As usual, the new year began with childlike dreams of having timely Record(s) o’ the Month posts, and as usual, our pie in the sky hopes came crashing to Earth by February. The lesson here is, never ever try. With this new pragmatic approach to cruel blogworks realities, we can assure you that most, if not all of the Record(s) o’ the Month posts will be refreshingly late. Hell, some months they might not happen at all! With expectations managed thusly, we are proud to present you the selections for February. Because of time constraints and personal commitments, your friendly neighborhood Steel was the only one in attendance at the selection committee meeting, so you get what you get. Just thank your lucky stars Swordborn wasn’t the sole attendee.

The Atlas Moth has much in common with their namesake insect, changing shape and evolving from album to album. Dragging their despondent psychedelic sludge into more “upbeat” environs is no easy feat, but that’s what the band does on Coma Noir. There’s more rock n’ roll influence injected into the compositions this time, creating a hooky, quasi-accessible sound, and that’s just the beginning. As our intrepid L. Saunders writes, “The different genre influences mutate in unexpected ways, with elements of doom, stoner, hardcore, trippy psychedelia, noise rock, and hell, even hints of New Wave contorting from the belly of the sludge beast.” This is a band pushing boundaries and envelopes while showing new edges and angles on every release. Coma Noir is a snapshot of where the band is now, but who knows where they’ll be next year?

Runner(s) Up:

Deathwhite // For a Black Tomorrow – This is the most mysterious act since Ghost, and the masked (hoodied) members of Deathwhite just keep releasing high-quality mixtures of post-rock, alt-rock and doom with goth overtones, all with a shrewd ear for song craft. On their first full-length, For a Black Tomorrow, you get a highly memorable selection of downbeat tunes full of Katatonia, Tool and Soen influences. Gloom rock for the alienated and depressed rarely sounds this lively and catchy, the album’s ebb and flow is remarkable and the mood is uniformly melancholic and bleak, just as sadboys like it! We may not know who these gents are, but we know they can deliver the mope-rock like few others. As a suitably impressed Steel gushed, “Mystery aside, this is a band with real talent and a deft hand at songcraft, and For a Black Tomorrow is another consistently very good release with moments of true greatness.”

Huntsmen // American Scrap – Can progressive sludge marry Americana folk rock without incurring a collection of restraining orders? This is what Huntsmen set out to discover on their unusual debut, American Scrap. Rarely do Mastodon, Bruce Springsteen and Katatonia get name dropped in the same review, but here it was necessary as Huntsmen‘s style blends strange musical landscapes in surprisingly successful ways. As GardensTale summed it up, “Its honest, blue-collar attitude, gleaned directly from its Americana roots, precludes manipulative tricks, and the near-flawless execution proves the band does not need them in the first place. You don’t want to miss this gritty journey across the land of the free.”