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.

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  • André Snyde Lopes

    I completely disagree with this list.

    Ahhhh… much better.

    • ORLY?

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Not even kidding. Have not listened to “Aion I” but neither Crypt Sermon nor Manilla Road tickled my particular fancy.

        Mourning Mist and that fucking violin were easily the best things to come out of February but were sadly overlooked.

        Visigoth was pretty cool, tho.

        • Huh, yeah. I basically didn’t hear much that I thought was great in February. Unlike March, which is up to its tits in amazing records.

          • I posit Melechesh, Solefald and even Keep of Kalessin as counterpoints, sadly only the last was reviewed here and didn’t get that much love.

          • Solefald I couldn’t review. I hated it, but it was such a personal record that I didn’t feel comfortable panning it. Melechesh was OK. Some great songs, but as a whole I wasn’t left floored or anything. I would have gotten to it, but I got overrun and decided that other records were higher priority for me. Grymm has a review in the works.

          • André Snyde Lopes

            That makes me so much more interested in what you have to say on the Solefald record. Listening to it felt so weird to me. Like I should be super into it but just couldn’t.

          • Personally I liked it enough to give it many repeated listens. STILL, I think it was the closest they have been to completely break free of metal but they somehow felt shy to do so, and it reflects into the whole concept, too tentative perhaps.

            Edit: But yeah I would like to read a more professional opinion about it.

          • Jean-Luc Ricard

            Bububu Bad Beuys is one of my favourite songs so far this year… but I am not sold on the rest of the album.

          • Tanuki

            Hmm. I feel they were closer to breaking free from metal around 2002. they released in harmonia, Borknagar did origin, and Lars had Age of silence going. All very proggy releases imho. This new record is maybe as far as they’ve strayed from metal since that period but I don’t get a trying to break free vibe. It feels for me a real cultural and musical mashup, taking Norren a step further. In any case I’m still digging it and listening to it regularly. Would have loved to read an amg review though. Even if it did pan it.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Too bad about Melechesh. The Epigenesis was so cool.

          • But it wasn’t as good as their earlier stuff. It’s true, though, I like those guys a lot. And Enki has some great stuff on it.

          • Grymm

            Without giving too much away, if there was some trimming done, it would have scored higher.

          • Feel like I’ve been saying that a lot, recently.

          • Grymm

            It will be up later in the week.

            All I can say is that I mirror the boss’s sentiments.

          • Kissass

            Edit:

          • Good man.

          • Soze

            I absolutely hated that Solefald fall album. Really rubbed me up the wrong way! The Melechesh is pretty solid though.

          • Did actually add Blind Guardian. COnfusion about whether they’re January of February. But they belong here.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Actually listened to Keep of Kalessin’s new one again today. Lots of good stuff in there. And as I mentioned elsewhere, the drawn out last song doesn’t bother me that much.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Love Visigoth. The Vocalist is so damned good he could sing a grocery list and I’d still listen to him. Revenant King has been high on my playlist since its release.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Ah, c’mon… You make it sound like he shuffles around in his Depends mumbling and drooling.

        • Yuu have just described weekends for me.

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Ha, yea! We can only keep up appearances so long. ; )

        • YOu haven’t read his reviews lately, have you?

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Oh, you young’uns, just you wait. The days will come when you won’t be able to remember if you put on deodorant, and you’ll find yourself having to get up three times a night to pee.

            And don’t get me started on bowel movements. As you age, they become like fireworks displays. There’s lots of “oohing” and “ahhing”, and you’re never quite sure when it’s over.

            At least my multitasking skills have improved with age. I can laugh, fart, and pee at the same time.

          • As I drooled into my bowl of mush, I felt a brief pang of envy for your youthful vitality.

          • How dare you?!

    • Can we at least agree that Lord Steel is old?

  • Pimpolho

    I feel that last month kinda sucked…

    • Me too.

      • Pimpolho

        But this month though. This month compensates for at least 2 months of poop records IMO.

        • Ridiculous. Half a Top 10(ish) list coming out in March.

          • Pimpolho

            I know it is from march, but what you thought about the new Enslaved record?

          • RuySan

            I’m curious to see what’s this blog opinion on that record’s sound.

            It feels way too loud, and i’m curious to see if it’s just me.

          • Blake Turner

            I’m generally rather sensitive to that, getting headaches from quite a few overloud metal albums. The Enslaved record hasn’t done it for me. It might be just you, or it could be that their sound isn’t heavy enough for the overloudness to really be a factor.

          • It’s kind of busy, but I like it better than anything of theirs since Vertebrae.

  • Soze

    Only heard Visigoth out of this lot which was good but nothing special. I can’t get on with Manilla Road at all, tried often over the years! Blind Guardian was head and shoulders over everything else in Feb for me.

    • Technically a January release, actually. I probably should have gotten it in here.

    • Added them. Decided they fit the criteria.

      • Soze

        Cool. I’m liking this Crypt Sermon… I tend to glaze over most doom albums as they’re rarely the sort that light my fire. But Candlemass worship is fine with me. I knew I came to this site for more than just your wit and charm!

  • Solid list for a month that usually gets the tail end of the yearly releases, considering most labels try to keep their best stuff for the third quarter of the year.

  • De2013

    Holy Metal Moly! Just seconds before reading this post I was streaming the Crypt Sermon from my media server. Great pick for ROTM!

    And did I forget about Steel Druhm’s birthday? :-0

    • Yes you did and I’m crestfallen over it.

      • De2013

        Sorry about that, I was 100% self obsessed browsing the interwebs for new epic metal releases completely losing sight of the things that really matter in life.

        Anyway: Congrats! :-)

  • RuySan

    Crypt Sermon is a worthy winner judging by the cover art alone.

    I’ve not yet listened to the record.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Do your self a favour it’s a classic!

  • RuySan

    Did the Blind Guardian album appeared suddenly, like magic?

    Well deserved, “The Throne” is the best song of the year. Of ALL the year.

    • It did. I love blogs. Instant editing!

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Nothing to add except yes, The Throne rules. Hard.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Sadly, here we are in March and January’s ROTM — Angra’s Secret Garden — still isn’t available for digital download in Canada. : (

    • Yeah, Ear Music is really anal about their stuff. They’ve been taking down all the tracks from YouTube, too.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    How on earth did I miss that Manilla Road album???
    In any case, Crypt Sermon and Blind Guardian rule. Definitely top picks here.

  • Excentric_1307

    YES! Vinyl purchase of Crypt Sermon is vindicated! Because I base all of my music purchase decisions and preferences off of AMG, of course.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    You know It’s a pretty quite month when Manila Road make the final cut.

    As much as I love Out Of The Garden. I was kinda hoping for back to back power metal RotMs at AMG…Not a style I normally go for but until the recent march madness kicked in, it had been a much bigger feature in my playlists…

  • Umulamahri

    Totally aggree with the words spent on Crypt Sermon! This album gives me the same emotion gave me the first Pallbearer’s album; I mean, they are different, ’cause Pallbearer have a particular taste for melodies, but I jast can’t get enough of those albums (even Foundations of Burden is great) that are catchy as hell. Oh, and Into The Holy Of Holies will probably be my “favourite track” of the year!

  • Doomdeathrosh

    So this month turns out to be a month for the oldies! Now looking forward to march, seems like a tough AOTM job!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Was just looking back through February and noticed that it could well be a record month for releases with ridiculous names.
    There was ‘Zombies ate my Girlfriend’, Wind Rose, Putrid Offal, Bad Gynaecology and who could forget Goat Semen…
    Looking back Im surprised (even though I haven’t heard it yet) that Abyssal Gods isn’t featured here.

    • Abyssal gods was officially released in March IIRC

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Right…wow march is going to be a tuff call

        • Yep, just from the top of my head, Imperial Triumphant, Acherontas, Leviathan, Kjeld and A forest of stars are getting a lot of playtime from me.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            I really need to get around to that one!
            Right now Alkaloid, Oceanwake and A Forest… are getting a good hammering….And theres still half a dozen others to get around to.
            I’m prepared to wager that Alkaloid will take top honours this month.
            The surprise package (for me) has been Enforcers ‘From Beyond’, its my go-to quick journey car album at the moment

          • Grymm

            I LOVE Abyssal Gods.

            Impromptu ukulele jams FTW!

      • Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, and Leviathan…but that’s March too, someone must have screwed something up with our metal timeline.

  • Samuel Honywill

    Justice for Sarpanitum!

  • kaeru92

    I agree about the content of this article, except the Manilla Road one. I feel like Izah or Momentum deserves a spot in here as well.

  • This is IMO the best album of the year so far. Start to finish a great Epic Doom Jem. Edit: and what a beautiful AMG background it makes :)

    • JWG

      A Jem you say.
      It’s truly outrageous. Truly, truly outrageous.

  • Lasse Momme

    Crypt Sermon is monster record. biggest riffs of the year so far.

  • Good list this month!

  • Watching the record of the month along with the runners up, I think it would be a fitting time to copy and paste the lyrics of Raised on Rock by Darkthrone (FOAD- 2007):

    You have nothing in common with me
    you think old-school is 1993
    ha! I’ve been a thrasher since ’84
    almost nothing sounds true anymore

    I’ve made my own code
    sold my soul to Manilla Road
    modern metal I don’t give a fuck
    UH! I was raised on rock

    It went plastic in ’94
    oh my god you’re such a bore
    if you don’t understand what I mean
    f*cking listen to Venom’s “Acid Queen”

    I’ve made my own code
    sold my soul to Manilla Road
    modern metal I don’t give a fuck
    UH! I was raised on rock

  • best.month.ever.

  • KingKuranes

    Now I really want to play D&D with the guys in Visigoth.