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.
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.
Thy 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 // 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 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.