Record(s) o’ the Month – February 2023

The “diabolical façade” continues, as February followed in January’s surprising footsteps, turning out to be a remarkable month for metal. As March is usually when a lot of the biggest stuff starts to fall (Haken, Enslaved, Gorod, and a lot of other household names will be making their way to you in March), February was still low key in the sense that it wasn’t loaded with high-profile releases (Insomnium and In Flames excepted, of course). But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great month. In fact, I think there is going to be a lot of cool stuff that we might end up having to Filter. And while choosing the Record o’ the Month wasn’t a challenge, the competition was more than sporting.

But what really made February a great month was that I got tenure! Now, I know what you’re thinking: “you didn’t get tenure, Angry Metal Guy! Tenure is a mirage only available to those who already have tenure and used to take advantage of the pathetic hopes of a ridiculously underpaid, exploited underclass of teachers trapped in unstable work while dreaming of success. Universities are deleting the tenure lines when professors retire because ChatGPT is going to both teach the classes and write the student papers in the next five years as the singularity begins to emerge. And hell, after that we’ll all be dead!” Even if you’re right, I still did get tenure! And sure, tenure is not precisely the same here as it is in American academia,1 but after everything over the past few years, I just have to say that it feels pretty fucking great. In terms of “things that make life a hell of a lot better,” it’s going to be hard to beat the feeling of knowing that I do not need to worry about chasing temporary contracts doing latrine duty while hoping that I’m one of the 3% of funding applications selected to keep their job. That part of my career is over essentially before it began and I am so extraordinarily thankful to be able to say that.

And did I mention that February may have already seen one of my Top 5(ish) Records o’ the Year? Yeah, super cool month, February.

Är du svensk? Läs fotnoten.2

Carnosus // Visions of Infinihility [February 10th, 2023 | Self-release (buy it at Bandcamp)] — A funny thing happened in December of 2022. An independent death metal band called Carnosus was scheduled to play a show in my town.3 I watched a clip on Instagram and immediately reached out to them for a copy of their forthcoming album before the show was unceremoniously canceled. However, they still obliged and I was immediately hooked. Visions of Infinihility is 35 minutes of brilliant, techy, riffy and melodious death metal from Örebro, Sweden’s finest product since Olaus Petri. Every banger on here feels immense, balancing intensity, technicality, brutality with an impressive vocal repertoire and better songwriting chops than any 20-year olds from a mid-sized Swedish city have any right to possess. Unfortunately, though, while I was initially supposed to review this, I got distracted. So, for doing me the favor of reviewing this brilliant record, I’ll let Ferox bring us home: “Listen to this album, and witness Carnosus use every part of the tech death buffalo to document the rise of a ‘totalityrannic empire’ bent on repopulating the world with a race of ‘cadaverine-like beings.’ You won’t be thinking about the concept much, though, not while these nine thrash-inflected songs scramble your central nervous system.” Points added for a sick cover.

Runner(s) Up

Frozen Dawn - The Decline of the Enlightened Gods cover artFrozen Dawn // The Decline of the Enlightened Gods [February 10th, 2023 | Transcending Obscurity] — Every once in a while, Kunal over at Transcending Obscurity will drop a melodic record to remind the painfully self-aware cool kids on the AMG staff that melodic extreme metal bands exist and can be great. Twenty twenty-three’s first shot at this periodic reminder was Frozen Dawn‘s impressive The Decline of the Enlightened Gods, which draws on the Scandy meloblack tradition while adding the band’s specific flare. Frozen Dawn isn’t reinventing the wheel, but they are part of a happy resurgence of great melodic black metal records in recent years that flex muscles long forgotten within the scene. And this record is loaded with riffs, an infectious vibe, and what feels to Thus Spoke like a revitalization of melodic black metal only a scant month after I suggested the same thing. “With its unbridled energy and old-school-but-new-school take,” she exclaimed with unusual lust for life, “it’s easy to love. And anyone with an appetite for the blackened and bombastic is sure to love this as much as I do.” Beware, Thus Spoke, if you gaze into the fun, the fun gazes also into you!

Oak // Disintegrate [February 10th, 2023 | Season of Mist] — Aside from having one of the best logos in metal, I didn’t know what to expect from Oak when Steel Druhm accosted me in the hallway to emphatically intone that I should listen to a 45-minute funeral doom song. He tried to play it for me standing in that corridor while I danced around, trying not to think about sprinklers, waterfalls, torrential rains, the ocean… But good doom always has a way of building tension just right and that makes Disintegrate a surprisingly difficult album to put down once you’re into it. So there I was, 45 minutes later in multiple forms of existential anguish. Sure, Oak is more repetitive in places than I may have chosen myself. But the venerable ape is right, the band is able to harness enough “diversity of style and varied approaches to keep things interesting over Disintegrate’s 45 minutes, and the result is an achingly beautiful, emotionally harrowing musical voyage that will scar your soul.” The result is a crushing, beautiful album that “should not work this well, but it does,” and that’s sure to reappear for fans of the genre during Listurnalia.

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Though, my friend received a pamphlet from her union the day she defended her thesis that read: “Congratulations! The average time to a permanent (tenured) position in academia is 10 years!” So, it’s not like Sweden is the holy land or something. Good researchers can often go 10 or 15 years with full funding, lots of publications and still struggle finding a position.
  2. Och om du känner till en ledig lägenhet i Gbg hör gärna av dig!
  3. Same people just booked An Abstract Illusion, by the by. Legends.
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