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‘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 Heritage, Pale 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.
Pallbearer // 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!
Sólstafir // 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 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 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.