Summer is always a slow time for metal releases. I bet some stats nerd out there could run which months correlate with the end of year lists, but I’d be willing to bet that summer months have a statistically significant dip. This is because most bands are out hitting festivals, fans are out seeing them, and no one’s spending money on new records. Yet label machinery continues to churn and we, here at the Angriest of Metal Guys dot Coms, have been slaving away over hot reviews this whole time. As a result, we’re hitting you up with the most unexpected Record(s) o’ the Month for June of 2018 ever. Not only is it vaguely on time (they’re a planned portion of the month late so that we could enjoy that Amorphis wallpaper a little longer), but no one fucking called these. Yeah, that’s right. Who’s unpredictable!? I’M UNPREDICTABLE! You’re welcome.
In what has turned out to be a surprisingly strong crop of black metal albums for 2018, Gaerea‘s Unsettling Whispers has inspired its fair share of adoration behind the scenes at the AMG offices. Master of Muppets came dangerously close to declaring the reinvention of black metal in his review, and surprisingly, others are wont to agree. With a sinister, dissonant approach to atmospheric black metal, Gaerea reminds everyone who listens to it of a time when black metal was a genuinely interesting genre, not just an exercise in orthodoxy and in-group/out-group bias. Unsettling Whispers offers something different. As Master of Muppets gushed excitably: “With the nightmarish atmospheric sensibilities of Celtic Frost, the pummeling violence of Deathspell Omega, the sheer evil of Gorgoroth and a Behemoth ear for headbanging, Gaerea have gathered the souls of black metals most hallowed ov icons and given them somewhere they can finally move on to in Unsettling Whispers. Riffs, dissonance, ambient lulls and apocalyptic levels of aggression… it’s all here, and for once it feels like it’s moving forward. I have been impressed into a state of sans-complaint by Unsettling Whispers, and it is only a deep-seated fear of meeting HMG that kept me from 5-ing what I suspect may prove to be a much-needed catalyst for blackened momentum.”
Khemmis // Desolation — A June release of Khemmis‘ mighty Desolation might be Nuclear Blast’s smartest decision since signing Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody or hooking Fleshgod Apocalypse up with Jens Bogren. It means that there is without question one “must have” release for June. Unsurprisingly, and as we’ve been screaming about for years, Khemmis is back with another jaunt into tasteful, doomy metal nostalgia. A third album in four years and they’ve now gone three-for-three in making the Record(s) o’ the Month. Desolation sees Khemmis making a slight swerve closer to the 80s metal nostalgia field, but the songwriting is sharp and the hooks are sharp. With Phil Pendergast’s continued development into a class metal vocalist and the backing of Nuclear Blast in Europe now, Khemmis stands on the verge of great success. And though this album isn’t topping the list, as its predecessor did, keep in mind that a down record from Khemmis is a very good record. As Steel Druhm reflected: “Khemmis is so damn talented that I’ve come to expect unreasonable things from them over their very short career. If this is what we come to consider a lesser Khemmis release, the band is in great shape going forward.” Just remember that you read it here first.
Soliloquium // Contemplations — You’d never know it from talking to him, but Steel Druhm‘s alter ego is Sadboy Doom Metal Guy. Despite all his trve metal talk and bravado, Steel Druhm wishes he lived in Stockholm, Sweden, where he could feel sad, while having access to great public healthcare, just like Soliloquium.1 Contemplations falls right into that sadboy doom niche that I also find hard not to love. Like a slow Omnium Gatherum—wait, that’s just Insomnium!—Contemplations hits listeners with melodic walls of sound and beautiful compositions that will take listeners back to Rapture or old Anathema. Released on a label you’ve never heard of and performed by musicians you likely haven’t heard of, it would have been easy to overlook Contemplations. Thanks, however, to a practically giddy Steel Druhm, we didn’t. Instead, we’re all able to feast—as he wrote with uncharacteristic poetry—on “manna sent from the darkest realms to nourish your black heart.”