Metal of the Month: August’s Finest 15 Releases (2019)

METAL OF THE MONTH is a monthly feature that examines just that, a grip of fifteen of the most essential heavy metal (and sometimes non-metal) related releases from each month in the year 2019. I’ve chosen these 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. 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. This monthly feature will largely focus on records I’d either reviewed or spent the most time with, as well as a few releases where the review is still in the draft stage. The feature will update with links for those as later reviews roll in. Do not think I’ve overlooked any promotional material, I am but one man and I’ll get to all of the promos I’ve received throughout the year. I am eternally grateful to have so much to choose from. Thank you.

August served up a myriad of highs and lows but I wouldn’t pull out of it thinking it’d been one for the books, at least not compared to what will come (in terms of new releases) in the next three months. I am so thankful to receive such a wide range of promos every week and this month was again strongly eclectic even if I didn’t get to review even half of what I wanted to. Before we dig into the list let me plug a few features: Make sure check out the (every) Friday news column SYNCHRONY which includes a Grizzly Butts site ‘week in review’, upcoming releases, and new releases you might’ve missed. This month the ongoing Thrash ‘Til Death feature reached #35 out of 50 entries with four more discography dig-ups: Funeral NationMorbid Saint, Insanity (United States), and Poison (Germany), so if you’re interested in heavy/thrash metal bands that morphed into death metal groups as the late 80’s/early 90’s wave peaked towards 1993 check those out every Tuesday! I’ll be covering Dead End (Sweden), Xecutioner, Hellwitch, Pentagram (Chile) in September. Notice the site has been a bit sluggish with posts lately? I’m working on a big end of the year ‘zine’, planning a compilation, painting, meditating, built a home office, and my dog has cancer so we’re hanging out a lot more. August marks the two year anniversary of Grizzly Butts so I’m planning a giveaway + giant retrospective + gratitude.

August releases still in consideration for review: Moop, Strappado, Trench Warfare, Cemican, Darsombra, Anticosm, Lifetime Shitlist, Oxx, Sophist, Mavorim, Dead Soul Alliance, Cryptae, Mysterizer, Reign In Blood, Wraith, Neptrecus, The Electric Mud, Pa Vesh En, Ole English, Imperial Cult, Book of Wyrms, Graveview, Warcrab, Olkoth, Television, Hope Drone, Cliterati, Cryptivore, Atomic Witch, Horrid Apparition, Orm, Magic Pie, Insurrection, Crimson Moon, Aludra, and a few more. Most all of these bands current releases will still be reviewed post-August in some form in the coming weeks. The following reviews are currently in process: Mutilatred, Sorcery, Hellvetron, Polemicist, Meatwound, The Rite, Shock Narcotic, Antichrist Siege Machine, Geistaz’ika, Nothingness, Diocletian. [yep, about 10 days behind!]

I am constantly in a state of gratitude when I consider the multitudes of great bands, record labels, PR companies, readers and donors supporting the continuation of this site. If you are a regular follower of the site, potential advertiser, or content contributor please note that I’ve updated the FAQ/Contact Me section of the site to reflect opportunities for writers, graphic artists, advertisers, and independent/unsigned bands. Grizzly Butts won’t expand beyond its current state (site design, staff) without interest from contributors and I cannot pay contributors without advertisers. So, please consider the options I’ve detailed there. The goals and ethos of the site have not changed, it will remain independent and the aim is sustainable expansion with the goal of breaking even, not making profit. The type of advertising I’ve detailed won’t be intrusive, a maximum of 1-3 pinned articles at the top of the homepage. If you are purely a reader none of this will affect your access or ability to engage in any of the content of the site. Thank you all!


Artist Wizard Rifle
Title [Type] Wizard Rifle [Full-length]
 Rating [4.5/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW

Huh, imagine screwing off so hard that you’d found yourself with a diaper over your head playing a backwards-assed take on thrashing stoner metal, hypermagic noise rock and I’ll be goddamned it all works. Portland, Oregon psychedelic stoner metal/noise rock duo Wizard Rifle were already onto something years ago and in the long break between their third and fourth full-lengths they’d worked up the budget, the identity, and a stack of brilliant flow-heavy songs that’re never so sub-genre specific that you’ll feel like you know what to expect from song to song. Even before I had read through the literature and such I was thinking… Lightning Bolt doing a High on Fire cover and I’ll be damned, it wasn’t an original thought on my part! Stellar stuff, huge energy, memorable trips, and easily the most redeeming spin of the month on my part. I’ll be attending their Seattle show on the 21st with Warish and Acid King, don’t bother me!


Artist Excuse
Title [Type] Prophets From the Occultic Cosmos [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

Cosmically charged Finnish speed/thrash metal a la Witching Hour (their latest) and Chevalier? I namedrop Martyr (Netherlands), Defender, and early Helstar in the review? Yeah! Excuse rule and not just because they’ve got the old school funk emanating from their psychedelic-oozed speed metal echo chamber; There is a ‘here and now’ sensibility conjured within ‘Prophets From the Occultic Cosmos’ and it helps that this is an energetic performance of semi-progressive heavy metal with modern touches piled onto ‘classic’ style. At the heart of all of the reverb soaked snarls and early Coroner riffs there is a frantic heavy/speed metal album delivered with composure.


Artist Cerebral Rot
Title [Type] Odious Descent Into Decay [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

Bleeuurrrghh! Mush a ball of your own shit in both hands and play patty-cake with an unwilling corpse in celebration of this divine ugliness, the debut full-length from Seattle, Washington’s diabolic swamp-trekking horde Cerebral Rot. Growled-out and belched as if they’d time-traveled to a Finnish basement a week after Carcass had toured ‘Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious’ through Helsinki. Everything you love about early 90’s death metal is here and unsurprisingly this ghastly form of necrotic sludge-slapping fits pretty snugly in the current west coast primitive death metal storm of late. I definitely ate this shit up, obsessed over it, left it on repeat for days and days, bathed in a tea of piss and the booklet… eh, wait, alright I’ll reel it in. Riffs, basically, cruel ones! It really does feel like one of those old Finnish demo-only death metal bands from the late 80’s was transmuted into an album of today and what a glorious thing it is. Hey, they’re a good live band, too.


Artist Isole
Title [Type] Dystopia [Full-length]
Rating [4.25/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

Swedish epic doom metal band Isole sustain one of the more flawless discographies among epic doom metal with their seventh full-length, ‘Dystopia’, a paen to our decimated Earth and the increasing torture that is life. This’ll be their first full-length on Hammerheart after longer stints with I Hate and Napalm Records over the years and it seems an excellent home for Isole‘s harrowing, beauteous work. It’d seem that more and more epic doom metal bands are taking quite long breaks between albums these days (Atlantean Kodex, Crypt Sermon, Altar of Oblivion) but I am not complaining about the quality that a long wait usually brings. ‘Dystopia’ is sublime and particularly good among Isole‘s several solid records, will have more to say in the full review as soon as its finished.


Artist Bastard Grave
Title [Type] Diorama of Human Suffering [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

Helsingborg‘s Bastard Grave return after quite a long wait and they’re better than ever! ‘Diorama of Human Suffering’ is a conscious effort to improve with heightened detail, greater distinction of style, and a much more malleable guitar tone that exists beyond typical Swedish death metal tropes. Crust punk infused rhythms, ‘old school’ death/doom tirades, and even some psychedelia creep across this widened landscape of Bastard Grave and it didn’t take long before I’d fallen for the punkish wreckage of this album. I guess I don’t hear too many bands that take their own sound and stretch it between songs you’d expect from Autopsy, Bombs of Hades, and Grave Miasma all in one place. Might be my most listened to death metal record this month; Well, besides the advance copy of Sarcasm‘s latest.


Artist Synteleia
Title [Type] Ending of the Unknown Path [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW

I do my best to never miss a Hellenic black metal album and to be sure Synteleia is one of the finest bands to erupt from Athens’ womb this decade. Actually take a step back for a second and consider the entire Greek heavy metal environs and note the generally very high quality among death, black, doom and thrash metal bands that ebb down the right underground channels and you’ll see ‘Ending of the Unknown Path’ is something special. As I said in the review, a minor point, I don’t find Lovecraft all that thrilling but it works well with the atmosphere they’ve captured. I’d like to say that the appeal of this record boils down to the riffs, and in some sense it does, but there is so much more to Synteleia‘s debut than killer guitar work as the songwriting is what’ll keep you engaged and listening. Don’t fuck around! Give this album a chance if you’re as keyed into bands like Rotting Christ, Varathron, Kawir and the deeper layers beyond, it’ll be instant gratification.


Artist Witch Vomit
Title [Type] Buried Deep in a Bottomless Grave [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

Expanding their line-up, digging deeper into their guitar work, and firing off even gnarlier songs than ever before adds up as you spin ‘Buried Deep in a Bottomless Grave’ and though Witch Vomit were something special before they’ve most definitely improved in every aspect. I guess my review came off a little more unsatisfied than intended judging by a few comments from readers but, yeah I mean the record is a bit too succinct. Plenty of bands today are crossing over Scandinavian (typically Finnish by way of the U.K. if you ask me…) and the east coast United States regional dialects just as bruisers like Funebrarum did a couple decades prior and I’m just as into it today as I was back then, so I’m more than satisfied by what Witch Vomit do. A little more structure, a bit more ‘Dawn of Possession’ and one more song and it’d be perfection. Otherwise yeah, one of the best records of August and some of the hottest album art all year.


Artist Here Lies Man
Title [Type] No Ground to Walk Upon [EP]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

Los Angeles, California heavy psych/afrobeat fusion project Here Lies Man continues to be one of the most unique and inspired acts around and I’d say they’re overdue for some bigger praise and notice when we’re getting records as sharp as ‘No Ground to Walk Upon’. The rhythmic pulse of this music can’t help but inspire movement but the heavy rock guitar focus ensures you’ll not be sure how to dance to it; That is but one example of juxtaposition and fusion that makes Here Lies Man something especially connective and curious. If you’re like me, always looking for that next Bad Brains… something that’ll offer such a paradigm shift it’ll open the mind so wide it’ll have to grow… I think ‘No Ground to Walk Upon’ will offer a great deal of interest. Also, as much as I’d focus on the fusion of it all, this is some slick and charming stoner/heavy psych music that stomps to its own beat that has been totally enjoyable for its grooves all summer long.


Artist Colored Moth
Title [Type] Dim [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Full REVIEW coming soon!

If you’ve been following the site all year you’ll have a pretty good idea of my own taste in noise rock and post-hardcore hybrids so the music of Colored Moth won’t be a huge surprise as a pick on my end. What stuck out to me most of all while I was soaking up ‘Dim’ was the almost concerted intent to sound like Nirvana‘s ‘In Utero’ without going all the way with it– That isn’t to say they’ve gone and made a grunge album, no way, but most definitely an Albini-esque production enhances that feeling. A unique songwriting sense is ultimately what makes this such a worthy, repeatable listen. More thoughts in the full review when it lands.


Artist Abysmal Lord
Title [Type] Exaltation of the Infernal Cabal [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

This was a great month for ‘high profile’ and truly ruinous war metal between Antichrist Siege Machine, Diocletian, and my favorite of the bunch Abysmal Lord. If you’re enthusiastic about Proclamation‘s discography these guys offer a similarly distorted and equally intense experience but with hard as hell riffing start to finish. The best war metal is a hallucinogenic beating, a storm of psychotic noise set to bestial death and ‘Exaltation of the Infernal Cabal’ nails it to the cross and goat-pisses on its face. Don’t ‘get’ war metal and think it all sounds the same? You’re overthinking it.


Artist Hagzissa
Title [Type] They Ride Along [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Full REVIEW coming soon!

I’ve gotten behind on Iron Bonehead releases (Hellvetron and The Rite releases are great) these last few months but don’t think I’ve slept on this one! ‘They Ride Along’ is exactly the kind of freakery that I am always up for and it has this punk rock feeling to its gnashing, clangorous black metal approach that impresses throughout. There are some rough edges to this debut full-length but man does it all add character and unpredictability to the experience. This Austrian quartet features members of Kringa (who also have an upcoming full-length) as well as Plague from black n’ roll band Whiskey Ritual though I wouldn’t say this ends up being the sum of those parts. I particularly love the drumming on this one, certain parts reminded me of Stench‘s last album ‘Venture’ but with a healthy dose of Veiled (Germany) in there too. More thoughts when the full review is finished.


Artist Besvärjelsen
Title [Type] Frost [EP]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

Easily one of the more dialed-in and unique mixtures of occult rock, stoner metal, and doom from the Stockholm, Sweden area these days Besvärjelsen continue to steadily master their shared connection on ‘Frost’. A huge get for folks subscribed to the PostWax, this EP finds the band edging into Witch Mountain territory while still seeping out heavier drifts of their Dozer past. As I examined, felt, and enjoyed ‘Frost’ I kept thinking of free and easy movement within an oppressive atmosphere… Like rocketing through space knowing there is no way back and your oxygen is getting low. A remarkable release for fans of psychedelic doom and bluesy occult rock. Not sure? Crank “In the Dark”.


Artist Geistaz’ika
Title [Type] Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] Full REVIEW coming soon!

I can always count on Portuguese black metal label Signal Rex to select recordings that are detailed, epic, raw, and impassioned so it comes as no surprise that this much could be said for the debut from Danish black metal band Geistaz’ika. I believe ‘Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel’ was self-released digitally on the last day of 2018 but it now sees official release on all applicable formats. In the works in some subconscious stew for the last decade or so this is an album of striking folkish detail with appropriate themes of Scandinavian folklore. Triumphant and achingly so the spirited and fluid motion of ‘Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel’ is surely owed to the time taken to perfect its nuance and an array of guest appearances enhances its general wilderness. Who? Well, I’m not deep enough into any relative scene or circle to identify anyone by name and for the most part this is an anonymously crafted release. It is best to allow the shadows hold upon their mysterious nature.


Artist Darkened
Title [Type] Into the Blackness [EP]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

Here we have one of the most inspired death metal projects from old professionals in ages with Darkened, a collaboration between two venerable fellowes of the Stockholm underground in the 90’s who’d cut their teeth and made history in Excruciate and A Canorous Quintet. Joining them is Bolt Thrower‘s original drummer, damned legend Daryl Kahan (Funebrarum, ex-Disma, Citizens Arrest, etc.) on bass and Demisery‘s Gord Olson on vocals. That might not sound like a ‘supergroup’ to some of you but in my book that is a damned line-up! Who cares, how are the songs? Damned good! A mix of Bolt Thrower‘s more down-tuned and midpaced strides with the energetic semi-melodic death feels like these folks found a shared inspiration that worked for everyone. Huge production sound trailing back to when Gothenburg had a hairier set of balls in the mid-90’s, too. More thoughts in the full review when it is finished. Also heads up, all formats should be out except for vinyl which’ll be out in October.


Artist Nothingness
Title [Type] The Hollow Gaze of Death [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] Full REVIEW coming soon!

There are a ton of records I had considered for this spot that are more ‘sure things’ from well established acts (Sorcery, Crimson Moon, Mylingar, Devourment) but I wanted to go a bit out on a limb and include Minneapolis, Minnesota death metal act Nothingness‘ debut full-length ‘The Hollow Gaze of Death’ because I felt it was a pretty damned remarkable first strike. You can tell they’re having fun with things in terms of online interactions but… I’m not about to drink Hamm‘s swill and this record is deathly serious otherwise. The theme of the record seems to take the point of view of Death himself as he ponders the tribulations and failures of man, largely relishing in the mountains of work he’s been given. Tons of big riffs, great bass guitar tone(!), some brutality with Suffocation-esque riffs and a vocalist who huffs gas and spits fire; Yeah, I mean I’m surprised this hasn’t been licensed out yet.

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/design, production style, nostalgia, quality of experience etc. 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 donors for their support and contributions! This is a dream for a lifelong fan and collector like me.

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