It’s the new year! And that means new starts. What’s going to be new with the Record(s) o’ the Month in 2016? Well, pretty much nothing. I plan to be just as opinionated, stubborn, and unreliable as I can be. Because now I have Unimpeachable Scientific Proof™ that my choices are pretty much fucking representative of the choices of the entire staff at Angry Metal Guy. Yeah, sure, some people might not agree with me all the time, but in aggregate—which as we know from the rise of Big Data and the Technocratic Rule is the only data that matters—my opinion is still trend-setting and all-important. Put that in your pipe and smoke it I Give a 4.0 to Everything That Reeks of Nostalgia and Desperation Druhm. So my wimpy prog choices? Yeah, they’re gonna keep coming. My not caring about the newest super true Demilich clone? Oh, it will continue. My total disinterest in anyone’s opinion but my own? Yup, that’s the whole point of this blog.
Fuck new years resolutions: I have a goddamned eponymous blog. What are you gonna do, stop clicking the ads?
In a month where we got the response to a high-profile breakup of a great power metal band, we also got the first post-Immortal-drama album from Abbath. And as Diabolus in Muzaka reminds us, there’s an old saying that goes, “you can legally coerce Abbath out of Immortal, but you can’t stop Abbath from up and taking Immortal with him in spirit.” Abbath strikes back with an album that plays to his strengths and that was almost universally loved by the Angry Metal Guy staff. With riffs, great melodic work, but a more aggressive approach than shown in more recent work, Abbath is an album that shows that the man behind black metal’s most famous corpse paint isn’t running out of ideas. Instead, these 40 minutes sit nicely alongside late Immortal but his hardly superfluous: “the use of elements from Abbath’s lengthy discography and his raucous musical influences makes for something at once familiar and fresh, anchored by one of the most unique guitar styles in the business. Abbath is more of a great thing, and that’s the only reason I need to keep revisiting this new realm beyond Blashyrkh throughout the year.”
Wildernessking // Mystical Future [Bandcamp] — Wildernessking are a jewel in a sea of unimaginative atmospheric black metal and have produced a record that’s pretty damned fine. It’s difficult to compete with Abbath, of course, and that’s a bit of a bummer because Mystical Future is a great record in a seriously good January. Demonstrating both a feel for riffs and a sense of balance and beauty, Mystical Future enraptures. I was particularly pleased with the sound and how the record felt like a whole with the “cavernous sound lending to a stormy feel when the band does pick up speed. Rather than bruising intensity, the heavy material crashes over the listener like waves. Wildernessking deftly builds songs which reach epic, heart-wrenching crescendos.”
Gomorrah // The Haruspex [Bandcamp] — Given that there were three death metal records this month that could have taken this spot on the list (the other two were Chth’l’lizeawwhatever and Mortuary‘s not-so-bad new record), it’s hard to remember that 2015 was an unspectacular year for death metal. If this is anything to go by, 2016 is going to be a much better year for purveyors of the deathly craft. The Haruspex manages to blend some of my favorite sounds to make something that is truly great. I gushed unreservedly in my review: “this two-man-band won me over with its excellent riffs and loose ambiance. These thirty minutes of spine crushing metal push all the right buttons for me: brutal, infectious, and concise.” And it’s all true!
Gygax // Critical Hits [Bandcamp] — This was the first great record I heard in 2016 and it just feels wrong to leave it off this list. These guys are making a type of hard rock that is easy to write off as nostalgic, but which has a feel that isn’t that at all. Rather, Gygax is genuinely excellent hard rock done in an old school style. Sure, it evokes pet rocks and shag carpet, but it also features excellent riffs, sharp songs, and is extremely memorable. Brother Grymm put my experience perfectly in words: “Here I was, all set to slag Critical Hits for being another retro cash-in, and they nearly rolled a natural 20 on my sorry ass. Next time you’re ready for an adventure or have some mana in need of tappin’, let Gygax supply the soundtrack. You won’t be disappointed.”
Record o’ the Month, December 2015
Remember when black metal felt dangerous, sacrilegious, and interesting? Batushka remembers.
Now would people please quit fucking releasing music in December? Because it’s a horrible time to release new music.