Record(s) o’ the Month – October 2021

October was an unusually strong month for 2021. I suspect there’s a marketing aspect to this,1 where one places the highest priority releases in the Autumn. By doing this, labels release new albums that people are likely to give as gifts after skipping festival season, when people are too busy going to concerts to be interested in new music. After a year where the RotM voting—which I, of course, discard without a further glance—was very often stuck between “this old record I’m listening to” and “none of the above,” there’s sudden discord among the staff. Fortunately, living in a democratatorship means not having to decide. By relieving the writers of choice, I also relieve them of responsibility and, graciously, anxiety. It feels like the old days when Angry Metal Guy ruled with an iron fist and his Footnovels were law.

Enjoy complaining your whiny little hearts out in the comments section.

First Fragment’s newest opus Gloire Éternelle is too long. It is also utterly brilliant and the record that I want to hear every chance I get. While the length can be a little frustrating, the reality is that Gloire Éternelle is the most fun I’ve had listening to a new record this year. The musicianship is brilliant and First Fragment deftly delivers on every trait that I think makes technical death metal engaging. Rather than simply prioritizing blast beats and dissonance, First Fragment bandies about flamenco and neoclassical guitar licks with an intensity and ingenuity that is stunning. The record is an eternally glorious dedication to the spirit of more being more!2 With literally every performance on here being a virtuoso performance, Gloire Éternelle needed to fail the composition test in order to not be a brilliant album. Fortunately, it doesn’t. Everything here works, from Dominic “I Make Everything I’m Involved with Better” Lapointe’s bass solos to the epic—but impressively accessible—18-minute long “In’el.” Gloire Éternelle is brilliant, too long, and I can’t stop listening to it. Every one of those statements is true in the world simultaneously. Kronos suggested that “the whole point of the record is to be too much, a feast impossible to finish, with ever more indulgent dishes arriving on the table. That the record is too much to enjoy in a sitting is just more proof that Tougas and the gang know what they’re doing.” Fortunately, my new office at Angry Metal Guy’s international HQ comes equipped with a vomitorium, so I’m always ready for another spin.

Runner(s) Up:

Archspire // Bleed the Future — For everyone yelling “what’s this music about? I don’t want to hear like ‘oh fuck it’s beautifully played, oh listen to this blast’! No. Fuck it! Bring back the fucking tension in the music!” I present you with Bleed the Future. Like First Fragment, Archspire plays tech death. But Bleed the Future is eight songs and 32 minutes of razor sharp riffing, ridiculously tight writing, pure death metal brutality, and nary a Bach-inspired passage to be found. And hell, Kronos thinks its even better than its predecessor, which I thought was a world beater. “The challenge Archspire faced with Bleed the Future was only to surpass their own high water mark, and, impossibly, they have. After listening to the record dozens of times, I keep coming back to it not to make notes or to consider it critically again, but just to witness it, finding something new to love every time. Archspire have outdone themselves, and it’s an absolute joy to hear.” Bleed the Future is a brilliant album (with brilliant art) and should be a favorite to grab the top spot in the List to End All Lists if you’re betting.

Black Sites // Untrue — Chicago’s Black Sites has once again put out an album that walks the fine line between the classic and the modern. The band—whose writing, most of the guitars, and vocals are all performed by Mark Sugar (Bear Mace, ex-Trials)—has managed to get all the way to that critical third record without having written a bad song. As I’ve written before, the brilliance of Black Sites’ sound is how it balances influences and creates something personal and unique. Dr. A.N. Grier waxed poetic about the band and the man behind the riffs and summed it up by gushing: “Untrue is a damn-near-perfect album. The record represents all the different aspects of the man behind the music and the passion that slithers through Untrue speaks to me.” And he’s not alone.

1914 // Where Fear and Weapons Meet — In a rare four-record month, I cannot leave 1914’s Napalm Records debut off of this list. Where Fear and Weapons Meet is a record that begs for deep listens, offers up fascinating drama and context, and that may well end up on a lot of year’s end lists. Like so many of the best albums produced, 1914 crafted a record that our own Holdeneye called “a masterpiece; a thematically and musically cohesive work of art comprised of tracks that proudly stand on their own unique merits,” and it stands out in that regard. I love that bleak feeling that accompanies the music and it all feels like an obvious and natural extension of its topic. It’s heartening to see the outpouring of support this album is receiving out there on the Internet. To give 4.0ldeneye the floor again, he declared “Where Fear and Weapons Meet firmly places 1914 at the vanguard of the modern extreme metal scene. These guys conjure more foreboding atmosphere than a thousand other death/doom bands combined, and they do so while writing memorable songs filled with memorable moments. This is easily one of the most excellent albums of 2021.”


Show 2 footnotes

  1. If you’re a PR person at a label, let me know if I’m right.
  2. Honestly, this is what I always kind of hoped that Fleshgod Apocalypse would sound like. Oracles and Mafia didn’t really get that close, but I’ve always adored the commitment to carrying the neoclassical elements on the traditional metal instruments as opposed to writing for orchestras.
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