Cold winds, ice, snow, overstuffed birds and crowded shopping malls. None of these played a role in making November’s Record(s) o’ the Month so fookin’ late. Our reasons for this unseemly delay are our own, and we don’t discuss the absence of journalism with fans. Suffice to say, we had holes to dig and things to make disappEAR. November was a fine month for music, with many potential title holders fighting for primacy. The staff was typically divided, fractious and uncooperative with their selections, thus the need for some year-end landscaping. With list season upon us and an entire decade at a close, it’s comforting to see that though the years may come and go, some things never change around these parts. Now if you’ll excuse me, my silverback has a date with a shovel and frozen earth.
You knew Veil of Imagination was going to take the crown, as it not only earned the highest possible marks from AMG Himself, but caused him to redesign the rating scale to accommodate its massive sonic largess. Few albums were burdened by greater expectations coming in the door, as staff love for Wilderun‘s Sleep at the Edge of the World runs like an everflowing stream through AMG HQ. Somehow, some way though, this still unsigned band1 managed to take their progressive melodeath style to an entirely new level, adding heavy orchestration and becoming a truly symphonic prog-death ensemble. The songs on Veil of Imagination feel like classical movements and the whole enterprise reeks of blood, sweat and sheer creative brilliance. Throw in a stellar production by Dan, “the Lord of Sound” Swanö and a slick master by Jens Bogren, and you have the year’s unbeatable heavyweight killer. AMG summed up in his usual understated way, proclaiming, “With Veil of Imagination, Wilderun has arrived at the vanguard of the next generation of progressive and melodic death metal bands. Veil of Imagination raises the bar by delivering an intense, grandiose and sophisticated, yet ultimately human, experience.” Maybe check it out sometime.
Slow // VI – Dantalion – Déhà is a busy man. Busy on par with Rogga Johansson even. Fronting acts like Déhà, Cult of Erinyes, and many others, as well as guesting on outings by Clouds, the man is everywhere. Slow is his long running funeral doom/drone project and VI – Dantalion is their eighth slab of slow-motion mayhem. What you get is 78 minutes of grinding, plodding heaviness mixed with ethereal atmospheres, and despite the mammoth length, it’s quite the captivating trudge. A gushing Muppet sang its praises thusly, “when Dantalion hits home – i.e. from when you hit ‘play’ until the album stops – it does so with masterful, devastating force, and no other funeral doom album has rocked me so hard all year.”
The Drowning // The Radiant Dark – November was a doom-heavy month thanks to the works of Slow and kindred spirits The Drowning. Their death doom attack is miles apart from the funerary fluff of Slow though, and The Radiant Dark is a more upbeat, angry and urgent beast, going for the throat as often as it goes for the heartstrings. Burly chugs and energetic gallops regularly offset the expected spine-crushing doom, making for one helluva ride. Teeth will be rattled and bones will be jarred by the time this opus concludes, and you will be entertained. As a fanboyish TheKenWord exclaimed as The Drowning crept into the night, “Revel in the glory of quite possibly the best death-doom record released this year, and perhaps the decade.” Air is for closers.