Monthly Overview – the Best of January 2018

So here’s a new thing – I’ll briefly summarise some of my favourite releases from the month that I’ve listened to. All of this stuff is great music, so get your listening ears on and get ready to bang your head.

Shining

Okay, so for the first month of 2018 we have had a lot of decent tunes to enjoy. I don’t intend to list everything here, but merely some that have caught my attention a bit more than others, for whatever reason.

WatainFirst off I’ll turn to two of the bigger black metal releases this month – Trident Wolf Eclipse by Watain and X – Varg Utan Flock by Shining. Although very different albums, both demonstrate that you can be a long-running veteran band and still release albums that sound hungry and vital. I won’t say too much more about them than that, but they’re both well-worth checking out.

HamferðIn a different vein, I have really enjoyed Támsins Likam by Hamferð. Expressive and full of emotive atmosphere, this doom band seem to have crafted an exquisite album here. It’s a heartfelt release that is full of emotional weight as well as some juicy guitars. Evocative and compelling, this is one you shouldn’t let pass you by. Also, check out my interview with them, where they comprehensively answer my questions about their album and more.

AgrimoniaIn Vain and Agrimonia both released first-rate progressive metal albums this month, (Currents and Awaken, respectively), and both of them are worthy of your attentions. I’d never encountered In Vain before, but Agrimonia I know well; Awaken is so good I was inspired to go back and listen to the rest of the band’s discography once more, (including this gem). Such a good band! When I published the review for Awaken there was only a snippet of music available, but now you can stream the entire album below.

In VainAs for In Vain, Currents gives us 42 minutes of progressive death metal with a melodic death/black metal edge. Well-written and full of musical flourishes, it’s a textured and rich album. There’s also an interview here that you can absorb at your leisure.

MonolitheThe new Monolithe album Nebula Septem is as crushing as I have come to expect from this notable band. (As an aside, Nebula Septem is released by the wonderful Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions, and you can read an interesting interview with their label manager here). There seems to be an inverse relationship between length of song and quality levels for Monolithe. When they were releasing hour-long epics they were a very good band indeed, but as their material has shortened over the years, they just seem to be getting better and better. Listen to their latest ambitious opus below.

Stygian ObsessionNow, how about some ugly, underground, atmospheric death metal? Form Is Void by Stygian Obsession really made an impression on me, scarring me to my bones. The band create old-school death metal smothered in blackened atmospherics and bleak, unsettling vibes. The best way to experience this is to just lose yourself in their Hellishly impressive onslaught.

Earth CallerAfter that, it’s time for something quite different; Crystal Death by Earth Caller made a notable impression on me this month with its contemporary and individualised take on metallic hardcore. This is an album that mixes the old-school and the new well, combining them with a natural affinity for the style, and then adding in some unexpected atmospheric and melodic components. It’s quite infectious.

CenturiesI’ve saved the best for last. At least, when I’m in a certain rampantly aggressive mood. The Lights of This Earth Are Blinding by Centuries. Wow. Just wow. This is dark, metallic hardcore of the very finest variety. Well-written and well-conceived, this is a heavy and surprisingly multifaceted album, with much to explore across its jagged running time. I just can’t get enough of it. Check this out.

So there we have it. Some very, very tasty releases this month.

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