Record(s) o’ the Month – April 2017

April has come and gone and we’re just barely over halfway through May, so we’re definitely making progress toward bringing these damn Record(s) o’ the Month posts current by 2019 [Bwahahaha – AMG]. We’ve streamlined the selection process by ignoring most of the staff; instead going with a small but powerful cabal known for ever-shifting loyalties and a wobbly support base. It’s a leaner, meaner system and we can get the job done in a merely tardy way rather than a shamefully late one. Hail to authoritarianism, vote curtailment and the tyranny of the minority. Wash your handmaidens/pool boys in your whiskey and on with the record(s) show.

What, you thought this wouldn’t make it because the review was tardy? We like riding tardy! Whenever Ayreon drops an album, you know it will be a big deal with 469 guest vocalists and 233 guest musicians. The man simply doesn’t do small or simple, so naturally The Source is a big sprawling sequel to his underrated 01011001 opus. AMG spent a good deal of time soaking in the album’s Overkill green colored fluid and in the end, he found it yet another triumph of composing and arranging from Arjen Lucassen. Bringing talents like Dream Theater‘s James LaBrie, Between the Buried and Me‘s Tommy Rogers and Toehider‘s Mike Mills together and merging them into a cohesive concept album is no easy thing, but Arjen knows his craft and everyone does their part for the greater good. AMG summed it up with these wise words: “For me, The Source is a great piece of work by a guy whose tone and writing I continue to love as it develops. The music is catchy and engaging, and the entire cast delivers beautiful vocal performances.” Want good prog-metal? Go to The Source.

Runner(s) up:

Havukruunu // Kelle surut soi – Take three parts Bathory, two parts Immortal and top it off with I of newt, and you get the righteous blackened cheesecake that is Havukruunu. Olde school in a shameless way, they bring you Viking/folk metal as it was originally done, with an uncanny ability to make it catchy and addicting without sacrificing heaviness. And those riffs! This thing is a towering edifice of mammoth riffs – some battle ready, some gloomy, some peel your face off. But the best thing about Havukruunu is their ability to borrow extensively from genre progenitors while still crafting their own identity and style. As Doc Grier explained so well, “With a style synthesized by old Quorthon and made heavy as fuck by Abbath, et al., there’s no need for reinvention. All that’s needed are adjustments to the subtleties and a band willing to borrow just as much from their forefathers as forge their own path.”

Ophiuchi // Bifurcaria Bifucrcaria – We don’t see many South African metal bands get reviews here, which is a shame as the country has a pretty lively metal scene. One man band Ophiuchi escaped their nation’s obscurity cloak and managed to dazzle the good Doctor Grier with a tasty combination of black and doom metal. Featuring an eclectic style loaded with unexpected twists and turns it features nuanced nods to Alcest and Cobalt, among others. Where Ophiuchi really excels is at crafting dramatic peaks and valleys, carrying the listener from soothing tranquility to stunning blackened assaults. Confusing, challenging, brilliant. Springboks rejoice!


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