Yes, I actually kept my word this time. It remains to be seen how long I’ll be able to keep up this schedule but for now doing this once a month post might work. Regardless, here are 5 records that really blew me away this month. Unlike last month I actually listened to a lot more records this time so I actually had to narrow down my choices this time to only 5. Hopefully these are some records that might interest whoever is reading this (assuming you haven’t already heard them already).
Haken – Affinity
This is probably one of my favorite releases from this year. I’ve been a fan of Haken since their first record but this is their strongest and most consistent record to date. It’s an album that really lightens things up for the band, especially in the context of prog-metal albums in general, it’s nice to hear a record which isn’t attempting to be dark – and winds up sounding more self-serous. Songs on here are for the most part quiet up-beat and lively, with lots of parts that sound like throwbacks to groups like Rush and Yes. I’d also say the band have gotten better at writing shorter songs on here as well, writing a prog-epic is all well and good but hearing a band like this write good songs that are in that 4-5 minute range shows even more growth to me.
Standout Tracks: 1985, The Architect, Earthrise
Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust
It’s Gorguts – what more reason do you need beyond that? They are the current kings of death metal. Pushing the genre into ideas that are so grabbing and strange that I can’t help but not love this thing. It’s a single track, but it feels like the logical extension from 2013’s Colored Sands, and to me at least, that’s a good thing. The production is nice and authentic sounding (not super processed and clean) with lots of movement throughout the 30+ minute piece. Dissonant and progressive riffing about with moments that rank among the most intense to quieter, almost ambient-like. It’s hard to really say anything that hasn’t already been said in regards to a record like this. If you haven’t heard it already, I don’t know what to tell you.
Schammasch – Triangle
Unlike a lot of people, this was not my first go-round with Schammasch (I say a lot of people because from what I’ve heard and read, this was the record that first got people into the band). In this triple-album (yes, you read it correctly, 3 albums) the band dive down the rabbit hole of more, let’s call it, abstract musical territories, with each disc posing each own musical experience. Disc one being a brooding and progressive-leaning black metal record. The second album bringing a larger focus on atmosphere with a heavier doom influence on a couple of songs while evolving into where disc three ends up – ambiend and drone based music. It’s more of a journey than a simple listen. Going through the entire thing, it feels like a singular and cohesive piece, not a collection of songs (although there are moments in each album that certainly stand out).
Standout Tracks: Awakening From the Dream of Life, Metanoia, Above the Stars of God, Maelstrom
Harakiri For The Sky – III: Trauma
I can’t really say that I was all that big a fan of Harakiri for the Sky’s previous two full-length records. The band’s sound is based in the whole “post-black metal” genre which I find rather hit-and-miss for me. The first two records didn’t do a whole lot for me, they sounded too much like other groups and projects I had already heard in the genre and they didn’t do anything to stand apart. So I didn’t go into this record expecting a whole lot, but was very surprised that the band had evolved and put out a record that features a lot more actual riffs on it. There are still the trademarks of the genre present within but this was far more enjoyable and engaging a listen. The production is also their best yet. It’s a big sounding record with lots of big sounding drums (which unlike their last record, don’t overwhelm the other instruments) and lots of chords ringing out. I also would dare to call this record, at times, somewhat upbeat.
Standout Tracks: Funeral Dreams, Viaticum
Wormed – Krighsu
I’ve said before that brutal death metal is a (sub)genre I’m not all that enamored with; but even having said that, Wormed is a group I do find interesting and enjoyable. Their particular brand of death metal is multifaceted, with every song feeling like it goes through at least half a dozen changes in the span of a couple of minutes. There’s also just the novelty of how intense and brutal they actually are. Their riffs don’t feel like they’re drowned out by the propulsive double-kick drumming. While this album doesn’t really do anything new from their previous full-length, it’s still a blast of an album (literally).
Standout Tracks: Eukaryotic Hex Swarm, Computronium Pulsar Nanarchy, Molecular Winds