Self Release

Aeons – Consequences Review

Aeons – Consequences Review

Aeons play a form of progressive metal which, like most progressive bands, sounds an awful lot like what has come before, with melodies and deathcore vocals fighting it out. Don’t get too excited at this never-before-heard sound, however. This is Born of Osiris by way of Thy Art is Murder with a massive detour through Veil of Maya. If Aeons could be said to have an “angle,” it’s that it embraces its influences while incorporating an even broader palette.” Consequences and repercussions.

Headshrinker – Callous Indifference Review

Headshrinker – Callous Indifference Review

“Every now and then an unheralded act comes out of left field to whack you in the melon with a baseball bat forged of creativity and intensity. Colorado-based progressive death metal act Headshrinker just did that to me with their Callous Indifference debut. 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. Feel good music this is not as the listener is plunged into a musical simulation of mental affliction with all its disorientation and unease.” Insanity and genius.

Ravendust – The Gold of the Aura Review

Ravendust – The Gold of the Aura Review

“Certain animals have an association with extreme metal. There’s the goat, of course, representing the Azazel goat that bore the sins of mankind and was sent off to the wilderness. There are worms, about whom I’ve written before. Now you can add ravens. Even one of AMG’s reviewers is named after the eerie birds that peck out eyeballs. Ravendust is a solo act clearly inspired by ravens and their… dust? It’s a remarkably unscary name for a project that hearkens back to the brutal days of the second wave. Sounding more like a Hogwarts house in Harry Potter, Ravendust has been around since 2019.” Ravens, dust, and gold together at last.

Vaelmyst – Secrypts of the Egochasm Review

Vaelmyst – Secrypts of the Egochasm Review

“Melodic death metal is a genre I want to like more than I actually do. Describe it to me and, on paper, I should love it. Not a death metal fan but desperately wanting to be so that I can hang out with cool kids Kronos and Ferrous Beuller, dialling up the melodic quotient should be just the ticket. While there are, of course, bands like Dark Tranquillity and Insomnium, that I love, I find that melodic death metal is a genre plagued by mediocrity.” Melo-ego and super-death.

Infex – Burning in Exile Review

Infex – Burning in Exile Review

“I’ve spent the better part of 2021 trying to figure out if I’m tired of thrash or if there’s just been a drought of speed worth getting excited about. Whichever the case may be, I keep poking the thrash/speed promos looking for something that speaks to my inner thrashard and makes me want to slam like it’s 1985 again. California’s Infex have been lurking around since 2012, billing themselves as crossover thrash. They’ve released two album already but I never heard of them until we received the promo for third platter, Burning in Exile.” Sound of the times.

Crypt Crawler – Future Usurper Review

Crypt Crawler – Future Usurper Review

“Hailing from the same death metal scene as Depravity, Perth Australia’s Crypt Crawler are another interesting act seeking worldwide exposure. Their 2019 To the Grave debut was a simplistic, raw affair and offered some good, deathy fun. Future Usurper sees more polish and progressive tendencies worming into focus, blending  the early days of Death‘s proggy experimentation and more straight forward 90s death/thrash acts like Cancer and Malevolent Creation with modern sensibilities. Such an endeavor requires a significant talent pool and luckily, the members of Crypt Crawler have the requisite chops.” Crawlers in the throne room.

Moon Reaper – Descent Review

Moon Reaper – Descent Review

“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a genre stickler at heart. I find a lot of comfort knowing where to fit every release that comes across my doorstep, so when acts swoop in to challenge that, I’m simultaneously uneasy and intrigued. There are plenty of folks that fall into this category but perhaps the most intriguing has been the UK act Conjurer. I’ve seen these lads described as everything from Swallow the Sun-esque death/doom, Cult of Luna-worshiping post-metal/sludge, to the blackened doom of Thou. 2018’s Mire is a landmark in its own right, and as we anxiously await its followup, we find newcomers Moon Reaper, definitely fans of Conjurer.” Genre reaping.

Rat King – Omen Review

Rat King – Omen Review

“Indiana’s Rat King have been skulking around the Midwest since 2016, tweaking their classic stoner doom style and releasing a few singles and EPs, with Omen being their debut full-length. Their promo package namedrops genre greats like Kyuss and Electric Wizard and speaks of an exploration of the darker elements of the human condition while promising haunting, evocative vocals. This is the PR milkshake that brought Steel to the yard.” Rat holes in Sky Valley.

Musk Ox – Inheritance Review

Musk Ox – Inheritance Review

Musk Ox are three guys with acoustic string instruments playing folk music: not exactly a new idea. But their pedigree as composers and musicians is impeccable. Musk Ox‘s previous album, 2014’s Woodfall, was great. Cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne’s solo record Worlds Within was one of my favorites last year, while guitarist Nathanael Larochette and violinist Evan Runge play in The Night Watch and released the excellent An Embarrassment of Riches the year before. Fortunately, Inheritance fully lives up to all this promise.” Dichotomy and musk.