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to Read my REVIEW

Get about two minutes into this damn thing and you should know what you’ve stumbled upon, at least if you enjoy that late 80’s power/prog-thrash a la Agent Steel, Helstar, and Watchtower. The lazy folks comparing this to King Diamond are just too far out of the loop, there was a huge (impossible to miss) wave of this style of bands up until the mid-90’s that offered highly technical thrash metal with wailing power metal vocalists. Sacral Rage aims for a modernization of the best of the late 80’s. I have been a technical/prog thrash metal fool since first hearing Coroner (well, Helstar‘s ‘Nosferatu’ too) and ‘Beyond Celestial Echoes’ is right up my alley because of it. Beyond whatever nostalgic or emotional connections I could make with Sacral Rage’s style this second full-length from the band is arranged in such a way that it is infinitely listenable, they pour from the speakers as an exhibition of style and storytelling that should at least please classic heavy metal fans, if not riff obsessed thrash heads.


Artist Vanhelgd
Title [Type] Deimos Sanktuarium [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

If ‘Mental Funeral’ wasn’t one of your first loves in death metal we hit a sort of impasse in terms of death metal atmosphere. Vanhelgd come from the same place, hell you could hear some of it in their other projects (Ceremonial Execution, Ocean Chief) and most certainly on their first several full-lengths. But the big turning point in terms of fully saturated, original ‘feel’ came with ‘Relics of Sulphur Salvation’ a fantastic album that they’ve expanded upon with a further rotten, frothy, death/doom sound since. ‘Deimos Sakntuarium’ is at first a ranting narrative, an incantation of doom describing horrors and worshiping the dark, then it suddenly explodes beneath me like a sinkhole into death/doom territory. They’ve certainly been influenced by Hooded Menace at some point but I didn’t pick up on the ‘Lost Paradise’ vibes until ‘Temple of Phobos’ and even then I was still stroking a copy of Autopsy‘s ‘Retribution for the Dead’ in anticipation. Albums like this are porn for old school obsessed death metal fans, or at least should be. If you can’t be bothered by my blubbering then at least listen to the fourth and fifth tracks (in order) and be done with it.


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

If you don’t mind my being uncharacteristically succinct, the re-imagining of Finnish semi-melodic black metal band Sargeist by way of Shatraug‘s acquisition of key Desolate Shrine and Nightbringer members is a gloriously unholy event. ‘Unbound’ is almost too perfect a descriptor for this Mark III version of the project, especially if you’ve followed their work over time. The new vocalist is unhinged and truly damning with his curses, the drumming is urgent and eruptive, it all unbuckles itself like a slightly drunk ‘Storm of the Lights Bane’ at first and then pushes through into greater heights. Sargeist have always captured the simple savagery of second wave black metal at such pristine levels it was hard to expect such an elevation. It isn’t that I wasn’t impressed with Shatraug‘s previous work but, that I expected more of the same and ‘Unbound’ instead provides a nuclear bomb of thrillingly dark energy with some increased fidelity and performances that offer more range to fit further ambitious songwriting.


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

One of the more tasteful modern interpretations of black metal I’ve heard in the past few years with the caveat that they aren’t incredibly ambitious with their rhythms overall. The original press release for ‘Cipher’ had the date for release set to August 20th so I rushed the review more than I normally would and made sure I gave it some time to sink in. It turns out that it was just a typo and the album was released on October 20th, so not only was my review incredibly early (almost two months) but it didn’t necessarily express the full breadth of the time I spend with Imperialist. On ‘Cipher’ the band find a medium between Immortal‘s epic thrashing style of black metal developed since ‘At the Heart of Winter’, classic melodic black metal, and modern technical thrash metal. Their take is surreal but hammering in terms of drum work and isn’t so much avant-garde but appropriately produced for their science fiction themes. There is a bit of Hoth, early Necrophobic and a heavy dose of Hexen/Vektor style guitar work fused into Imperialist‘s sound. The atmosphere is entrancing enough that was swept up in ‘Cipher’ for some time beyond the completion of the review. In hindsight though, I would take my time evaluating it and lower the score to 4.25/5.0 but it doesn’t make a huge difference.


Artist Ruin
Title [Type] Human Annihilation [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Although I don’t consider myself a fiend for the slap of old school gore metal when I look back at how much time I’ve spent listening to everything from ‘Severed Survival’ to  Blood’s ‘O Agios Pethane’ and thousands of old school death metal demo tapes along the way it is easy to see why Ruin‘s discography appeals to me. They capture the rotten sound of Los Angeles death metal in the late 80’s when inclusive, mud-caked labels like Wild Rags Records gave life to the weirdest and most ‘wrong’ death metal out there. It isn’t a stretch to go from there to bands like Undergang, Desecresy, and Ruin. The collective writing, performing, and engineering the raw and murderous sound of Ruin is at the very least a cult of talent obsessed with the old ways and new forms of death and torture. The appeal of this sound and the rotten punkish death/doom riffs that drive its grind-hammered pulse is self-evident unless you are obsessed with polished death metal sound and the illusion of progress.


Artist Deadbird
Title [Type] III: The Forest Within the Tree [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Deadbird represent a sort of triumph of the will in resurrecting themselves to an honorable place after a long silences that followed some moderately well-received records in the early 2000’s. Harmony, variety, and a sound built upon the coming of atmospheric sludge and the lasting resonance of doom makes this third full-length from folks who have their hands in Rwake as well as the creation of Pallbearer‘s ‘Sorrow and Extinction’. I love the multiple vocalist approach as each track has just a little bit of a different voice employed and I guess the fact that I reference Solstice, Alice in Chains and High on Fire in the review says quite a bit already. So much of doom metal’s anxious release is rooted in fantasy and escapism but where I connected with Deadbird with was how ‘real’ their glowering felt.


Artist Deathhammer
Title [Type] Chained to Hell [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

If you remember Norwegian black/speed/thrash metal band Deathhammer as a sloppy, wild, thrash metal band then you might’ve missed their last two records. Sure they’re still driven by the rhythms of ‘Show No Mercy’ and ‘Infernal Overkill’ but they’ve tightened up in terms of performance over time and their songwriting skills reached peaking levels between ‘Evil Power’ and this record. As bands like Aura Noir and Whipstriker also hit greater strides so goes Deathhammer above and beyond with ‘Chained to Hell’. If I haven’t harped enough on ‘riffs’ in justifying personal choices, the riffs are here and they’re good.


Artist Rising
Title [Type] Sword & Scythe [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

Danish epic/melodic heavy metal band Rising did not necessarily begin as such in 2008, in fact they’ve evolved beautifully over the years as some key line-up changes found the band switching from sludge influenced groove metal towards a nearly progressive style of heavy metal. Some of their prog-sludge adjacent sounds (Mastodon influences) still carry through on a very superficial level but as with ‘Oceans into Their Graves’ the band focus much more on melodic heavy metal style. This melodic lean is where I connected with ‘Sword & Scythe’ once I’d realized it was not just your average ‘epic’ heavy metal record and the sound is modern by most any standard. Will have more to say when the full review is finished.


Artist Carpe Noctem
Title [Type] Vitrun [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

There are few Icelandic artists that do not receive ‘enough’ hype and attention as the scene has infected most of the worlds moderately popular channels but key members of Reykjavík’s elite black metal acts Misþyrming, Naðra, and Árstíðir Lífsins represent what I’d consider one of the most underrated Icelandic black metal acts in Carpe Noctem. Still moderately related to the group of artists endlessly thrown onto the heap of Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord influenced hierarchy  this project has always leaned their own way with those complex rhythms and in fact carries the weigh of esoteric and extreme doom metal along for the ride, or at least they did on ‘In Terra Profugus’. Now the slow burning gloom of that release is replaced by crystalline atmospheric movements. In my review I try to explain how ‘Vitrun’ sounds like an almost entirely different band thanks to this change of pace with more active guitar composition and a long-winded poetic genius leading things. There is some worthwhile beauty to be found in the discordant dark of Carpe Noctem and the full listen is extremely easy to immerse into.


Artist Sabateur
Title [Type] Vicious Circle [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

A latecomer to my queue this month but nonetheless a notable power/thrash metal style album that focuses on a mix of classic 80’s heavy metal stompers a la Metal Church‘s ‘The Dark’ and a prog-thrash side that is highly influenced by ‘Rust in Peace’-era Megadeth. I was going to save this one for my ‘best of underground thrash’ list for 2018 but I’ve been spinning it too regularly to shove it to the back burner. They can shred their nuts off, they can wail a bit, and they’ve got just enough of a weird late 80’s sense of humor that it all feels like a long lost record of that era. Will have more to say when the full review is finished.


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

‘Trough’ is a strong take on Trouble-like stoner metal that tosses in the serious amount of traditional doom metal gloom (think Pale Divine) but, never loses sight of the acid washed hard rock era that most influences their sound. The band’s drummer passed away during the creation of the album but the record isn’t a downer, more of an uplifting listen despite the huge, huge Sabbath grooves they whip out.


Artist Solar Temple
Title [Type] Fertile Descent [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

Netherlands based post/atmospheric black metal band Solar Temple are the exception to the norm and I’ve still not been able to entirely accept any one explanation for what makes ‘Fertile Descent’ so special. The sense of transition is incredible and the post-rock influences are beautiful to say the least. It all just wobbles out of the speakers like a shoelace coming slowly untied. The two artists responsible for Solar Temple are also in FluisteraarsIskandr and Turia so if you are familiar with those already subtly melodic ventures some of ‘Fertile Descent’ contains a similar formation. As two distinct pieces making a full album the full listen is one of my favorite black metal related experiences of the year even if it barely resembles the genre without some concerted effort. It is without a doubt one of the most compelling things I heard in October and I am not easily sold on post-black music at all.


Artist Angel of Damnation
Title [Type] Heathen Witchcraft [Full-length]
 Rating [N.A/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

This German epic heavy/doom metal band comes from Avenger of black/thrash legends Nocturnal along with members of Cross Vault and current Battleroar/Sacred Steel vocalist Gerrit Mutz. The style is somewhere between the melodramatic style of Wheel and the classics from Candlemass and/or Solitude Aeternus. I’ve made a point to take my time listening to the album and although I didn’t like their debut ‘Carnal Philosophy’ I’ve been able to really get into this one.

Honorable mentions [Click/Tap to Read Reviews]

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