Apparently the heavy metal gods waited for September 2013 to unleash a shitstorm of fantastic records. Indeed, it’s difficult to understand how the year could be so goddamned back-loaded as it has been. Up until this point there were some good records and then suddenly September came along and we apparently hit the year’s goldmine. So, if you don’t see your favorite record taking the Record o’ the Month trophy home, or even being recommended it’s because that band probably should’ve released the album in May or March instead. They have only themselves to blame, because in September, 2013, metal reigned supreme—for real. Without further ado, then, I present to you the Record o’ the Month for 2013. Carcass Surgical Steel.
Carcass // Surgical Steel — While it was no White Wizzard, Surgical Steel astounded our local jaded Carcass fan, Fisting that Andrew Guy, who exclaimed with an unusually ecstatic gusto that “somehow, Surgical Steel capably channels the classic Carcass sound and upgrades it for modern-day warfare. Walker and Steer have mentioned in recent interviews that their only goals were to match previous career highs Necroticism and Heartwork, and to reclaim their sound from their many imitators. Mission fucking accomplished, gentlemen.” Really, with that kind of endorsement, wtf are you waiting for? You can even buy it on TAPE! I mean, c’mon, motherfuckers.
Haken // The Mountain — You like prog? Me too, and that’s why I couldn’t stop listening to The Mountain for the weeks I before I had to finally arse myself to write a review. These guys rock the modern prog movement in ways that bands like Riverside and Leprous, but they also do it with a nice, ’70s flair. Or, as I put in my original review, “Haken is one of those rare bands that can write a 70 minute record that is entertaining for every minute while wandering between all sorts of different styles. The record feels fluid, flowing seamlessly from one awesome variation to the next; sometimes heavy, sometimes somber, sometimes funky or jazzy, but always excellent.”
Atlantean Kodex // The White Goddess — In the Ye Olde School Doome Metale camp, Atlantean Kodex has been a pretty underground, but remarkably fresh voice. As Mr. the Steel Druhm wrote in his unusually laudatory review, “The White Goddess is bigger, tighter, more grandiose and addicting and it cements their status in the pantheon of great doom bands. This sounds like the Album of the Year and it will be tough to beat at the end of year reckoning. If you like melodic doom, drop whatever you are doing (unless you’re holding a baby or puppy) and pre-order this absolute beast of metal.” And when Steel Druhm tells you to do something, you know damn well that he’s willing to back that order up with Ye Olde Schoole Ass Kickerye. So, uh, I recommend you buy it.
In Solitude // Sister — As if Steel Druhm hadn’t gotten enough of a metal-on over Atlantean Kodex, he also flipped a proverbial (metal) titty (to mix my metaphors) over In Solitude‘s newest slab of old school heavy metal: Sister. As he put it: “I would have been totally happy with In Solitude remaining a shameless Mercyful Fate copycat, but what they’ve become on Sisters is so much more interesting. There isn’t an off moment to be found and every song is a killer. More evidence that 2013 is back-loaded, Sister is a big winner and another contender for Album of the Year.”
Týr // Valkyrja — Oh mercy. The Faroese are invading! Or, well, they invaded a while back and everyone got excited over them except for me. But slowly but surely the band has been blossoming into a serious force in traditional metal that I can’t seem to get enough of. Valkyrja (which never got reviewed and I apologize for that) is a romp through the band’s unique and interesting sound; a waltz into power metal, away from what I vaguely recall thought was a very Bathory influenced beginning (though, I did fall asleep while listening so I might be wrong). Unlike the band’s earlier material, Valkyrja pumps out track after track of testosterone laced heavy metal that only the totally true and seriously unhappy could dislike. It’s a great record. Dig it. Watch this space for a review.
Non-Metal Record o’ Note:
Vienna Teng // Aims — So uh, this isn’t metal. But if you’re interested in pop music and you have a soft spot for poppy prog, you might really like this stuff. While the record isn’t quite as good as her previous one, Inland Territory, it still hits a lot of the right notes with its interesting arrangements, cool writing and excellent performances. A must-have for the discriminating metal guy looking for a break from double kick drums and heavy metal posturing.