Record(s) o’ the Month – March 2021

The tides of metal ebb and flow across time. Since we humans measure time in yearly blocks, we come to expect certain months to bring more winners to our shores than others. March is generally such a month of heightened expectations, and true to form, some great albums beached themselves on our doorstep, trumpeting their glory through slimy blow holes of iron. The internal squabbles among the fractious staff were many and heated and they raged into April as suspense and dread grew daily. AMG Himself and Steel Myself stood apart, aloof and uncaring until the time was ripe to make the Great Decision. With AMG Himself temporarily out of pocket, the honor and burden has fallen to me, and verily I am up to the momentous task. Following the long and celebrated tradition of this webworks, I refuse to be constrained by inter-office fair elections and democratic processes, and will install a wictor of my own choosing by despotic mandate. All hail your new overlord.


One-man atmoblack spectacle Mare Cognitum returned after 4 long years in the void with a triumphant and mesmerizing magnum opus titled Solar Paroxysm. Naturally it got the usual suspects on board with its vast, icy soundscapes, but it was powerful enough to melt even the battle-hardened hearts of those on staff who usually turn up their noses at things black and atmospheric. Powerful, hypnotic, melodic and at times flat out dazzling, Solar Paroxysm is like a sleighride through all the elements that originally made black metal exciting. Blazing riffs and judicially applied blastbeats propel the listener from one end of the cosmos to the other and the slick writing keeps the journey compelling and the moods varied. Even the commitment to long-form songs can’t stop the enjoyment of these fiery epics of dark discovery. As an overly caffeinated TheKenWord excitedly gushed, “Solar Paroxysm is an intoxicating, magnificent frolic through swirling fields of vibrant nebulae and perilous waltzes with solar flares.” He’s jittery, but he ain’t wrong. Dance with the sky fire.

Runner(s) Up:

Stortregn // Impermanence – Sci-fi themed blackened thrash mixed with tech-death sounds like a risky and volatile combination prone to sudden implosion, but on fourth album Impermanence, Stortregn knock it out of the park into deep space. The guitar-work is off the space hook throughout as dazzling twin guitar harmonies slash and burn across the material and there’s even a hint of classic speed metal lurking amid all the death and insanity.  Cherd of Doom laid it all out thusly, “Between the soaring solos, classical acoustic passages and the constant weedly-weedly gallops, Impermanence is a showcase for their considerable skills and a precursor to the debilitating carpal tunnel and arthritis they’re sure to suffer later in life.” Technical ecstasy.

 

Dvne // Etemen ÆnkaDvne may well be the first name in sci-fi prog sludge. They have a few fanboys advocates on staff here and they get hailed as Mastodon with more guts and balls. We aren’t here to debate that point, but we are here to praise the might and majesty of Etemen Ænka. Featuring gargantuan riffs, interesting melodic counterpoints, excellent flow, and smartly utilized keyboards, the long-form songs move in majestic, grandiose directions while kicking copious ass. Though vocals are less than stellar at times, that’s not enough to stop these angry metal Scots with the hard to pronounce moniker (I say “DAH-VUNE”). A very impressed GardensTale summed up the end product this way, “simply too well-written, too beautiful in their dynamic compositions to want to miss a moment.” The songs must flow.

 

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