April, normally a time of renewal and hope as Winter slowly falls away to Spring, is also tax month for those living in the United States. That means pouring over inscrutable paperwork, crunching fuzzy numbers and frantically hiding assets. That’s why the Record(s) o’ the Month is tardy, as the entire AMG monkey farm of n00b drones have been chained to calculators and slide rules protecting the fabulous riches of Steel from the tax man’s greedy clutches. With payments grudgingly made and totally legitimate deductions declared, we can finally get to the precious metals of March, and there was an embarrassment of them. So many in fact, that compiling the top few was a tricky biscuit. We’re satisfied with our final selections, but we’re quite sure you won’t be. That’s just how the biscuit bounces in the big leagues of metallic bloggery.
If you ever dreamed of a Kalmah and Ensiferum love child violently slashing its way into your humdrum life, Aephanemer is 50 shades of metal fantasy made flesh. Prokopton is like a blast of hot air from the unholy wrecktum of melodeath itself, using synths, violins and generalized orchestration alongside hammering riffs and cascading beats to take you to your angry place. This kinetic mess reeks of fun and exuberance, but somehow never flies into the cheesy heart of the Moon, keeping everything just restrained enough to carve into your brain with a surgeon’s precision. There’s an unmistakable air of refinement in the compositions, and when rounded out by a slick production by Dan “The fucking MAN” Swanö, you have a suspicious package to be reckoned with. Classy yet furious, polished but berserk, Prokopton is the whirlwind we all inherited in March. Be sure to write it off appropriately or the estate taxes will kill you deader than disco.
Sermon // Birth of the Marvellous – One of those mysteriously anonymous (mostly) one-man projects, Sermon slinks out of the U.K. offering a strangely bewitching piece of gloomy prog-metal. Birth of the Marvellous is a retelling of the Wandering Jew fairy tale, inspired by a loved one’s struggle with cancer, and it drips with emotion and poignancy. The feel of the thing is reminiscent of late-period Katatonia, but this is a more mystical, otherworldly experience, full of ethereal songcraft and sincere emotions. Never overly heavy, the material depends on mood more than muscle, but it works so very well. It’s a beautiful, meticulously realized album that grabs hold of you and takes you places you may not always want to visit, but will keep returning to nonetheless.
Venom Prison // – Samsara – Death grind is a tough genre to execute properly. If it’s too insane, it becomes a blur of indecipherable noise. If it’s not insane enough, it feels watered down and impotent. Venom Prison mastered the Goldilocks Principle on Samsara, unleashing a cosmic shit ton of savage whoop ass on the ear canals as they slam and grind enough bull tonnage to make Cattle Decapitation consider a career in interior design. This slab o’ chaos blasts, thrashes, grinds and explodes with a vicious viscosity sure to impress and intimidate, but little flourishes of groove and melody keep it from becoming black noise that only your trusted canine companion can appreciate. Something so heavy shouldn’t be this memorable, but it is. Fear it, but study it.