Awegust Roundup

Written by Westin, Kep, and Kirk

August was a pretty light month as far as releases goes, especially compared to the seven months of 2023 that preceded it. Or at least it was until August 25 rolled around with a metric shit ton of monster records. Regardless, though, we reviewed several things and loved even more, and we’re here to tell you about them, as is our custom.

Quick links to all of our reviews for August releases:

Tears from a Grieving HeartAn Endless Cycle of Wrenching Pain… If Only I Could Feel Hate
Dead and DrippingBlackened Cerebral Rifts
KINDClose Encounters
OrphalisAs the Ashes Settle
Celestial SanctuaryInsatiable Thirst for Torment
AAWKS / AiwassThe Eastern Scrolls

And now on to the best of the rest!

Owlbear Chaos to the Realm

Heavy metal from the US

First off, Owlbear has one of the sickest logos in the game, and the album art is phenomenally on point, so shoutout to Wappenschmeid and Yannis Rubulias respectively. But Owlbear also deliver on the musical front – the riffs are infectious, the rhythms are compelling and klanky, and vocalist Katy Scary grabs the reins and never lets go. The Running Wild inspiration is obvious, as is the influence of tabletop fantasy RPGs. This band knows exactly what their target is and their aim is as true as their adventurous spirit. The songs are catchy and punchy and will stick in your head long after the story has ended.

– Westin

InvultationFeral Legion

Black/death metal from the US

Invultation, the solo project from Andrew Lampe, has now delivered three beastly full-length albums since 2020, each of them more impressive than the last. Feral Legion is true fucking war metal, monstrous and terrifying and violent from start to finish. It’s relentlessly, brutally riffy, with guitarwork that skews more to the death metal side than many war metal outfits, and enormous in sound, like the march of an infernal army coming to tear you to pieces. The riffs are surprisingly catchy, sinking sharp hooks into you despite the dense mix they have to pierce through. Lampe’s vocals are thick, guttural, and downright demonic while his work behind the kit pounds your skull to pieces. Hats off to this album, folks, it’s a doozy. 

– Kep

Moon CovenSun King

Doom metal/psychedelic rock from Sweden

Have you ever listened to an objectively bad album from any band hailing from Sweden? I don’t think I have, like…ever. And it doesn’t matter what style of music it is, it all sounds pretty amazing. Malmö’s Moon Coven is no exception as they celebrate the release of their third full-length record in just seven years, the expansive and dynamic Sun King. The successor to 2021’s Slumber Wood, the band seems to have found a home amongst the Ripple Music family. A colossal shift in both tone and sound from their previous work, there is a shimmering quality to Sun King that leans far more into the psychedelic rock side of things than the doom metal side. Not as goofy or lighthearted as your standard stoner rock fare (and no noticeable drug references, either), this is psychedelic doom with as much emphasis as humanly possible on all things psychedelic. If the AAWKS / Aiwass split somehow wasn’t trippy enough for you, this album is guaranteed to help you escape just about everything.

– Kirk

Colony DropBrace for Impact

Crossover thrash from the US

Colony Drop‘s debut is aptly named since it hits like a fucking orbital weapons platform dropping a steel rod from the upper stratosphere. This is some goddamn metal. The guitars are superbly crunchy and absolutely smash into you at full speed, while the rhyhtm section keeps you off balance. But the star is vocalist Joseph Schafer whose vocal tone almost goads the listener into a frothing rage. He feels readymade to command live audiences, like the way he hisses “castle full of traps” on “The Clockwork Grip”. The band is loosely themed around Gundam, and that meeting of political mecha and over the top violence is a perfect ingredient set to blend into some aggressive and fun thrash metal. My favourite track is “The Guillotine”, a short banger about killing the rich with the absolutely magnetic chanting refrain of “We’ve cut.. heads off for less!

– Westin

Numidian Killing MachinePsychotronik Breakdown

Black/thrash/speed metal from Algeria

I’m not much of a speed metal or black/thrash guy, but when I see a name like “Numidian Killing Machine” and find out the band is from Algeria, I’ve got no choice but to give it a shot. And I’m glad I did, because this record rips! Full of personality in addition to the expected technical prowess, it trades on its uncommon ideas to make the listening experience memorable. There are tons of unexpected moments, from the backmasked spoken word of the intro to the minute-and-a-half of solo bass that opens “March to Cirta” to the backing synth that appears out of nowhere in “ⵀⴰⴳⵣⴰⵏⵜ ⵏ ⵓⴻⵣⵣⴰ”. The solos are especially bonkers, constantly sidestepping the expected and leaping through wild twists and turns (RIP to Abdelwahab Merzouk aka Death Corpse, who played lead on the record and apparently passed away before its release). You can tell this band isn’t interested in just aping others; they’ve got their own twist, and the unusual combo of dystopian sci-fi and ancient Numidian history is the project’s lifeblood.

– Kep

The CrawlingAll of This for Nothing

Death/doom metal from the UK

The Crawling have crafted a stunning piece of death metal on their latest record. With the full weight of crunchy guitars and plodding riffs, the band could easily sit on the simple effectiveness of playing to genre expectations, but they choose to expand elsewhere. Songs like “Another Vulture” carry a genuinely fresh sound, and feel like they approach a progressive death metal sense of space and brightness that belies the gnarly guitar tones. This is not death/doom that lurks in swamps and drags through the mud but rather sits in shadows, haunting you at the edges of your vision. A cursed omen circling overhead inevitably bearing down upon you.

– Westin

Chris FarrenDoom Singer

Indie/power pop from the US

If finely-crafted indie power pop is your bag, baby, get ready to have your bag filled to the BRIM. This latest outing from Chris Farren is a sparkling diamond amongst an ocean of broken glass and shattered dreams. Every song is a breath of fresh air and an absolute blast. It also serves as a reminder that guitars and drums (real drums, not just computerized drums) absolutely belong in pop music. And it doesn’t hurt that Chris has the voice of an angel (or the voice of an angel that drank maybe one too many gin and tonics). Don’t know how it can get any better than this; this album really is the complete package.

– Kirk

Atoll Human Extract

Brutal death metal from the US

When it comes to quality brutal death that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Arizona’s Atoll is among the best. The Unique Leader darlings had gone four years without a new LP (though last year’s Prepuce EP kicked all sorts of ass) before this one, but the wait was absolutely worth it. It’s a scientifically perfect 29 1/2 minutes of outrageously heavy brutal death, with a bit of tongue in cheek and just enough musically and rhythmically out of the ordinary to keep it fresh. The songwriting isn’t stale and the players all rip through nifty technical shit like it’s nothing. There’s so much middling brutal death out there that I appreciate bands like Atoll even more; they never let me down when I want something heavy as hell that I can enjoy with my brain either on or off. 

– Kep

Vision Master Sceptre

Heavy metal from the US

I am an absolute sucker for eccentric, unique, and weird as hell vocal styles, especially the kind that populate trad metal throughout its history. I find them incredibly compelling, and Vision Master‘s Dan Munro is exactly the kind of voice I’m looking for when I want something that stands out. He’s like a crooning peddler of forbidden secrets who knows he’s selling you something you probably shouldn’t have your hands on. The fact that the band is a duo with Reuben Story from Christian Mistress makes it that much better. Reuben delivers groovy and speedy rhythms while Dan also handles guitar duties. “Wet Net” is a highlight track that really demonstrates the duo’s musical synergy alongside Dan‘s incredibly unique voice. If you’re a fan of the singing in bands like Megaton Sword or Brocas Helm like I am, this is a record you absolutely cannot miss out on.

– Westin

Aetherium NebulaGlacialis Mundi

Dark ambient/drone from the US

What is music if not an exploration of the imagination? Some of the best albums I’ve ever heard have done so much more than just get me to dance or bang my head—they’ve sparked my imagination into the artist’s inspiration. Why was this album created? What do these songs mean? What am I supposed to feel after listening to this record? That’s how I felt listening to Glacialis Mundi, the debut album from Dan Barrett’s latest project, Aetherium Nebula. It’s a sonic exploration of a deceased world, discovered long after its inhabitants had long succumbed to the throes of time. What became of these people? Are there any survivors? Will humanity suffer the same fate? And how quiet is it when the only living thing for miles around is you? This album is a rather sharp change in tone from Barrett’s other projects like Worms of the Earth or Venal Flesh; you won’t find any dance beats here, but there is plenty to sink your teeth into. So close your eyes and hold on tight.

– Kirk