Written by Westin, Kep, Kirk, and Ellis
Here we are again, folks, another month of 2023 is in the books. We wrote about a ton of killer April music already, but there are some things we didn’t review that we really loved. Read on to see what you might have missed!
In case you missed any of them, here are quick links to all of our reviews for April releases:
Mammon’s Throne – Mammon’s Throne
Anthropophagous – Abuse of a Corpse
Harjo – The Magi
Incandesca – Destronomer
Blazon Rite – Wild Rites and Ancient Songs
AthanaTheos – Cross. Deny. Glorify.
Smoulder – Violent Creed of Vengeance
Heathen Foray – Oathbreaker
Dimwind – The Futility of Breathing
Mesmur – Chthonic
Lesotho – Through the Dying Light
Lunar Chamber – Shambhallic Vibrations
Lucifer Star Machine – Satanic Age
Fires in the Distance – Air Not Meant for Us
Now onward to our other faves!
Warwitch – Monument of Death and War
Blackened thrash metal from the US
One thing I love about black thrash is the range of stylistic choices within the genre – you’ve got Motörhead-esque party metal, you’ve got Teutonic thrash worship, you’ve got first wave black metal, and more. As long as it’s evil and riffy, you really can’t go wrong. Warwitch is merging approaches in a really rad way, combining lo-fi crunchy vibes with subtly stellar production and face-melting guitar work. The fact that this is a one man band (plus the producer) really sells how far you can take a project with the right commitment. Opener “Discovered Dead” is a great start – bass like rolling thunder, an absolutely stupid guitar solo, and some murky vox really make a compelling argument. Closer “Tsar Bomba” is a tight and aggressive number that closes on an appropriately booming echo, just for fun. This EP could have stuck with the straightforward and been successful, but there’s more going on – there’s atmosphere, build-up, a sense of character and a surprising variety of compositional work. Truly standout stuff.
The Eating Cave – The Miscalculation
Technical death metal from the US
Take note, everybody: The Eating Cave has leveled the fuck up. Their 2022 debut Ingurgitate was a good record—I really enjoyed it and I know that most people who heard it did too—but The Miscalculation is this band operating on a whole new plane. Gone are the -core elements that you could find in Ingurgitate; this is nothing but pure relentless brutality and scorching technical prowess that crackles out of the speakers. It’s extremely dense music, and there’s really not a moment to breathe at any point in the runtime, but you don’t mind when there’s so much to engage your ear throughout. The album is unflinchingly aggressive in character and at the center of it are guitarists Evan Hope and Tyler Boylan, ripping and tearing from all angles. It’s like being in the center of a vortex of razors, their whipping licks and arpeggios jagged and violent, manically slicing and rending. Vocalist Thiago Companhol’s wide range of harshes is the cherry on top.
Cave Moth – Paralytic Love
Math/grindcore from the US
What is the fastest, heaviest, most brutal and intense listening experience you’ve ever had? Have you ever played something that left you out of breath, in pain, possibly bloody and bruised, or otherwise physically debilitated? If so, which Cave Moth EP was it? A completely appropriate response to this question is “all of them”; Cave Moth have a such uniquely visceral blend of metal and hardcore-adjacent influences that listening to their music should first come with a waiver. Their new album, Paralytic Love, left me feeling more battered, bruised, and winded than the few minutes I spent moshing to FLAG back in 2014. Only this time, the elbow I took to the eye socket was my own.
Enforced – War Remains
Crossover thrash from the US
Enforced seem to have made it their mission to come back harder, faster, and meaner than their already excellent 2021 effort Kill Grid. War Remains is their third full-length overall and there isn’t an ounce of fat on it. It was intentionally recorded without a click track, and this has yielded a frankly ridiculous pace and real raw edge which suits the music perfectly. There are a few detours into some groovier riff parts which bring some welcome variation – especially in the super Slayer-esque “Hanged by My Hand” and the title track whose runtime of four minutes and 11 seconds makes it the longest on the record – but most of all this is an album of all-out thrashing fury that transcends any criticisms one might have around innovation by just absolutely nailing a formula that was perfected decades ago. Also shout-out vocalist Knox Colby for being a total legend.
Putrid Yell – Consuming Aberration
Death metal from Chile
The Swedish buzzsaw tone of the HM-2 is so iconic that it has gone from “tone du jour” to relic of the past to meme as it’s been revived and reused in countless cycles of bands trying to recapture the glorious sound of the early 90’s. Putrid Yell succeeds where many others have failed because they have not simply copped an HM-2 for themselves and called it a day, but they’ve recaptured the essence of what made the “Sunlight Sound” immortal in the first place. Consuming Aberration is full of absolute fury; this is death metal that carries the feverish pace of punk music beneath it, animating it to breakneck pace that shatters bones and concrete alike. I really need to shoutout the album art by Putrid Matt, it totally sells me on the sort of B-movie horror vibe. The tone is not simply an affectation to appeal to a sense of nostalgia, it is crafted with the music in mind to absolutely pummel you. The instruments feel lively and organic, with moments to take a breath and truly feel the sound. That this is a debut in this style really highlights the bands skill, and can easily stand toe to toe with many classics from the original era.
Evermore – In Memoriam
Power metal from Sweden
There’s been a preponderance of good power metal this year, and we should all be grateful; power metal is the herbivore of the metal ecosystem, and a healthy population for them is a net positive for all. Evermore are fantastic songwriters, keeping everything concise and punchy, full of riffs and groove beneath the soaring vocals. Their sound exists in the space between the good Kamelot records and the German power metal scene, which feels fresh and natural. Vocalist Johan Haraldsson has the perfect voice for a band of this style, epic and effortless, while the two other members bring a bevy of varied instrumental approaches to keep things interesting. This is exactly the kind of album to just throw on and rock out to.
Dope Skum – Gutter South
Crust punk/sludge metal from the US
You know what really hits the spot sometimes? Some Southern-fried sludgy, crusty stoner punk. Just the thought of it evokes images of an old conversion van with a dingy paint job, the windows rolled up right, thick smoke obscuring the windows, and heavy riffs rattling the exterior. Dope Skum are in good company, carrying on a tradition of sludgy stoner riffs infused with punk energy. For all I know, Cody Landress-Gibson (guitar and vocals) and Scott Keil (drums) met at a LáGoon show and decided that night to form a band. And while Gutter South is only their sophomore release—their debut EP, Tanasi, was released in 2021–they’re already hard at work at tightening up their sound. If stoner sludge with attitude sounds like your idea of a good time, don’t sleep on this EP. Dope Skum are going places.
Bandit – Siege of Self
Grindcore/metallic hardcore from the US
Apparently we aren’t allowed to just say “this fucks” for these minis anymore but honestly that would absolutely suffice here. Bandit sound a lot like Pig Destroyer and the deeply underrated metallic hardcore outfit Burnt by the Sun which is a huge W on both counts. The riffs are great and often have a really decent amount of groove for grindcore; haters will probably call it false grind especially with killer breakdowns in tracks like “Mangled Sheep” and “End of the Rainbow” and even a guitar solo in “Bring the War Home” but if that’s actually a problem for you please get help. It’s also worth taking some time to dig into Gene Meyer’s lyrics which have that tortured poetic streak which again feels very reminiscent of PxDx’s J.R. Hayes. Oh and it’s only 23 minutes so you can listen to it practically on loop all day if you want to.
Atavistia – Cosmic Warfare
Melodic/symphonic death metal from Canada
From the very first synth note, Cosmic Warfare is an album built for scope at a cinematic level. This is absolutely one of most bombastic albums I’ve heard this year, and it feels earned. The instrumentation is mind blowing and vocals are gripping, shrieks in a swirling blizzard of magic. Composition is also next level, there’s a part in the title track where the music drops out for a split second, before a synth bubble seems to warp the music back in and it just hits in a way I’ve never heard in this kind of music. I’m really impressed, and this is the bands third album, so their experience really shows. Comparisons have been drawn to Wintersun, which I think are unfair because Atavistia actually release music. I do think that if you enjoy that sound this is the perfect album for you, but Atavistia are still their own band – they approach this sound with their own unique flourishes and direction, and they excel at it.
Coil Cloud – Towers of the Empty Orbits
Avant-garde black metal from the Netherlands
This came out of nowhere, released by Pest Productions on a Saturday amongst a slew of other records. The art intrigued me, and it was labeled as atmoblack, which is usually up my alley. What I found once I started listening, though, was something unexpectedly more beautiful and strange. The texture here is on the blurry, airy side, with lots of open space within, driven by low-fi drums and a boatload of synth that soars over top like a heady ocean breeze. The guitars are present but not leading, and the hazy screams of the vocals are nested into the rest, simply another instrument in the ensemble. There’s something euphoric and melancholy about it all at once, like looking through a thin layer of muslin at your memories come to life. The music has plenty of life and energy, and it’s not that there’s a lack of distinct rhythm, but there’s something wonderfully static about much of it as ethereal mysterious melodies float on the air and charm the ear. This is black metal for dreams, unique and inviting, outside of the box enough for the curious but not so far as to be off-putting.
Graysea – Weight in the Water
Metalcore from the US
The main thing that sets Graysea apart from a lot of the other chaotic metalcore bands out there at the moment is their vocalist David Tarantino. He has a seriously tortured and unhinged style which recalls a fair bit of Peter Rono of Kaonashi where it sounds like he’s on the brink of a full nervous breakdown at any moment, but even with that single quite prominent comparison it still feels very fresh and unique, and it helps that the rest of the band go for a more hard-hitting metalcore sound to put themselves pretty firmly in their own lane. Produced by Will Putney of END, and with a guest feature from Aaron Gillespie of Underoath on closer “Save Face”, there is no denying their metalcore credentials, but if they keep making music like this then soon enough Graysea won’t need any name but their own to be a very easy sell.
Red Rum – Book of Legends
Symphonic pirate/folk metal from the UK
Remember 2003 when the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was in theaters, and “pirate chic” was all the rage? It seemed like everyone was drinking rum, wearing eyeliner, painting their nails, wearing puffy shirts (sorry, Jerry Seinfeld). If none of these things ring a bell, that’s fine, because Red Rum remembers them for us. Their new album, Book of Legends, is just about every pirate-themed cliché imaginable wrapped up in a massive bow with an optional perch for your parrot. Steeped in both power and folk metal, this album is honestly a lot of fun, and the band has an excellent sense for what works and what doesn’t. The riffs are right and crisp, the choruses are catchy as hell, and I dare you to not get up and dance a jig to at least one song. I SAID I DARE YOU.
As Everything Unfolds – Ultraviolet
Melodic post-hardcore from the UK
As Everything Unfolds is a band that has made an emotional connection for me – their debut album made my 2021 AOTY list, striking a resonant chord that reminded me of the era over a decade ago when I first started really getting into music. It’s clear the band are a product of modern times however, blending in elements of nu metal, metalcore, alternative rock, prog and more, all major contemporary developments in heavy music. Vocalist Charlie Rolfe is phenomenal, she really has an enthralling voice whether she’s singing, growling or punching out verbally. The track “Felt Like Home” is a standout amongst a sea of well-written songs, as the harmonic chorus and ascendant melody really demonstrate that this is a band on a trajectory to something massive – I can’t help but sing along each time the chorus hits, and I can easily imagine an arena of people joining along. AEU are going somewhere, and they’re not bogged down by formula or a misplaced sense of being stuck to one particular approach. Pay attention to this band.
Terranoct – Icon of Ruin
Technical death metal from the US
Despite being somewhat confusingly labeled by the band themselves as “death-laden thrash,” this record is a ripper and a half of high octane technical death flavored with a number of different styles. The band throws a bit of everything into this rather epic 63 minutes, from plenty of high range howling atop melodic riffs a la The Black Dahlia Murder to enormous breakdown-esque power stomps and chugs to, yes, lots of ripping shred solos atop thrash rhythms. The thing that stays consistent across the runtime, though, is that tight, impressively technical playing from guitarists Tyler O’Brien and Rickie Palmer. Whether they’re racing through tight tremolo runs or noodling in harmony, their fretwork is lively and exciting, and everything is clean and precise. And the solos will burn the eyebrows off your face right through the speakers. The band even throws in a clean vocal chorus near the end of the album on “Those Without a Voice”, which absolutely rules, and then toss in a key change just to prove they’ve still got tricks in the bag. An additional nod goes to Terranoct self-producing; drummer Dan Paddy’s work in that department is well-balanced and sounds plenty aggressive to match.
Undrask – God Emperor
Melodic death metal from the US
“Eye of the Archdemon” opens with horns and wardrums, reminiscent of Conan, and in a way that I respect, it’s kind of silly. It’s an embracement of theatricality before a stellar guitar arpeggio swoops in to carry us off to battle. By god does this album have riffs and licks and fills and solos and just everything you want out of fantastic metal – Undrask manage to carve some of the bombast out of power metal and deliver it in melodeath without sounding like a bad Children of Bodom clone or a cheesefest that lacks self-awareness. This is a gnarly record full of memorable bits, songwriting abound throughout the record. It’s hard to pick out standouts because they’re all good. To top it all off, as if their own genuine and impressive musical merit were not enough, this band features a guest performance from Jeff fucking Loomis. The fact that Undrask are two albums in and have not been signed yet is genuinely criminal, this band is amazing and deserves to have as many ears as they can bend.