The Year of Our Angry Overlord 2015 is upon us, and January has been a surprising month in a lot of ways. First, this is the first time that I’ve enjoyed multiple power metal records in a single month that I can think of since I started enjoying the bombastic genre. If 2015 ends up being remembered for its power metal, well, lol. Second, it wasn’t just me who enjoyed the power metal! There was even a general consensus around the Record o’ the Month for January this time around. And despite a brief flare up of the Jørnunist Party, retribution was quick and jaunty and the tribjørnal doled out swift justice. This whole kerfuffle has led to a more stable than previously has ever been experienced on account of the important internal cleansing that happened as a result of this tragic event. In fact, all this unrest has brought me more into the fold than I have been in years, so January has seen me at my most prolific in a very long time! Strange days, over here. Strange days, indeed… Without further ado, I present our Record(s) o’ the Month!

Angra - Secret Garden

Color me surprised. After all this time, an Angra record finally sat with me. Secret Garden, which features a sphere on its cover and vocals by Fabio Lione, is a powerful statement of a record from a band that many seem to have believe wasn’t even around anymore. Still, as we know “from hardship often arises great artistic production and this album is just one more piece of totally non-verifiable statistical noise that confirms my bias that this is an undeniable truth.” Secret Garden stands out for its excellent power metal writing and its cast of superb vocal performances (including Doro Pesch and Simone Simons) which perfectly match the music within. The ensemble feel, the energetic writing, and the hungry feel come together for 45 minutes to deliver a great listening experience. Brought only down by its hyper-modern tonality, Secret Garden is just a cool record with great songs. It’s got two songs on my “Best Songs of 2015” list already.

Runners Up:

Sylosis - Dormant Heart 01Sylosis‘s Dormant Heart may have been dealt an unfair hand when they got called “metalcore” by our staff in the blurb we put up on Facebook and on the frontpage over here. As El Cuervo put it, this is “as far from modern metalcore as they have ventured,” and this is without trying to use the genre as a pejorative—we are, however, very aware that people see the word “metalcore” and their logical brains shut down. But listen up: Dormant Heart is a thrashy, pummeling and progressive melodic death record, chock full of fat riffs and moving away from the shackles of the genre they have previously been associated with. The sense of melody is sharp and the guitar solos are great, and the songwriting is as varied and interesting as ever. I’ve always wanted Sylosis to deliver the record that convinces me that they’re a top tier metal band, and Dormant Heart is the one where they finally delivered the goods.

Desolate Shrine - The Heart of the Netherworld 01Laden with atmosphere, fat riffs and a discomforting sound that they wield like a cudgel, these Finns dropped 62 minutes of great death metal on Jean-Luc Ricard‘s delicate—but stuffed up—eardrums. His diagnosis? Aside from the common cold: “The Heart of the Netherworld sees Desolate Shrine improve on their already impressive previous releases, perfecting their formula of doom-laden bludgeoning and setting a high bar for death metal in 2015.” Desolate Shrine‘s The Heart of the Netherworld was the first slab of truly nasty death metal that we’ve heard this year and it is a doozy. 2012’s The Sanctum of Inner Darkness was regaled for its sound, and The Heart of the Netherworld is a step up for sure. Atmosphere second to none, even if it gets a little long.

A Friendly Reminder: 

Voices LondonSure, Voices was already a Record o’ the Month in November, 2014, but we all love this album so much that we’re putting this on the list again to remind all of you in North America to run out and purchase this absolutely immense work when it’s released on the 27th of January. Here’s what we said then. It’s still true:

“We here at all miss the shit out of Akercocke. Let’s all just take a moment to reflect on what a fucking cool band that was. Okay, now that we’ve taken that moment, you should know that parts of that band are back with a new and stellar record entitled London in the form of the band Voices. Resident Chief Star Trek Pun Officer Jean-Luc Ricard was simultaneously impressed and disturbed by London‘s ‘septic atmosphere,’ and discordant riffs ‘designed to alienate and erode the listener’s stamina.’ And while no one will claim the record is perfect, ‘it succeeds spectacularly in delivering the concept. You might not enjoy every moment of your listening experience, but you’ll be completely captivated right until the final excruciating note.'”

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  • Kalsten

    So, if the month was so good for Power Metal, how is it that there is only one power metal album in the list?

    • We’re very discriminating.

      • By which Druhm means we hate Krauts.

        • Kryopsis

          But how do you all feel about vision-impaired keepers? That’s the real question here!

          • I don’t get this joke.

          • Kryopsis

            Basically NA gets the new Blind Guardian release a few days later than you guys. I figured you had a chance to check it out?

          • Oooh! I thought you were making a footy joke. In that case: I’m still dissecting the Blind Guardian. It’s epic, wonderful, and problematic.

          • sickbroski

            I’m still at the epicly problematic phase, but I’m not giving up.

        • tim.o

          Hey. I resemble that remark.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Aw, kraut it out. They’re only after your meatballs recipe.

        • Yep, I’m a self-loathing Germanic American.

          • Someday ask Germans or Swedes or the Irish how they feel when Americans claim heritage. It’s a fun conversation. Particularly with the Irish. Because they hate it.

          • The Irish hate everything. I know, I’m part Irish. Ha!

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Surely they must have liked John Wayne in The Quiet Man? At least Maureen O’Hara was great, as always. Oh, those eyes.

            “Impetuous! Homeric!”

          • tim.o

            I hope you’re not catholic as well; that wouldn’t help with the self-loathing part.

          • Fortunately I’m unaffiliated.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          don’t be such a sour kraut

    • El_Cuervo

      Consult the ‘Serious Black’ review, I’ve been digging that. And I hear the new Blind Guardian is pretty good for those who have heard it.

      Records o’ the Month is diluted if too many records are praised, AMG can’t put everything in.

    • Other things were better? I was just commenting on enjoying multiple power metal records.

      • Carlos D

        Hey, AMG! Why didn’t you review Dark wings of Steel or Live from Chaos to Eternity? I’m not demanding or anything, just curious about your opinion

        • Dark Wings of Steel was really bad. Didn’t hear the live record.

  • Kryopsis

    The Angra Metal Guy has spoken!

    Okay so the album is excellent but I’m rather upset that the album does not appear to be sold in Canada digitally. It would be pointless for me to buy a physical copy since I don’t even have devices that can play CDs anymore, as much as I like Angra. Does anyone know where I can find this album?

    • Monsterth Goatom

      That would be a bummer. You’ve probably looked in the same places I would look, but I’ll try to let you know somehow if I find anything (I’m also a Canadian). First our dollar drops, and now this!

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Caïna’s Setter of Unseen Snares is my pick for ROTM. It’s not pretty, it’s not jovial power metal, it’s just 33 minutes of black metal with a closer so epic and unexpected it pretty much turns the album from very good to goddamn glorious.

    Also, speaking of records from last year, I’ve listened to Triptykon way too many times this past month…

    • Alexandre Barata

      Agree with Caina as ROTM. Not really a fan of Power Metal, that, as AMG likes to say about BM, doesn’t have anything really game-breaking to offer for a couple decades :P
      Desolate Shrine only sins for it’s length, otherwise it could be a serious choice for ROTM also, imo.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Finally managed to buy London when it became available over here. One of the best concept albums to come along in a long time. Not the kind of music you listen to on the go. I try to make time to sit down and give it all my attention. A discomforting, crushing album that I wouldn’t be without. Thanks Jean-Luc for bringing this to my attention.

    • Jean-Luc Ricard

      Let’s make sure history never forgets the name … Voices.

    • Grymm

      My obsession with that album is absolutely unhealthy.

      But it’s SO GOOD.

      • Shame on me! I bought it and still haven’t gotten around to listening to it.

        • Grymm

          WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!??!

          DO EEEEEEET!*

          *-Seriously, it’s absolutely amazing.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Don’t worry…. The album is waiting for you…. Always waiting.

          • Grymm

            You forgot to add “…Megan”.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            “Megan”. Now get back to listening to London!

        • I just listening to this beautiful thing and I am in love, but I have no idea what I just heard. I have already spinned it all morning and the more in love I fall the less I understand.


  • Vega Magnus

    Speaking of power metal, thanks for introducing me to Orden Ogan this month. They kick ass. I’m curious to hear what you guys think of the new Blind Guardian this month.

  • El Lado Oscuro

    Couldn’t agree more, within the participants, but seems kinda suspicious to me you still have not referred to BG’s latest.

    • Steve

      It’s a conspiracy

      • El Lado Oscuro

        At The Gates copycat?

  • BaboonKing

    I finally got around to listening to Secret Garden and I geet the feeling that I will be coming back to it over and over. Brilliant stuff. Special mention for Fabio’s vocals: it’s a joy to hear him reaching beyond his typically full blown bombastic mode to try a more subtle and nuanced approach instead. Incidentally, I recently discovered 2013’s “Countdown to Revenge” by Hollow Haze, and he delivers some outstanding vocals there too.

    So far, 2015 is off to a great start for power metal, and there are promising releases by Kamelot, Anthriel and Trail of Murder still to come – plus the big elephant in the room: Blind Guardian’s latest – which I suspect will get a review with a, shall we say, lively comments section. :)

  • Ernesto Aimar

    No BG nor orden ogan mention? Bummer.
    Angra’s latest sounds good, but as an old time fan it doesn’t surprise me that much and honestly, I think Fabio is the kind of vocalist that made power metal dull and soulless. His work in Secret Garden is ok, but the albums stands out for the tracks sung by others.

  • The orb asserts its dominance once more. So in a way the Jørnists prevail. So, HA!

  • Rise

    Angra Metal Guy! [punches the table to make a loud sound] Angra Metal
    Guy! [punches the fuckin’ table again] Angra Metal Guy! [okay, now it
    lost the meaning ;(] Angra Metal Guy for headline!

    Great list though. I’ve digging Ara – Devourer of Worlds recently. Might worth to check it out.

  • ActualBastard

    If you aren’t even going to throw the new napalm death an honorable mention, you should at the very least offer an apology for this glaring omission. Shameful! Also I’m 100% kidding.

    • Jean-Luc Ricard

      That is a good record.

  • Shawn Cypher

    I’m in love with that Sylosis album. It’s *really* good. Been on constant play while driving to and from work the past few weeks.

  • JeremyZero

    I’d actually never listened to Angra before this record, but praise from AMG is usually enough to get me to at least check out an album, and damned if I don’t love it. My interest was piqued as a Rhapsody fan with Fabio singing, but he isn’t even the high point for me. It’s just a great record all around.

  • Andres Pintos Nocerino

    uauauauauau brasilllllllllllllllll

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    awww I was hoping for a full plate of power metal with lashings of visigoth and a drizzle of Jorn

  • Angra, Blind Guardian and Armageddon (Swedish) are my picks of the month! :D

  • I was similarly blown away by Dormant Heart and was very happy to find their sound evolving in a good direction.

  • I still have to hear the Angra Album. Voices and Sylosis are just so fun. And I heard the periphery one, Juggernaut Alpha y Juggernaut Omega. They are so richly different. So good. I am looking forward the review here in AMG if they happen to review them.

    • Well, they already reviewed Periphery, but you might not like what it says.

  • Selim Baradan

    Are Napalm Death and Marduk too popular choices for AMG staff? Both bands released damn good albums this month.

  • Venatrik

    Soo..any good albums besides Dormant Heart on here? I honestly can’t see everyones fascination with the Voices album.