Record(s[es]) o’ the Months – July and August 2021

Angry Metal-FiThe last time I posted one of these updates, I was filling you in on the State of AMG and things were pretty bleak. Today, things are better. I mean, not perfect or anything, but way better than they were. I will—unless something changes—be defending my doctoral thesis on the 30th of November, 2021. That means that I have to have the thesis ready to be turned into a monograph on the 14th of October at 8 am. I have also accepted a temporary adjunct position to help pay the bills before I begin the Never-ending Quest for Someone to Pay My Salary for a Time-limited Period™, often called by its palliative euphemism; an ‘early-career researcher.’ I feel a lot better because after so much time in the dumps, things are starting to turn a corner and, despite being busy, I hope to continue being able to invest significant time here.

I am working hard for the betterment of, even if it is not always visible. Much of the time I spend here is, of course, behind the scenes. It might seem like I’m not active, but as the unfortunate participants in the AMG Slack will tell you, I am wandering around with Very Important Opinions™ that have yet to be released upon the world. Sometimes I’ll regale them with informal reviews of why Leprous is terrible now. Sometimes I’ll tell them why they’re terrible now. Mostly, though, I’m working hard to get the welcome package together for the n00bs. So, that I have written 30,000 words that will never be published on the website should be acknowledged here.1

N00b Update: On the n00b front, I just want to say how flattered and honored I am at the overwhelming number of applications we received and the impressive quality we attracted. The best compliment we have received is the number accomplished writers who want to join our staff. Honestly, that just fucking rules. Regardless, we are on the cusp of taking on the most n00bies we’ve ever moved into the system. There will be some familiar n00bs here, but most of them are new. And I would wager that we are going to end up the “metal zine with most PhDs and JDs” award by the end of all of this. It’s uncanny. It’s not a joke to say that our readership are “gentle-persons and scholars.”

As usual, I hope to be better in the future with the Record(s) o’ the Month. You all know that I really care about getting these done and getting them up for you. But life is just unusual (and unusually busy) these days. Regardless, here’s a very late Record(s[es]) o’ the Month(s) for July and August. Apologies for the delay. But good things are happening behind the scenes.

I like our pair of Records o’ the Months for July and August. While both falling into the death metal bucket, they demonstrate that death metal isn’t ‘just death metal,’ but rather an invigorated world scene that is full of brilliant music. For July, I can’t help but love Diabolizer’s Khalkedonian Death. Not long ago, I included Crypta’s new record in the RotM. Like Crypta, Diabolizer is not breaking any ground. And yet, Khalkedonian Death just fucking rips. Diabolizer wastes little time with frills or interludes, they write heavy, fast songs and they bring a death metal brutality that’s so compelling it’s hard to ignore. The energy and intensity speaks to me, but I’m not left grappling with my brain pan and trying to hope I’m smart enough to understand what they’re doing. Rather, I’m again reminded of Vomitory’s Opus Mortus VIII, this is death metal with no frills but that kills. As a typically overly gushable Holdeneye gushed gushingly, “It’s just death metal, pure and simple, and it feels as if it were vomited forth by an algorithm that was fed each and every one of my personal death metal preferences.”

Yet August gave us something totally different. Headshrinker’s Callous Indifference is an album that requires the listener to do some work, but the payoff is immense. “Combining rancid old school death with doom, suicidal-depressive black metal, and prog elements, this talented crew featuring members of Polyptych along with Havok‘s Pete Webber on drums, created a deep dive into the complex and painful issue of mental illness and the soul-killing isolation and anguish it inflicts on those suffering from it.” And the band works together with an intensity and brutality that make it engaging on multiple levels. Steel Druhm was unusually laudatory when he wrote that “A wide variety of moods and influences collide as Callous Indifference unfolds and the band keeps everything flowing in the right direction. And while it requires several spins to synthesize and absorb all that Headshrinker do here, the time spent pays enormous dividends. I came into Callous Indifference expecting nothing and got way more than I bargained for, thus they get my first 4.0 of 2021.”

Runner(s[es]) Up:

Qrixkuor // Poison Palinopsia [July 9, 2021 | Dark Descent Records] — This record surprised TheKenWord and it surprised me, too. The production is muffled. The songs are long. I worried that there was going to be a lot of “atmosphere” and not a lot of content; the death knell of so many boring records. I was wrong. Poison Palinopsia is chock-full of riffs. The ideas are brutal, the feel is chaotic, and Qrixkuor is a convincing platter of old school-adjacent death metal. It’s going to take a lot more time to discern if I think this deserves End of the Year consideration, but it’s a damned fine debut and a very solid death metal album. The Angry Metal Hype Tornado called TheKenWord was so impressed that he gushed: “Considering this is only their debut, Qrixkuor amazes in more ways than one, delivering a mightily immersive acid trip of horrific, soul-shriveling death metal. Engaging on both a technical and artistic front, Poison Palinopsia refuses to relinquish the power it holds over my mind, its otherworldly presence consistently resurfacing to my consciousness and pulling me back into its hellish world. You would do well to take my hand and follow me there.”

Musk OxInheritance [July 9, 2021 | Self-release] — Usually would give guys using string instruments to make folk music a pretty wide berth. In the case of Musk Ox, it may not be metal exactly, but it’s metal in the ways that count. Inheritance is contemplative, instrumental chamber folk music with the ability to conjure a range of emotions in the listener. Vaguely djenty passages break up the somber exploration at times, but by and large, this is a calm, sedate affair, but a beautiful and brilliant one dripping with feeling. Our friendly sysadmin, Sentynel, a lover of the weird spaces vaguely related to metal was pleased and relieved by Inheritance. “There’s a sense of nervousness that comes with listening to—and reviewing—a new record following so many successes. I needn’t have worried. Musk Ox rise admirably to their own challenge. I’ve hardly stopped listening to Inheritance since I got it a month ago, and when I do its themes and variations wander through my head unbidden. Beautiful, confident and rewarding, Inheritance is a quiet triumph.”

Ænigmatum // Deconsecrate [August 13, 2021 | 20 Buck Spin] — August found abstract death metal rearing its ugly—or at least artsy—head and Ænigmatum’s blackened, but clearly death metal core, was a fun and fascinating record to try to understand. But Ænigmatum didn’t fool or confuse human hype-machine TheKenWord, and he aimed his undying optimism and positivity at Deconsecrate to give it some love. “Deconsecrate shows a band with a distinct, if not entirely unique, character. They are unafraid to take risks in the name of injecting a massive dose of excitement and verve into their songwriting, an approach which I applaud wholeheartedly. For the most part, those risks paid big dividends. With just a little more focus applied to bolstering their next album’s overall flow and consistency, I can’t imagine that much could impede Ænigmatum’s ascent into my year-end lineup.”

Diskord // Degenerations [August 13, 2021 | Transcending Obscurity Records] — Any extreme metal review that starts with the words “Lovable oddballs” is bound to catch my attention. In a sea of similarity, the bands that truly stand out are the true kings. And Diskord accomplished this by releasing Degenerations, which L. Saunders gushed is “another inventively composed, densely layered, and enjoyably deranged opus from the talented trio. Like Diskord‘s previous slabs of distorted weirdness, Degenerations requires patience and repeat listens to unlock its charms and intricacies. Whether it tops Dystopics is up for debate, but after an initial working-in period, Diskord have again succeeded in warping my mind and living up to my high expectations.”

Show 1 footnote

  1. that’s between 40 and 50 reviews for a normal reviewer (and around 33.5 for me), if you’re unwilling to do the math at home.
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