Self Released

Lord Almighty – Wither Review

Lord Almighty – Wither Review

Lord Almighty, that’s some pretty artwork. An animal skull, painted with myriad pastel colors, conveys that sense of decay which defines so much of the metal art world. Meanwhile, a rich palette of greens and blues strengthens the impression that this skeletal creature’s surroundings teem with life. Plus, emblazoned atop the stripped-down scenery oversees this Lord’s unholy crest, gnarled and subtly overgrown while simultaneously resembling a fortress, the moon presiding over its kingdom. Needless to say, I was thrumming with excitement to get my hands all over this. Imagine my glee when the Bostonians’ sophomore record Wither—an apt name to go with the cover—didn’t totally suck.” Wither systems.

Arcade Messiah – The Host Review

Arcade Messiah – The Host Review

“But when I revisit the 2016 TYMHM piece, I’m reminded of a certain comment: ‘It must have been a shitload of work for a single person, to write and perform an album full of such dense arrangements and rhythmic irregularities, without losing the overall flow of the music. Hats off! I’m impressed.’ Four years later, I can say nothing less about Bassett’s newest outing, The Host. I can still say it’s ‘simplistic’ and smooth to the ears. But, musically, this new record is anything but simplistic.” Host with the most.

Second to Sun – Leviathan Review

Second to Sun – Leviathan Review

“As I said in last year’s Legacy review, it’s always Christmas with the annual Second to Sun release. But unlike a yearly Vous Autres release, Second to Sun doesn’t send me spiraling down a black hole of despair. The Walk was the last one of their releases to come close to putting me over the edge. Since then, the band has ditched some of the mindfuckery to focus on heft and melody. Twenty-nineteen found Legacy to be the band’s heaviest creation. But, with a name like Leviathan, one can only expect something mammoth in this year’s release.” Big monster.

Damnation Angels – Fiber of Our Being Review

Damnation Angels – Fiber of Our Being Review

“Will things ever return to normal? And, if they do, what will ‘normal’ look like? Sometimes it takes every fiber in my body not to lash and scream out at this stupid fucking world. Though the homeless are multiplying outside my bedroom window and even the friendliest people I know look broken down, everything’s fine. So fine. If the apocalypse is truly upon us, it’s fitting that the Damnation Angels will guide us to the flames. So, forward march. Let’s enjoy this new hell with every Fiber of Our Being.” Morale fiber.

Dystopia A.D. – Rise of the Merciless Review

Dystopia A.D. – Rise of the Merciless Review

“Preconceptions are fun, aren’t they? When I tell you Dystopia A.D. is a 2-man unsigned band from Jersey, or Joisey as it’s colloquially known, you’re already forming a picture in your head. If you’re like me, you’re probably expecting some sort of politically charged thrash, possibly of a crossover or core-related variety. Dystopia is, after all, a word that inherently defines a result of particular forms of governance, and Jersey is known primarily for blue collar thrash, Overkill of course its flag carrier. Combine that with the unsigned 2-man band and the picture seems complete. Except it’s utterly, utterly wrong.” Garden state fake.

Pale Horseman – For Dust Thou Art Review

Pale Horseman – For Dust Thou Art Review

Pale Horseman have only been around for eight years, but For Dust Thou Art is the Chicago sludge quartet’s fifth album and their 2017 effort, The Fourth Seal, showed enough promise that I kept their name on my radar. I’m a fan of the (rather typical) influences I could hear on that record – early Mastodon, Neurosis, High on Fire – and thought the band was onto something good despite the overly long compositions. I’ve been looking forward to hearing how they hone their craft for the past three years now, hoping to hear them set themselves apart from what can often be considered a very homogeneous genre.” All we are is sludge in the wind.

Drops of Heart – Stargazers Review

Drops of Heart – Stargazers Review

“Although “melodeath/metalcore” is rarely a good thing around here, the greatest strength of Stargazers is how very well Drops of Heart are able to merge these styles together. Stargazers boasts a unified, cohesive sound in the rough style of Soilwork (whose vocalist guests on “Starlight,” so that’s probably not a coincidence), preferring their metalcore influences over their melodeath ones.” Stargazing into the past.

Buried Realm – Embodiment of the Divine Review

Buried Realm – Embodiment of the Divine Review

Buried Realm play an eager, galloping sort of melodeath, with lots of speedy leads, upbeat riffs, synthesizers, and solos everywhere. It’s almost as if Blind Guardian enthusiasm and subject matter met up with Scar Symmetry’s love of ambience and melodic-yet-death-y riffs, while the vocalists from the latter act offered helpful hints here and there.” Melodeath potluck.

Virtual Symmetry – Exoverse Review

Virtual Symmetry – Exoverse Review

“My personal favorite of the AMG banners has always been that most legendary of Yngwie Malmsteen quotes – “How can less be more? That’s impossible!” It’s a perfectly true statement as long as you’re willing to completely miss the point of the original cliché, which, frankly, makes for a great worldview. In that vein, I bring you progressive metal, in the form of the sophomore full-length from Swiss-Italian Virtual Symmetry; that output, Exoverse is the very definition of an album that believes, with everything that it’s got, that less is not more, that that would be impossible.” More is MOOAR.