March is a transitional month for many in the northern hemisphere. Winter grudgingly turns to Spring as icy introspection fueled by snowbound isolation turns to sun-drenched optimism and outdoor frivolity. For AMG readers however, March will be a month of discontent and bitter disappointment. Why you ask? Because the Powers That Be Powerful have once again defied the wishes of the vox populi and anointed a Record o’ the Month largely on whim and whimsy. That’s right, you filthy huddled masses, AMG Himself cares not for your pathetic pleas and feeble intersessions. His will is law, and law is binding and uncomfortable like an adult diaper. In short, praise Mollusca elsewhere, you slug loving weirdos!
Barren Earth have been making a name for themselves for a while now with a potent blend of progressive melodeath and doom. They elevated their already considerable game on 2015s On Lonely Towers, adding vocalist Jón Aldará (Hamferð, Clouds), who gave their music an added dimension and charismatic flair. A Complex of Cages is their second album with Aldará and they make the most of their potent lineup, crafting classic Finnish melodeath with pathos, passion and riffs heavily influenced by Tuonela-era Amorphis. Aldará delivers a powerhouse performance, from low-register death rasps to plaintive clean singing, the man has a great presence, providing plenty of raw emotion. AMG summed it up best: “A Complex of Cages is excellent because it balances drama, melody, intensity with artful composition and skill.” Just call this the Slugdge Killer.
Slugdge // Esoteric Malacology – Yes, yes, we know. You all wanted this to be Record o’ the Month. And it’s easy to root for this two-man Gastropod, known for crafting such tasty, buttery progressive death metal tuneage. Esoteric Malacology finds them in top form, telling tales of snails set to slippery riffs and proggy weirdness. And those riffs, man! They’re something else. The songs aren’t wanting for hooks either, and perhaps it’s time to trade in the earworm tag in favor of earslugs. A stunned and fanboyish L. Saunders gushed “Slugdge‘s continual evolution is nothing short of astounding and in my humble opinion, they have elevated themselves to the elite in the modern metal scene.” All slimy trails lead to Mollusca. Escargantuous!
Altars of Grief // Iris – From the frozen wastes of Canada comes the “prairie doom” stylings of Altars of Grief. With a palpable Woods of Ypres influence, Altars walks a downtrodden path between black metal and doom with grim emotion at the forefront. Making stunning use of cello along with crushing riffs, the band mines the pain of loss to craft a bleak wave of despair that crashes over the listener again and again. This is deeply depressive stuff to be sure, but it’s beautiful in it’s heartsickness. Take it from a soul crushed Ferrous Beuller: “Moving, well-crafted and infinitely replayable despite its implication, Altars of Grief have carved a modern classic of doom, coruscating yet beautifully bleak and never afraid to display its forefather’s bones.”