It’s that time again. Record(s) o’ the Month for August has been a most contentious process at the Angry Metal Guy offices. Fortunately, for those of us who happen to be the dictatorial owner of this website, the winner was obvious. But as I shredded the symbolic votes of my lovely, naïve staff of indentured servants, I was struck by what a good month August has been. This is the first month with two 5-star records ever on this website (I think), and that says something right there. Given that the rest of 2014 has been a tour of disappointment and dismay punctuated by a few pleasant, if sparse, surprises from bands no one’s heard of, it was nice that some established bands and rising stars releasing the records we expect of them. And while I can only choose one Record o’ the Month, we do runners-up for one reason: so that the winner knows who to direct their gloating at. However, a second reason could be because some months it’s pretty hard to choose and we want to recognize the things that we felt shone bright during the last month.

Opeth - Pale Communion

Opeth‘s Pale Communion is a return to form, if not a reversion of style. Having overcome the “throw all the riffs in a hat and put them in a random order” songwriting technique that was ostensibly on display on Watershed and HeritagePale Communion is the record you probably expected from these guys in 2011. In a sentence, Pale Communion is like Ghost Reveries with the volume turned down a couple notches. And, frankly, that’s excellent. Having listened to this record 50 times over a long enough period that allowed me to leave it and come back, I felt my love of it grow every time I heard it again. I am not a humble fanboy shaking at the feet of my idols or their record label, nor am I a repentant reviewer trying to make up for lambasting my favorite band because I was harassed by their fans in a comment thread. Pale Communion is just an extremely compelling album. Extra points (5.5/5.0?) for sounding incredible and striking at the loudness war from its perch at Roadrunner Records. Good jerb, grabbar.

Runner(s) Up:

Pallbearer_Foundations_Of_BurdenPallbearer // Foundations of Burden is the dreaded sophomore record from a band that knocked one out of the park on the first go ’round. Prepared for the worst, but hoping for the best, Grymm was pleased to report that Pallbearer bore their coffin with style. Instead of disappointing with mediocre construction or second-rate ideas “Foundations of Burden finds Pallbearer oozing confidence and bleeding sincerity.” Watch out, doom metal pantheon, if Pallbearer can drag themselves out of their catatonic stupor and off the couch, they’re going to half-ass their way through something of moderate note before dying in obscurity and never having mattered! 

solstafir-otta-01Sólstafir //  Ótta entranced Madam X with its artistic coloration, moody bearded guy, and post-black metal builds. The minimalistic approach, combined with the artistic concepts and completeness of this record inspired awe. While the rest of the staff didn’t feel as strongly about the record as Mz. X did, it’s not every day that a non-White Wizzard record gets rated with a 5.0/5.0, and do you have any idea how much time it took her to write out “Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason” with alt-codes!? That kind of dedication deserves recognition, as does the moody and mighty Ótta.

Panopticon - Roads to the North 01Panopticon // Roads to the North was actually a bit of a black metal curveball. Having not really been super impressed with Kentucky personally, I was delighted to hear Panopticon‘s interpolation of the Gothenburg Swedodeaththrash movement into the banjo-laced Americana of Roads to the North. Throw in a picture of Minnesota and “opulent songwriting,” and Roads to the North is “the closest [Panopticon] has ever come to a perfect rendering of [their] vision of a homegrown American black metal,” according to our JF Williams. Sounds like a record you should buy, eh? 

The Haunted_Exit WoundsThe Haunted // Exit Wounds caused a bit of a stir when my old, crabby, out-of-touch boss Al Kikuras dropped a 4.5 on one of modern metal’s most disappointing bands. Then he had the gall to call Suicide Silence thrash metal. Moral panic ensued. Outrage was experienced. Comments were written. Still, since Mr. Kikuras has more trve in his pinky finger than you have in your whole body, I stand up and take notice when he drops a high score. Turns out Exit Wounds is a beastly record, filled with fat riffs and a brutal post-thrash attack *coughmetalcorecough* that converted the coldhearted (and old) Mr. Kikuras and even made AMG tap his foot a bit.

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  • I for one am still morally panicked and outraged.

    • Jean-Luc Ricard

      Won’t someone please think of the children???

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Lo and behold, we ended up with an old guy in the cover anyway.

    • Those were kind of your choices. Old guy in a painting or old guy in a moody photo.

      • Or a picture of me or Al, both old.

        • In the nude, to support J-Law.

          • Grymm

            #FreeJLaw

          • Anything for a good cause.

          • With J-Law about to sign that Dior deal and me (A-Kik) about to sign a Louis Vuitton deal there would be a conflict. Sorry, can’t get nude for that cause.

  • Eddy Ferreira

    Well looks like i need to awaken from my Metal Coma and go update my Metal CD Collection, it’s been almoust a year since i bought a Metal Album.

    • Daniel Marrable

      What’s a CD?

      • Eddy Ferreira

        you know that physical form of media that a person will place in his or her optical drive? They aren’t old news yet, hipsters don’t buy them in there favorite record shop yet

  • Mike Eckman

    This is definitely a clean sweep! Other than Panopticon (the band, not the excellent Isis album (and that’s Isis the band not the terror group)), I’ve heard, enjoyed, and agree with all of these albums here. Bravo August, and bravo AMG!

  • Martin Duhaime

    What a month, what a month! Lot’s of 4.0, 4.5, and even two 5.0! Those are five albums that I am enjoying or sure I would enjoy as soon as they get out. Marvelous! I’m glad I can now listen to good tunes from The Haunted; I didn’t see that one coming. I’m just a little sad that Fallujah’s The Flesh Prevails didn’t make top 5/honorable mention despite the DR issue.Let alone Belphegor’s latest release which is a beast. Too much good stuff to listen to and so few hours to fill my ears….

    • Fallujah made the honorable mentions of last month, FYI.

      • Martin Duhaime

        My bad. Time flies so quickly.

  • Zari

    I’M SORRY FOR BEING YOUNG. NO DADDY, DON’T HIT ME AGAIN

    • Shaddup, you punk! SMACK!

      • Beunhaas

        GODSMACK

  • Panopticon is still my top contender for AOTY. To this day I just can’t put it down for more than every other day.

    • Feytalist

      My top AOTY choice would still be Bast’s Spectres (which I can’t help notice has not been reviewed by this here site :D)

      Ótta is making a run for it, though.

  • Shaid

    Just a heads up, the Ótta review link is pointing at the Haunted review, and the Haunted review isn’t linked at all.

    Regardless of nitpicks, a good selection, a good month for metal. The new Ópeth is growing on me; the first thing I noticed on the album is how much more, well, Opeth-y it sounds than the last couple. Currently trying Sólstafir on Spotify.

    (Wow, my avatar is stumpy. Good job, Disqus)

    • Thanks for the heads up! Fixed!

    • Yeah, that’s weird. I must have done that, but what a strange thing.

  • Jean-Luc Ricard

    I’m going to have to put some more time in with the Opeth; it hasn’t really clicked with me yet (despite loving/enjoying most of their previous records). But as you say, often with such albums more time is required. The Pallbearer is fabulous and I love it. Definitely a fine and fruitsome month.

  • DrChocolate

    Geez, looking at this list….August was a bad-ass month for metal. After sort of a dragging year, August really picked up the slack.

  • AnnieK13

    Great choice! Absolutely love this album.

    I am actually a recent listener of this group – having it recommended some time back when Heritage was new and not finding enough in that album to hold my interest. I had heard such great things about the group and found elements I liked in Heritage but it was lacking something and perhaps I had expected too much.

    When I heard Cusp for the first time I was impressed enough to look back at their older releases and found Still Life which I absolutely love. I put in on to play for my first listen and got completely lost in it. I don’t remember what I was doing at the time, just that I stopped and became immersed to the point where I did nothing but listen til the CD ended.

    And now I find myself loving the new release though much much different from my now favorite Opeth – Still Life. Again it held my attention for the full CD.

    • Yeah, Annie, you should definitely check out their older stuff if you love this. Particularly Ghost Reveries is my favorite, but I’m a huge fan of everything before Watershed.

      • Excentric_1307

        INDEFENSIBLE POSITION: I actually kind of like Watershed, even if it is “Opeth Lite”(R)

  • Alright, call me a crabby pants, but I’m listening to this new The Haunted record and can’t find what the hell all the buzz is about. I hear some pretty generic metal and nothing particularly *memorable*.

    Can someone vouching for this record give me some time stamps of parts they found particularly worthwhile? Which of these riffs stick with you? I usually judge these kinds of records by the memorability of the guitar riffs and their ability to make me want to look up how to play them. So far none of that is happening here. But I’m open to the possibility I’m just not listening closely enough. Anyone care to point out which riffs they find inspired and inspiring? It just sounds pretty damn bland all the way to me.

    • T.J. Barber

      For me, I find I’ve just grown out of that style altogether. I find it immature and chest beating, so I can’t get past thinking it’s garbage. All these people saying the new Haunted album is good is as weird to me as if everyone was championing some nu-metal band.

  • Worldeater

    Hey AMG Staff,

    i just wanted to thank you for the great job you are all doing. The big 40 is coming up for me next year and i still can remember how i was blown away by my fist metal LP at the age of 13 (which after some consideration turns out to be reign in blood!). AMG is my primary ressource for metal music and i am looking forward to every new article on your site, even those about bands or genres i don´t particular like.

    You are the great white shark of metal reviews and discussion on the net.

    Bring it on!

  • TrickleDownTacoRiff

    Damn I love the new Opeth album!

  • Julio César Bedoya

    Opeth’s album sounds sooo well engineered, it makets it impeccable. My KEF LS50 reveal not only a nicely composed album but a sound range that is full and non-harsh thorough the whole spectrum.

  • sir_c

    So… for two months I have been trying to get into Opeth, mostly based on your review here. I sincerely believe the album’s subtitle is called The Teflon Tapes, because no matter how hard I fried, not one song stuck.

    If I want to hear 70’s stuff, I’ll grab my Rush and Deep Purple albums from the attick. If I want to hear compelling prog metal, I prefer Karnya for example.

    Pity, cos I really wanted to like this album. I think they forgot to apply the Unboring filter in ProTools.