Record(s) o’ the Month – January 2015

The Year of Our Angry Overlord 2015 is upon us, and January has been a surprising month in a lot of ways. First, this is the first time that I’ve enjoyed multiple power metal records in a single month that I can think of since I started enjoying the bombastic genre. If 2015 ends up being remembered for its power metal, well, lol. Second, it wasn’t just me who enjoyed the power metal! There was even a general consensus around the Record o’ the Month for January this time around. And despite a brief flare up of the Jørnunist Party, retribution was quick and jaunty and the tribjørnal doled out swift justice. This whole kerfuffle has led to a more stable than previously has ever been experienced on account of the important internal cleansing that happened as a result of this tragic event. In fact, all this unrest has brought me more into the fold than I have been in years, so January has seen me at my most prolific in a very long time! Strange days, over here. Strange days, indeed… Without further ado, I present our Record(s) o’ the Month!

Angra - Secret Garden

Color me surprised. After all this time, an Angra record finally sat with me. Secret Garden, which features a sphere on its cover and vocals by Fabio Lione, is a powerful statement of a record from a band that many seem to have believe wasn’t even around anymore. Still, as we know “from hardship often arises great artistic production and this album is just one more piece of totally non-verifiable statistical noise that confirms my bias that this is an undeniable truth.” Secret Garden stands out for its excellent power metal writing and its cast of superb vocal performances (including Doro Pesch and Simone Simons) which perfectly match the music within. The ensemble feel, the energetic writing, and the hungry feel come together for 45 minutes to deliver a great listening experience. Brought only down by its hyper-modern tonality, Secret Garden is just a cool record with great songs. It’s got two songs on my “Best Songs of 2015” list already.

Runners Up:

Sylosis - Dormant Heart 01Sylosis‘s Dormant Heart may have been dealt an unfair hand when they got called “metalcore” by our staff in the blurb we put up on Facebook and on the frontpage over here. As El Cuervo put it, this is “as far from modern metalcore as they have ventured,” and this is without trying to use the genre as a pejorative—we are, however, very aware that people see the word “metalcore” and their logical brains shut down. But listen up: Dormant Heart is a thrashy, pummeling and progressive melodic death record, chock full of fat riffs and moving away from the shackles of the genre they have previously been associated with. The sense of melody is sharp and the guitar solos are great, and the songwriting is as varied and interesting as ever. I’ve always wanted Sylosis to deliver the record that convinces me that they’re a top tier metal band, and Dormant Heart is the one where they finally delivered the goods.

Desolate Shrine - The Heart of the Netherworld 01Laden with atmosphere, fat riffs and a discomforting sound that they wield like a cudgel, these Finns dropped 62 minutes of great death metal on Jean-Luc Ricard‘s delicate—but stuffed up—eardrums. His diagnosis? Aside from the common cold: “The Heart of the Netherworld sees Desolate Shrine improve on their already impressive previous releases, perfecting their formula of doom-laden bludgeoning and setting a high bar for death metal in 2015.” Desolate Shrine‘s The Heart of the Netherworld was the first slab of truly nasty death metal that we’ve heard this year and it is a doozy. 2012’s The Sanctum of Inner Darkness was regaled for its sound, and The Heart of the Netherworld is a step up for sure. Atmosphere second to none, even if it gets a little long.

A Friendly Reminder: 

Voices LondonSure, Voices was already a Record o’ the Month in November, 2014, but we all love this album so much that we’re putting this on the list again to remind all of you in North America to run out and purchase this absolutely immense work when it’s released on the 27th of January. Here’s what we said then. It’s still true:

“We here at all miss the shit out of Akercocke. Let’s all just take a moment to reflect on what a fucking cool band that was. Okay, now that we’ve taken that moment, you should know that parts of that band are back with a new and stellar record entitled London in the form of the band Voices. Resident Chief Star Trek Pun Officer Jean-Luc Ricard was simultaneously impressed and disturbed by London‘s ‘septic atmosphere,’ and discordant riffs ‘designed to alienate and erode the listener’s stamina.’ And while no one will claim the record is perfect, ‘it succeeds spectacularly in delivering the concept. You might not enjoy every moment of your listening experience, but you’ll be completely captivated right until the final excruciating note.'”

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