The Top 20 Albums of July | 2022

THE TOP 20 ALBUMS OF THE MONTH is just that, a grip of twenty albums that’d resonated most powerfully throughout this month. If you’re new to the site, the tendency is heavy and/or surreal music. Choices are selected based on temporal immersion, personal connection, impressive style, point of view, aesthetics and with consideration for the lasting value of each selection. All choices are ultimately personal and come without consideration for populism, nepotism, cronyism or perceived “relevance”. Any records left off this list will yet be considered for end of the year lists. I am just one man, writing about music is a passion I afford as much time as is manageable and I am eternally grateful to have so much to choose from. Thank you.

I. Conditions are getting worse. — From colloidally dispersed abstractionist fuming and confrontational social unrest to entirely soft-boiled escapism in denial we are served our now umpteenth and surely far from last platter of reactivity and mental process from musicians around the globe feeling the squeeze of grief and socioeconomic pressure, feeling less free, less able to travel/perform, less able to trade/sell their wares and dealing with it however they know best. Not all of these records I’ve selected as favorites are the direct product of these strictures, in fact most are the result of artists patient enough to present their best rather than what they could muster from idle handicraft, finding something new as they fought against he sensation of being tied down. We can nonetheless anticipate a mix of records outside of the usual continuum, some of which were essentially completed two or three years ago and sat on, others facing delays on manufacture of up to one year (or more), and several releases which were hampered by their coming together between 2020-2021 in general and a several which’ll never see a proper touring cycle. I’m sure there is a ‘point’ or two buried in there somewhere but there is too much to appreciate and only so much time worthy of throwing meaning at goddamned everything, besides I’d like to get back to my already awfully tedious playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition.

II. July brought back the ‘news blog’ column idea, this time called Endtymer. I’ve recorded several video reviews and walkthroughs of the weekly news these last few weeks, but I am working on sharper video accompaniment which isn’t just an hour of my awful face/voice wandering into boring tangents. Otherwise August is looking slow in terms of new releases that’ve caught my interest, I’ve scratched up drafts for ~20 longform reviews for the coming month. Not sure if that means I will slow down a bit for the month or just put more time into the video idea ’til it isn’t embarrassing, or just existentially horrifying. Thank you for reading.

III. Each day I meditate with all-consuming gratitude aimed toward the bands, labels and PR firms who choose to work with me — As well as the kind few readers who donate to the site intermittently. The goals and ethos of Grizzly Butts have not changed in 2022 but I will be somewhat less regularly active due to career and personal responsibilities intensifying as I age. Thank you.

#1Album of the Month
TITLE:Ascetic Reflection
RECORD LABEL(S):Everlasting Spew Records

Australian death metal trio Altars didn’t come back after a nine year absence for the sake of nothing. They’ve always had songs, riffs, skills and a knack for firebrand abstraction of classic and postmodern death metal wiles and it isn’t as if the remaining core of the band hadn’t kept those traits in tune for the last decade but, ‘Ascetic Reflection‘ suggests they’d needed the right unholy blessing to finally take the path forward and continue on, which should suggest they’ve tasked this new configuration with pressing itself into new found forms, something both worthy of their well-aged and still loved debut and meaningful to the present. More concisely, it wasn’t that this one “had to count” as is often the case but that it “had to be right” and well, it goddamned is from my point of view. As a listening experience front to back this record splays open the possibilities of the “dissonant death metal” lotus, showcasing insight and/or mastery at every turn without leaving behind the essential schism death metal needs to “read” to a largely classicist audience. Well, beyond that it is a pleasure to listen to. Just enough of a thought-provoking, challenging experience which sports countless points of memorable brutality throughout.

TITLE:No Life Forms
RECORD LABEL(S):Unspeakable Axe Records,
Diabolical Summoning Records

There was admittedly no hope for me in terms of liking ‘No Life Forms‘ as much as I had liked Chilean classicist thrashers Critical Defiance‘s breakout 2019 predecessor ‘Misconception‘ and only for the sake of it being different, not better or worse in any sense, and this much was obvious once I’d heard the demo tape which preceded it. Thrash metal taste -should- be a finnicky thing considering just how much of it exists and the finer distinctions which can be made between generational technique tics, modes of composition, and even something as minor as production values can build or bust apart favor. In this case these songs are less demanding in terms of complex or performative arrangements but the pacing and aggression has been amped to a violent, punkish insistence which is equally valuable as an experience. It is a roundabout way to suggest this follow-up is meaner, more punkish and yet has a slick Coroner-esque rip to the guitar work which I’d enjoyed quite a bit. We can and should still count ’em among the very best thrash out of Chile (or, anywhere else for that matter) these days.

TITLE:Suppuration Morphogénésiaque
RECORD LABEL(S):Me Saco Un Ojo Records,
Memento Mori Records

Quebec-based death metal band Sedimentum kinda had it easy in terms of expectations set for their debut full-length, all anyone who’d heard of ’em was looking for was an extreme sound that lived up to the doomed and filth-buzzing gnarl of their demo tape/7″ splits parsed over these last few years. A ragged load of basement death metal filth is what they’ve plopped out here at face value, I mean this is exactly how I’d imagined they’d sound after hearing their split with Phobophilic a couple of years ago but bands like this have tended to soften or polish-up their sound far too much in the past. I was surprised at how ‘old school’ yet blown-out extreme they’d taken it here in terms of a Phrenelith-esque atmospheric reach and some intensely doom-fed and brutal pieces (“Nécromasse”) which’ve unsurprisingly ripened into major points of enjoyment for me after some extensive listening.

TITLE:God’s Country

Horrified trauma in the house of unsympathetic death machines and the people who operate them — mouth first, chewing away in denial at a practice which only encourages their own environmental destruction. Exasperation, plain as day dismay at the reality of homelessness under peak capitalist opportunism and class disparity spoken with distraught, wilted spirit and sludging industrial-sized rhythms. We’re only two songs into this debut full-length from Oklahoma City’s moderne noise rock/sludge pylon-chargers Chat Pile and they’ve already made this release a serious point of defiance, a fitting reaction to a very fucked up and increasingly toxic, as in literally unlivable, reality today as they see it. This point of view comes very much in response to the increasingly apocalyptic religious attitudes and conditioned beliefs of cattle-mankind, an appreciably direct yet often indulgent extra-as-Hell level of expression which does far more than skewer and mock from an uber stoned high chair… It makes the whole humanity thing seem just as absurd, hopeless and horrible as it is whilst pointing directly at the chair you’ve taken up in participation. I dunno if they get around to making a holistic point here on ‘God’s Country‘ but they did ultimately force me to come to my own conclusions, to feel something awful and “real” that I’d probably needed to and that is the most I’d ask of any confrontational noise rock/post-hardcore ensemble nowadays.

TITLE:Slither in Slime
RECORD LABEL(S):Memento Mori

Chances are if you liked that Sedimentum record but lean towards something a bit more corpse-thrashing, legibly riffed, mega-grooving and willing to wail on leads more often Rotheads have your ideal jam somewhere on this record. ‘Slither in Slime‘ instantly reads to me as ‘old school’ attuned death metal by some certain degree of surrealistic lens of inception wherein the listening experience feels unhinged, astral projected for the sake of sounding unreal and larger than life. There is a distinction to be made between folks who live and breathe death metal, those who walk with it lingering in their blood like an infection, and those who just happen to be good at it and, as I’d said in my review, when I listen to each of this Romanian band’s records I get the sense they’re die-hards and not just tourists with a cool sound. Not such a profound thought on my part I guess, but probably more interesting to read than “Spooky guitar solo go wurr-weedle-wurr, thumbs up.

TITLE:Hypervirulence Architecture
RECORD LABEL(S):Profound Lore Records

Yeah surprising nobody Hissing are still complete murderers here on their second album, clipping lips and wearing your skin for the duration of this nightmarish death metal abstraction unto blackened and grinding detonations. I know a lot of bands hate the idea of their music being cathartic but there is a sense of vomited-out nox spiritus as ‘Hypervirulence Architecture‘ singes the hair and stains the skin with the foul, oily black and smoking downward-flowing pulse of this record. The production values are perfect this time around for the most part, I’d especially appreciated the stronger articulation of the bass guitar tones which’d really helped this thing stick as an experience, introducing jazz-like verve and disorder in extra layers that took me to a different place than their debut.

TITLE:From the Fathomless Deep
RECORD LABEL(S):Ripple Music

It is rare that I pick up a sludge-adjacent record these days and instantly get the right buzz off of its gig but Los Angeles-based trio Behold! The Monolith had no trouble winning me over outright with their presentation of this Mark III reality in stunning form here on their fourth LP. I’d tossed around a few metaphors that I’d scrapped in review but the one I think that’d made the best sense was a Roman sewer… Wait, no, that sounds terrible. Eh, the idea is that something ancient and foreboding still lurks deep in the past of a city which has be built upon by at least three cycles of conquer and rebuilding. The soul of the beast still thrives as a foundation which has morphed and transmogrified over the years, and in the case of ‘From the Fathomless Deep‘ we get an inclusive stylized form which still feels new and conscious of its new parts and participants. So, if we could call this band a proggy sludge/doom group in the past today we can see elements of traditional heavy metal, psychedelic doom metal, progressive sludge and extreme metal wielded in an impressive form all their own herein.

TITLE:The Silver Snake Unfolds
RECORD LABEL(S):Gilead Media

Atmospherically rich doomsday horror/noise rock? Southern gothic swamp-trawling post-punk? However you end up breaking into the steaming nightside plane of North Carolina-fixtured quartet Wailin Storms‘ delta reverberated fourth full-length album you definitely won’t miss the atmospheric electricity generated, this one delivered from the heart of a crater in the shape of satellite wreckage, quickly filling with mud-blacked water. They’ve tuned up the dramatics as they wait to drown, whipping their rhythmic fits up into more knotted shapes and working in wordier narrative in an effort to expand upon the core burliness of ‘Rattle‘ (2020), which I’d loved as well.

TITLE:Hostile Architecture
RECORD LABEL(S):Aural Music,

The true artiste typically goes into the creation of a record like this rightfully assuming that sociopolitical commentary, or even reference, will ultimately preach to the choir rather than barter with the middle in such divisive endtimes. In this case the artist is entirely self-aware, and the choice to speak to humanism is seemingly made by necessity of spirit. The subject matter comes from a place of such readable conviction that Glasgow, Scotland-based quartet (plus) Ashenspire cannot help but read as passionate, even if it is pragmatic “art music” first and foremost when we consider the continuum of extreme progressive/avant-garde metal as a whole. Ideologically charged music is one thing but to have the form match the message within believably linked ideas, which crossover between philosophy and musical construction, has a sort of ‘extra’ thrill to it where the artist practices what they preach, so to speak and without any sense of wilted irony. Eh, beyond my prattling on, it is an excitably dramatic and appreciably emotional bout of reasoning with the irrational and occluded senses of those unwilling to see the cage rusting around them and the grinning faces of those stoking the furnace beneath their feet.

TITLE:Excessive Outburst of Depravity
RECORD LABEL(S):High Roller Records

More thrash, more death. — It’ll be natural to initially see/hear a record like ‘Excessive Outburst of Depravity‘ as a prime example of the innately focused, personally defiant violence of traditional Teutonic thrash metal if you rose-colored lenses are beaming hot in view of it. In terms of compartmentalization that’d be just fine enough for thee surface levelers since the listening experience it is a bit Sodom-esque in a very satisfying way but, like their compatriots (ThanatosMessiah, etc.) the Protector name has always been something extreme, something absolutely underground associated with 80’s death metal grit, grime and aggression a shade apart. In this sense we actually receive the best of both worlds (late 80’s thrash metal, and late 80’s death metal) in a different ratio than we’ve gotten before.

TITLE:Skull Creator
RECORD LABEL(S):Echodelick Records

Skull Creator‘ is the latest full-length record from Toronto, Canada-based singer, guitarist, drummer and keyboardist Chad Ross (Comet Control, Quest for Fire) whom takes an introspective trip-hot journey herein while sustaining a very steady focus on his own style of psychedelic folk rock which is somewhat influenced by the more chilled side of Americana, though not in a too pronounced way. This record is a vibe, introspective yet scene setting, and his voice does most of the word getting there beyond the psychedelic spectacle it eventually builds as a full listen. The only music I’ll recommend this month that’ll make you feel anything remotely good.

TITLE:A Path Beyond Grief
RECORD LABEL(S):Translation Loss Records

I’ve found this fourth record from Northless as the ideal sort of return from the band wherein they’ve pulled back into some of the more fluid notions of their first album while keeping up the masterful fidelity and aggression found on their previous record, it fits beautifully in their discography without sounding like “just another” release in line, even extending themselves into newer territory here and there. Bold in some ways and traditional in others, what matters here is that these folks have landed upon an appreciably fine sound, brilliantly personalized style -and- songs which bear repeating. 

TITLE:Endless Garden
RECORD LABEL(S):Nasoni Records

Uh huh, an obscure and very organische progressive/psychedelic rock album from a band named after a King Crimson song, very much my kind of thing lately and it comes from a Finnish group who’d dabbled with doom metal a bit in their past lives. Two major things appeal to me up front here, the ancient almost live in studio feeling of the performances and production in conjunction with each other and the general tunefulness of this record, always working towards a hook or an appreciable shape. Even the most improvised or off the cuff tirades here feel confidently struck, as if the mood were impenetrable during these sessions. Certain points on this record transcend the late 60’s/early 70’s notions and weirdly enough feel modern in a fitting way, every step away from an extended vocal hook finds a worthwhile thread and in this sense I feel as if I’m tunneling through spaces which are far too detailed and interesting to notice I’ve been walking in circles for miles. An ancient yet not so derived form of hypnosis which’d naturally appealed to me. Anyhow, whatever, I’ll write a weirdo review for it soon enough.

RECORD LABEL(S):Selfmadegod Records

It’d be easy to pick up ‘Whiteout‘ on blind impulse and quickly sum Polish grindcore artistes Antigama upon sight as a post-‘Inhale/Exhale‘ and ‘Enemy of the Music Business‘ inspired gig and that’d be fair n’ fitting enough assessment ’til you’ve sat with their whole discography and taken in how their initially avant-garde (for its time) sound developed within their twenty plus year, eight LP ride up to this point. The hot tempered, maniac rush of ‘Whiteout‘ supersedes the noveau-grind details and constant swerve out of the norm featured on the band’s best known releases to some degree. This might be a detractor for those expecting a record they can tout as ‘progressive’ or forward thinking but from my perspective this is Antigama focusing on putting the hardest reactionary punch they can and really, it is where they’ve always shined most.

TITLE:Nail Below Nail
RECORD LABEL(S):Unique Leader Records

The psychology of fear, the horror of the unknown and the meaty purge of our species by way of extra-terrestrial hominid hunters greets us in view of Christchurch, New Zealand-based slamming brutal death metal quintet Organectomy‘s indomitably tough third full-length album here at peak killing season mid-year. ‘Nail Below Nail‘ ain’t rocket science when you’re in the midst of its senses-mashing cull, it kicks as hard or harder than the biggest bulldogs of slam today, but more importantly it finds their membership working up a bigger, better storm of stress together, resulting in a record decidedly worthy of the momentum built over the course of the last decade or so.

RECORD LABEL(S):Bad Omen Records

San Diego, California-based progressive psychedelic rock trio Birth manifest an introspective examination of the macrocosm of nature, technology, and human behavior as these collectively degrading elements represent tandem collapse of society and environment. ‘Born‘ is not a self-involved statement of a project sorceled into being out of hardship but a very direct meditation upon impermanence, leaving the other half of the equation, Death, up to the logic of the listener. Though the sleepier shades of dread on this album are its most imaginative cerebrum, and surely the thing to emphasize for newcomers, the restless showmanship and yearning introspection found on Birth‘s debut ultimately sold it upon repeated listens.

RECORD LABEL(S):Babylon Doom Cult Records

Netherlands-based atmospheric black metal duo Alburnum appear to have tapped into a common sort of arboreal ardor chiefly touted by paganistic and majestic folk melodic black metal traditions, if only by virtue of aesthetic communication alone. This turns out to be a half-truth, an intentional projection of scene and surroundings which vitally allow the emotional torsion of ‘Buitenlucht‘ to exist within the peace of the natural world and, more importantly, create a vessel of detangling movement for the mind to explode apart its depressive congestion ’til self-actualization.

RECORD LABEL(S):I, Voidhanger Records

In the case of Colombus, Ohio-based solo death metal project The Wakedead Gathering the inspiration for dystopian science fiction thematic arrives sourced from the imaginative realm of mid-century sci-fi classics rather than pandemia, war, and political distortion today. The fourth full-length from the artist, ‘Parallaxiom‘ posits first the dangerous notion that ones unique genetic code holds potential for expression of societally unacceptable traits, and from that point presents a dystopian society wherein death sentences are quite literally enforced by the state (using an inexact predictive genetic technology) when it is determined by a court of biological disposition that a life may potentially be one of criminality and deviance down the line. The conceptual progressive death metal album that comes of this fiction tells a story of destitution, underground dissent, and retaliation while simultaneously reimagining the momentum of the band’s discography thus far. Wut? It is a death metal album rather than an atmospheric black/death record like their last two, this is this guy’s finest work for this project yet.

TITLE:Onslaught to Seraphim
RECORD LABEL(S):Invictus Productions,

Though this is apparently the last release from Portland, Oregon-based blackened death metal duo Triumvir Foul it doesn’t show any loss of motivation or lax of the spirit when we consider the brutality on hand this time around. The original sound of the band is more-or-less upheld here somewhere in between the atmospheric ‘bestial’ death terror most popular during the early 2010’s and just classic war metallic sounds given proper guitar riffs, think of Archgoat and Teitanblood and you’re pretty much in the right headspace at least. Most all of the Vrasubatlat stuff is standoffish nihil, hateful and dark music which will prove impenetrable for all but the dedicated so, it is a bummer on my part that they’re calling off the most readable project among the lot. Ah well, they leave us with some of their best work on this third full-length.

TITLE:Echoes of the Thalassic Deep
RECORD LABEL(S):Self-Released,
I, Voidhanger Records

Although I could’ve put one of any fantastic extreme metal records here or grabbed some of the great hardcore punk I’ve been enjoying over on Bandcamp lately this is what I’ve been listening to more often than -most- things this month. ‘Echoes of the Thalassic Deep‘ is the third in a trilogy of space ambient releases from Australian atmospheric black metal artist Midnight Odyssey, the first two of which were released in 2020. All three are collected on a recent 3CD compilation release from I, Voidhanger and in the process of considering that whole 3+ hour release for review I’d taken particular liking to this one. Landing somewhere between the ambient spectrum of kosmiche music and a score for a CD-era space/sea odyssey video game, this is exactly the sort of thing I reach for during daily reading sessions for the sake of it acting as both “background” aura and propellant atmosphere. Don’t skim through this one either, make sure you at least sit through the whole of “As Death Rises From the Thalassic Deep”.


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