Rare is the month where the AMG staffers can come together in the spirit of brotherhood and goodwill and choose a Record o’ the Month without hurling insults, chairs and lead at one another. July was one such rare and joyous occasion, if only because chairs and firearms were not available at the ice cream social/selection meeting. And so it came to pass that a winner was decided upon and runners up were slotted in with nary a flesh wound or emotional bruising. This then is truly the Pax Romana of the AMG dynasty and all should bask in the warmth, unity and enlightenment before we’re inevitably blindsided by barbarian hordes and comment section Jackwagons.

Witherscape_The Northern Sanctuary

The name Dan Swanö has become synonymous with quality, and his latest project Witherscape is no exception to the Swanö Theörum. The Witherscape debut was very impressive, but The Northern Sanctuary takes things to a bigger, more grandiose point where melodic death, prog and traditional metal all coexist in perfect harmony. Borrowing the best elements of past projects like Edge of Sanity and Nightingale, Mr. Swanö weaves a masterful tapestry from the light and dark, heavy and melodic without ever losing sight of the need for hooks and actual songs. Collaborator and man of many mustaches, Ragnar Widerberg seems the perfect foil for Swanö’s mad musical concoctions, lending his deft hand to killer guitar harmonies and Symphony X-like solos of fancy. When you get this much technical excellence paired with craft song writing, you know you’re in a good place and that’s exactly what The Northern Sanctuary is. Keep on trucking, Danimal!

Runner(s) Up:

Inter Arma Paradise Gallows Cover 2016Inter Arma // Paradise Gallows – One does not simply take elements of southern rock, doom, sludge, prog and death metal and weld them into something cohesive and captivating, but Inter Arma did just that on Paradise Gallows. In the process they majorly impressed our man Grymm, who gushed over their blend of power and hooks, writing: “Inter Arma did a fantastic job marrying so many influences together to make their own sound. The last time something like this was done in the realm of doom and prog metal was Mastodon, which should tell you just how revered these guys will be soon, if not with this album.” High praise indeed.

Caina Christ Clad in White Phosphorus 01Caïna //  Christ Clad in White PhosphorusMadam X makes a habit of adopting the odd musical strays that wander the filthy back-alleys of the AMG promo bin. Caïna is one of her favorites due to their perplexing, amorphous nature and commitment to sounding like they should be committed. Christ Clad in White Phosphorus is yet another examination of the strange, unsettling and unpredictable, taking their core black metal sound into the worlds of 80s Darkwave and weird anti-music like Igorr. Madam summed it up thusly: “This is an excellent album, though not necessarily an easy listen, and I expect it’ll appeal to a niche market….” We like niche markets.

FatesWarning_01Fates Warning // Theories of FlightFates Warning seemed to be on a career upswing with 2013s Darkness in a Different Light, and that trend got much more pronounced with Theories of Flight. Carving a path between prog-metal and accessible rock, these wily veterans know what they’re doing and prove it by crafting songs rife with technicality yet able to keep the listener hooked in and emotionally available. Singer Ray Alder sounds revitalized and the nods to the Parallels era are nice. Dr. Fisting was suitably impressed, exclaiming: “After a long layoff, Fates Warning prove that Darkness was no fluke, and while Theories may be a bit less immediate than its predecessor, it’s no less stunning.”

Editor’s Note: I, Steel Druhm, would like to formally protest the complete lack of protest necessary this month. It feels like a trap and I don’t like it one bit. OCCUPY AMG!