May was a pretty righteous month for metal with many legitimate nominees for Album o’ the Month. There were at least six albums that could have taken the honor without triggering rioting in the streets and cries for reform. As responsible adults, we opted for a fair and democratic selection process (i.e. authoritarian decree from AMG and angry complaining by the underlings) and lo and behold, decisions were made! Regardless of the process, it resulted in a great album getting the spotlight and some equally great runners up for a month where much money could be spent on quality metal. Without further politicking, we present your new metal tyrant.
Vainaja // Kadotetut – In a month literally crushed under the weight of some really top-notch doom/death releases, none broke more backs than Vainaja‘s monstrous Kadotetut. Wielding the hammer of the mighty Celtic Frost, Vainaja unleashes an army of throat crushing doom riffs, distorted, harrowing and more oppressive than Vlad Putin. The song writing is first rate, the mood is eerie and ominous and the music is heavy-as-fuck. Even a fairly brick-walled, overly loudified production can’t stop this beast from earning your love. This is how doom/death should be done and this may well be Grymm‘s Album of the Year.
Elvenking // The Pagan Manifesto – AMG Himself has had a complicated love affair with power metal, and yes, he’s a bit jaded and cynical because he’s been hurt before. That didn’t stop him from warming to a the strains of a reborn Elvenking and we were all shocked as he heaped very un-AMG-like praise on these pirate beshirted Euro-Gamma-Strata-Weenies. He found much to love in their newfound energy and ear for melody and went so far as to proclaim that this “reignites the flame for power metal in the heart of this bitter, aging metal guy.” Nerdrage is in the air.
Castle // Under Siege – Although there’s a glut of retro-occult-doom rock at the moment, Steel Druhm has long championed the way Castle approaches the Vest Metal genre. On this their third outing, they take their mix of doom, NWoBHM and American power metal to the next level and craft some really moody killers, loaded with unique identity and scads of metal credibility. In the Book of Steel, these cats are one of the best underground acts in all of metaldom and he’s a slavish disciple.
Doom:VS // Earthless – What do you get when the mastermind behind Draconian teams with the vocalist of Saturnus? One big slab of melodic doom/death that brings in the best aspects of both bands and nearly surpasses them. Earthless is morose doom/death that verges on funeral doom, but feels extremely listenable due to the heavy infusion of melody. The mournful riffs are beautiful and the writing holds the attention in a way few doom/death bands can.
Decembre Noir // A Discouraged Believer – A platter of grim doom/death borrowing from the likes of Katatonia and October Tide, but also attempting to inject Ominium Gatherum flavored melody, A Discouraged Believer is an impressive debut by these German misanthropes of glumness. Madam X summed it up well as “a big old bludgeoning melancholic tea party.” And who doesn’t like that kind of party?