Record(s) o’ the Month – June 2021

After soap-boxing for 950 words last month, I’m going to calm it down for June to simply say thanks to everyone for your kind messages and support. I have turned in an essentially completed version of my dissertation manuscript. I’m now awaiting critiques for final touches before I turn it over to the internal grader. Once that’s done, and if it goes well, it’s defense time! So, you know, it’ll be October or November because academia.

Speaking of defenses, it’s time for the Record(s) o’ the Month, for which your opinions have no defense. I shall gird my loins with acerbic comments about your parentage and take to the comment section!

Have at ye!

Album cover of Alustrium - A Monument to Silence

Alustrium // A Monument to Silence [June 18th, 2021 – Unique Leader – Buy on BC] — It’s difficult to follow an amazing album and Alustrium‘s self-released A Tunnel to Eden was an amazing album. It was among 2015’s best albums—regardless of genre—and so when A Monument to Silence was released, it had big shoes to fill. The band’s Unique Leader debut, A Monument to Silence lives only in the shadow of its predecessor and “is one of the best death metal records that [Kronos] has heard this year.” The album, while long, is filled to the brim with sick riffs, technical skill, great hooks, and all the compositional awesomilitude that one expects of bands I unilaterally declare Record o’ the Month. There are vibes that remind me of the things I love about Gorod and, even, the mysteriously-defunct Anata.1 All of that means that A Monument to Silence was truly a record worthy of a double review and that is veritably noteworthy. I suspect you’re going to be seeing a lot of this album come the end of the year in 2021. But don’t let me tell you! This blurb can only really be summed up by L. Saunders‘ gushing prose: “Intelligent, regal, blistering, brutal, and superbly composed, A Monument to Silence is must listen stuff for fans of prog and tech infused death.”

But it had really stiff competition!

Runner(s) Up:

Album cover of Crypta - Echoes of the SoulCrypta // Echoes of the Soul [June 11th 2021 – Napalm Records – Buy on BC] — Back in ’11—when I was wearing an onion on my belt, as it was the fashion at the time—I reviewed Vomitory‘s Opus VIII and said, basically: “I just needed some good, honest death metal and this perfectly fits the bill. It’s not the most technical. It’s not the most brutal. It’s just well-composed and addictive.”2 That’s how I feel about Crypta‘s debut album Echoes of the Soul. Made up of three Brazilians, including two former Nervosa members and a Dutch guitarist (ex-Burning Witches), these ladies technically count as a “super group.” But the reason they got signed so quickly is because they write fucking riffs. With their classic aesthetic, wall-to-wall screams and growls, two veritable shredders slinging the axes, and a drummer who implicitly understands feel and groove, Crypta drops riff after riff after riff. Each song feels better than the last and it leaves me want to press play again. Echoes of the Soul evokes classics like Death and Dismember for me, and it has subtle but impressive melodic leads and solos. I have nothing bad to say about Echoes of the Soul. The album clocks in at a vinyl-safe 42 minutes and ex-Nervosa growler/bassist Fernanda Lira delivers a dominant performance across the board.3 Skip Crypta at your own risk, it got dangerously close to the top spot without even getting a proper review treatment.

Album cover for Pharaoh - The Powers That BePharaoh // The Powers That Be [June 18th, 2021 – Cruz del Sur Music – Buy on BC] — Philadelphia’s Pharaoh is an old warhorse that Steel Druhm has been flogging since he joined the Angry Metal Team back in ’11—when we both wore onions on our belt, as it was the style at the time. He approached me again a month ago about The Powers That Be and, I admit, Pharaoh‘s newest album has a vitality and charm that I have needed during a tough time. The forms are familiar and the sound is classic, but the tone is fat and a touch old school. I love that there’s a heft to the production that gives the record bite. For me, the downside with American power is usually that I’m not a huge fan of the vocalist. But Tim Aymar, while living dangerously on the borders of a lack of vocal control, performs brilliantly and he’s one of my favorite gravely power metal vocalists since Matt Barlow. That means that Pharoah‘s The Powers That Be has all the ingredients necessary to make it memorable and fun. Or, as unrepetent pun-wielder and Cruz del Sur Music superfan Steel Druhm put it, “The Powers That Be is an impressive, highly enjoyable comeback for Pharaoh and contains a few of their best songs to date. If you like your heavy metal ballsy, technical and full of trveness,4 Pharoah has some pyramids of power to sell you.”

Album cover for Boss Keloid - Family the Smiling ThrushBoss Keloid // Family the Smiling Thrush [June 4th, 2021 – Ripple Music – Buy on BC] — Boss Keloid is the reason you can’t, as a rule, skip genres you think you’ll never like. When people tell me that a band is “stoner” anything—even prog—I tend to drift off. Boss Keloid, for example, has an album called Herb Your Enthusiasm because smoking weed is a personality, apparently.5 The problem with such stereotypes is that I would have missed Boss Keloid‘s newest album and that would be a shame, because Family the Smiling Thrush is fucking good. These stinky English hippies may make albums that sound like they smell of resin and patchouli, but they write compelling riffs, arrange fascinating songs, and just kick a lot of ass. Family the Smiling Thrush is heavier, weirder, and more engaging than even 2018’s Melted on the Inch, which people really dug. Honestly, I imagine that this is what Jethro Tull would’ve sounded like if they had formed in the 2010s and that’s a compliment, because Tull was fun. And that’s what Huck N’ Roll thinks you should take away from Family and the Smiling Thrush. “Once again Boss Keloid have crafted an album that is a joyous, infectious listen. It’s loaded up on meaty riffs and big vocals, and it’s a blast to play.”

Show 5 footnotes

  1. Which may be the best compliment I can give when it comes to tech death.
  2. Except, I said it worse because I was a really bad writer then.
  3. And she should start a Metal-Face Academy™ with the guys from Immortal, because she’s a serious pro.
  4. Trvefull?
  5. Who’d have ever thought that one fucking Black Sabbath song about smoking the ganja would have such a profound effect on metal?
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