They say it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. AMG Industries and Unihorn Distribution Inc., have wholeheartedly adopted this adage, especially when it comes to the Record(s) o’ the Month. In other words; you may get them late, but at least you get them, so pipe down about it! Now that we have the proper mindset established, we can proceed productively. September was a decent month with a few outstanding releases, but it may end up best remembered as the lead in to the massive metal onslaught that is the month of October. Even as we “discussed” the rankings for last month, we’re already gearing up for the brutal conflagration that surely awaits us at the October RotM Committee meeting. As I write this I have several pick axes on the grinder, and believe me, I need to get em’ real sharp. But lest we contribute to the under-appreciation of September, I digress.

insomnium_winters-gate

It shouldn’t come as a surprise Insomnium takes the title with their uber-ambitious attempt at the kind of magical album-length track Edge of Sanity crafted on Crimson (and Crimson II). Though I was highly skeptical of their chances, I came around after the first listen because of the undeniable song craft and strong musicianship. Despite the insane length, the music’s keen sense of  flow makes time slips away, and before you realize how long you’ve been listening, it’s over and you’re late for something. AMG Himself often laments the fact melodic death metal has become too melodic and boring, and though I felt recent Insomnium material suffered from that very issue, Winter’s Gate does not. This is a legitimately heavy album, despite the Pink Floyd and Anathema influences, and more importantly, it’s a very compelling listen. Any doubts I harbored about the future of the band are now buried in the permafrost.

Runner(s) up:

thy-catafalque_metaThy Catafalque // Meta – One man bands seem more plentiful than ever this year, and Thy Catafalque may be the most unusual of them all. The brainchild of one Tamás Kátai, Thy Catafalque blends black metal, electronica and symphonic elements to craft something entirely weird and off-the-wall. As disjointed as it may sound, this is some highly listenable, engaging music and far from the usual basement black metal fare. Our Dr. Wvrm summed it up thus: “There’s no gimmick here, no casual exploitation of mismatched sub-genres for the sake of headlines. If you approach Meta with clear eyes and full attention, I promise you will not be disappointed.” Curious yet? 

sumerlands_sumerlandsSumerlands // Sumerlands – Is it time for “sport coat metal” yet? If you ask Steel, it always is. Sumerlands is the result of doom maven Phil Swanson teaming with long time producer Arthur Rizk and crafting a lovingly retro ode to the dark progressive metal of the late 80s/early 90s like Queensrÿche, Wicked Maraya and Sanctuary, blended with faint traces of doom. That the band adores this kind of music is clear, with every song sounding like a labor of love for fans of the genre, by fans of the genre. Swanson delivers his best vocal performance to date on songs that resonate with nostalgia and intelligence. The Steel ov Approval is stamped all over this thing.

Barishi - Blood From the Lions Mouth 01Barishi // Blood From the Lion’s Mouth – A progressive sludge-metal album full of twists and turns that seamlessly blends influences from Converge and Baroness into something quite different and distinct. This earned them the affection of our own Akerblogger who wrote: “It’s still multifaceted; it still has many moods; it still incorporates many styles, however it’s a smooth and majestic Goliath of an album.” Translation: this is bigly metal.

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  • AndySynn

    I would have said that Insomnium’s problem in recent years was not so much their becoming “too melodic” (though I can understand that complaint, even if I don’t fully agree with it myself) and more with them becoming “too formulaic”. Plus an unfortunate tendency to get lazy and slip into pseudo-metalcore-esque territory with some of their more stock riffage at times.

    That’s probably why the challenge of writing a consistent, single-track opus helped light such a fire under their prodigious Swedish buttocks. The format change itself immediately forced them to think outside of their usual bailiwick.

    • Thomas Grann

      Finnish buttocks. Their buttocks are unmistakeably Finnish.

      • AndySynn

        Corrected – but with an acknowledgement here of my own stupidity.

  • Francesco Bordoni

    If I was in charge, Meta would be fucking up there: that stuff is majestic – definitely AOTY material in my books!

    • Dr. Wvrm

      It’s definitely in the hunt. I’m really interested to see if I reach for it consistently now that I’m a month removed from spinning it multiple times a day.

      • Francesco Bordoni

        Indeed! It’s not in my rotation anymore either, but I have already returned to it more than once as a whole, and to individual songs too. “Vonatút az éjszakában” is practically engraved in my head, to a point where I couldn’t get it out to save my life. And I have not even the slightest clue of what it talks about. I live in fear that someday I’ll be strolling down the street, mumbling that shit to myself out loud without thinking, and then some hungarian dude comes up to me and slaps me out of nowhere, bringing up I had whispered something about my nipples exploding with pleasure as I passed him by.

    • André Snyde Lopes

      The only reason Meta didn’t win is because AMG didn’t want a mighty stag in the website’s background.

    • Huck N’ Roll

      Meta is a wery good album!

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        looooool

  • Dr. Wvrm

    I’m super down with Insomnium. It’s in a dogfight for my AotY right now. Meta will be there at the end too, but Insomnium is truly phenomenal.

  • John Abraham

    Worth the wait.. I thought it’d be runner up or something considering other higher rated stuff here

  • Erm, no Operation Mindcrime?!?!?!?!

    • sir_c

      only after Operation:Lobotomy

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Insomnium is a great band with high quality music, but I just never have much desire to listen to them. I play the last two albums and I’m always thinking “man, these guys are REALLY good!,” but then I don’t feel like playing them anymore. Probably just has more to do with their style than anything. As impressed as I am with lots of it, I just can’t get into death metal for whatever reason, but I had that Skid Row song “I Remember You” on repeat for like an hour the other day and still didn’t get sick of it.

    See how I’m rambling about this? I just turned 36. I’m becoming an old man. Sad. Bingo and Vaseline are in the near future for me.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      Well, Steel is like 73 and he likes Insomnium. Don’t really see your point bro, Insomnium’s addictive nature is purely objective.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        Yep. We both like them, I just can’t get addicted like many. Just me. Purely objective. I’m just trying to speculate on why I never feel like listening to an excellent band.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Not a huge deal, but I hope the site can get these Album of the month posts out a bit quicker in the future. I’ve always enjoyed them but recently it’s taking almost an entire month to name the favorite album from the last month…

    • We shall try.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        Gracias.

    • Francesco Bordoni

      Oh come on, don’t ruin the magic, Oscar!

    • Huck N’ Roll

      Our Overlords are wery busy whipping all of us noobs 14 hours a day. The punishment does not allow much time for enjoying the simpler things in life such as RotM postings.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        Well, remember, these are evil, devil-worshipping “metal heads.” These are people that wear black clothes. Quite frankly, you’re lucky to be alive.

    • brklyner

      Recently? I wasn’t expecting the ROTM post for another few weeks. Keep it up crew!

    • Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick

      Anticipation makes the… um… climax so much better though!

  • Benevolent Sun

    I really enjoy that Insomnium album. I even read the short story with it. Glad to see that they received some recognition in the AOTM.

    • Danny

      I thought that it was really cool that the vinyl came with a nice printed copy of the book, it really adds another dimension to the record. Great pick for AOTM

  • Diego Molero

    Not reviewed here, but my vote goes to Hannes Grossmann and his phenomenal sophomore album. Best death metal drummer and excellent songwriter. It may be a littler to long, but it’s such a fun album which is rare in death metal, love it.
    That being said, I also liked Insomnium’s album a lot, and honestly I’m a surprised it was chosen as ROTM.

    • Dethjesta

      I’ve been listening to the new Grossmann album a lot too. It is superb and I agree that it would be my pick too.

      Not to take anything away from Insomnium. I suspect they’ll both be in my end of year top 10.

    • WalrusKing

      I didn’t even know he put out another album! Thanks for the heads up! I loved radial covenant so I’ll have to check the new one out.

    • Innit Bartender

      yeah, the Grossmann album is really good!!!!

    • tomasjacobi

      I disagree.
      I really liked his first solo album, but the new one has completely failed to grab my attention.
      All the fun seems to have evaporated.

      • Diego Molero

        Well I certainly didn’t get that feeling. I think is similar to The Radial Covenant, so I don’t get why you like one but not the other.

        • tomasjacobi

          The style is the same, but the songs aren’t there. It’s like a movie sequel that hits all the same beats as the first movie, but fails to capture the spirit of the original.
          Also the drum sound is a big step down from “The Radial Covenant”, which is kind of a big deal with a Hannes Grossmann album.

          • Diego Molero

            Maybe it hasn’t clicked with you? How much time have you give to it? Anyway, maybe you really don’t like it, which is fine of course.

          • tomasjacobi

            I listened to it for about a week when I got it (September 1st from the Indiegogo campaign).
            So yeah, maybe it’ll “click” if I go back to it later. We’ll see :-)

    • I didn’t get a chance to hear the The Crypts of Sleep until recently, but yes, it belongs on a best of September list. I also hold Belenos – Kornôg and Nox Formulae – The Hidden Paths to Black Ecstasy very high.

      • Diego Molero

        Haven’t heard Belenos nor Nox Formulae, but since you seem to know your metal, I’ll check those albums ASAP. Thanks

        • Thanks for kind words, mate.
          Belenos plays a black metal offspring with pagan/folk-inspirations and atmospheric elements.
          (belenos dot bandcamp dot com)
          Nox Formulae plays moody and bitter black metal.
          (Find it on Dark Descent Records’ Bandcamp profile.)

          • Diego Molero

            Awesome, thanks man!

      • Dudeguy Jones

        That Belenos has been a definite highlight of my year so far.

    • Sharp-Blunt Boy

      Great news! Thanks for the heads up. I loved the first platter, even the outrageous ode to the oort cloud. Magic stuff.

    • Kalsten

      I cannot understand how it has not been reviewed here, really. The album is great!

      • No promo = no review.

        • Kalsten

          Can’t you get a promo? I mean, the other album was reviewed here too. What happened for this one not being sent to you?

          • If a label opts not to send us a promo for whatever reason, there isn’t much we can do about it.

          • I don’t really get that. Why would you let labels decide what to review and what not? You want to be an independent outlet right?

          • Without the promo we can’t review something until it’s already out and we’ve always had the attitude that we won’t give free publicity to albums that aren’t sent to us.

          • But then you see your reviewing as publicity. I think you should select albums on the basis of if you want to have it reviewed or not. By being afraid you give albums something they don’t deserve, you give your selection up to the labels.

          • And if we review whatever we like regardless of promo or not, we encourage labels to stop sending us anything, especially if we give one of their releases a bad review. It’s a catch 22.

          • Is that what you’re afraid of? I really doubt that labels stop sending you stuff after a bad review. I’m responsible for album pages in two national newspapers, and labels can get grumpy, but in the end they care just for publicity. It’s too easy to send out promo’s, which don’t cost them anything anymore (apart from the risk of leaking) anyway. I’ve never had a label that stopped sending promo’s after a bad review. I do ask for reviews of stuff of which we didn’t get promo’s. Our reviewers and myself just ask for promo’s sometimes, and if we don’t get it, why do it anyway. What if Metallica doesn’t send you a promo (and it’s hard, I’ve been nagging them for weeks)? You just don’t review it?

          • We aren’t afraid of anything. We have a policy we feel best suits the site and we stick with it.

          • Alright, poor choice of words – I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m just puzzled.

          • No offense. We just have a certain way of doing things and it has worked for us. If there is a promo we want and don’t seem to be getting it we do pester the label about it. In some instances with a major release we may opt to review it anyway though we don’t get a promo, but those are rare events for us (Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, etc.).

          • I see. Good to hear it’s all more nuanced that we could properly discuss in short comment-bursts here :)

          • “Nuanced” might not be the way I’d describe it, but hey!

    • Inferno

      Nice, this album is exactly what I was looking for. The AOTM comments never fail to surprise me with something that I missed, thanks for the recommendation!

    • We got a review copy of the first one. Was very disappointed to not get this one.

      • Diego Molero

        What a shame, maybe TYMHM? Did you liked the album as much as the debut?

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    Glad to see Sumerlands made the list (and thanks for turning me onto them). Personally I’d rate it higher than Insomnium, but to each their own.

  • basenjibrian

    Interestingly enough, the iTunes version of Winter’s Gate is divided into tracks. All labeled as “Part #” but still tracks.

    • That makes for an easier spin though it kind of kills the whole “40 minute song” gimmick.

      • Borreh

        More like: It actually shows the album is not a single song but a concept album.

        I tried really hard to see a single coherent song in Winter’s Gate and I couldn’t. It’s a great concept album, yes, but a singular song – Hell no.

        Each time I listen to WG I always can not notice the start differences between “parts”, the fact that those “parts” have their own themes and melodies, that those are individual to the parts and, with one or two exceptions, do not appear in different places on the album, hell, those “parts” sometimes have their own choruses and a VERY visible beginning and end.

        I could just press “shuffle” on that album and I wouldn’t even notice it’s supposed to be a single song.

        • We received a promo which had one 40-minute song with no breaks and reviewed it that way. Worked for me.

          • Borreh

            I know it’s not divided on the promo, but it is on iTunes.

            Besides, I tried not to look at the playlist while listening and I still couldn’t stop noticing the changes between the tracks. Weeks later, I can just press “play” and I still hear seperate songs here.

            There’s an great counterpoint on “Meta”, the 20-minute Malmok jarnak, which works absolutely perfectly as a 20-minute song, being coherent from start to finish, each part progressing logically into the next. There are faster parts, slower parts, ambient interludes, some longer, some brief, all fitting into the single track.

            Then you have Insomnium with 7-minute parts, each with a seperate beginning, end, melodies, choruses… Hell, their playtime is even equal. You can hear a start and finish.

            I listened to both albums at roughly the same time and I couldn’t help but think, each time I listened to Malmok jarnak, that “this is how you do long songs, Insomnium”.

          • basenjibrian

            IF doing a long song is important, of course.
            :)
            You make some good points here, and I am going to understand the album as a multi-song concept album. I can’t read it as a Edge of Sanity “Crimson” kind of thing.

        • tomasjacobi

          The CD is also just one single track, but I agree that it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a single song. There is definitely separate, different songs in there…
          But who knows, maybe approaching the album as a single song helped them focus their songwriting and I think they made their best album in a long time.

          • Borreh

            I agree totally. Winter’s Gate is great. But the constant “it’s a single track!” talk is baffling me ;P

    • sir_c

      wasn’t that for commercial reasons? pay per track

      • basenjibrian

        Hmmmm. Not sure. Not obviously showing up in iTunes that way, but maybe that is because I already purchased it?

  • The Nerd.

    The Nerd fully supports Winter’s Gate as AOTM, as it is also my AOTY.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I haven’t listened to this because 40 min song… the idea of 40 min song doesn’t appeal but looks like I’ll have to give it a go.
    Sumerlands was definitely my favourite of the month it’s cracking good album

    • Hulksteraus

      I kinda thought that in the 90’s till I heard light of day, day of darkness , but after that, as long as the song writing is great, I can take a long song… and for the record, it was one 60 minute song.

  • brklyner

    The Sumerlands record is solid and good fun, but having seen them play their first ever (I think) show recently, I was a little underwhelmed by the live vocal delivery. I’d venture to say that in October they would not have cracked the top 5.

    • October will be a big brawl.

      • Kronos

        Ulcerate Escape Plan!

  • Bart the Repairman

    Although I’m glad to see one of my favourite bands on the top of the ROTM article, I have something to confess: my type, after two dozens of spins, is one huge grower named Sorceress. Damned woman, she casted on me some spell with delayed effect.

    P.S. The first sentence of the article is fundamentally wrong.

  • Does AMG know a 40 minute song just got AOTM?

    • Shush your mouth!

      • Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick

        Ah, very sneaky… I approve!

    • Hulksteraus

      Have you ever noticed you never see Steely D in the same room as the Angry overlord himself? Just sayin… (of course, he could just be keeping AMG in the dungeon ov steel so he can overthrow the old guard and rule in his stead…)

      • We’ve never actually been in the same room, oddly enough.

        • Hulksteraus

          Ha!! I knew it… you’ve usurped the site and are now sitting there smugly on your throne ov steel.

          • I’m more like the smug steward of the site. I did drag the Steel Throne into my office though.

          • Hulksteraus

            I hope you put some comfy cushions on the throne ov steel…. I found my throne ov steel was getting mightily uncomfortable in my old age… when I was young of course, I never would have countenanced the comfy cushions, however age has flattened by buns ov steel ™.

  • Dead1

    I will never understand why a band as bat shit boring as Insomnium gets so much praise. They’re right up there in my list of “bands that symbolize everything that is wrong with modern metal.”

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      Haha good one, satire/10

  • The Unicorn

    Oooh, 3x of my fav albums so far this year. Well done, chum!

  • That TID record is the best Rammstein I’ve heard in years.

    • Willem Stander

      This is a solid comment, it’s also insanely funny. Have an upvote sir :D

      • Why thank you!

  • Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick

    Have all their albums and have no clue why I haven’t bought this yet??? Love these guys. Now I shall, once again, dip into my wallet due to AMG. Yeah, I’m going to blame it in you guys… You’re my favorite scapegoats.

  • METAL OTTER

    Tip for 2016: Monochrome cover artwork increases your album’s chances of receiving AMG ROTM honours #yourewelcome

  • I totally agreed with Winter’s Gate Hooray

  • Arjan Zwamborn

    Wholeheartedly agree with the record of the month. I wouldn’t have expected Insomnium to be elected ROTM here at AMG but I am all the more glad to see that they did.

    I was actually surprised just by how good the album is myself. I personally also enjoy Insomnium’s later and slightly more formulaic work, so I expected a record I would enjoy.. But Winter’s Gate is up there with their best release – Above the Weeping World – for me, and I never expected them to reach that level of creativity anymore.

  • Hulksteraus

    I haven’t been able to stop listening to Insomnium since it came out, so fully agree with it being AOTM. It reminds me a bit of light of day, day of darkness by green carnation along with edge of sanity.

  • I thought Alcest was easily the best September release. I didn’t mind the Barishi release or the Thy Catafalque, though I thought neither were memorable. Will still look at them again though. The Insomnium I’ve only heard a little of, but will give it another go. I sort of feel that the birth of melo death was the start of a really dull period for death metal which continues to this day, so I haven’t gone out of my way to check it out. As for Sumerlands, I couldn’t sit through any of the tracks I listened to, but I didn’t listen to many.

  • Totally agree on Winter’s Gate. What a huge step up! I really wish Amorphis would attempt a Crimson-styled album. I feel they could definitely pull it off with equal or greater results.

  • Eli Valcik

    ROTM for October looks like it will turn out to be pretty interesting.

  • madhare

    I can understand why metal aficionados appreciate the new Insomnium. However, to me it seems that they actually lost a little bit of what of their very own Insomnium style of music. They had a string of records which had that melodic melancholic feel. You could see how their brand worked well looking at how their gig audiences had a larger female portion. With this album they moved from angst to more boy-fantasy. You know, Vikings and warriors. And so they’ve actually turned into somekind of combination of Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, and Ensiferum.

    Musically I applaud the artistic effort. At the same time part of me is missing the milk-the-emotions melodies. There are some here, but they are often offset immediately by upbeat and/or energetic passages.

    And what comes to the whole D&D content, it isn’t like we really need more of that in metal. So… It’s a good but also a bit meh.

  • Meat Tornado

    YO CHANGE THAT BACKGROUND

  • Sharp-Blunt Boy

    For me, Obscure Sphinx would have been on this list, had it been reviewed. You guys put me on to them, and I think Epitaph is a real step up compositionally: moody, brutal, innovative and really well executed. This and Mariner are both cool as fuck.

    • Unfortunately no promo equaled no review. I’m vexed by the album though… I’ve spent a bunch of time with it and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard, but for some reason Epitaph isn’t sticking. When I want a dose of Obscure Sphinx, it’s Void Mother I want to hear.

      • Sharp-Blunt Boy

        They obviously didn’t think that through, considering the praise Void got here (which was always going to be a tough album to follow). It’s only just recently clicked for me though – took some time – more interesting instrumentation and musical flourishes yet with the trade mark angst and sorrow in spades. Loving it.

  • The Unicorn

    I think the new In Mourning is a dead-tie with the new Insomnium. Both are spectacular in their own right.

  • narrator

    People that are biased hated on this site:

    Tim “Ripper” Owens,

    Geoff Tate,
    Elize Ryd etc.

    • I think hate is a strong word. I for one worship the early Queensryche albums and that’s mostly due to Geoff Tate’s vocal work. His recent output however has not been good. I like Ripper too when he has the right kind of band around him too.

      • narrator

        Steel Druhm: well, it’l maybe sounds weird, but i think you’ll maybe the best metal reviewer off all time. you are the oldest one, no offence, and you sure remember in mid ninghties no one was interested in good metal, just a few of us nerds all ower the world. and now everybody is in metal suddenly.

        • Well thanks, man! And no offense since I am mighty olde!

  • Requiem

    Thy Catafalque’s Mezolit is a contender for Song Of The Year in my book. That second half stirrs something inside me quite unlike anything else. Insomnium kick ass too and are always a firm favourite m/

  • Casey Mahaffey

    I’m calling Dissociation as RoTM for October.

  • metalhe4der

    I discovered this site to see a review of the wonderful Insomnium album (after having listened to it several times). Best ‘stumble’ I’ve done so far. Checked out the 2015 record o the year (Wilderun).

    Oh man, I’m in for a treat. I will be sticking around! – finally a lot of quality metal I can check out without having to experiment blindly myself (because who has time for that?) :D

    It’ll be like my nonexistent metal listening friends recommending albums to try.

  • Zachary Randall

    I finally got around to listening to Insomium today. Holy crap, I’ve had it on repeat for about 6 hours now.

  • Grawmps

    All of these are brilliant releases, with Sumerlands being the cherry on top of the sundae.

  • Dnky666

    Just listening to Crimson by Edge of Sanity. Never heard it before. Could we give this some posthumous AOTM award as it is amazing and waaay better than Insomnium.

    • GardensTale

      Don’t worry, this one will definitely get a Yer Metal Is Olde article at some point. Too much of a legendary classic not to.