Record(s) o’ the Month – July 2020

Another month grinds by as we squirm in the grips of a global pandemic. Toilet paper made a big comeback recently, but most of life’s little pleasures are still off-limits or subject to restrictions and regulations. Music is still flowing though, and for that we should all be very grateful. July was a very good month for metal and there were a series of top-flight releases fighting for our plague-ravaged hearts and minds. Without going into the ugly backstory behind how we arrived at these final selections, let’s just say it was always a battle for Runner Up status, as the winner was preordained long ago. And so we present two popularly supported albums and the other one!1

It’s not often that I, Angry Metal Guy, return to a review that I wrote and just think to myself: “Self, that was pretty much exactly what I still want to say.” Fortunate for myself and my workload, that’s how I feel about Haken‘s VIrus. It may not be penetrating vistas of metal heretofore unheard, but VIrus is a tight, well-constructed album from a band that never gives up its constant motion. Given the quality of the music and the thematically appropriate title, it’s hard not to imagine this showing back up next April when the Record(s) o’ the Year drop. Assuming I’m still alive. Regardless, I was just fucking right when I gushed: “[five] months after receiving it, VIrus is still getting constant rotations. The record shows that sometimes what a band needs is just a test run to help their sound coalesce. So, rather than delivering another album that feels like it lacks a true identity, Haken delivered an album that only they could have written and delivered.

Yellow is the new manbun.”

Runner(s) Up:

Imperial Triumphant // Alphaville – The lunatic wizards in Imperial Triumphant dropped another mind-bender on us with Alphaville. Black metal and jazz coexist uneasily as the music twists and writhes through bizarre and creative contortions. It’s both delightfully unpredictable and oddly familiar if you loved the band’s past weirdness. It’s black metal taken to strange new places and the ride is always turbulent but worthwhile. As Grymm admirably summed up, “Alphaville once again plants Imperial Triumphant into the forefront of avant-garde metal. Between the fluid transitions between songs, the various head-jerking moments littered throughout, and the sheer level of musicianship on display by all involved, Alphaville showcases just what Imperial is capable of.”

Gaerea // Limbo – Portuguese black metallers Gaerea are rapidly ascending to the top of the grim, corpse-painted heap. With accolades for their Unsettling Whispers opus still fresh in our ears, they returned with another high quality dose of blackness. Often long, icy songs assault the listener with all manner of dark moods as Limbo runs through simple but nuanced paces. Gaerea isn’t pushing genre boundaries so much as playing smartly inside the lines drawn long ago. Kronos, in a rare break from death metal brutality, opined thusly: “it’s tough to deny the appeal of smart, straightforward black metal that’s more fit for admiration than alienation. And I need not deny it; black metal is good, and Limbo is a great black metal record.”

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, July 2020 edition.

Show 1 footnote

  1. The other one being Imperial Triumphant, which wins the “flavor of the month” award for the Very Serious People among us. – AMG
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