METAL OF THE MONTH is a monthly feature that examines just that, a grip of fifteen of the most essential heavy metal (and 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.
November was overwhelming to say the least, even moreso than it’d been in 2018. 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 a third 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 #48 out of 50 entries with four more discography dig-ups: and Cancer, Demented Ted, Armoured Angel, and R.A.V.A.G.E., 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! For the final two entries I’ll be covering Sepultura, and Death in December. List season is in full swing: 20 Underground ____ Albums You Missed in 2019 (noise rock, death metal, doom metal), Honorable mentions, Top 10 Video Games, Top 50 Albums, Year in Review feature, and an obscurities lists will follow. Please get all submissions to me by the second week of December, ideally long before, as I am working on a bigger project for best of the year.
November releases still in consideration for review: Diabolic Night, Slow, Salvation, Quayde LaHue, Ploughshare, Black Talon, Ruminant, The Drowning, Wolfbrigade, Infirmity, Terminus, Nox Irae, Ragnarok, Suidakra, Desert Suns, Grylle, Astralborne, Den, Hexekration Rites, Sartegos, Rorcal, Sertraline, Sijjin, Bednja, Ofdrykkja, Osi and the Jupiter, Human Agony, Trinitas, The Wraith, Seventh Circle, Flamekeeper, Crusadist, & a few more.
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|Title [Type]||Scissorgod [Full-length]|
|Rating [5.0/5.0]||Review coming soon!|
Coming quick and through the usual channels this unusual evolution of Swedish black/death thrashing youths Reveal towards equal parts death rock, noise rock and rasping black metallic psychedelia is the transcendental experience I wanted this year. An exit of self, not just a pulverized ego but a violently intoxicated mind in the throes of the worst acid trip, the sort of thing you’ll never recover from. A coked out… no, cracked-out n’ murderous nihilistic rock bottom head trip from these seedy Uppsala geniuses is a pleasure, an absolutely majestic event that I hurled myself against as soon as was possible, ‘Scissorgod’ is all of the chaotic furor of my slippery mind puking deep into its own lap. Well, I’ve been following this band since 2012 when Invictus Productions released their psychedelic death/thrash debut on CD and no album opened my mind more than ‘Flystrips’, their first album with bassist Gottfrid Åhman (ex-In Solitude), in 2016. If I was making a most important bands of the decade list, for sure I’d have Reveal‘s discography smeared all over it and my fandom is deepened even more by this abrasive blackened psych-rocking death-noise.
|Title [Type]||Lese Majesty [Full-length]|
|Rating [5.0/5.0]||CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!|
Bölzer are another band that I’ve loyally followed for this last decade having witnessed some of thier earliest and biggest festival appearances and spent quite some time deliberating my feelings on their debut full-length, ‘Hero’ (2016), that’d felt like such a departure from their original intricate, riff-driven black/death metal sound. ‘Lese Majesty’ is not just a more completely realized vision of those progressive sludge influenced ambitions on the debut but also a reasonable return to a more black/death metal appropriate production. This EP also marks the bands first release as an independent entity, releasing it on their own imprint alongside official merch. These multi-national folks out of Switzerland are a fine example of individuation coming from non-traditional thinking, employing 10-string electric guitar and working some impossible fantastically slick compositions that sew black metal fluidity, death metal heft, and progressive metal ease into a sound that is only Bölzer‘s. As more bands begin to copy their compositional style it becomes evident that it really takes a unique voice and sense of rhythm to do what the duo have on ‘Lese Majesty’. I couldn’t pull myself away from this EP, and it was a joy to return to their discography and reflect on how special each release felt along the way.
|Title [Type]||The Palms of Sorrowed Kings [Full-length]|
|Rating [5.0/5.0]||CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!|
Yet another project that has managed to find their own unique voice this decade despite in the ever-crowding United States black metal space, Obsequiae have opted to further refine their sound on their third album, ‘The Palms of Sorrowed Kings’. Perfection isn’t possible or, perfection would degrade over time like the crumbled castle on the front of this fine album but there is no denying that the melodious, lead-driven black metal zeitgeist gains great strength in the hands of this Minneapolis, Minnesota band. I figure I went a bit over the top with my review but my thoughts were sincere nonetheless and this is in the running among the best of 2019.
|Title [Type]||The Sun Has Left the Hill [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.5/5.0]||Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!|
The suffocating ozone of the shattered dark radiates through my skin and flesh, a great spasm of muscular death seizes me awake in a writhing sleep terror, unable to move as the grip of torpor forces this waking drowning upon me. In fact, I imagine myself completely limp and bug-eyed, a frightened look tattooed on my face as it sink into a river staring at the sun through the wriggling, bending light of the sun while I listen to Witch Trail‘s second album ‘The Sun Has Left the Hill’. Honestly I’d known next to nothing about this band outside of a cursory spin of their debut and it has flattened me, floored me, beaten me with every listen since. For all of the bands mixing post-punk, post-black, post-rock and psychedelic rock today none sound like Witch Trail. “Stupor” just hits me so hard as a Morbus Chron fan, I mean it’d have to have been some influence on such a tumbling glass-shard tossing prog-aggressive moment despite the late 80’s Sonic Youth guitar part that eventually kicks in. A massive trip of an album that I won’t forget anytime soon!
|Title [Type]||Hidden History of the Human Race [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.25/5.0]||CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!|
I don’t factor in extraneous hype, leaks, and annoyingly early ‘Best of the the Year’ lists when I’m reviewing an album but man did it annoy the shit out of me to see this anticipated follow-up to ‘Starspawn’ leak and generate a strange amount of buzz online. It was a short-sighted reaction, I’m glad to see this type of death metal get ‘exposure’ and hopefully they’ve sold a shitload of albums; Blood Incantation have shown fantastic taste in death metal as they’ve evolved from a Timeghoul influenced cult act now reaching a new peak in popularity alongside contemporaries Tomb Mold. It is great to see these sorts of bands retain their pure death metal selves while evolving at a rapid pace. I could write a twenty page essay on the amount of bartering it took to approach ‘Hidden History of the Human Race’ on its own terms and see their biggest picture, it took a while to sink in. I’m surprised any of it clicks with the popular heavy music crowd because this Denver, Colorado act bring some pretty authentic stabs at Morbid Angel, Immolation, Mithras, and Death — The sort of mash-up we’ve gotten from long-forgotten bands since the mid-90’s but seen through an ‘atmospheric death metal’ lens today where the spaced out vision of the album appears to examine and partially deconstruct Blood Incantation‘s own version of death metal history into a set of ‘moments’ that coalesce into four loosely related songs. They can still write a mean ass riff and a solid 5-7 minute death metal song at that, but this feels more like a transitional release and it is padded just slightly beyond EP length.
|Title [Type]||Blow Off the Omens [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.25/5.0]||Review coming soon!|
The ‘Burnt Offerings’ compilation last year was exactly what it purported to be, a cleansing of Child Bite from old riffs, old associations and old habits. Hell, we’re living in it already, right? ‘Blow off the Omens’ is brilliant for its focused brevity and neon Biafra personality as these Detroit, Michigan based freak out artists intend to hold your attention for a full half hour before spinning out. ‘Negative Noise’ (2016) was my introduction to the band’s discography but I’d surely seen them live a couple of times before that, few bands compliment Unsane as well as these guys; I feel like they’ve outshined that prior record here. A full review will happen sometime before the end of the year, the queue is finite.
|Title [Type]||Morbid Realms [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||Review coming soon!|
Every year I have to have at least one big rotten Boss HM-2 driven Swedish (or Swede-alike) death metal album and ‘Morbid Realms’ is easily the slickest most head-splitting example I’ve come across in 2019’s travels. I’d missed out on this Stockholm, New Jersey band’s debut ‘Ungodly Forms’ in 2016 but couldn’t escape the buzz surrounding their ‘The Crypts Below’ EP last year which’d admittedly geared me up for ‘Morbid Realms’ once I’d gotten around to it. Is it just me or does this sound kinda like Edge of Sanity‘s ‘Unorthodox’? Or, how about Uncanny‘s album? No doubt what I’m associating between the three records is Dan Swanö‘s touch though a great deal of credit is due for the capable sensibilities of guitarist/vocalist and founder Matt Moliti who’d end up engineering/producing ‘Morbid Realms’. Though I found it somewhat ‘plastic’ sounding at first this is surely the most repeatable release from Sentient Horror to date and really makes up for that bland record from Gatecreeper last month.
|Title [Type]||Outcome of Obnoxious Science [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!|
Old school death doom metal band Cryptic Brood have tightened up their riffing and cleaned up their production sound a bit but these Germans are no less grime-stricken and ‘classic’ on this sophomore full-length, ‘Outcome of Obnoxious Science’. If I’m referencing Autopsy, Sempiternal Deathreign and Dream Death in the same review you know it is an album I loved and spent a ton of time with as these formative and earliest ‘death/doom’ works represent some of my favorite records of all time. Though I’d wanted to see the band approach some greater extremes, this is a really solid second album and one of the most addictive listens I’d run into in November. The full review goes into greater depth.
|Title [Type]||Havoc at the Midnight Hour [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.25/5.0]||Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!|
Most of the folks from Manchester, England black metal band Wode have sure whipped out a solid, memorable Satanic heavy/speed metal debut ‘Havoc at the Midnight Hour’ as Aggressive Perfector. Though I found most all of this LP catchy and generally memorable it is somewhat repetitive and might score a bit lower if I wanted to be robotically objective but I’m yet a sucker for NWOBHM influenced melodies and a good vocalist. Fans of Tank, Bewitcher, and early Midnight will find a lot to like here on this very professional first album from the project. I’m a bit more thoughtful on the full review, check it out.
|Title [Type]||Messe de Minuit [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||Click/Tap HERE to read the full REVIEW!|
Greek melodic black metal band Disharmony always had a similar method to that of Denial of God where ‘evil’ 80’s heavy metal and melody driven black metal combined as a necessity of the early 90’s second wave. ‘Messe de Minuit’ is the first material to follow up the well-received ‘Goddamn the Sun’ debut in 2017 and they’ve pulled towards the early sound of bands like Rotting Christ and Kawir complete with haunting keyboards and stuttering riffs. Not only are the four main songs here an impressively catchy set of simple but effective dark Greek black/heavy metal but they’ve added a 20+ minute Satanic mass that features some experimental noise as it progresses. The full review goes into more depth.
|Title [Type]||Negative Sound [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||CLICK/TAP here to read the full REVIEW!|
As plain and harsh of a noise rock album as ‘Negative Sound’ might seem, it expresses so clearly the whole nobody wins sentiment among folks in the United States today. I’m sure it means to communicate a lot more; There are deeper and much more specific bouts of parody, sarcasm, and probably several inside jokes inhabiting this latest LP from the Minneapolis, Minnesota band. I gravitated towards this one for its brutal and very 90’s noise rock style first but I appreciated that their sound still contained some smaller hints of Buildings‘ mathcore-ish earlier works. I had fun witnessing the evolution of the band as I introduced myself to their discography, they’d come highly recommended by a few other midwest modern noise rock bands they’ve toured with so I was really happy to receive ‘Negative Sound’ to begin with. This was another one where I probably had too much fun with the review, No Ragerts nehow. Check these guys out if you like Kowloon Walled City, and early stuff from Barkmarket, The Jesus Lizard, and their ilk.
|Title [Type]||Terrene [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||REVIEW coming soon!|
With gravel-scaled throat I cough a dry-wheezing death knell as I wither without enough funeral doom metal to sustain my tastes in 2019. As such, I was very thankful to receive this corpse-drying third album from internationally built funereal atmospheric death/doom project Mesmur who’re spread between the United States, Australia, and Italy. I didn’t entirely get the bands second album ‘S’ (2017) but I really loved their self-titled debut in 2014 and knowing me it’d been because of some old stubbornness for traditional sounds. ‘Terrene’ earns its captivating presence, never resting upon stoic slow-motion too heavily and building brilliantly dark sci-fi narratives with keyboard and synth work that truly carries the mood. The bass guitar presence could go even harder and louder, but that is the only complaint that carries over from the previous record. This is a fine showing from the band and I’ll have a lot more to say in the full review.
|Title [Type]||Osiris Hayden [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||CLICK/TAP here to Listen!|
How should I react whilst under the spell of this psychotronic, psychedelic, beat-daggering, ooze n’ thump of a record? Direct me, O’ goddess… Do I dance? is this dance music? No, think of it like a wound that could rip open at any moment. You must care for it, live around it, and live in fear of it before it can solidify and internally resolve enough to avoid a shearing, blood-spouting burst death… Er, it is the sun hitting your neck after the collar drops, deactivated and spraying ear-piercing static. Peter Hayden aka Mr. Peter Hayden aka PH are all dimensional ego-void threads from the minds of folks who’re best known for their work within Dark Buddha Rising, Oranssi Pazuzu (and well, Waste of Space Orchestra by proxy), Zum Wagon, Hexvessel, and I think at least one member featured in the first Atomikylä record. This is an equally fluidic work and there is some of that inherent stoic space-faring notion at work within but ‘Osiris Hayden’ is not some jump towards extreme metal for the collective. What is it? Why define it? What does it sound like? Like being seduced, drugged and mugged by a very gifted flirting robot circa 2049. It is a dissonant hump, a raw sight beyond forms, a trip-hopped slink bolstered by layers you’re going to need to discover over time at high volume. You know, I think the highest compliment I could give is that I’d initially expected this to be an Ektro Records release because there is that same sense of experimental Finnish ‘go anywhere’ prog-modernism touched upon in ‘Osiris Hayden’ that reaches a warmth nearness to that bravely exploratory collective. The full listen is very subtle to start, or at least it was for me, and I’d found it could be delved into through self-induced trance. Did my mind ever return?
|Title [Type]||Unconquered Abysses [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||Review coming soon!|
Marburg, Germany based death/doom metal band Into Coffin are one of the more exciting projects in the sub-genre today, if not for their grasp of pure funereal death/doom but for their own twisted atmospheric death metal take on it. Think Ceremonium with a bit of black/death in there, some Esoteric-esque dissonance, not too far from Epitaphe. Splits with some of my favorite underground bands like Cenotafio, Devoid of Thought, and such really geared me up for this second album from the band and I was not disappointed. More thoughts in a full review soon.
|Title [Type]||The Curse of Entropy [Full-length]|
|Rating [4.0/5.0]||REVIEW coming soon!|
There were a lot of fantastic bands I’d wanted to fit into this list such as Necropanther, Blooming Carrions, Unfathomable Ruination, and Lord Mantis but I chose Teeth for the last slot because it goes hard immediately and grabbed my attention with a raw bluntness I appreciated. ‘The Curse of Entropy’ almost sounds like a former mathcore band making an ‘Obscura’ type record at first, it is at least a far cry from their first album which had been a sludge n’ doom and death kind of melange of ideas. I’ve simply spent more time with this record than a hundred others I’d wanted to fully absorb this month and its technical brutality was gripping, tiring, thrilling, and very listenable in the long run.
Honorable mentions [Click/Tap to Read Reviews]
- Necropanther – The Doomed City (2019)
- Ignivomous – Hieroglossia (2019) REVIEW
- Tragediens Throne – Tragediens Throne (2019)
- Blooming Carrions – Sisters in Blooming Flesh (2019)
- Flamekeeper – We Who Light the Fire (2019)
- Warsenal – Feast Your Eyes (2019) REVIEW
- Novembers Doom – Nephilim Grove (2019) REVIEW
- Lord Mantis – Universal Death Church (2019)
- Deivos – Casus Belli (2019)
- Umbra Conscienta – Yellowing of the Lunar Consciousness (2019)
- Year of the Cobra – Ash and Dust (2019) REVIEW
- Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged and Unbound (2019)
- Megaton Sword – Niralet (2019)
Did I miss your favorite metal/rock/whatever album released in November? 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. 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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