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. As clouds gather, hang and drench on us these last few weeks roughly three month’s worth of forest fires are conditionally wiped of their lingering smoke and here at the very last moment of October our first breath of somewhat fresh air in western Washington hits the lungs. In the course of the last month or two we’ve become addicted to driving up Mt. Rainier from every approach and, I guess just hanging out in the mountains, feeling the elevation. Been playing through various bland games while waiting for the latest Star Ocean and Mount & Blade games otherwise, both of those’ll occupy plenty of my time in November. Anyhow, there are a ton, and by a ton I mean roughly ~30, releases from October that I wanted to cover but didn’t have the time or mind to get around to but hey, no worries, I keep a long list of overlooked releases throughout the year and typically spend the last few weeks of December catching up with all of the stuff that mattered yet slipped through my schedule. On that same tip, I’ve gathered a list of ~250 releases to mull over as I begin to consider the best ~50-75 releases of 2022.
II. There are roughly ~40 full-length releases I’ll be considering for full review in November, these will naturally include some of the best releases of the year, most of which I’ve had plenty of time to digest. It’ll be tough to try an cover as much as I’d like to Shorter, less thoughtful reviews will be in order for the rest of the year. The trade-off between quantity and quality is for the sake of a more flexible schedule, this ain’t my job and the balance has to make sense.
III. Our latest release via Spirit Coffin Publishing, Floating‘s ‘The Waves Have Teeth‘ has been announced, please check it out and buy a copy on Cassette or CD. It is one of the best releases of the year in my book, emotionally charged yet intelligent death metal with post-punk influences. Think along the lines of Execration, Morbus Chron, and some early October Tide in there too. I greatly appreciate the support, lots of wild stuff coming to the label in 2023 as well.
IV. 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.
|#1||Album of the Month|
|TITLE:||At the Foothills of Deliration|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Dark Descent Records,|
Me Saco Un Ojo
How do you follow-up the already golden grooved buzz of ‘Speciation‘? Well, holy shit, exactly like this I guess. What a goddamned record to hit a fool like me with, a point of absolute mastery which reveals deeper potential from a band who were already in a good place. I am not considering many records for Album of the Year this time around but yes, this is one of the top contenders. — Faceless Burial have stricken skull and the gelatin within with mightiest muse on this third and thriving full-length album. ‘At the Foothills of Deliration‘ will ultimately be received by the worthiest as their already well-individuated nuke of barbaric brutality stamping upon the realm of progressive death metal with great care, leaving a mark of skillfully mayhemic beauteousness amongst the mush of flesh left behind.
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Profound Lore Records,|
End All Life Productions
Falling deeper still the enfeebled, sightless realism of mankind depicted within the knowing illustrations of Montreal, Québec-borne black metal duo Gevurah intimidates as they stride through the blazing-lit residue of a four year path of propitiation in Gehenna. In the Luciferian tumult of ‘Gehinnom‘ death, dissolve and bleakest nihil are desirous symptom of the inevitable transformation of flesh, a sign that resurrection is impending and transcendence achievable through such impossibly wielded craft. — I knew this record was going to hit me, I’d already had some great appreciation for their discography, but there is more to appreciate, more to gawk at, and plenty of inspired meaning chiseled into this record that’d made it a pleasure full of peaking brilliancy at every turn.
|ARTIST:||EMBRACE OF THORNS|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Nuclear Winter Records|
It was hard to not walk into ‘Entropy Dynamics‘ expecting a record as good or better than ‘Scorn Aesthetics‘, an album which’d left a deep crater in my skull back when it released. I’d ultimately have to concede that they’ve created a different, perhaps better rounded follow-up which conditionally rethinks their collective gains over several albums and produces a best representation of what this Greek black/death metal band was, is, and will be as they continue to evolve. Maintaining a certain standard of spectacle, going a bit bigger even, but building a new record from the cemetery upwards finds Embrace of Thorns at a fresh point of mastery and likely piercing more death metal attuned ears this time around, which has some strong precedence in their larger discography but also a new wisdom in hand which I’d found redeeming and inspiring.
|TITLE:||A Swan by the Edge of Mandala|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Indie Recordings|
‘A Swan by the Edge of Mandala‘ gives us cerebral wrath, deepest introspection, and a gloriously dynamic feat far beyond expectations on this second full-length from Vorbid who do so by miraculously combining a very high standard for modern Scandinavian progressive rock with their love of longform, well-involved technical thrash metal. One part Vektor circa 2016 and another part Leprous, if you will. — To live without interactivity and human connection would be both mortal and psychic wound to the passionately stated exuberance of Arendal, Norway-based conceptually guided progressive thrash metal quartet Vorbid, who’d not necessarily intended to end up exactly where they are today, a full leap and bound beyond previously noted potentiation. Arriving upon the lucid evolutionary spectacle of their second full-length album without going too heartily with the flow, these young fellowes wield ‘A Swan by the Edge of Mandala‘ as the impressive result of astute learning, creative freedoms embraced, and potential extracted in reaction to otherwise stymying solitude.
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Nordvis Produktion|
Cold and cutting realism which demands we remain in touch with the truth of human nature, in the folk tradition of Swedish shore-gazing epic black metal. Yes, ‘Av Stoft‘ is iteration in the best sense as this duo perfects their vision of longform narrative, parable in descent. — In attempt to reconnect with the soil, set deeper footing and stave the nauseous, dizzied suffering of societal illness the bardic tradition upheld by Skåne, Sweden based folken black metal duo Jordfäst returns with character, scene, setting in service to allegorical balladry wherein the tragedian reality of nature leaves us with no silver lining needed, only our very temporary place in the continuum affirmed. ‘Av Stoft‘ returns to dust the notion of the mystic, the cleansers of reality who persist for the sake of false hope, no deus ex machina comes as our doomed protagonists simply crumble beneath the wheel in dark and potently real imagery.
|TITLE:||Dimension of Deviant Clusters|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Blood Harvest Records|
Picking that first LP back up and hyping for this second one turned out to be the best way to crack into ‘Dimension of Deviant Clusters‘ as it highlighted the thematic unity and unusual character of Universally Estranged‘s vision while also revealing just how much the guy has learned between creations. It feels like the right level of continuation, not a stratospheric leap but a clear enough set of parameters improved that this hits like version two, the sequel, the next chapter of their galaxy-wide spread. This time around there was admittedly less of a mind-boggling effect, at least in terms of understanding what exactly this was, yet I couldn’t help but walk away from this record impressed with how much it contrasts with everything else going on in death metal these days, peering into its own sort of niche and picking away at exciting modes, involved yet proper succinct creations which thrill the mind yet create no baggage within it.
|TITLE:||In Nomine Diaboli|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Dark Descent Records|
Beyond hearing a bit more Acheron-era Mike Browning influence on their sound, an uptick in rabid “bestial” death metal rhythmic push and appreciating the fiery, always shifting pacing of the record I don’t have any particularly deep thoughts on ‘In Nomine Diaboli‘. I found myself consistently impressed with the presence of the drums, the dynamic array of guitar tones in combination and their interplay with the keyboards when they cropped up, when all of these elements fire off together I couldn’t help but appreciate how different this record is compared to the previous album while still managing to be an ideal representation of their sound. It took a few listens, I had to wheel through their prior discography a bit, but I eventually found this record to be one of Imprecation‘s best overall full-lengths for my own taste. ‘Satanae Tenebris Infinita‘ stands out as the obsession at the point of revival in my mind and the Phil Westmoreland riffs on the first demo still represent the key primordial statement I’m interested in overall but this is a fantastic point of fitness for the bands discography, a new high to make up for the devastating low of loss.
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Agonia Records|
In seeking timelessness by way of sharpened tongues and well-trained hands Greek progressive black metal quartet Aenaon have made a name within grasp of greatness between three full-length albums yet it is the fourth which ultimately goes its own way, speaks its own mind(s) and takes hold of ear by way of admirable personification. ‘Mnemosyne‘ finally completes the long self-edifying walk from the crimson curtain’d and spot-lit opera hall into the blackest lounge, a former opium den still reeking of several decades aged and shaken-loose thoughts emerging as surrealistic, stargazing highs. It is the sort of prog-black record the dreaming-loud mind hungers for when considering the potential differentiation available to the classic progressive rock experience (by way of moderne progressive metal), a walk through a set of spectacularly complete thoughts expressing timely emotional extravagance. I’d found this record to be a pure pleasure to listen to throughout the month, its unique threads of atmosphere, tension, and high expressivity taking their sound to a place of deepest yet personalization.
|TITLE:||In Now Less Than Ever|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||CrazySane Records|
|SHORT REVIEW:||[CLICK HERE]|
Twin Drugs manifest what folks innately into heavier music would imagine the existential dread inherent to shoegaze would sound like at a proper sonic extreme, fuzz-deranged and lush but entirely bent along the ruined drainpipe of its sleepy rhythms and catchier, dreamier pop expressionism. ‘In Now Less Than Ever‘ is the sort of record which’ll find folks who remember the droning edge of records like ‘Evol‘ and ‘Isn’t Anything‘ in a comfortable headspace to start. If your interest in noise rock and shoegaze kind of rises to a head around 1989 you’ll definitely hear some of that dread, distortion and listlessness here but more importantly it has been amplified to a beautiful (yet not cheaply crystalline) standard here with extra nods deserved between the drum production, the guitar performances, and the render itself. Pure pleasure listening from my point of view and one of my favorite non-metal records of the month.
|TITLE:||Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Memento Mori,|
Me Saco Un Ojo Records
Kitee, Finland borne ‘old school’ death metal trio Morbific are already readied up with their second full-length album and of course it rules, they’ve iterated and improved upon a few aspects but ‘Squirm Beyond the Mortal Realm‘ shows consistency and a steadfast interest in perfecting their original idea. Their sound is very much the late 80’s death metal ideal explored with some brutal horror death metal applications in hand otherwise, somewhere between Autopsy and Impetigo and the the post-‘Symphonies of Sickness‘ influence upon early 90’s North American and Scandinavian greats. The buzz and burn of this record is no less of a good time than the previous record, though they’ve amped the bass guitar radioactivity, hit upon a few more death/doom nodules and improved the drum sound quite a bit.
|TITLE:||Voices from a Fathomless Realm|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Prophecy Productions|
Unearthing a classicist modus in contemporary form the lurking-deep gothic metal influenced haunt of German atmospheric death/doom metal act Cavernous Gate aims to depict an underworld approach in vivid witness on this debut double LP. ‘Voices From a Fathomless Realm‘ is a glorious thing to behold for the sake of how inadvisably ambitious it is and how well the artist pulls off its hourlong, somewhat non-traditional action with some sense of self achieved throughout. The rough edges, outsized notions and heartily dramatic scene-setting within all manage notable development of character, as a debut should, while showcasing an inspired and dreaming-big sort of event which largely delivers on its premise. The riffs don’t entirely deliver yet the experience ultimately does convince and immerse. FFO: The Ruins of Beverast, Sun of the Sleepless, early Crematory (Deu).
|TITLE:||The Corruption of Virtue|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Transcending Obscurity Records|
London based death metal band De Profundis haven’t fallen into a prog-death mold beyond their doomed and devastated beginnings nearly two decades back so much as they’ve found their own aggressive and stately melodic form of it through their travels. Now thinking and feeling a bit more out loud, willing to lean into their broadest strokes and various indulgences in service to a most engaging and impressive standard, the quintet produce a sixth full-length which lands as a new peak in progress made towards their own profound voice in action. ‘The Corruption of Virtue‘ overwhelms with a purpose, a passionately stated opposition which reeks of both intellectual and emotional centers being engaged, the aggressive and the complex meeting in service to grand gestures of melodic value, all of it set to satiate the extremist with exclusivity. FFO: Martyr (Can), Carcariass, Augury.
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Karisma Records|
Oslo, Norway based progressive jazz-rock quartet Wizrd impressed me with their jam-ready energy from the first listen. Their influences are deceptively obvious, taking a sort of early-to-mid 70’s progressive rock analog warmth and feeding it southern rock vocal harmonies, dizzy slide guitar runs, and some otherwise not-so ancient treatment of their rhythmic drivers. Yet we’ve much, much more to take in from that starting point as ‘Seasons‘ reveals a richly detailed progressive rock album which shreds but, doesn’t forget how to chill and make a good show of it. Expect a bit of ‘Tarkus‘-era ELP in their sound and no doubt Gentle Giant fans will appreciate the active jazz rock buzz of the band but these folks (whom also feature in Spidergawd, Krokofant, etc.) aren’t pushing such an ‘old school’ level of chill underfoot, instead packing most of these songs with impressive feats of rhythm section which don’t feel retro or overly referential.
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Hessian Firm|
Whittier, California-based black/death metal duo Galicia scramble towards the guile of their own sophisticated ideas in harried press, as if their lives depended upon the immediate friction of the six songs that make up their debut full-length releasing from the mind post-haste. Presented as a series of crazed yet sentimental heavy metal quilts ‘Precipice‘ represents the not-at-all damning dichotomy between the elite romanticist melodic-yet-brutal black/death ideal and novice practicum wherein the intent of the artist is readably majestic yet their first blind run through the colonnades leaves them humbled to some degree, triumphal for the pernicious way they’ve absolutely battled through. FFO: Axis of Advance, Absu, later Order From Chaos.
|TITLE:||As Legends Fade and Gods Die|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Praetorian Sword Records|
Auckland, New Zealand-borne black death-thrashing quintet Exordium Mors begin to edge towards their second decade marker astute enough to press on with aggression rather than adapt to their surroundings. That isn’t to say that they’ve not evolved, in fact they’ve vastly improved every aspect of their craft in the eight years since their debut full-length, but instead that their signature apex predatorial sense of purpose need not waiver into depravity or populism to self-sustain. ‘As Legends Fade and Gods Die‘ arrives direct from the bands own imprint, produced by their own hand, and with unmistakable enthusiasm for the high standards upheld by their rarified form. FFO: Absu, Summon (U.S.), Blood Storm.
|TITLE:||Through Sheer Will and Black Magic…|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||20 Buck Spin|
A full ride through ‘Through Sheer Will and Black Magic…‘ hits the gas pedal on my brain well enough, entertaining and even exciting in motion as Daeva attack these songs with some real conviction and detail punched into ’em. While I’m not sure this is the sort of record that will live on in the hall of black/thrash metal superiority for the ages there was some immense thrill to be had in enjoyment of the full listen which is fairly brief and entirely effective in its reverb crushed and riff obsessed movement. Yes, of course there were a few other records with a bit of ‘Tara‘ in their blood nearby this month but this one is no better or worse.
|TITLE:||Brought Forth in Iniquity|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Osmose Productions|
The third cinematically charged funereal symphony from Norwegian progressive black/doom metal quintet Abyssic technically reigns it in a bit, refocusing the role of the orchestra within the enormous imagined space of performance to a co-leadership role. ‘Brought Forth in Iniquity‘ is no less of a ‘classical’ music inspired application to stylized extreme metal voicing but this time around all elements work together in uneasy harmony of bludgeoning wrath, sorrowful miasma and tragically melodramatic panning array and contribute to a heavier, more focused spin. The great achievement here is that despite the proposed repositioning and adaptation involved they’ve only gained profundity herein and certainly not lost their knack for the outsized and entertaining bombast which has long been their signature. FFO: Skepticism, Forest Stream, Midnight Odyssey.
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Dying Victims Productions|
Seven years after their first album Swedish heavy metal trio Witch Blade have returned with what is one of the better traditional heavy metal records of the year for my own taste with ‘Månsken‘. They’ve firmly planted their feet in late 70’s heavy rock but spread that idea between Judas Priest‘s overcharged road anthems and the more intimate tumble of groups like Angel Witch and Quartz on hand with a bit of their occult heavy rock skin still showing. The best parts of this album capitalize on their woodsy, arcane heavy rock sound for theatrical moments such as the driving hooks and dual guitar melodies that arise within “Hellvetika”, the “Swords and Tequila”-level ride of pub-shaker “Häxjägarna”, and the stuck in traffic half-boogie of “Ritual”. It shouldn’t go without saying that vocalist/bassist Witchhunter‘s performances in Swedish go a long way in characterizing their otherwise British heavy rock focused influences.
|ARTIST:||OMEGAVORTEX / PIOUS LEVUS|
|TITLE:||Omegavortex / Pious Levus [Split LP]|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Invictus Productions,|
Dark Descent Records,
Goat Throne Records
|SHORT REVIEW:||[CLICK HERE]|
This split full-length album from well-paired arcane blackened/bestial death metal bands, Omegavortex and Pious Levus presents a finest standard for calculated mayhemic battery set behind high-brained rhythmic sensationalism which could only be achieved through psychic connection with true extreme metal’s demand for maniacal vision and corporeal conditioning. In other words, they’ve both got riffs stacked all over this thing and with a style inspired by noisome and aggressive late 80’s death metal and black metal, each bearing their own personality. Of course I veer towards the Omegavortex side, I am a huge fan of what they do and was once again blown away by their horrified, darkest approach to pure thrashing black/death metal. Compliments to both, though, since I think Pious Levus have improved with each release and this is some of their best material to date. Was lucky to get a chance to premiere the album and it has ended up being one of my most listened to releases of the month.
|TITLE:||Von Unreiner Willkür|
|RECORD LABEL(S):||Into Endless Chaos|
Unpretentious black metallic art-musick from folks involved in Black Salvation, Evil Warriors, and nearby projects Cntmpt‘s discography is a delve into pure expression, parts composed and part emergent collide in what is essentially instrumental work when we consider the vocalist an animalistic utterance which matches the ugliness, the swaying cinematic depressurization of the skulls in unison. Without the insight gained from experience within their realm of course the first impression will be challenging, almost as if we’ve gotten a set of placeholders where stunning ideas might be crafted and needled over yet the thrill of the moment is captured to some great degree here otherwise. I particularly love the guitar work on this album, being a huge fan of labelmates Veiled (see: ‘In Blinding Presence‘) and that similarly whirring, percussive guitar tone. Anyhow, this one is still in the process of review but I can already tout it as one of the more captivating, scintillating, unobstructed channeling courses of the month.
- WORM – Bluenothing (2022) | REVIEW
- SPELL – Tragic Magic (2022) | REVIEW
- VIGILANCE – Vigilance (2022) | REVIEW
- RIPPED TO SHREDS – 劇變 [Jubian] (2022) | REVIEW
- FUNERAL HARVEST – Redemptio (2022) | REVIEW
- VACUOUS – Dreams of Dysphoria (2022) | REVIEW
- RHYTHM OF FEAR – Fatal Horizons (2022) | REVIEW
- CHROME GHOST – House of Falling Ash (2022) | REVIEW
- THEOTOXIN – Fragment-Totenruhe (2022) | REVIEW
- GGULL – Ex Est (2022) | REVIEW
- COFFIN TORTURE – Blennoid (2022) | REVIEW
<strong>Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:</strong>
Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.