After a break of, well, much too long, the (hopefully) monthly review round-up is back. Truth be told, I missed writing these, despite the work involved. I intend on publishing these towards the end of each month, covering… well, as always with TSNTW, covering whatever I feel like that I think is worthy of your time. This month’s selection takes in the progressive metal of Khôrada (featuring former member of Agalloch and Giant Squid); high-speed thrash from Black Fast; a first-time on vinyl reissue of a Sarcófago album; dark ambient courtesy of ELMA; punk-infused thrash metal nastiness from Butcher in the Fog; and crushingly negative hardcore from Sense Offender. Enjoy!
Label: Nuclear Blast
I confess, somewhere along the line, I lost my faith in later-day Sepultura. I have soft spots for Against and Nation, but from Roorback onwards, nothing had grabbed me. It’s not that they’re not the same band as Max-era Sepultura – they might as well be different entities completely now – and I’m longing for the old days. It’s just that the albums weren’t that, well, good. So, imagine my surprise when Machine Messiah didn’t so much change that streak as it did grab me, shake me around, and realise just how great their prog/thrash/groove combination can be. Their best album since Chaos A.D? As far as I’m concerned, yes.
Brave New World was the first Iron Maiden album I heard, and as such it inevitably holds a special place for me. As with every single Iron Maiden album, it has some absolutely world-beating songs – but also a few moments that let the overall quality down. Songs like ‘The Wickerman’ and ‘Out of the Silent Planet’ are superb, and made obvious singles – but then there’s a song like ‘Nomad’ that never really goes anywhere, and the generally weak choruses. Even so, Brave New World is a great album, and one that I return to almost every summer.
Label: Holy Roar Records
The issue I have with a lot of prog music is that it fails to be progressive, and ends up instead feeling quite regressive and backwards-looking – a painful irony for music that, by its very name, should be forward-thinking. So, it’s a pleasure to hear a band like Boss Keloid who creature music that is both prog-inspired and progressive in outlook. Melted on the Inch is an album that toys with the concept of song-structures and convention, letting the songs wander where they will, to stirring, life-affirming effect.
Label: Neverheard Distro
Think of solo metal acts, and you’ll probably think of people in their bedrooms or basements, typically hammering out primitive, raw-as-fuck black metal. Aynsophar go against that cliched image, with the solo project of Barbara Teleki unleashing some highly complex, progressive death metal on Abysmal Sevrets of Unknown. Whilst the EP features contributions from guest vocalists, what really stands out throughout the record is Barbara’s playing, and her incredibly intricate song-writing, that is heavily influenced by Death’s most forward-thinking moments. These compositions would be impressive enough from a full band, but that they’re the work of one person makes them even more incredible.
Label: Holy Roar Records
There’s been quite a lot of hype around Conjurer recently, and it’s easy to hear why. The new album from the UK band, Mire, is a fearsome mix of forward-thinking, progressive song-writing and supremely heavy music. Sitting somewhere between early Opeth, early Mastodon, and Gojira, Mire is as devastatingly heavy as it is heart-achingly beautiful as it is emotionally cathartic. It’s a hell of a gut-punch of a record, made all the more impressive by the fact that this is only their debut album.
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
The Metal Archives page for The Clearing Path describes the band’s style simply as “black metal” – and by Satan’s horns, that is one monstrously misleading understatement. Sure, black metal may underpin the sound of new album Watershed Between Firmament and the Realm of Hyperborea, as well as previous album Watershed Between Earth and Firmament, but there’s so much more going on beyond that. This is the mutant spawn of black, progressive, and technical death metal, all combined in to one profoundly ambitious half hour. If you’ve ever complained about black metal lacking in ambition (and I’m certainly guilty of that!), this is an album to demonstrate that there’s plenty of ambitious artists still out there in 2017.