Summer is here, and that means sweaty, miserable n00bs toiling away in the Skull Pits for no pay and even less appreciation. It also means terminally late Record(s) o’ the Month posts. This should come as a surprise to no one. The AMG staff is spread all over kingdom come this time of year1, running amok on vacations, non-suspicious sabbaticals, and generally behaving badly2. This makes the scheduling of Selection Committee meetings even more challenging than training Holdeneye to treat the AMG restrooms with a modicum of respect and dignity. We’ve tried to distract you from the tardiness with fancy playlists, a shiny new comment system, and
ritual sacrifices to the Great Blood God new blood in the writer pool. None of these slaked your ravenous thirst for our seemingly random selection of the month’s best in show, so here we are once more. There’s just no pleasing some sheeples.
It’s never fun when a band you enjoy calls it a day, but in the case of traditional metal mavens, Spellcaster, at least we got an excellent consolation prize in the creation of the 80s goth-rock inspired Idle Hands. In one of the stranger shifts in creative direction we’ve seen lately, the band traded in their Maiden and King Diamond influences for a Sisters of Mercy meets To Die For approach and created Mana, an album chocked full of gloriously depressive but rocking goth metal anthems that are nearly impossible to resist. The first-rate songsmithing brings the dark wave goth sound to vibrant life while injecting enough metal and muscle to make it feel urgent and dangerous. Most of the AMG staff really fell for this one, despite a wide variety of (flawed) tastes and preferences, and that’s because the songs are just so damn infectious. A suitably impressed Huck N’ Roll summed it up thusly, “Mana bursts with energy and charisma, from the catchy anthems to the brooding, depressive numbers. Idle Hands’ debut record is sure to resonate with a ton of listeners. Don’t be shocked when you see it showing up on year-end lists seven months from now.” Get your hands on this one.
Paladin // Ascension – The month of May saw a disturbing amount of agreement between AMG staffers, including a wave of disgusting fanboyism over Paladin‘s power thrashing debut, Ascension. Squeezing elements of Iced Earth, Lost Horizon and Skeletonwitch into the same sausage casing while nailing the ratios is not an easy task. This unheralded Atlanta act nailed the recipe on the first try anyway, churning out aggressive thrashers smothered in just the right amount of creamy power cheese. With nasty blackened rasps mixed with soaring cleans, the material is heavy enough to slam to, but catchy enough for even the most shameful of Euro-power nerds, and it’s uncanny such a young band pulled this off so well. An impressed Eldritch opined, “It takes an exceedingly rare breed of record to capture the hearts of a majority of the AMG staff, let alone one that falls within the realm of power metal. Yet as word of Ascension spread through the offices, it quickly became the first staff-wide favorite in the genre that I can recall since Unleash the Archers dropped Apex two years ago.” Hopefully now we can all go back to arguing and back biting for the rest of 2019.
Kull // Exile – Somehow the wily Eldritch scored not one, but two records on the list this month, the second being Kull the conqueror. Formed from the super dramatic ashes of Bal-Sagoth, Kull maintains that cult act’s penchant for over the top storytelling, utilizing a wild hodge podge of symphonic, black and death metal tricks and tropes to create a sound very much their own. It’s a fairly dark brew too, light on whimsy and heavy on heaviness. An enraptured Elitist put it well: “In a modern landscape where symphonic metal is defined by relentless, empty bombast, Kull has doubled down on the quirky niche carved out by the six Bal-Sagoth records that preceded their formation.” Off Broadway metal lives.