Record(s) o’ the Month – June 2016

It’s a blast from the past! That’s right, the Record(s) o’ the Month for June are finally here. And boy howdy, I gotta say that it was tough to get to these. There was plenty of infighting, accusations of me being a distant and cold tyrant. A psychoanalyst was called in. Then the police. Turns out that Steel Druhm may have lots of daddy issues, but he also hates talking about them and has a massive gun collection. We managed to get through this whole thing only slightly injured and now that I’m out of the hospital I’m posting this. So here you have it, Ye Olde Recordes o’ the Monthe for June.

The Vision Bleak - The Unknown

If The Vision Bleak were a death metal band, they would be praised for their uncompromising “old school” cover art. Unfortunately, they’re gothic metal, so I’m sure that those same death metal guys will accuse me of lacking metal credentials for liking The Unknown as much as I do. Like no other album I heard this month, The Unknown captivated my senses and drew me back in. Key for me is the songwriting. The Unknown is a combination of sounds uncommon to the scene nowadays, but which after all these years are like a siren’s call to me. A combination of that mid-90s Type O or Moonspell bass vocals, mixed with rasps and frequently driving tracks. The tracks are evenly weighted, “balancing between beautiful and venomous,” to quote Dr. A.N. Grier, and “the approach is dark, the mood is hopeless, and the atmospheres are blanketing.” This combination of ominous atmosphere and adroit songwriting makes The Unknown a great album and a stalwart on my playlist.

Runner(s) Up:

Thrawsunblat - MetachthoniaThrawsunblat // Metachthonia — This year has been a fantastic revival of melodic black metal. From Sacrilegium to Moonsorrow to Winterhorde and Mistur, I’ve been lapping up this glut of bands who haven’t lost sight of the fact that black metal once upon a time wasn’t terribly goddamned boring. I know, it’s a shock, but once upon a time people wrote songs that were interesting to listen to and that made a guy want to headbang or tell his friends about the band. While Thrawsunblat loses points in my book for having not one but TWO titles one can’t actually pronounce, they’re too busy kicking ass and auditioning for a Scandinavian tour with MånegarmMoonsorrow and Mistur to care what I think. This album is full to the brim with outstanding composition, sizzling atmosphere and grabby hands with an eye on Agalloch’s post-Scandy black metal crown. And that hour-long run time? Diabolus in Muzaka has it right: “Luckily, Metachthonia is […] a well-written concept album that grows more rich and rewarding with each listen. The good material outweighs the lesser material by an order of magnitude, and the hour-long runtime, even with its flaws, is captivating and never feels overlong.”

Be'lakor - VesselsBe’lakor // Vessels – The glamour boys of Australian melo-death came roaring back with another hefty dose of “Insomnium Gatherum” styled fun, and promptly divided the already fractious AMG staff as to its quality. While some felt it was tired and meandering, others defended it as beautiful and atmospheric. Even the staunch defenders however will acknowledge Vessels lacks the impact of earlier releases, but they’re still one of the best at this “sad boy” style of melodic death. El Cuervo summed it up thusly: “It still comes highly recommended if you’ve enjoyed their previous work or that of other, more long-winded melodeath bands such as Insomnium. But I found there to be a slight dip in quality and the issues slightly more noticeable this time around.”

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