Record(s) o’ the Month – September 2020

As winter depression season arrives this far north, I just want you all to know that everything is terrible, your taste is horrific, and the writers of this blog are pursuing lives of futility. That is all.

The Ocean Collective occupies a special place in my heart. Yet for all their hard work, it’s been a while since they released something that really moved the needle for me. The Ocean has two “voices” that I like. The first, most notably featured on Pelagial, is the crushing weight of the deepest oceans. But the other album that really spoke to me in the time that I’ve been reviewing is 2010’s Heliocentric. Of the records that the band has released since 2010, Phanerozoic II reminds me the most of 2010’s oft-maligned album. With its more melodious and progressive approach—and excellent guest appearances from Katatonia’s own Jonas Renkse—the album leans toward thoughtful and melancholy, while subtly engaging in progressive composition that’s hard to not love. Ironically, I was forced to disagree with reviewer-of-everything-AMG-can’t-do-himself Dr. Grier when he suggested that the album suffered from problems of flow. But, on the other hand, Grier was right when he remarked that: “Phanerozoic II is an exercise in progressive variety that works well. It has all the classic elements of the band but with surprises around every corner. The Ocean has never let me down, and it seems they never will.

Runner(s) Up:

SvalbardWhen I Die, Will I Get Better? — “Svalbard has succeeded in creating a heart-wrenching album whose simplicity in D-beats, stunning tremolo, sustained overlays, desperate vocals, and just a dash of post and black is truly refreshing. It’s a fed-up album that stunningly conveys exhaustion, frustration, and melancholy with every fiber while never forsaking its hardcore roots. While it may not be the perfect album or one that you may revisit because of its unflinching vulnerability, its appeal lies in its emotional splatter, one whose yearning chaos meets listeners where they are. And that’s exactly what we need right now: ‘when all hope remains elusive.'” – Dear Hollow

Finntroll // VredesvävdFinntroll is back and we should all give thanks. Not only did they produce one of the first “folk metal” albums that anyone has liked in years, but they also approached Vredesvävd with an aggression and direct attack that few others can match. While not as experimental and the band’s most diverse material, Vredesvävd is a reminder that these Finnish trolls are a force to be reckoned with as they pummel your earholes from start to finish. As Dr. Wvrm explained: “Vredesvävd never gives you time to think. The entirety of Vredesvävd fits into a neat package. The thick guitars, the invigorating keys and epic orchestration, the good-enough production, it all completes one of the easiest listens of the year.”

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