After July’s lull, it’s important to remember that there are some big releases that hit in August (though, it seems like the big hit is coming in September: HakenTýrCarcassUlcerate, etc.). This wasn’t the worst month ever, that’s for sure. There was some really amazing stuff going on here, actually. Still, there really was no serious competition for the top spot this month. Nej, indeed, it was pretty obvious all along that Swanö was going for the win with his new project Witherscape.

Witherscape - The Inheritance

Witherscape // The Inheritance — I think we should all just take a moment to think about the fact that Dan Swanö is still a genuine force in heavy metal, two decades (+) after the melodic Swedish death metal movement that he and his ilk helped to launch. It’s pretty crazy to think that after all these years, it’s the new Witherscape record, that revives that Opeth/Edge of Sanity feel with guitarist/bassist (and hipster mustache toting/manly name-having) Ragnar Widerberg, that really just was the most kickass record released in August. The record burns with an intensity and a songwriting brilliance that simply hasn’t been seen in melodeath in a long time. But you know what else Swanö did that pushed this album into the place where I want to advertise it for an entire month on my website? He released a full dynamic range mp3 version of the record along with the special edition (that can be purchased here). While it could have been FLAC (or ALAC) for the purists among us, I certainly see this as an encouraging sign. In this era of Loudness, The Inheritance‘s full dynamic range mix is a breath of fresh air (and a blast of audible bass). Now, Hr. Swanö, let’s hope you make that the version on the disc next time around! And the rest of you? Purchase this album to show that you support good production!

Runner(s) Up:

Gorguts - Colored SandsGorguts // Colored Sands  There will most certainly be protestations to Witherscape winning over the excellent new Gorguts. We never got around to reviewing the new Gorguts—which is why it’s disqualified from winning the month, but that doesn’t mean that the record isn’t a masterpiece of death metal. It’s just, well, that Colored Sands isn’t exactly an easy record to pick apart and analyze. A brutal, destructive, and chaotic record, Colored Sands is like a whirling sandstorm, all the parts operating in unison and yet somehow… not. The final feel is something that is simultaneously aggressive and brutal, yet atmospheric and chaotic. More will be said about Colored Sands within the pages of this website, but we didn’t get there yet. I hardly have to tell death metal fans to check out the new Gorguts record, but just in case…

Turisas2013Turisas // Turisas2013 — “Where Turisas2013 doesn’t live up to its predecessors is the holistic consistency and attention to detail for which the band is known. Frankly, there are moments when Turisas2013 feels half-baked. And yet, I can’t stop listening to it. It has been stuck on my playlist since the moment I got it and it won’t come off. Nygård and company continue to be remarkably agile in their writing, with hyper-modern, but deft, mixing and mastering and performances that never leave any doubt as to the band’s ability.Turisas2013 sometimes feels like it could have used another 6 months of arrangement, but tell that to my OCDesque urge to listen to it over and over and over again.”

Primitive Man - ScornPrimitive Man // Scorn — “Believe it or not, Scorn is a catchy piece of work. You may not be hooked by the lack of symmetry, discipline and form but, rather ironically, it is this very unbiased stream of metal consciousness that makes this debut so special. Call it what you like, but although it is true that sometimes there is smoke without a fire, in this instance the smell of flesh proves we have been lucky. It burns and we are not ashamed to love it.”

Shakhtyor - ShakhtyorShakhtyor // Shakhtyor — “There are few things more invigorating than the notion of three guys gelling together with the sole purpose of creating the most devastating racket possible. Shakhtyor, Dio willing, will walk the path to modest recognition silently and stoically—like a riff-fisted Fedor Emelianenko—and those lucky enough to follow them on their blue-collar journey will bask in the satisfaction that comes with something that’s growing all too rare: Quality craftsmanship.”

Retraction o’ the Month:

Fleshgod Apocalypse // LabyrinthLowered to 3.0 from 3.5.

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  • nuiski

    “He released a full dynamic range mp3 version of the record along with the special edition”

    Yes he did and it sounds great. Which proves what I’ve been saying all along. The problem with modern music isn’t mp3, it’s the over LOUD mixing and mastering. A properly mixed and mastered album sounds just fine on high quality mp3.
    So take your FLAC and vinyl and shove it where the sun don’t shine and let’s concentrate on getting producers and music labels to stop crushing the life out of beautiful dynamic sound.

    • Well, the difference between lossless and 320k mp3 is negligible. BUT—and this is important—giving lossless files gives people an archival copy that can be converted to WHATEVER the dominant form, as opposed to being stuck with what may well end up an only momentarily dominant codec.

      Lossless -> Lossy = Good. Lossy -> Lossy = Bad.

      • nuiski

        Sure that’s all true.
        I just think that the flac vs. mp3 debate is rather unimportant compared to the issue of music being overcompressed at the mixing and/or mastering stage.

        • I agree. I prefer to have lossless copies for the purposes stated, but I’d take an amazing mix on an mp3 over a bad one on lossless.

  • Kalsten

    So, the Witherscape CD, if I want to buy it digitally, that means that I cannot hear that awesome dynamic production you are talking about? Because I don’t have DVD/CD players anymore at home, so all my music has to be bought digitally.

    • As far as I can tell, the mp3 version is not available for any kind of consumption other than from the CD. That is a bit of a shame, IMO.

      • Kalsten

        But in their website they have a link to the iTunes store. Although they don’t mention which kind of mix that version has :(

        • Kalsten

          Sorry to reply to myself, but this is available at Spotify. I don’t know if there is the dynamic mix or not, but at least it is available there too :)

          • Jay Alan Goodwin

            I’m speculating but:

            Dan Swanö probably wasn’t permitted by the label to distribute the dynamic mix apart from a purchase of the regular one. We’re lucky that we got what we did, I think.

            I just bought the disc. It’s nothing to pop it into your computer and get the data tracks off of it.

            The iTunes and Spotify versions will, in all likelihood, be the “label-approved” mixes. The only other format that will get the good one is the vinyl, I believe.

  • RU63

    I don’t get it . . . Ataraxie received a 4.5 and the review made it sound like a masterpiece; It isn’t a runner up when the winner was rated a 4.

  • RU63

    I don’t get it, Ataraxie – L’Être et la Nausée recieved a 4.5 and the review made it sound like a masterpiece. Why isn’t it at least a runner-up?

  • It’s a shame that the enhanced dynamic range version of the Witherscape album isn’t available for download. Or at least I haven’t found it anywhere. I’ve got the regular version from Google – which at least is 320K unlike Amazon’s crappy offerings.

  • Arjan Zwamborn

    How come you guys lowered the score for Fleshgod Apocalypse? For me that’s the record of the month; I was actually somewhat underwhelmed at first but it definitely grows on you.

    I tried the new Witherscape a couple of times because I read really positive things about it, but I couldn’t really get into it actually.. I’m not sure why but thus far the music doesn’t really click with me. But I probably didn’t give it long enough, so I’ll get back to it sometime this week I guess.

    • Sui

      Review is good. But I feel the same way. I’d rate it a strong 4 or a weak 4.5. But given the shitstorm on Labyrinth, I was actually not surprised they lowered the score.

      On the other hand, I kinda appreciate the non-score system of nocleansinging. It’s music, not statistics. The new Watain got a 3, but I found it quite boring. So you never know.

  • Primitive Man is so fucking heavy. Been listening to that and Gorguts on repeat.

  • Carlos_Marrickvillian

    I haven’t got to Gorguts yet but Im going back to back on the inheritance at the moment, a worthy album of the month!

  • Mariam Chikovani

    I’m still looking forward to review of Revam’s Wild Card

  • Mariam Chikovani

    I’m still looking forward to review of Revam’s Wild Card

  • Witherscape is great! I must have given it a dozen listens already. I get the feeling I’ll be listening to it well into 2014. Swanö’s got the Midas touch.

    Can’t say Turisas2013 has really bitten me yet, I’m going to give it another listen or two.

    The others sound good, I’m going to have to check them out when I can. I’m really looking forward to next month!

  • Sprite

    I want Witherscape…because it comes in PINK.

    • That’s how I make all my music buying decisions.