Stuck in the Filter – January’s Angry Misses

January 2022 has been surprisingly strong for me here at Angry Metal Guy. Normally the first couple months of the year make me question whether I even like metal anymore, but this year started off with a pretty loud bang for a change. Our collective expectation that only the loosest of shit would slough down the pipeline created a situation where we missed a few quality movements. However, thanks to me and me alone,1 the team came together to dig through the trough and recover those rarified gems that would otherwise go unnoticed by the world at large.

What you read below consists of a few notable misfits ov metallia that we felt deserved some love this January. Rejoice!

TheKenWord’s New Year Wares

Unexpectance – Vortex

At the time of this writing, one singular person purchased this album on Bandcamp. One. That’s fucking stupid, and it’s on my list of reasons why I must talk about Spain’s death-groove quintet UnexpectanceVortex is their second full-length album, and let me tell you, it swaggers and swerves. HARD. Imagine Fit For an Autopsy-esque chugging deathcore played through a strong, melodic Impureza-meets-Abysmal Torment filter, and that’s the gist of Unexpectance‘s game. Highlights “Última Palabra,” “Guerra Interior,” “Pandemonium,” “Deus Ex Machina,” and “El Altar del Olvido” prove that this band made the most of their six-year release gap, injecting consistently interesting jolts of blackened electricity, melodic boisterousness, and a hint of -core aggression into these forty-six minutes. In short, Vortex is a rock-solid all-around record, offering lots of goodies to a wide range of metal fans. You’d be a fool to dismiss it.

Don Bolo – BAHAMUT

I have no idea what the fuck this even is. But it’s weird, wet and wild and that’s usually enough to whet my appetite. Hailing from Ecuador, quintet Don Bolo plays this bizarre, largely instrumental mixture of jazz, punk, doom, psychedelia, metal and ska that sounds like Diablo Swing Orchestra after murdering their vocalists, drinking four bottles of absinthe laced with mushrooms, and watching all of Wes Anderson’s movies out of order. Fortunately, each of the band’s disparate elements are given an incredibly controlled and structured space in which to work. “Artesanales,” “Nuevas Masculinidades,” “Solo se Odia lo Querido,” “El Huevo,” and “SIKA” might be the strongest examples of that, all utilizing disciplined collaborations to make absolutely sure everything fits exactly where and when it should. At the same time, Don Bolo routinely display a penchant for utter silliness (see the Super Mario 64 samples on “Solo Tolérala”), which demonstrates that they take their art seriously without taking themselves seriously at all. Therein lies the magic of BAHAMUT. Fiercely creative and fearlessly unpredictable, it’s one of those albums you kinda just have to hear to believe.

Doom_et_Al’s Met_Al Resolutions

Det Eviga Leendet – Reverence

That cover, tho. Beautiful and dark. An excellent representation of an album you really should give some love to. Reverence is the second album from anonymous Swedish black metal band, Det Eviga Leendet (The Eternal Smile) featuring Mare Cognitum’s Jacob Buczarski on vocals. I missed out on their debut, Lenience, but picked this up based on a significant amout of buzz. And it’s not a letdown! While Buczarski’s DNA is apparent, and Det Eviga Leendet could be considered “atmospheric,” it is far more direct and intense than most atmoblack bands, expressing genuine pain and fury rather than noodly wonder. It manages this through a subtle dissonant modulation of the typical atmospheric aesthetic, giving the music a disquieting edge. Buczarski’s piercing vocals sound genuinely wounded and the thematic intensity is matched by the musical performances. Yeah, it’s not doing anything particularly new, but it’s going at an established sound with a particular ferocity that makes it stand out from the January crowd. Trust Doomy on this one…

Eldritch Elitist’s Elections Anew

Primalfrost – Lost Elegies

Primalfrost‘s Dean Arnold (Operus, ex-Vital Remains) is in desperate need of a label, and not just to stop him from releasing an album in the last week of 2021. While his first record (2014’s Prosperous Visions) felt somewhat amateurish, Lost Elegies could have tricked me into being Napalm Records’ most recent melodic death metal signing. This is epic melodeath in the Finnish tradition, full of tight, aggressive riffing balanced out by bursts of melodic grandeur. It helps that Arnold doesn’t lean into any one of his many influences too strongly, meaning Lost Elegies is refreshingly diverse, if not entirely unique. The only overt inspiration comes from Æther Realm‘s excellent Tarot, with that record’s signature, monumental emotional swells feeling right at home in Lost Elegies‘ longest songs. It may technically be a 2021 release, but don’t be surprised if you see various blogs sneaking Primalfrost into their 2022 lists.

Power Paladin – With the Magic of Windfyre Steel

Man, Power Paladin just fucking gets power metal. This Icelandic troupe nails several styles of power metal on With the Magic of Windfyre Steel from Iron Maiden worship (“Kraven the Hunter”) to Teutonic speed (“Righteous Fury”) and the distinct rhythms of Lost Horizon (“Evermore”) – and that’s only the first three tracks. This spitball approach makes this debut feel particularly debut-like, especially as its quality wanes a bit in the back half. Even so, the sheer amount of flair that Power Paladin brings to the table is inescapably charming, with captivating choruses and surprising songwriting and instrumental turns keeping me hooked the whole way through. It feels like Power Paladin is only warming up and I can’t wait to hear what they bring to the table with their next outing. I hope it includes a better logo.

Steel Druhm’s New Year, Sharper Steel

Restless Spirit – Blood of the Old Gods2

Although Restless Spirit hail from my neck of the woods, I somehow never heard of them until a kindly Spongeperson suggested I check out Blood of the Old Gods. Turns out, I owe him bigly for that tip, as this is one of my favorite albums so far this year. Restless Spirit rock a huge sound that straddles the line between stoner and epic doom, and on Blood of the Old Gods, they pull from a big bag of heavy tricks. The massive “Judgment and Exile” sounds like C.O.C., Grand Magus and Fireball Ministry mating after drinking the unholy nectar of iron potency (4-hour rule before calling the medical professionals). Burly, beefy biker doom riffs that recall C.O.C.‘s Blind era run wild and free, and Father Damn’s vocals sound a lot like Pepper Keenan, making the Blind vibe all the stronger. “Crooked Timber of Humanity” bears the same influences while reminding me a lot of Victor Griffin’s In-Graved project. Long songs are delivered but never feel long, and there’s so much powerhouse guitar magic, you’ll end up wanting more anyway. This is all about huge songs with mammoth riffs for folks who go heavy and rarely go home (bikers, inmates and dangerous nomads, etc.).

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Four Pinocchios and one used car salesman awarded. – Steel
  2. Technically, this came out in late December but nobody on our end got to hear it until the year turned over. Deal with it!
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