I think we can all admit January was a less than spectacular month for metal. There were some solid albums, but no big, slobberknocking titans of terror. Lest we fear 2014 would be another off year, February came and kicked our collective asses with one huge release after another. This naturally led to internal strife at AMG over what album deserved the top spot and let’s just say, tempers flared and dishes were thrown (I’ve long been an advocate of removing all dishes from the AMG office). Now that decisions have been made, china has been broken and feelings bruised, we deliver to you the sweet, tangy fruits of our labor.
Soreption // Engineering the Void — Technical death metal, like gravity, can be a fickle mistress. It’s so easy to overdo the wanking, lose sight of actual song-writing and end up with a deathy Dream Theater. Sweden’s Soreption avoid that death trap and deliver amazingly technical playing in the service of good songs you can enjoy as such. Freed from the tyranny of liking mere parts of songs, you get to savor an entire album of tech-death as it should be done, which caused Grymm to gush “get your air sweep-arpeggios warmed up, your arms stretched properly for some intense flailing, and be prepared to get pummeled and enthralled by Engineering the Void.”
Hail Spirit Noir // Oi Magoi — Ever find yourself longing for a Vegas lounge act version of black metal? Me either, but Hail Spirit Noir did it anyway and you know what? It’s really good! Merging trippy 70s rock with jazz and even cabaret music, these strange clowns of destiny provide a new and original take on blackness that you need to hear to believe. As Grymm summed up his fanboyish review, “If you want to go deeper than Ghost for your grooved-out evil, or wonder how Sigh would sound in a lounge without a lot of the metal, this is your album.”
Behemoth // The Satanist — The big bombers of blackened death return with a new zest for life (and death) and deliver a mammoth opus that meets and even exceeds expectations. An impressed AMG concluded “The Satanist‘s construction—starting slow, building up a head of steam and then ending on a melancholy note—leaves a remarkable impression.” Good job, Nergal!
Megascavenger // At the Plateaus of Leng — Rogga Johansson. Will you ever sleep? Apparently not, as he returns for the umpteenth time with a star-studded, guest heavy death platter that would give Avantasia a run for its money. Every song has a different style and death metal luminary on the mic and the result is shockingly good and listenable. Doom/death, melo-death, brootal death, it’s all here folks. Interesting stuff to be sure. Now get some sleep Rogga, you’re tired!