Metal of the Month: October’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.

October was its usual excessive self but somehow a slight edge beneath 2018 in terms of big, unforgettable heavy music releases. November will be a mild reckoning, though. I am so thankful to receive such a wide range of promos every week and this month was again an overwhelming gift to be given, even if I didn’t get to review 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 #44 out of 50 entries with four more discography dig-ups: Sorcery (Sweden), Vacant Grave (United States), Excruciation (Switzerland)Vengeance Rising (United States) and Massacra (France) 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 Cancer, Sepultura, Armored Angel and Nemesis in September for parts #45-48. List season is coming up and I’ve drafted and/or outlined several genre specific lists: 20 Underground ____ Albums You Missed in 2019 (noise rock, black metal, death metal, thrash metal, doom metal), Honorable mentions, Top 10 Video Games, Top 50 Albums, Year in Review feature, and an obscurities list to follow. Please get all submissions to me by the end of November, ideally long before, as I am working on a bigger project for best of the year.

October releases still in consideration for review: Dysrythmia, Vultur, Throatsnapper, Kosmokrator, Botanist, Ornatorpet, Dysangelium, Ehlder, Sun o))), Horrocious, Gospel of the Witches, Dismemberment, Timelost, Konkhra, Cleric, Vaultwraith, Paganizer, Necronomicon, Solicitor, Lvx Caelis, Die Kunst der Finsternis, Aegrus, Ulfarr, Ett Dodens Maskineri, Corpse Eater, Profane Order, Curse, The Scourge, Depraver, Pissed Regardless, Lavisher,Shrine of Insanabilis, Hot Breath, Ossuaire, Shadecrown, Necrotted, Maueutiste, Vritra, Beastlurker, Womit Angel & 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 Runemagick
Title [Type] Into Desolate Realms [Full-length]
 Rating [5.0/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW

I’ve placed two cult Swedish death metal bands at the top of my October list not out of nostalgia or nepotism but because I have long been a champion for both bands and it brings me much joy to express a high recommendation for records that are actually damned good, maintaining the high standards of the early 90’s where they’d both spawned from. First up is Runemagick, not the best known band from Göteborg but perhaps the only death/doom metal band from the city with any reasonable legacy. To keep things brief, ‘Into Desolate Realms’ examines the flaws and faults of the bands ‘comeback’ album from 2018 and improves upon each criticism with great care. The fact that two albums worth of material came from the sessions for this album just goes to show how much more time they’d put into it and it helps a bit that they’ve incorporated more of the defining traits of Runemagick‘s sound across ~13 full-lengths. It isn’t a catchy record, and there are probably heavier death/doom albums out there thus far in 2019 but I’d ultimately consider ‘Into Desolate Realms’ a trip, and one of the very best of the year.


Artist Sarcasm
Title [Type] Esoteric Tales of the Unserene [Full-length]
 Rating [5.0/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

Another tale of redemption but this time from Uppsala with Sarcasm‘s third full-length ‘Esoteric Tales of the Unserene’, a melodic death metal album that aligns itself just enough with the No Fashion era of melodic black metal (from former death metal bands) that it feels like an instant classic from the first few bars. Some of that enthusiasm admittedly comes from the legacy of the band and their redemption in recent years despite many setbacks, otherwise it really does just all hype itself up thanks to a classic early melodic death metal sound/style courtesy of members of Deathswarm and Imperial Domain. This and their release of Mefitis‘ debut last month have really rounded out a great year for the underrated Chaos Records.


Artist Mortiferum
Title [Type] Disgorged From Psychotic Depths [Full-length]
 Rating [4.75/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

The hype for this debut from Olympia, Washington death/doom metal band Mortiferum came and went way, way too fast. ‘Disgorged From Psychotic Depths’ is an immaculate study in the truest form of death/doom metal that holds up to today’s greats (such as Krypts) and resembles the finest of the past (Ceremonium, Rippikoulu) while putting their own ragged and rotten spin on that old sound. Again this isn’t the most absolutely memorable set of songs released this month but Mortiferum appear to make no excuses for their pure and ‘old school’ debut and hell, I was obsessed with the damn thing from the first time I heard its lead single. Essential death/doom for 2019.


Artist Orthodoxy
Title [Type] Novus Lux Dominus [Full-length]
Rating [4.5/5.0] CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!

Yep, a death/doom heavy list thus far warrants the inclusion of this fantastic piece from The Sinister Flame, an occult blackened death/doom metal record from Spanish band Orthodoxy, which’d gotten my attention due to its inclusion of a key member of Domains. ‘Novus Lux Dominus’ doesn’t focus too heavily on black metal outside of a few riffs and instead channels the doomed death crawl of Incantation-esque bands like Necros Christos and Sonne Adam, particularly reminding me of the sole Drowned full-length at times. This was an easy recommendation to make and I have spent quite a bit of time with the album post-review.


Artist Orodruin
Title [Type] Ruins of Eternity [Full-length]
 Rating [4.5/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

To be blunt I’ll say that ‘Ruins of Eternity’ sounds almost nothing like ‘Epicurean Mass’ did in 2003 and for sure the sixteen year gap between full-lengths has been a time of growth and development for the core membership of the group. They’ve also swapped drummers and hey, it turns out their take on ‘epic’ doom metal rules too. Am I just a sucker for a good ‘comeback’ story? No, this is the third band on this list already that has come back from a long hiatus to some new glory but Orodruin represents a group of men changed by time, leathered and wry in the face of the screaming world around them. Hints of classic Trouble, Solstice and some dramatic phrasing similar to Wheel‘s ‘Icarus’ really hit this one home for me and I’d obsessively listen to it for a full month before the review would land.


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

Where was all the hype for the new Vastum this month? To be fair ‘Orificial Purge’ sounds quite a bit like ‘Hole Below’ at face value and especially if you’d only previewed the early singles. Beyond that I’d say this is hands down the best album they’ve released despite my honeymoon with ‘Patricidal Lust’ bringing some worthy nostalgia to this day. They’ve long delivered a sort of ‘Mental Funeral’ by way of Incantation sound with just a little bit of the crunchiness of Bolt Thrower and that hasn’t generally changed in the several years since the last album but I’d definitely suggest the one thing these class act musicians have brought in from their more experimental side projects is a brilliant focus on atmospheric values and slightly less conventional songwriting. It was such a death metal heavy month for me it could have been very easy to overlook this if a few songs hadn’t insisted on being loved. For the charismatic and cerebral caveman within us all.


Artist The Lone Madman
Title [Type] Let the Night Come [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

Here we’ve got some new epic doom metal youngsters from Finland who jam some of the most alluring doom of the year on this debut that’d have to be at least partially influenced by Spiritus Mortis and Minotauri, among others. Things get quite lofty, to the point that I’d namedrop frickin’ Forsaken and Altar of Oblivion so set this up in your mind as an ‘epic’ experience that is still distinctly influenced by the proto-doom of the 70’s and the masters of the 80’s first and foremost. Upon returning to the album since the review I’d felt like I didn’t talk about the basslines enough, as the tone is buried but quite good underneath. Something that’ll please a Procession fan as much as a Pallbearer fan.


Artist Unaussprechlichen Kulten
Title [Type] Teufelsbücher [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

These are technical but savage musical statements that rant in a verbose and terrifying manner, not mere incantation of ominous portents but psychotic chants on high that’d create cathedralesque grandeur out of sulphur-scorched soil and roaring dissonance. It makes sense to consider the dissonant implications of bands like Portal and Mitochondrion within a similar lineage but these pieces are strung together as if they were in the hands of later ‘progressive’-minded The Chasm rather than any such avant-dissonant post-brutal death underpinning. Tremolo dives, gravel-coughing vocals, and a fairly ‘stripped down’ sound design ensure Unaussprechlichen Kulten appear as ancient as their themes without being buried by the overzealous and brutality-attuned mixing that’d stymied some of their 2000’s releases… In other words, a fantastically dark follow up to ‘Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X)’ from one of Chile’s heaviest death metal bands.


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

A dissonant and psychedelic black metal record that incorporates depressive rock ideas into Mystagos‘ increasingly wild textural universe, ‘Azoth’ is one of the most compelling and unexpected gems to come from the second half of 2019. Madrid, Spain based musician Heolstor‘s vision for Chains ov Beleth would eventually evolved into Mystagos but his work since that shift has been markedly daring and brilliant beyond expectations. I’ll have much more to say in the review once it is finished.


Artist Ectoplasma
Title [Type] White-Eyed Trance [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

As a first impression, I’d definitely felt a big hit of ‘Imperial Doom’-era Monstrosity urgency alongside a few nods to a love of Demigod and Finnish death metal in general when discovering this third full-length from Greek death metal band Ectoplasma. The band stretch themselves out while increasing the brutality of their decidedly ‘old school’ death metal sound and I’d eventually compare it to everything from Adramelech and Amorphis to Rotheads when all was said and done. The gist is that this is a step up beyond their previous record and should be extremely satisfying for the ‘riff starved’ classic death metal fan.


Artist Kadavar
Title [Type] For the Dead Travel Fast [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!

Kadavar continue to be one of the most interesting ‘bigger name’ retro heavy rock/doom rock bands out of Germany today and they’ve hit upon a remarkably special vibe with this latest record, ‘For the Dead Travel Fast’. There is an interesting backstory to this album where the main songwriter intended to make a Goblin style horror-synth soundtrack but instead of using any of it they’d written songs intending the atmosphere of olden occult horror films instead. The result doesn’t sound as much like Ghost as you might be thinking, but it does play on the theatrics of 70’s macabre rock quite a bit. It isn’t as catchy as the previous album, ‘Rough Times’ but it hits in a different equally effective way.


Artist Xul ov Kvlten
Title [Type] Entropic Increase From the Omega Aeon [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Full REVIEW coming soon!

Although I’d received this quite early on I didn’t take the time to listen to Xul ov Kvlten’s second album until mid-month, so I’d been hesitant to rush in with a too-soon review. ‘Entropic Increase From the Omega Aeon’ finds the band referencing Inquisition and Emperor for inspiration but I’d have to throw some kind of black/death metal influences as well. Lead by prominent keyboards and a brutal blackened death attack there is a raw beauty to what this band accomplish on this somewhat too long tracklist. There are plenty of great bands coming out of Santiago these days but it is rare that something this weirdly striking and unique blasts into my peripheral without warning. Also, the artwork here from Daniel Hermosilla (Cenotafio) is just incredible.


Artist Opium Lord
Title [Type] Vore [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] REVIEW coming soon!

I have not covered much sludge this year and not for lack of interest but lack of anything that worked outside of the norm at all. Birmingham, England based sludge/doom trio Opium Lord incorporate a heavy dose of post-metal into their sound that doesn’t stand out so much as it explodes in the ear. Their newfound freedom from Peaceville has seemingly sparked some of their best material to date. More thoughts when the full review happens next week.


Artist Coilguns
Title [Type] Watchwinders [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] REVIEW coming soon!

Hmmm? Shouldn’t this slot go to the latest Lightning Bolt album, ‘Sonic Citadel’? Well, I’d sat with that album for two weeks and felt nothing for it. I don’t want fan service from a noise rock band. What Coilguns are doing here on their third album is ‘going darker’ in every sense, deepening the personal and social examinations within their lyrics and crafting increasingly daring structural feats invoking noise rock, mathcore, and even hints of extreme metal and noise punk around the fuzz. ‘Watchwinders’ is an unquestionable star in the somewhat light load of noise rock adjacent freaks the world over and it outdoes the already well-regarded ‘Millennials’ from last year. I was supposed to review this almost two weeks ago, I’m just behind on reviews. Next month a couple (maybe three) big noise rock releases will edge their way onto my November list.


Artist Grendel’s Sÿster
Title [Type] Myrtle Wreath / Myrtenkranz [EP]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] REVIEW coming soon!

After some great struggling through a list of a hundred October releases I’d wanted to feature here it’d come down to this glorious heavy/folk metal album from Stuttgart, Germany based trio Grendel’s Sÿster. I’d seen people mention everything from Slough Feg, Skyclad, and fuckin’ Lordian Guard in reference to this EP and I’d say that makes sense to some degree. The vocalist here shines not for soaring pitch but for eloquence and folk-extended harmonies which inspire throughout. Regal in stature but wryly busking and performed for the people all the same.– A well-loved and unforgettable listen on my end. I could easily swap this out for Holy Serpent, Blackwater Holylight, Bretus, or Coffin Rot this month. Very difficult choices!

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/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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