It’s a brand new year but it seems some things never change; like you getting a way late Record(s) o’ the Month post. Rather than blame the usual suspects and counter-productively point fingers (Dr. Grier is a huge problem), allow me to explain why these posts occasionally get delayed a wee bit. First, the AMG team is spread all over the damn globe, with management split between Sweden and New York. Second, according to the ancient and arcane AMG bylaws1, only our esteemed leader, AMG Himself can call the Record(s) Selection Meeting to order. When his very demanding career prevents him from doing so in a timely fashion, I, the Steel One, must wait a full 15 days before commandeering the ship, tossing all loyalists overboard and proclaiming whatever power metal piffle I’m currently enamored with as the monthly champion. Sure, we’ve tried to streamline the process, but our governing system is a strange amalgam of military dictatorship, representative democracy and Jim Jones-ian cult worship. In other words – we got 40 arms and a gun, but can’t get nothin’ done. And that’s why you get these posts when you get them, thereby enjoying the guilty pleasure of whining and carping like the petulant peasants you are. That is the violence inherent in the system, my droogs. Now shuddap and read.
Pain of Salvation‘s newest platter recalls the feel of great concept albums and progresses the band’s career in an intense way. It was clear which album needed to be the Record o’ the Month for January, because it’s rare that a band produces an album this special. But In the Passing Light of Day is a deep and intense album. ItPLoD (it-plod?) sees PoS introducing heavier, proggier pieces back into their sound, while dealing lyrically with the heaviest material of their career. The record perfectly balances all of the elements that I love about the band—powerful vocals, great lyrics, and an artful approach to songwriting and arrangement, but it also catches lightning in a bottle. As I gushed in my review, “[t]his is not the kind of album a person can write twice, but this is one of those rare pieces of music that will engage you emotionally, stimulating reflection on how fragile life is, how fragile love is, and how the world is random and in constant flux. At the same time, Pain of Salvation continues to produce idiosyncratic, unpredictable, and beautiful material. I’m glad we didn’t lose them in 2014.”
The Great Old Ones // EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy – H.P. Lovecraft is as known to metal folk as Spongebob is to rug rats. His tentacle-fancier works are tailor made for extreme metal and The Great Old Ones fill out their Cthulhu leisure wear better than most. Taking an angle on French black metal that pays homage to Altar of Plagues, TGOO also incorporate creepy-crawly cult ritual atmospheres and choirs all while being as violent and unforgiving as possible. The sheer mindfuckery of this thing is shocking, and even with a mix that crushes everything like the left foot of the Dark One himself, the quality of the material cannot be questioned. It may contain the Song o’ the Year as well. Grit your teeth and dive into that dreadful black water.
The Ominous Circle // Appalling Ascension – Sometimes even we at AMG get too far up our own arses and want to find the most obscure and avant garde project to hail as the next big thing. That’s why it’s so refreshing when a straight-forward dose of quality death metal shows up to kick in our teeth without pretense or artsy-fartsy posing. The Ominous Circle is one such tooth kicker and they have size 12 boots. Appalling Ascension is not out to impress with introspective noodling or naval gazing. No, they take the best parts of Morbid Angel and Immolation and use them to hammer you into compliant poo. With traces of death doom and crusty Incantation sludge lurking in the dreadful shadows, you get a lot of variety and all of it wants to harm you. Let this be a lesson to all those who live in heavens for the hard of hearing.