Record(s) o’ the Month – March 2023 [For Real This Time]

“Once is never, twice is always” is an evocative quote/idea from James S.A. Corey’s only real misstep, the fourth book in The Expanse, Cibola Burn.1 The basic idea is that we (humanity) have a tendency to generalize based on anecdotal experience. If we experience something once, it’s a fluke. Happenstance led to an event that was coincidental and explanation is unnecessary. It might as well not have happened and we will continue to act as though it won’t happen again. However, if something happens twice, then we start to perceive it as though it is natural law. If the new Italian exchange student is a dickhead, he’s a dickhead. If the two Italian exchange students you’ve met were dickheads, “Italians are dickheads” is the obvious conclusion to draw. You’ll anticipate the third one being a dickhead, too.

On that note, the Wilderun April Fool’s joke is hereby banned from Clearly it is to blame for any of the issues of timeliness that we have here at That cursed joke has derailed the Record(s) o’ the Month both times that I have used it. From here on out, it shall be excised from my repertoire of things that troll the readers.

P.S. Zadion wins. Even though his joke was made at the expense of my well-being and observable measures correlated with my current state of health and happiness. Mark one down for the peanut gallery.

You monsters.

Gorod - The Orb

Is Gorod my favorite tech death band that’s still active? They might well be. Certainly The Orb, which was self-released on the 10th of March and can be purchased at Bandcamp, has affirmed my appreciation for the band’s energetic, guitar-heavy style. In the months since The Orb has been released, it has—like its predecessor—been one of my go-to releases. One click away, I re-encounter the coolest riffs, the badassest of ideas, the intensest of rasps and growls, and compositional diversity that keeps the listener on their toes. Gorod is so good that the band seems to unite metalheads from the very olde to the newest of blood. Though the wayward writers at did vote for other releases,2 The Orb gained an unquestionable plurality in the voting, confirming my prediction that a lot of people would be circling back around to it at the end of the year. In fact, I was so jazzed that I gushed: “The Orb drips with Gorod’s unique personality and has so few flaws that it feels almost petty to point them out. And maybe this is just Gorod doing its thing the way it always has done and that’s something we should feel grateful to witness.” Greatness is hard. Consistent greatness is Gorod.

The Runners Up:

Isole // Anesidora [March 10th, 2023 | Hammerheart Records | Bandcamp] – One place where Druhm and I have always seen eye-to-eye is when it comes to Gävle’s greatest claim to fame (other than a gigantic, flammable Julbock), Isole. At eight full-length records, the non-caprine pride of Gävle may never be the world’s most popular doom band, but releases like Anesidora certainly help to convince me that they deserve much more recognition than they receive. Anesidora finds the band as vital as they’ve ever been, writing songs that are mournful but addictive, evoking the mighty Candlemass and, at times, My Dying Bride (“Monotic Scream”). Guitarist and vocalist Daniel Bryntse deserves a lot of credit for why Anesidora works so well, offering up his best vocal performance to date. He’s always been powerful, but the combination of the material, the production, his brass timbre and the band’s aesthetic choices elevates his performance from “excellent” to “riveting.” As I alluded to, I’m not the only person impressed with Isole’s latest opus. Steel Druhm reflected that “perhaps it’s Anesidora’s fragility and open-hearted approach that makes it such an easy album to wrap yourself in,” and it could be, but regardless, “it seems you can never go wrong relying on Isole. That’s pretty damn comforting in an uncertain world.”

Sermon // Of Golden Verse [March 31st, 2023 | Prosthetic Records | Bandcamp] – One of the things that makes a band stand out for me is when it’s hard to comp their sound. I don’t buy this idea that you shouldn’t review bands without comps,3 so when you’re listening to something and you find yourself stretching to figure out what it reminds you of, you tend to sit up and take notice. Sermon writes music that does evoke aspects of modern prog—heavy rhythm sections, tom-driven drums—but Of Golden Verse is more intense and streamlined than many of its peers, evoking Gojira or Haken in the guitars (“In Black”), for example. L. Saunders was ready to dub Sermon‘s sophomore record Record o’ the Year already in March, and after so resoundingly following up their stellar debut, maybe he’s right. “Of Golden Verse is an album of tremendous quality, accessibility and meticulous craftsmanship. While difficult to replicate the sucker punch blows of a surprise debut hit of immense creativity and originality, Of Golden Verse is the perfect follow-up. The album does not just consolidate the band’s established sound, but instead it confidently strides ahead to explore expansive new pastures with intelligence, ambition and creative flair.”

Ne Obliviscaris // Exul [March 24th, 2023 | Season of Mist | Bandcamp] – Anyone who’s been in these parts very long knows that I have “snubbed” Ne Obliviscaris on multiple occasions when it comes to Record(s) o’ the Month. That’s because, as I have argued elsewhere, Australia’s most-overhyped progressive metal band has had a tendency to make the opposite aesthetic choices to what I would make. For example, while some guy who used to write for us soiled himself about how their debut was only slightly worse than the latest White Wizzard record, I found Portal of I to be frustratingly unlistenable due to its shitty Fear Factory production values, tickity-tickity-tickity kick drums and wandering, self-indulgent songwriting. So, I can assure you that no one was more surprised than me when I really liked Exul. A decade has brought with it production not inspired by Hevy Devy and songwriting that feels more mature and tempered. Even aspects I previously thought I could never grow to appreciate—like Tim Charles’ cleans—are improved, at times seeming to emulate Travis Richter’s evocation of Muse. All of that combined with tight, techy production, interesting riffing and soloing and a kind of operatic intensity to the violins that never really used to leave an impression (“Graal”), and Exul was clearly one of the coolest things released in March.

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Seriously, I love this series so much and Cibola Burn really always bums me out. I’m just not even sure what it’s supposed to do in the arc of the series. And while the ending wasn’t amazing, Cibola Burn really does kind of suck at times.
  2. Which were, of course, largely ignored.
  3. In fact, I think this idea is literally the most inane thing that has ever been said about music reviewing.
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