After a summer that was good, September was kind of insane. There were seven albums that were nominated that I considered for the list. And, of those seven, there were three that could be sitting in the top spot. So just let me go on record and say that this was an extremely difficult month. Being difficult, therefore, I had to ask myself a principled question: what would troll the readers and writers of Angry Metal Guy the most? The answer was simple: there was a progressive metal band that released iconic material in the early aughts. A band whose work is epic in scope and style. A band whose legacy is spoken of in hushed tones. A band lauded for epic compositions and an innovative style. That’s right…
No, no. This month it goes to the band with the world’s worst name!
Back in 2015, I reviewed a record by a desperately obscure German death doom band called Crimson Swan. They were raw around the edges, but played a fantastic brand of death doom with gothic overtones and a My Dying Bride vibe. Four years later, at least some of these guys—I’m not afraid to publicly claim my near-certainty that they share a singer—have resurfaced in the “ass-tastically named” (thanks Druhm!) but brilliantly-executed Fvneral Fvkk. This slab of melodic doom with a visually Ghostian presentation and a deeply uncomfortable theme features so many of the same things that made Unlit climb to #5 on my Top 10(ish) of 2015. The band balances melancholic melodies (and fantastic vocal harmonies), doomy tension and a fat sound perfectly to make the music tense, but to always reach an emotionally satisfying payoff. As Steel Druhm uncharacteristically gushed: “This is the rare doom platter that flies by and ends almost unexpectedly, leaving you wanting more but at the same time relieved to be free of the oppressive mood. It’s beautifully haunting and highly accessible, and it’s hard to find fault with anything the band does, except for that truly ass-tastic name.” (Also, buy Unlit you trend-hopping poseurs!)
Disillusion // The Liberation — L. Saunders was not the only person who was moved by Disillusion‘s 2004 debut Back to Times of Splendor. Of the two of us, however, he was the only one who realized that this was the same band. I still have the promo copy of that album in a box that I carried halfway across the world, but fifteen years later in an incredibly different time in my life, The Liberation arrived and impressed. The Liberation proves to be more progressive than earlier incarnations, but not less impressive. While people will throw around Opeth comps, the sound that Disillusion has in 2019 reminds me most of Winterhorde‘s fantastic approach. The Liberation is intense, heavy, more progressive than ever and equally as gripping; even at an hour long with three tracks hover at 12 minutes a piece. As L. Saunders summed it up: “Perhaps my unreasonably high expectations left a knee jerk reaction of disappointment on initial listens, but I’ll be damned if The Liberation and the 2019 incarnation of Disillusion didn’t win me over. While it may be near impossible for the band to replicate the bottled electricity and innovative, feverish impact of their debut, Disillusion forge ahead into familiar, yet forward-thinking, territory to craft an album of epic scope and style, riddled with lasting hooks. The Liberation stands as a powerful progressive metal album in its own right and marks a strong comeback album for fans old and new.”
מזמור (Mizmor) // Cairn — Thank Our Lord and Creator Almighty Atheismo for Roquentin‘s nose for black metal albums that I will love. If it weren’t for him, I probably would still be living under a rock when it comes Mizmor‘s brilliant Cairn. While pressing play on a plodding blackened doom record usually precedes a long, comfortable nap for me, Mizmor‘s brainchild A.L.N.1 has made an album that is simultaneously thick, heavy and opaque on the one hand, but impressively tense and gripping on the other.2 The four tracks feature an intensity and heaviness reserved for only extremely well-executed doom metal, while dynamically incorporating black metal elements and a drone feel to create something that feels extreme and impenetrable. Yet it is precisely this balance between the impenetrability and the delicacy which makes Cairn a remarkable work of art. And as Roquentin noted, “While obviously a painfully personal and intimate confession, Cairn is decidedly universal as it tackles themes that affect and afflict each and every one of us. That such harsh and stark music could eventually peak in cautious optimism is a tribute to the endurance and fortitude of the human mind. Recently rivaled only by An Isolated Mind’s I’m Losing Myself in terms of musical exploration of the most agonizing of subjects, Cairn is an utterly difficult but vital listen. An encouraging signpost for all of us.”
No, but really…
While you’re at it, you should definitely also check out Opeth‘s great In Cauda Venenum, Borknagar‘s refreshing True North,3 Atlantean Codex‘s epic The Course of Empires, and Cult of Luna‘s A Dawn to Fear. And while I’m not a huge fan, the rest of the writers seem to think that White Ward‘s Love Exchange Failure is better than every single one of these albums except Fvneral Fvkk. So if you love black metal-jazz fusions, you might also enjoy that record. Honestly, September was impressive.
- Anal Lubrication Nation? Albert Laverne Nebuchadnezzar? I’ll find this guy in the phone book eventually… – AMG ↩
- Also, go look at the promo photos of the guy. If he doesn’t look like the platonic ideal of a person who makes blackened drone, then my stereotypes are way out of bounds. ↩
- The band’s first album without Vintersorg since 2001. That’s so funny because I always think of that as a recent change. And first time ever without Jens Ryland, wow! ↩