Hello, Metal Wani readers! I am bringing you my new monthly segment, 10 Metal Albums You Should Listen To. As the name implies, I will be going through some of my favorite albums or albums I think our readers should listen to that were officially released in the previous month. These lists are designed to showcase some new music for our readers and to promote music from the metal underground. Before we start, I want to make it clear that these lists are not “top lists” or “best of lists”. Instead, this list consists of albums that I feel are highlights of the previous month.
For the first segment, we will be covering the releases that came out in January. January has always been an interesting month for music releases. For being the first month of the year, January introduces the year and potentially gives an insight for the months to follow. So here are some of my favorite releases that have been released in January. Please note, that this is only my opinion and my opinion only.
First off at number 10, is Lethal Steel’s ‘Legion of the Night’. Lethal Steel is a fairly new traditional heavy metal band from Stockholm, Sweden. Releasing a four track demo back in 2012, the band returns with their debut full length album which is released on German metal label High Roller Records. Produced by Olof Wikstrand (of Enforcer fame), Lethal Steel delivers a good dose of heavy metal that brings you back to the 80’s with melodic riffs and catchy choruses. Inspired by NWOBHM (particularly Di’anno era Iron Maiden), the band joins a new coming wave of Swedish Heavy Metal bands which include the likes of Ram, Trial, and Ambush. ‘Legion of the Night’ revitalizes 80s heavy metal by bringing the sound back into a modern setting. Recommended for fans of Angel Witch, Heavy Load, Gotham City, Jonah Quizz, and Saxon. Tracks to listen include “Night of the Witch”, “Warrior”, and “Sirius”.
At number 9, is the sophomore self titled album of the metal band, Bloodiest. This six piece band is fronted by Bruce Lamont (Corrections House, Yakuza) and hails from Chicago, USA. The root of Bloodiest’s sound comes from Sludge Metal and Post-Rock. The band eloquently plays a well balanced blend of Sludge and Post Metal that is reminiscent of Neurosis and Minsk, but is still able to produce their own distinct approach blending influences from various other bands like Yakuza, Swans, and Russian Circles. Mixed and Produced by famed Chicago producer and engineer Sanford Parker (who worked with Minsk, Pelican, Coffinworm, and Lord Mantis to name a few), ‘Bloodiest’, as an album, delivers an enticing listening experience that can be equally emotional and mesmerizing and uneasy and terrifying. ‘Bloodiest’ is released on Relapse Records and is sure to be an interesting listen for Sludge/Post-Metal fans and non-fans alike. Tracks to listen to include “Separation”, “He Is Disease”, and “The Widow”.
Perihelion Ship sits at number 8 with their new debut full length release, ‘A Rare Thunderstorm in spring’. Perihelion Ship is an unsigned Finnish Progressive Metal band who is new to the scene with two demos under their name. In January, the band released their new album which includes their 2015 demo and the title track, a colossal 21 minute long epic. Don’t let the album artwork fool you though! ‘A Rare Thunderstorm in Spring’ is a progressive metal record that does not adopt the new and popular trends, but rather looks back and creates their own unique path. Featuring a Hammond organ (a type of electric organ) and a Mellotron keyboard, Perihelion Ship blends in influences from progressive rock bands like Anektoden, Ars Nova, and Änglagård with their metal influences of Opeth and Witherscape to create a well paced, multi-dimensional Progressive metal fans are sure to love. Recommended tracks include “Misplaced Rainfall”, ”The Emperor Idea”, and “A Rare Thunderstorm in Spring”.
Returning to Chicago for number 7, we have Flesh of the Stars with their sophomore album ‘Hosanna’. The independent band released their first offering ‘Hide’ in 2015 which caught some attention. I was completely caught off guard when they released their follow up album less than 4 months after their debut. Flesh of the Stars plays a style of Stoner/Doom Metal that makes up the minority of the genre, a style that takes a more sinister approach to the music. Giving nods to classic bands like Black Sabbath and Sleep, Flesh of the Stars is able to craft a different sound that welcomes influences from bands like Blood Ceremony, Occultation, and Blue Öyster Cult to add more of a psychedelic and occult sounding veil. Sitting at only 33 minutes, ‘Hosanna’ feels short but If you like what you hear, I recommend checking out their 2015 album ‘Hide’ as well. Tracks to listen include “Welcome the Night” and “Sun Salute”.
Number 6 brings us to Cape Town, South Africa with the album ‘Mystical Future’ by the band Wildernessking. Formed in 2011, the band returns with their sophomore effort on their new label, Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions. Wildernessking plays a style of Black Metal that focuses on atmosphere and creating palatable but soft waves of sound as they adopt post-rock qualities. Mixed and mastered by Jack Shirley (Bosse-De-Nage, Deafheaven, Downfall of Gaia, and Mamaleek), ‘Mystical Future’ plays out as a delicate release that somehow fills their bleak and cold sound with emotional warmth. Peaceful, yet intense, this album is a great listen during the calm night or as the album cover insists, during twilight. For fans of Wolves in the Throne Room, Fall of Rauros, Ash Borer, Skagos, and Fen. Highlight tracks include “With Arms Like Wands”, “I Will Go to YOur Tomb”, and “If You Leave”.
Metal from down under, number 5 leads us to Australia with the new debut album from Tarot, ‘Reflections’. Not the be confused with the Finnish Heavy/Power Metal band, Tarot plays a blend of Heavy Metal/Hard Rock that sounds familiar but refreshing at the same time. Formed by Will Fried, (The Wizar’d) in 2011, the band released a string of EPs in 2014 which were compiled in the 2015 ‘The Warrior’s Spell’ Compilation. Now in 2016, Tarot unleashes their debut album on Heavy Chains Records. ‘Reflections’ provides the listener with a blast to the past, going back to the 70s with salutes to Deep Purple and Rainbow. With their synth heavy keyboards, Tarot adds an additional layer of progressive and psychedelic overtones to their sound that will remind you of Uriah Heep. ‘Reflections’ offers a sense of nostalgic familiarity with a more modern, heavier edge that both old and new fans would enjoy. Suggested listens include “Autumn Conjuration”, “Cloak and Dagger”, and “Heed the Call”.
Time to plunge to the weird side of things with this next release. Number 4 is the new album from American band Ehnahre (pronounced N-R). ‘Douve’ is the 4th album from this Avant-Garde Death/Doom Metal band formed by two ex-Kayo Dot members Ryan McGuire and John Carchia. Released on Kathexis, ‘Douve’ is a 80 minute, 18 track affair that is based on the poem Theatre by Yves Bonnefoy. With the incorporation of electronics, percussion instruments, piano and double bass, ‘Douve’ offers a varied experience that touches on improvisation, noise, jazz, and serialistic contemporary classical music as it explores the possibilities of breaking its boundaries beyond the proximate Black and Funeral Doom Metal influences. This album can leave the unexpecting listener bewildered with the album shapeshifting from its more intricate moments to its more crushing, dense, and dissonant trudges. Be warned, ‘Douve’, is a beast of its own nature and takes time to digest the nightmares that lay within it. Tracks to watch out for include “At Last Absent From My Head”, “Ceiling of Insects” and “The March of Suns”.
Continuing with the experimental trend, we arrive in the Ukraine with number 3. Virvel Av Morkerhatet is an Ukrainian Avant-Garde Black Metal band which released their new sophomore album ‘Metamorphopsia’ on Italian label, Avantgarde Music. Formed by members of Chapter V:F10 and Raventale, the band brings forth an album that would intrigue its listeners. ‘Metamorphopsia’ blends cascades of winding dissonant riffs, kaleidoscope of vocal techniques, and crisp aggressive drumming with eerie samples and haunting keyboards to create a sound that is both erratic and well articulated. Virvel Av Morkerhatet displays mastery of this rising style of Black Metal. Traces of bands like Deathspell Omega, Ved Buens Ende, Portal, and Ulcerate can be found on this record. If you enjoy those bands, this album is definitely worth to check out. Tracks to start with this album include “Weapon To Be Found Only In The Mind Of Man”, “Metamorphopsia Diagnosis”, and “Sore Hate of Human Scum”.
Number 2 slows the pacing down as we enter the subterranean world of Funeral Doom Metal. In January, American metal band Lycus released their long awaited follow up to their debut album “Tempest’, titled ‘Chasms’. Produced by Jack Shirley and released on Relapse Records, ‘Chasms’ is a 40 minute, 4 tracks, behemoth that truly embodies what the artwork portrays (done by the legendary Paolo Girardi). Lycus delivers a condensed record that has everything you expect to find in this style of metal but also a whole new level of dynamics that breaks away from the typical genre conventions. From the beautifully somber cello passages of Jackie Gratz (Giant Squid, Amber Asylum), to the hidden Post-Punk influences, ‘Chasms’ is a massive trek into the bleak world of H.P. Lovecraft that is equally part captivating, crushing, and cathartic. If you are a fan of this subgenre and bands like Mournful Congregation, Evoken, Shape of Despair, and Esoteric, this album is a must listen. Tracks to be consumed by include “Solar Chamber”, “Chasms”, and “Obsidian Eye”.
Heading north to our final destination, we arrive in Quebec, Canada with my number 1. Paolo Girardi returns to the canvas with ‘Le Dernier Crépuscule’, the debut album for death metal band Chthe’ilist (try pronouncing that name). Formed in 2010 by Philippe Tougas (Serocs, Zealotry, First Fragment) and Philippe Boucher (Beyond Creation, Incandescence), the band released a 2011 debut EP entitiled “Amechth’ntaas’m’rriachth” (I’m not even going to bother with one) that caught great amounts of attention in the underground as the band disappeared into obscurity. Chthe’ilist returns with their long awaited, first full length on Profound Lore Records. Le Dernier Crépuscule offers a sound that is reminiscent of the style popularized by legends like Demilich and Timeghoul.By adding influences from bands like Infester, Dead Congregation, and Crematory (SWE), Chthe’ilist is able to create a distinct sound that is hard to find anywhere else. The music has a thick eerie atmosphere as the dissonant riffs, cavernous drums, and deep vocals intertwine creating a monolithic sound that feels extremely viscous. The band probably has the best metal track about Legend of Zelda lore in history. Tracks to prepare for include “Into the Vaults of Ingurgitating Obscurity”, “Voidspawn”, and “Tales of the Majora Mythos Part 1”.
Alongside these 10 albums, I would also like to include these 5 honorable Mentions
Rhapsody of Fire – ‘Into the Legend’
Italian Symphonic Power Metallers Rhapsody of FIre returns with another album to add to their discography. Catchy and majestic, their new album ‘Into the Legend’ would sure please their fans and attract new listeners as well.
Borknagar – ‘Winter Thrice’
Borknagar, Progressive Viking Metal from Norway, returns with their 10th studio album. ‘Winter Thrice’ shows that these old timers are not showing any sign of stopping as the album is one of the best outputs the band has put out in their recent discography. This album is a must listen album for Borknagar fans as they would definitely enjoy this record.
Gygax – ‘Critical Hits’
New Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Gygax presents their debut record ‘Critical Hits’. Formed after Gypsyhawk disbanded, the band offers a hard hitting, riff centric, album with incredibly catchy leads that just makes you want to headbang along.
Stone Magnum – ‘Holy Blessings To None’
American band Stone Magnum comes back with their third album, ‘Holy Blessings To None’. The band plays a more traditional style of Doom Metal along the lines of Candlemass and Count Raven. If you love the classic traditional sound, you’ll be pleased to hear this band representing the style hard and heavy. A great new album of a classic old sound.
Titaan – ‘Kadingir’
Raw and bleak, ‘Kadingir’ blasts with noisey tremolos and rapid fire blast beasts that will catch the ears of any black metal fan. A one man band of unknown origins, Titaan provides a well produced and written cut of aggressive black metal that will fill the listener with dread from the frigid and suffocating sonic attacks.
That concludes my list for January, 2016. See you next month. What did you think of it? What are some January albums that you would recommend to someone looking for new music? Comment below!