We’d have to ask Sentynel, but I’m pretty sure this is a historically late Record(s) o’ the Month. You’ll forgive me, things have been a bit hectic around the office. Some of that is good and some of it is bad, but the end result is the same: extraordinarily delayed Record(s) o’ the Month. But this month was pretty easy, I didn’t even get much push-back about this—which is a shame, because I like repressing the plebeians. So without further ado, your Record(s) o’ the Month for April of 2019.
In what was surely a demonstration of venality and in-group bias, the masses of Angry Metal Guy writers and I agreed on the best album we heard in April and it was Black Sites‘ sophomore release Exile. A beautiful blend of old and new, Exile finds Mark Sugar and his band of Chicago-based musicians, knocking out chunky riffs and great songs. With a vinyl perfect flow and a flaming swine on the cover, Exile is as addictive as it is beefy and as unique as it is old school. I gushed about this record already once, so let me quote myself: “Exile is a triumphantly classic heavy metal album that does not feel nostalgic. Mark Sugar’s super power is writing excellent, addictive thrash-laced heavy metal in his own particular idiom. I don’t know if Exile is better than In Monochrome. I don’t know if it’s better than This Ruined World. But I do know that I wish I could be making music like this, because Black Sites—Exile—speaks to me.”
Belzebubs // Pantheon of the Nightside Gods — I did not realize how much I missed good ’90s-style orchestral black metal until I heard Pantheon of the Nightside Gods. In metal’s dramatic turn away from music that’s fun to listen to, we’ve abandoned the pomp and drama that defined early Dimmu Borgir and Emperor records. Instead, the scene is now filled with bands with too many minutes of song for any given riff and “atmosphere.” Belzebubs is a reminder of just what it is that we’re missing. Pantheon of the Nightside Gods may be slightly tongue in cheek, but the music itself is well-written, hard-hitting orchestral black metal that sounds great (thanks Dan Swanö!) and is fun to listen to. So don’t write this off as a gimmicky band. GardensTale put that idea immediately to rest: “Honestly, Pantheon of the Nightside Gods wouldn’t have been my first thought when listing true top-tier meloblack this year, not by description alone at least. A webcomic metal band putting an album into the real world? [But] Belzebubs demonstrate in glorious blackened splendor that origins don’t matter. If a virtual band has talented songwriters and gifted musicians backing it, wonderful things can happen. And with Pantheon of the Nightside Gods, they absolutely have.”
Inter Arma // Sulphur English — I guess some people like this album and I didn’t really have a strong third place candidate because I pretty much ended up stuck on the two foregoing albums. But Cherd, for example, with his questionable taste and excellent photoshopping skills seems to think this is good and begged me to include it on this list. So here it is, I’ll let him endorse it and bear the brunt of the consequences from disgruntled readers who think that their favorite one-man black metal band from Greenland should be the RotM and that we’re just a bunch of stupid sellouts. “Inter Arma has given us their most unified vision to date on Sulphur English, with this dense mass of concentrated foreboding. It’s not an easy album by any means,1 but it’s their best in an already strong career. Suplphur English shows us a chimerical,2 yet consistently solid, band at the height of their powers. You’ll be seeing it again at the end of the year.”