Record(s) o’ the Month – March 2020

March of 2020 was a big month for me, personally. I turned in a full manuscript of my dissertation for a seminar that gives you the bits and pieces that need to be fixed in order to go to a public defense. As a result, is one step closer to getting AMG Himself back. You can bet that heads will fucking roll. That’s what I do around here. Fortunately, I had a solid stable of records to listen to while I was editing and planning my inevitable return, including March’s Record o’ the Month.

Aeternam - Al Qassam

Canadaland’s Aeternam has been a band to watch since their 2010 debut on Metal Blade. Moongod in 2012 and The Ruins of Empire in 2017 were records that have stayed in constant rotation for me. The band’s blend of melodic death metal with the MENA-inspired orchestrations perfectly balances brutality, melody and sophistication. Al Qassam is a powerful, refined execution of the band’s vision. This album once agains demonstrates the strong case for Aeternam‘s place alongside Melechesh and Orphaned Land as the bearers of tight, fantastically-performed, if problematically named, “oriental metal.”1 As GardensTale gushed in my stead: “Like a sandstorm summoned by Sumerian gods, Al Qassam batters, pummels and enchants in equal measure, with gorgeous folk melodies interweaving progressive death. Impeccably polished songwriting, spot-on performances and a gracious flow polished to perfection, Aeternam remain at the absolute pinnacle of MENA-inspired metal.”

Runner(s) Up:

Vredehammer - Viperous 01Vredehammer // Viperous — In a world full of “technical” and “progressive” bands with “atmospheric” tinges and beprefixed monikers, metalheads sometimes seem to have forgotten about the power of immediacy. Vredehammer hasn’t forgotten. These Norwegians target your progressive and your technical and they drop the Hammer of Wrath upon it. With sharp hooks and powerful songs that barely crest the five-minute mark, Viperous is a reminder that atmosphere is what you make it. As Grymm observed keenly: “Valla and his merry men once again took a look at the metal landscape of 2020, smiled, and threw down a spiked gauntlet chock-full of tight riffs, pummeling drumming and incredible songs. It’s usually later in the year that we get music this good, but Viperous is another gem to add to the pile of albums that will most certainly make our year-end list months from now.”

Afterbirth - Four Dimensional Flesh album coverAfterbirth // Four Dimensional Flesh — Despite being unable to judge Afterbirth‘s Four Dimensional Flesh by any standard associated with “classical” skill sets, due to their inherently oppressive nature, somehow Kronos managed to write a review of the band’s latest opus. It turns out that between the band’s apparently innovative and unique approach to death metal,2 and the phenomenal production of Colin Marston,3 Four Dimensional Flesh excels in singular fashion.4 As Kronos daringly opined while coming dangerously close to making aesthetic judgements based on both “classical” skill and novelty: “Four Dimensional Flesh is both a clear labor of love and a singular artistic experiment. It’s both the great brutal death metal album the band wanted to make for more than 25 years and an extremely compelling and original take on of death metal itself. Four Dimensional Flesh pays obvious homage to groundbreaking bands like Voivod, Cynic, and Cryptopsy while creating a sound all its own, brimming with energy and promise. True to its name, Four Dimensional Flesh is as intelligent as it is brutal and as human as it is expansive.”

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, March 2020 edition.

Show 4 footnotes

  1. _Insert Edward Said jokes here._
  2. Though, really, how one could ever arrive at the conclusion that anything is innovative or unique without the unfair repression of the unique vision of other artists whose expressions are just as valid as those contained herein.
  3. Whose skill as a producer can only be judged in isolation, so as to not make those without the benefit of experience or his “classical skills” feel somehow bad about their performances next to his.
  4. Though, all art is singular and unsuitable to be judged on anything other than its own premises so as to not deny the clearly equal footing upon which all people must be judged when it comes to cultural production.
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