Record(s) o’ the Month – April 2020

Ah, yes. Another April, another late Record(s) o’ the Month. This April spent in lock down was weird. We at have come to know each other better thanks to the totally-secure-and-not-at-all-sketchy Zoom and yet, I feel like I only have a rising disrespect for my writers and their tastes. It’s as though putting faces to bad and/or irritating taste makes me all the more inclined to ignore their opinions and go off on my own. The sheer talent that we have on staff is impressive when compared to other webzines and magazines, but laughable when considering my own oeuvre. Still, when careening toward unemployment with an unfinished dissertation, beggars can’t be choosers. But the heads? They’re gonna roll come September.  Here, be offended by my choices for Record o’ the Month.

Album cover for the Record o' the Month - Calligram - The Eye Is the First Circle

Honestly, if I had read the review alone, I may have slept on Calligram. The combinations of influences and genres listed are the kinds of things that would make me take a step away and say “Eh, that’s probably not for me.” Fortunately, I’m a “high openness to experience” kinda guy, so I popped in The Eye Is the First Circle and was rewarded with a raw, but strangely beautiful, black metal album that oozes with confidence and was probably better than the “Great!” it was given. With subtle d-beat influences and vocals that remind me of Gaahl’s utterly unhinged screams on Trelldom and early Gorgoroth, Calligram navigates their influences with alacrity and craft an indefensible aural assault on the unsuspecting listener. Truly, Dear Hollow‘s first review for AMG was a doozy and I couldn’t help but agree with his assessment that “The Eye Is the First Circle feels like its own beast entirely. It communicates dread in an alarmingly fantastic debut album. Its production is pummeling and contemplative, its songwriting tight and intentional, its runtime digestible and rewarding, and its use of influences unique and powerful. The Eye Is the First Circle is a stunningly balanced and haunting album, whose devastating tones will stay with you for a long time.”

Runner(s) Up:

Album cover of Forndom - FathirForndom // Faþir — When thinking about the aspects of music that I love, it’s often come down to the fact that more than anything I enjoy the epic and melodic. I want music that challenges my expectations and that feeds me emotional builds and the kind of joy that comes along with discovering transcendent experiences. A Swede by the name of L. Swärd (henceforth, “Legolas Swärd”), wrote an album that sounds perfect for your upcoming Trudvang campaign in D&D. Legolas is clearly influenced by the cinematic soundscapes of film and video games and at times Faþir feels like one is listening to a more Scandinavian influenced soundtrack to a Dragon Age sequel. The sound is slightly martial while feeling ancient and primordial. In a way, it’s a combination of the Viking metal vibe with a music that is chill and, at times, relaxing. You can imagine Johan Hegg doing yoga to it on a misty fall morning. Twelve diagnosed Faþir well when he wrote, “[Legolas] Swärd’s music is honest; refreshingly, beautifully honest. And this means it’s also well thought-out, well-composed, well-played, and well-produced. It’s a rare album that has earnestness and skill in equal measure, which makes it consistently enjoyable, and a newfound staple in my playlist for the budding spring.”

Album cover of Dark Forest - Oak, Ash & ThornDark Forest // Oak, Ash & ThornOak, Ash & Thorn is a fun foray into power metal via strong melodies, Arthurian myth and classic storytelling. Sure, Dark Forest isn’t going to convince anyone of your superior taste by being vaguely discomforting to listen to. You won’t be able to tell anyone that your taste in music is somehow more democratic because it’s transgressing the binaries in the interstices of the oppressive structures of “scales” and “singers who can hit the notes,” but you will have a good time listening to it. As Steel Druhm explained, “I had a sneaking suspicion Dark Forest was an album away from a monsterpiece when I reviewed Beyond the Veil, and Oak, Ash & Thorn is that mystical beast. It’s the near perfect blend of traditional and power metal and every song is a catchy, replay-heavy delight. This will be figuring highly on my year-end list and I expect to get a great deal of mileage out of these forest tales. You will too, so while you should sleep in a forest, don’t sleep on the Forest.”

PS: Yes, Ulcerate released a new album. Stare into Death and Be Still was unsurprisingly given a stamp of approval and the metal Twitterverse has declared it the Record o’ the Year. I didn’t include it here because you already know you love Ulcerate. Everyone loves Ulcerate. Ulcerate is as close to a consensus pick as is possible in May of 2020. Even people who don’t love Ulcerate probably tell you that they love Ulcerate because they have been dubbed The Correct Way to Do Death Metal™ in the 2010s. More importantly, everyone who came here to read that their favorite band’s record is Record o’ the Month is kinda missing the point of these posts. Above, I have highlighted three albums that are great listens. So, rather than looking for confirmation, why not try to complement your listening with something different?

Enjoy complaining!

In an effort to save the remaining shreds of our cred make our playlists more focused, we at AMG Playlist Consolidated Conglomerations are trying something new this year. Instead of inundating you with our awful and awfully redundant tastes week after week, each month we’ll be selecting our favorite songs released the month prior. Shuffle-friendly and tailored with your listening pleasure in mind, I’m pleased to present the AMG Staff’s Songs of the Month, April 2020 edition.

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