So, every month I say something along the lines of “this month has been a strong month for metal, blah, blah, blah…”, but May really has been a ridiculously strong month for metal! I really have struggled to keep this list down to manageable levels this time, and removed a few potential entries simply to keep the numbers down, (I’m not happy about this). So anyway, in no particular order, I give you my top picks for May 2018…
We’ll begin with The Blinding Light of Faith by De Profundis. Well-formed and muscular, this mix of old-school classic appeal and forward-thinking brutality found an immediate fan in yours truly. This is a band that aren’t content to stay the same with every release, and continue to push and develop themselves with every new album. The Blinding Light of Faith is their best yet, so make sure you check it out.
Micawber’s Beyond the Reach of the Flame was another death metal release that instantly struck a chord with me. If you like modern death metal with punishing groove, crushing riffs, biting melodies, pounding drums, brutal growls, and a song-based approach to heaviness, then look no further than this. This has a lot of potential for wider appeal too.
On the slower end of the musical spectrum I present to you Thought and Existence by Bong. This UK band specialise in lengthy psychedelic doom explorations, and this latest foray of theirs into the unknown is some of their most engaging work yet. Entrancing and absorbing.
This next one is a real stunner – Morbid Majesties by Sadistik Forest. Labelmates of De Profundis, Morbid Majesties is ugly, old-school, rotten, and filled with the type of grim, macabre death metal that’s impossible to ignore. The songs on this release seem like they have been grown in an underground occult experiment rather than written and performed in a more conventional way. Yep, I really like this one.
May was also the month that Body Void unleashed the monolithic I Live Inside a Burning House into the world. Malignant, bleak, hateful doom is something that I can’t get enough of, and Body Void’s latest album is a crushingly harsh exemplar of this sort of thing. It’s an intense album, both musically and emotionally, which has resulted in a doom/sludge work of anguished art.
In a similar vein to Body Void, May also gave us the second album from CHRCH – Light Will Consume Us All. Here we have another monolithic doom/sludge metal release, one which plays with light and dark like a true master. Oppressive in its heaviness, yet nuanced in its detail, this is an emotive and affecting release, containing music that’s as relentless as a glacier.
Apocrophex returned last month too with the latest incarnation of their death metal sound – Æternalis. On this new album the band’s technical death metal has taken a darker turn, embracing dark grim atmosphere and blackened dissonance. Æternalis finds Apocrophex twisting their direction into increasingly malevolent waters, and has seen them produce their best work to date because of this.
As the list has taken a bit of a blackened turn, we may as well embrace it with Wilt’s second album Ruin. If you’re a fan of well-crafted Cascadian-style atmospheric black metal with some doom and post-metal influences, then Ruin is something that you should definitely have a listen to. Full of bleak negativity and melodic despair, Ruin is a top quality album.
Next up is the very tasty debut album from UK black metallers Agrona – Realm of the Fallen. Featuring a hybrid style that takes strengths from both old and new, this album touches on a lot of bases during its playing time. Ultimately delivering a storming black metal treat that fans of both the second wave and more modern blackened strains should appreciate, Realm of the Fallen is a very strong debut from this charismatic group.
World’s Blood by Wayfarer is an exemplary slice of prime atmospheric black metal. With Americana-influenced blackened majesty the album breathes into the dusty space it creates, unfolding with a depth and substance that’s lacking from many black metal bands. Hauntingly emotive and beautifully aggressive, World’s Blood is an essential album for anyone into expansive, expressive black metal.
My final black metal recommendation to you this month comes in the form of The Monuments of Ash & Bone by the mighty Wolvhammer. A largely more traditional blackened assault than the band’s previous album, The Monuments of Bone and Ash nonetheless still incorporates elements of sludge, punk, and hardcore into its make-up. An intense and highly engaging album.
Lik’s second album Carnage has been a revelation for me in the sense that I was totally unfamiliar with the band before this, but now I can’t get enough of them. This is an album of well-written death metal, taking a sharp, aggressive route into Swedish death metal territories and quickly conquering everything in its vicinity.
Eye of Solitude once more delivered the goods with a huge, colossal slab of funeral doom in the shape of the bleakly majestic Slaves to Solitude. Slow, atmospheric, and very, very heavy, Eye of Solitude continue to produce music that’s full of emotive depth, while also maintaining the type of crushing intensity that fans of doom metal really like. An exceptional album.
I’ll end this list with the latest album from one of my all time favourite bands – Bleeding Through. Love Will Kill All is the band’s first new material in 6 years, and they sound on fire. Featuring an aggressively energetic mix of brutality, accessibility, anthemic choruses, and raw emotion, the masters of Gothic metalcore are back with a new lease of life and an extremely strong new album. Turn up the volume, and get ready to move.