Rare is the month where the AMG staffers can come together in the spirit of brotherhood and goodwill and choose a Record o’ the Month without hurling insults, chairs and lead at one another. July was one such rare and joyous occasion, if only because chairs and firearms were not available at the ice cream social/selection meeting. And so it came to pass that a winner was decided upon and runners up were slotted in with nary a flesh wound or emotional bruising. This then is truly the Pax Romana of the AMG dynasty and all should bask in the warmth, unity and enlightenment before we’re inevitably blindsided by barbarian hordes and comment section Jackwagons.

Witherscape_The Northern Sanctuary

The name Dan Swanö has become synonymous with quality, and his latest project Witherscape is no exception to the Swanö Theörum. The Witherscape debut was very impressive, but The Northern Sanctuary takes things to a bigger, more grandiose point where melodic death, prog and traditional metal all coexist in perfect harmony. Borrowing the best elements of past projects like Edge of Sanity and Nightingale, Mr. Swanö weaves a masterful tapestry from the light and dark, heavy and melodic without ever losing sight of the need for hooks and actual songs. Collaborator and man of many mustaches, Ragnar Widerberg seems the perfect foil for Swanö’s mad musical concoctions, lending his deft hand to killer guitar harmonies and Symphony X-like solos of fancy. When you get this much technical excellence paired with craft song writing, you know you’re in a good place and that’s exactly what The Northern Sanctuary is. Keep on trucking, Danimal!

Runner(s) Up:

Inter Arma Paradise Gallows Cover 2016Inter Arma // Paradise Gallows – One does not simply take elements of southern rock, doom, sludge, prog and death metal and weld them into something cohesive and captivating, but Inter Arma did just that on Paradise Gallows. In the process they majorly impressed our man Grymm, who gushed over their blend of power and hooks, writing: “Inter Arma did a fantastic job marrying so many influences together to make their own sound. The last time something like this was done in the realm of doom and prog metal was Mastodon, which should tell you just how revered these guys will be soon, if not with this album.” High praise indeed.

Caina Christ Clad in White Phosphorus 01Caïna //  Christ Clad in White PhosphorusMadam X makes a habit of adopting the odd musical strays that wander the filthy back-alleys of the AMG promo bin. Caïna is one of her favorites due to their perplexing, amorphous nature and commitment to sounding like they should be committed. Christ Clad in White Phosphorus is yet another examination of the strange, unsettling and unpredictable, taking their core black metal sound into the worlds of 80s Darkwave and weird anti-music like Igorr. Madam summed it up thusly: “This is an excellent album, though not necessarily an easy listen, and I expect it’ll appeal to a niche market….” We like niche markets.

FatesWarning_01Fates Warning // Theories of FlightFates Warning seemed to be on a career upswing with 2013s Darkness in a Different Light, and that trend got much more pronounced with Theories of Flight. Carving a path between prog-metal and accessible rock, these wily veterans know what they’re doing and prove it by crafting songs rife with technicality yet able to keep the listener hooked in and emotionally available. Singer Ray Alder sounds revitalized and the nods to the Parallels era are nice. Dr. Fisting was suitably impressed, exclaiming: “After a long layoff, Fates Warning prove that Darkness was no fluke, and while Theories may be a bit less immediate than its predecessor, it’s no less stunning.”

Editor’s Note: I, Steel Druhm, would like to formally protest the complete lack of protest necessary this month. It feels like a trap and I don’t like it one bit. OCCUPY AMG!

 

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  • Inter Arma would’ve made for an even cooler background image. But Witherscape’s fiery Swänisms will most definitely do. No protest here, I completely agree (although personally I would’ve added Anicon, Verwoed or Hammers of Misfortune I think). Great choice, great runner ups!

  • Panos

    Excellent choice, I have been listening to the “The Northern Sanctuary” non stop since I read the AMG review. Thanks for the introduction to Swanö’s work, definitely looking forward to exploring it further.

  • Meriyas

    Timely record of the month, AMG is on fire. I missed Witherscape on here, so I’ll definitely be checking that out. Thank you!
    On a side note, is there going to be a review for Infant Annihilator’s latest album? It came out at the end of July I believe.

    • I don’t recall us getting a promo from them, so likely not.

      • Meriyas

        Ahh fair enough. Oh well, cheers anyway guys.

      • Iain Gleasure

        Have you got the Sabaton promo in the meantime? Or will it come later?

        • We haven’t received it yet but we will.

  • This peace is brutal.

    • Kronos

      Don’t worry, we’ll be completely at war come October…

    • [not a Dr]

      No Braxaná child will have been issued a name in July.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Months like July are very enjoyable. Just a handful of releases that are really definitely worth your time. Quality over quantity. The new Hammers of Misfortune is sadly lacking here but this selection is excellent.

    • Austin Lovell

      I loved the new Hammers of Misfortune. Granted, it’s the first album that I’ve heard from the guys but I was really enjoying it. I’d say probably my record of the month.

  • Hammersmith

    The Witherscape is a good call, although the “Angry Michael McDonald” comment from the review is hard to shake once you hear it.

    • brutal_sushi

      Swano has nothing on Omnium Gatherum when it comes to Metal Michael McDonald… Case in point “New World Shadows” off of New World Shadows… 4:25 in the song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhffS08IbZg

      • Except for the fact that’s Dan singing on the song!

        • brutal_sushi

          ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!?!?! Well now I feel awful, and dumb!

          • Yep, that’s Danimal doing the clean vocals.

          • brutal_sushi

            Damn Steel… thanks for blowing my god damn mind… Like I need another reason to love Dano

  • 517H

    Mint choc chip every time for me personally. Steel strikes me as the double choc fudge type of ice cream fan. Great record of the month, guys. The 13 minute epic title track is awesome

    • Nothing beats chocolate except double and triple chocolate.

    • Mint choc chip gets my vote too!

    • [not a Dr]

      I hear those ice cream bells and I start to drool,
      Keep a couple quarts in my locker at school
      Yeah, but chocolate’s gettin’ old,
      And vanilla just leaves me cold,
      There’s just one flavor good enough for me, yeah me,
      Don’t gimme no crummy taste spoon, I know what I need, baby
      I love rocky road,
      So won’t you go and buy ababy
      I love rocky road,
      So have another triple scoop with me, OW!

  • Kronos

    Not a very brutal month, but I can’t complain. I like what I’ve heard from all of these.

    • Oscar Albretsen

      Brutal as in “lots of extreme/black metal albums,” or “no good albums?”

      • Diego Molero

        Brutal as in br00tal.

      • Kronos

        Not enough brutal albums.

  • Iain Gleasure

    And so the prophecy is complete…

    The coup of AMG has occurred under the sign of the sphere. And under Dan Swano’s no less.

    • We don’t have the time or patience to plan coups. We just riot and demand concessions.

  • Diego Molero

    Months have past, Katatonia have past, In Mourning have past, Record o’ the Month have past, Where is AMG?!
    #SaveAMG

  • hallowed

    And in an unprecedented move, this will be immediately followed with Record(s) o’ the Month – September 2016 so that the site can be adorned with colorful peacock feathers for the coming couple of months.

    • Highly probable.

    • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

      It’s not even out yet and I’m already sick of hearing about Sorceress

      • Me too.

        • Oscar Albretsen

          Did I hear someone say something about the new Opeth album!?

  • Kill The King

    I’m hoping the new Inquisition will be the August ROTM!!!

  • Antorus

    Always bet on the Swano!

  • RobbinBri

    I usually listen to the songs you put up and a lot of the stuff on here just isn’t to my liking. But I really like Witherscape….wow. A lot of prog is just too damn noodly for me but this is really good. This is what I always wanted Dream Theatre to evolve into after Awake but…..well…..look at them now.

  • Obviously.

  • IN SWÄNO WE TRUST!

  • Reese Burns

    My vote woulda been for Inter Arma, but fair’s fair.

  • Scourge

    I really need to check out that Caina. I’ve been loving Crowhurst’s new album II and it prominently features Andrew Curtis-Brignell from Caina. Descriptions of the Caina album sound spot on to what I’m hearing on the new Crowhurst.

  • jrichocean

    Not even an honorable mention for III:Trauma!? Dafuq is happening at AMG!?

    • We’re awful.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Did it get reviewed here?… I must have missed it

    • Ernesto Aimar

      Damn right!

    • AndySynn

      As long as they don’t go through all the contortions trying to call it “Post Black Metal” they can mention it all they want!

    • ricin_beans

      Along with Vektor and Inter Arma probably my favorite album so far this year. I think Harakiri is an underrated band. Maybe people are getting tired of that whole subgenre.

  • Akira Watts

    Definitely need to check out the Caïna and Witherscape albums, neither of which I’ve heard. I’ve been listening to Inter Arma’s latest for the past few weeks. I dig, but I can’t quite get into the first half – I just keep finding myself spacing out, coming back enough to be annoyed by the distorted vocals on “Primordial Wound.”

    Then “The Summer Drones” hits, and all is well with the world. That one is on my songs of the year shortlist. And the rest of the album is close to perfect, at least for my tastes. Can’t get over the first half underwhelming me though.

    (And here’s another vote for Harakiri for the Sky’s latest. A bit long, but still very very good.)

  • Oscar Albretsen

    I can’t wait to pick up this new Witherscape. Even though I get tired of “The Inheritance” after 2 or 3 listens, it’s a great album and everyone’s saying the new one is even better.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Storms down hill screaming “HAMMERS OF MISFORTUUUUNNNE”

  • Heifer Madness

    Was July prog month or something?

  • Here’s Johnny

    btw what is June’s record of month? Can’t click on it.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      We will have to fix that…

      It’s The Vision Bleak.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I did end up giving Vision Bleak a bit more time.
        And I’ve got to put my hand up here and admit that my initial disparaging comments were off the mark… Initially my impression of From Wolf to Peacock was that it was a bit long winded … boring even … But a bit more time and with the rest of the album I really Im now really digging it andd the album. The high melo drama goth vibe is well done in particular I like his vocals, he’s got a lot of style… So there you go!

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Ha!!!!! This is excellent news!!!!

        • RuySan

          “The Unknown” (the song) is so epic. It’s one of those songs that seem to concentrate everything that metal is about.

  • What tha… I can’t bleave . Is this the best album cover of the month or what?

  • wepu

    Hey, you’ve misspelled the link to this article in the sidebar. It goes to a 404 error page. Staaaappp it.

  • John

    Saw Inter Arma open up for High on Fire a year ago maybe, or two? Some good stuff. I was impressed, and they earned their spot on this month-end list. Witherscape’s album deserves the honors though. Also, thanks Madam X for the Caina review. Never would’ve found them without it.

  • brutal_sushi

    I think Marionette may be the song of the fucking year. Praise to Swanö!

  • Heifer Madness

    Man, I can’t stand that Inter Arma record. It just sounds like a mess to me. When the drums play fast, it seems to be out of tempo with everything else, and the guitar tone seems really flat. The vocals have a cavern-core type vibe to them, and it doesn’t work for me at all.
    Also, how did AMG not totally veto a 90 minute album from the BOM list?

  • tmcnocommercials

    Witherscape is the single best release of 2016. Dan Swano is severely underrated as a composing artist. He more than gets his due as an engineer. And one of the lone voices left in the dynamic sounding mix wilderness where guys like Steve Wilson have recently given up.

    Fates Warning – A very unusual and lazy band. Its the end of their careers and they have been very prolific with other projects but to not publicize this release is really a criminal thing to do. Compare this to Queensryche’s Condition Human. A certain divisions of fans are acting like childish trolls trying to slop their name into the mud for social media retaliation. Another certain, right-wring division of fans is trying to call them out. The guy who runs that site has been convicted for sexual assault of a minor in New Jersey. Do the math.