Record(s) o’ the Month – November 2012

Welcome back, kiddies! We know how much you all love summaries of the month in metal so we rushed this to you even though this is the most wonderful time of the year and we’re all knee-deep in holiday cheer and impending eggnog hangovers. Sadly, November was a bit of a lean month music-wise. There was a ton of nonessential, stocking stuffing, cash-grabby live albums, pointless, contract fulfilling compilations and even some “big” releases were let downs (Destruction [What a letdown that was, indeed. AMG]). Still, we managed to scrape together the best of the lean bunch and deliver it to you wrapped up with a big skull and crossbow. You’re welcome!

This month’s winner is Monolithe and their generically titled, but mammoth opus, Monolithe III. It goes without saying that a 52 minute doom song takes a lot of balls to attempt and a wizard’s touch to make listenable. Monolithe managed to pull it off though. While not every member of AMG would give it a perfect score, it’s a surprisingly good and interesting journey through the dark void of spacey doom. One big riff shifts and morphs into another and the thing keeps moving and dragging the listener along. While 52 minutes is too long and moss peeping is inevitable, things are well done throughout and these guys deserve loads of props for making this as engaging as it is. Props!

Runners Up:

Paragon // Force of Destruction – Germanic power metal with all the hallmarks of Accept and Grave Digger, but injected with tons of aggressive, thrashing rage. The Paragon template doesn’t change much from album to album, but this one seems to hit way harder and more consistently than usual. Joined by the likes of Kai Hanson (Gamma Ray) and Piet Sielck (Iron Savior), the boys of Paragon toss out some fun, fairly mindless power metal with way more balls and power than you’d expect. A bit cheesy and clearly not thinking man’s metal, but a damn good time nonetheless.

Saturnus // Saturn in Ascension – The lords of gothic-tinged, quasi-poetic doom death came back from a six year slumber with a very good album which reaffirms why they are such a compelling listen. Melancholy as all hell, emotional, poignant and powerful, these guys know how to break down your defenses and get under your skin. Like the best of My Dying Bride merged with Loss, it’s doom lightened by lilting symphonics and subtle melodies. A few tracks fall short, but for the most part, a wonderfully depressing journey into despair. Welcome back!

Aeternam // Moongod – Borrowing from Orphaned Land and Myrath, Aeternam work an interesting variety of melodic death metal with plenty of bells and whistles and a noticeable oriental flavor. It’s heavy and angry, but packs tons of melody and accessibility. It won’t make anyone forget about Orphaned Land, but it’s very good and full of top-notch playing and an extremity reminiscent of Behemoth or Septic Flesh.

Melencoli Estatica // Hel – A black metal/doom concept album based off the silent movie classic Metropolis just sounds like a “must hear” kind of thing, right? Full of haunting and beautiful guitar-work and a myriad of vocal styles, it’s a cohesive work that grows and grows with time and effort. We need more concept albums in extreme metal! Let’s try The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari next.

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