Like a new year’s resolution gone completely to hell, you’ll notice that the Record o’ the Month for February is getting posted nearly 3/4 of the way through the month by a man covered in Oreo ice cream and smelling strongly of gin. For that I say: c’mon, it’s just like old times! Why all the whining? You know I love you guys. I can change, I swear! No really, it won’t be like this next time, I promise!

Here’s your Record o’ the Month:

Crypt Sermon_Out of Garden

Crypt Sermon // Out of the Garden – Crawling out of the garden and into the dusty crypts, these youts from Philly take the best elements from classic doom mavens like Candlemass and Solitude Aeternus and show how this kind of music should be done. One of the best debuts Steel Druhm remembers hearing in years (he’s old though, so he forgets stuff), he had heaps of praise for the way the band crafted slabs of massive, but memorable doom with enough nostalgia and reverence for the past to appease all the ancient Doom Lords. In a flat month, this was one of the real surprises. Mr. the Druhm compels you thusly, “If you only hear one sermon this year, make it this one, you godless heathens.”

Runner(s) Up:

Blind Guardian - Beyond the Red MirrorBlind Guardian // Beyond the Red Mirror – I went back and forth on this one, because I have my fair share of gripes. But in all honesty, if I had chosen the RotM personally with no input from others, I would have likely gone with Blind Guardian‘s flawed, but brilliant, new record. Sure, Beyond the Red Mirror isn’t perfect—but it’s chock full of great ideas, bombastic riffs, and a thrashy feel that I think works for the band excellently in 2015. Even better, the digipack/mediabook editions of the record include extra music that (gasp) makes the album betterBeyond the Red Mirror is epic, beautiful, and “demonstrably put the miserably unjust lie to rating systems,” because it’s “immense, intense and a brilliant artistic achievement from a band that’s getting gray around the temples. Beyond the Red Mirror is Blind Guardian‘s best record since A Night at the Opera and is a monumental achievement of composition and arrangement that—like the aforementioned record—is held back by its production and suffers somewhat from overreach. Still, we should all take a minute to recognize what a spectacularly talented and unique contribution to metal Blind Guardian is and how damned lucky we are to have them.”

Manilla Road_The Blessed CurseManilla Road // The Blessed Curse – A band forever defining the terms “cult” and “true,” Manilla Road pops up every few years to drop a crappy sounding slab of epic proto-metal before vanishing in a cloud of genuine obscurity. The Blessed Curse is a massive double album, and one of the best odes to the old they’ve crafted in years (maybe decades), and while they still refuse to record their music properly, at least this time the songs cry out for better sound and mixing. To quote Old Man Druhm, our resident geriatric rock expert, “The Blessed Curse is the best thing Manilla Road have churned out since 2008s Voyager. Quite an accomplishment for a band almost as old as dirt itself. Come for the metal, but stay for the grandpa rock. You might just learn a few things.”

Seven Year Storm - Aion I 01aSeven Year Storm // Aion I – Despite being dubbed “pretty metal” by El Cuervo, Aion I is a satisfyingly technical, yet listenable and uplifting blend of bands like Animals as Leaders and Exivious. Technically imaginative and executed by extremely talented musicians, Aion I grows on the listener and impresses with its depth and creativity. As Mr. Cuervo observed “It rewards multiple listens with unfurling complexities in its writing, and the fusion of its highly talented musicians ensures excellent execution.” Bonus points for having excellent art and for revisiting the under-appreciated “rhinos on the covers of progressive metal records” trend.

Visigoth_The Revenant KingaFriendly ReminderSure, Visigoth‘s Dungeons & Dragons™ themed journey of nerd-reference didn’t come out in February—but it was damned close. And for that, I’m throwing them on as an Runner Up because The Revenant King has clung on as a revenant king will do: with cold claws coming out of the grave. Fortunately, Steel Druhm wouldn’t let me forget his wisest of words when we began discussing Record(s) o’ the Month for February: “This is a polished and powerful debut full of memorable songs, and it makes me eager to hear more. If you have a hankering for ballsy metal of the trve variety, delivered with barbarian sensibilities by guys with quick sword hands, this is your horde. Sacking Rome has never seemed more possible and affordable.” And I’ve always been a sucker for a good deal!

Also Druhm is old.