Metal of the Month: September’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.

Death, depression, anxiety and insomnia is the major thread within as the summer dies officially; The mind recovers while the body is yet crumpled and powerless in resignation. Kind strangers and a limitless trough of fine music sustains, the body will recover with a deepened scar beneath all-crippling sorrow. I am so thankful to receive such a wide range of promos every week and this month was again a remarkable gift to be given, even if I didn’t get to review even half of what I’d 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 #39 out of 50 entries with four more discography dig-ups: Dead End (Sweden), Xecutioner, Hellwitch, Pentagram (Chile), so if you’re interested in heavy/thrash metal bands that morphed into death metal (or death/thrash) groups as the late 80’s/early 90’s wave peaked towards 1993 check those out every Tuesday! I’ll be covering Sorcery (Sweden), Vacant Grave (United States), Excruciation (Switzerland), Vengeance Rising (United States) and Nemesis (Colombia) in October for parts 40-44. I’ve just managed to begin finalizing the formatting my big end of the year ‘zine’ which will likely be published as a $1.00 PDF, though there will be a great big “best of the year” post + a separate year in review post in early December to accompany it. I’ve also put into motion some site redesign options, and put a hold on the cassette label plan until after the tax year ends. September as an experience warrants some deeper personal meditations upon discipline and purpose in October.

September releases still in consideration for review: Mosaic, Horror God, Aggravator, Sadistic Goatmessiah, Opeth, Bison Machine, High Command, Creeping Death, Fister, Howling Giant, Fvneral Fvkk, Eternity, Arallu, Nothingness, Asagraum, Ereb Altor, Kansakunnan Ylpeys, Kostnateni, Weltfremd, Muspellzheimr, Alcoholocaust, Vokonis, Alluvion, Sleeping Ancient, The Burning Tree, Eclipser, Ethereal Riffian, Drugs of Faith, Arcane Frost, Rottendawn, A//tar, Raventale, Dikasterion, Grevia, Wires & Lights, Toxikull, Dead Neanderthals, Morbus Grave, Void King, Warish, Echo, Wallowing, No One Knows What the Dead Think, Kenneth Minor, Arctos, Dead Hippies, Larvae, The Neptune Power Federation, Goatburner, Bhleg, Druadan Forest, Iatt, Vortex, Freakings, Numen, Cortege, Vintersea, Monolord, Coffins, Urn, & a few more.

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 Mefitis
Title [Type] Emberdawn [Full-length]
 Rating [5.0/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW

Not only have Mefitis produced one of the finest releases of September (with this Chaos Records issue, digital version self-released mid-August) but they’ve found themselves in contention for Album of the Year for my tastes with their debut ‘Emberdawn’. The debuts from early Swedish melodic black metal upstarts Dawn and the lesser known Decameron are among my favorite releases of all time and much of this fine melodic black/death metal (they call it ‘dark metal’) hits upon similar stylistic notes as well as those sort of detail and impactful songwriting tics. From loon calls to prevalent and ether-soused harmonized vocal melodies the performances here are exceptional, not-so-ordinary yet still heavy and intricate. The Turkka Rantanen painting on the front speaks to their love of the freakish world of early Finnish death metal and I’d argue that some of their early days in Fabricant do translate into the level of detail expressed within ‘Emberdawn’. My review gushes a bit and with good reason.


Artist Serpent Column
Title [Type] Mirror in Darkness [Full-length]
 Rating [4.75/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

This third release and second album finds the one man progressive/avant-garde black metal independent now aligned with the Mystískaos imprint and delivering a cumulative expression of alienation from the cruel stupidity of mankind and the feeble feigned constructs of society. Through the eyes of Heidegger and with a love for trilogy era Deathspell Omega and ultra forms of mathcore a violent storm that’d scour the world is seen from the beauty of the panopticon, for all existence is a prison of a thousand brainless eyes. It is a stunning and consuming follow up to ‘Ornuthi Thalassa’ (2017) that not only incorporates the sense of freedom that ‘Invicta’ (2018) discovered but pushes the two iterations into third and new paradigm. I so greatly appreciate the artist who plants me in the ‘here and now’ with fine art and yet always has an eye on the future, it is an inspiration. I’ve done an interview with the artist, search ‘Serpent Column’ on the site to find the latest words shared.


Artist Pale Grey Lore
Title [Type] Eschatology [Full-length]
 Rating [4.5/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

It is most definitely worth noting that Small Stone Recordings on a roll with releases this year between Abrahma, Bison Machine, Irata, and especially this fine record from Columbus, Ohio psychedelic doom metal band Pale Grey Lore. They are a new favorite in my head thanks to ‘Eschatology’, a record that quite frankly has sustained me this entire month which’d been a difficult personal detour. It is a masterful work of catchy ‘stoner’ heavy rock/metal ideas, a heavy psychedelic doom metal push, and the god-damned end of the world on the tip of the tongue. Much more detailed thoughts in the full review.


Artist Ripper
Title [Type] Sensory Stagnation [EP]
Rating [4.5/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

Finally! Hell it might’ve only been three years but we’ve finally got this fantastic Chilean thrash metal band back in hand and ‘Sensory Stagnation’ cranks their sound up to par with Atheist‘s debut ‘Piece of Time’, easily one of my favorite records of all time. Ripper must’ve hit a snag or some difficulty along the way but it doesn’t affect the quality of these fantastic technical death/thrash metal songs which build on the style of ‘Experiment of Existence’ but strip away the murkiness of the production and allow the fretless bass work to really sing up and down these songs. It is a fantastic release worthy of fans who’re nuts for Stargazer, Atheist, and other mind-expanding bass guitar wizarded extreme thrashing. Tech-thrash fans should pick this up as it is now a farther cry from Ripper‘s early shots towards early Kreator.


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

The journey away from meaning prescribed by religion towards an intellectual examination of what enlightenment could be provided by nihilism and absurdism continues to be the focus of Portland, Oregon blackened doom/sludge metal solo act Mizmor. ‘Cairn’ is a new peak, a gloriously listenable and moving examination of absurdism in particular that should be happily absorbed by anyone who’d made a vote of independence in their lives at the cost of being an ‘outsider’ in the eyes of the majority. Some aspect of penance and mourning seeps through, as if the end of comfortable but hollow ‘meaning’ in life is given epitaph moving forward and well, it feels great to sit and absorb that resonance. At this point I’d consider the actual sound of the project now turning towards something like Pallbearer or Warning meets the extremity of say, Usnea or Yith. It does move further from the black metal aesthetics of Mizmor‘s earliest works but with exceptional results either way.


Artist Crypt Sermon
Title [Type] The Ruins of Fading Light [Full-length]
 Rating [4.5/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

Yep, I’m that hipster who’d caught onto Crypt Sermon early on thanks to pretty much grabbing every Dark Descent title the moment they release from the start. I guess at the time, well 2013, the label picked up a few more traditional doom metal bands (such as Anguish) and it’d seem like people fell in love with Crypt Sermon in hindsight. It all comes to a head with ‘The Ruins of Fading Light’, a great leap in quality and a reasonable shift in focus. Is it one of the greatest epic doom metal albums of all time? Well, that remains to be seen in terms of how well it holds up but if nothing else it is a fantastic heavy metal record that pulls from the Candlemass school of epic doom metal as much as it does Dio and his records with Black Sabbath, the result is somewhere between pre-1996 Solitude Aeternus and earlier Visigoth if they were a bit more doom and a lot less 80’s power metal. A fine album, don’t let the overhype of certain publications turn you off, especially if classic heavy metal is your gig because ‘The Ruins of Fading Light’ doesn’t at all rely on epic doom for its wares.


Artist Algebra
Title [Type] Pulse? [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

The third full-length from Swiss thrash metal act Algebra finds them just on the fringe of late 80’s death-aware thrashers that’d begin to fight the progressive thrash arms race but they stop short of each resemblance for a ‘classic’ feeling record full of memorable cuts. ‘Pulse?’ reads as a document of attunement with the biggest picture, a blurring of the eyes that’d reveal the matrix behind all life and forms of matter in the universe. At times it’d seem they’re dealing with the zombification of humanity by way of technology and not necessarily reveling in that doom the way that certain Voivod releases have. I love this sort of album and I’d equate it with the better records from Heathen, Coroner, and Hexen with that aggressive sci-fi itch a la those first two Obliveon records. Exactly the type of music I love and nearly a full hour of it. Fantastic high-brained thrashing and well worth the wait.


Artist Runespell
Title [Type] Voice of Opprobrium [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

Put on “All Thrones Perish II” from this third full-length by way of Australian solo artist Runespell and if you’re not mentally soaring at the sound, we’re on such very different wavelengths. The spirit of the ancient man, intelligent but always entrenched in wonder due to primitive methods of communication, is divined here on ‘Voice of Opprobrium’ an epic black metal record gloriously lead by some of Nightwolf‘s finest guitar work to date. I do feel there is some influence shared here between early Obsequiae and perhaps Rotting Christ but that melodic lead-driven form of black metal is only half of the experience here, which is otherwise matched by long acoustic guitar movements. I wasn’t sure about this project as I didn’t fully love the second record but this one is truly great.

cover Nightfell - A Sanity Deranged

Artist Nightfell
Title [Type] A Sanity Deranged [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

Oh man, the guy from Tragedy and the guy from Parasitic Records (and Sempiternal Dusk, and Aldebaran, and…) making a death/doom metal record together again for the third time? Yep, I was so excited to hear this when they release the early single “The Swallowing of Flies” and I’d say this album more than lived up to what that song promised. So, the big reason this one stands out above the previous records is an emphasis on Bolt Thrower influenced sections, fantastic production from Greg Wilkinson, and Todd Burdette‘s distinct guitar work which pulls from classic crust as much as it does 90’s death/doom. Nothing else -really- sounds like Nightfell, subtle as their slightly blackened ooze might appear initially it absolutely kills upon a full listen. Equally high praise for Call‘s Sempiternal Dusk record this month, an equally grand uprising of quality and impact.


Artist Netherbird
Title [Type] Into the Vast Uncharted [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

Developed across a discography of now five full-lengths this new vision of Stockholm, Sweden’s Netherbird beyond their reformation in 2016 finds the band embracing classic 90’s melodic black metal regalia while infusing atmospheric and dark metal aspects into their sound. Gone are the days where you could compare this project to Old Man’s Child and here we have a beautiful and emotionally resonant record full of melodic leads that’ll please fans of early Dark Tranquillity and Be’lakor as much as they’ll be a rapture for folks who love the ’96 Dissection as much as their 2006 finale. ‘Into the Vast Uncharted’ was the warmth needed to cap off a month of lows, a rejuvenation of the passion within the mind, and a truly spirited recording that is as aggressive as it is enlightened by the dark. Should please melodeath, melodic black metal, dark metal, and melodic death/doom fans all in one swoop.


Artist Kansakunnan Ylpeys
Title [Type] Kansakunnan Ylpeys [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Full REVIEW coming soon!

Easily one of the most raw and hard noise rock albums out of Finland so far this year. The second self-titled full-length from Kansakunna Ylpeys is not afraid to be a great big load of noise as much as it does grind into 80’s Washington D.C. hardcore punk strokes the main focus is gnarly, mid-paced noise rock clangor of the highest order. I’ve really gotten behind on my noise rock recommendations this year and I’m hoping to catch up with this and an unfinished review for Colored Moth this coming week. Heads up, I love this record and if you you’re a Scratch Acid or Brainbombs addict you need it!


Artist Cult of Luna
Title [Type] A Dawn to Fear [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Full REVIEW coming soon!

So, where do we stand Cult of Luna? I haven’t liked anything beyond ‘Vertikal’ (2013) and probably haven’t loved a full listen of theirs since ‘Somewhere Along the Highway’ (2006) yet this latest record finds the right parts of me to tug at despite the meandering nature of their post-rock excesses. If you can imagine The Moth Gatherer‘s most recent full-length alternated with tracks from Neurosis‘ epic peak ‘The Eye of Every Storm’ then you’ve got a good idea of what ‘A Dawn to Fear’ represents. The heavier moments here make the full listen worth it and the softer moments frankly create this muscle-shaking anxious dread that I found refreshingly a return to the days where post-metal was actually just atmospheric sludge metal and, heavy. So far I’ve enjoyed this record much more than expected though I’ll give it a few more days before finalizing the review. This position on the list could be swapped with Belenos‘ latest record in the long run, but either way this position on the September hierarchy is of world class quality.


Artist Horror God
Title [Type] Cursed Seeds [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] REVIEW coming soon!

I so rarely recommend technical death metal records because I find they’re difficult to return to over time and with few exceptions. At this point I can safely say that returning to Russian death metal band Horror God‘s third album ‘Cursed Seeds’ has consistently been a joy and actually a bit of a thrill. The way this album progresses is unusual and unafraid of dipping into psychedelia and black/death aggression as it moves from start to finish. I’ll have more to say in the full review at some point but it is much more dense than I’d anticipated.


Artist Goatess
Title [Type] Blood and Wine [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

I’ll be honest that there were no real expectations that this third full-length from Goatess would be any good. I had certain faith in new vocalist Karl Buhre (Crucifyre) but the previous album ‘Purgatory Under New Management’ (2016) was bland and samey without any of the bluesy broken-soul’d stoner/doom metal of the debut. Odd coming from me, who can typically never get enough psychedelia in doom metal but I’d say ‘Blood and Wine’ brings back the fire of that first album with a refreshed narrative voice. More of Buhre‘s range could be utilized but the whole of the experience is consistent and often darker than expected. ‘Blood and Wine’ lives up to that original concept of the band crossing a distinctly Swedish take on desert rock influence stoner metal and 80’s North American styled traditional doom metal.


Artist Eternity
Title [Type] To Become the Great Beast [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] REVIEW coming soon!

The concept of a ‘great work’ and/or a life’s work being channeled into one great piece of music places a lot of weight upon the listener in the sense that it’d be a bit of a crime to approach that record casually. Thankfully this second full-length from Oslo, Norway black metal band Eternity is so immediately gratifying as a fluid and ‘classic’ expression of Norwegian black metal that your shoulders can relax and the mind can simply absorb this ruthless barrage of riff and melodious craft. Many of these songs have been developed from demo releases dating back to 2003 (‘In Subspecies Aeterna’) and 2005 (‘To Become the Great Beast’) and features a less ‘raw’ take on the early Norwegian modus than the shorter songs of ‘Bringer of the Fall’ (2006). It is the finest work from this artist yet and an exceptional cumulative achievement for the project. Most importantly, fans of riff-heavy black metal will love this as much as I did.

Honorable mentions [Click/Tap to Read Reviews]

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