No Ju-LIE, We Love These July Albums

Written by Westin, Kep, Ellis, Rae-Aila, and Kirk

Hi folks, Kep here. Yeah, I tried a little too hard for that pun. No, I don’t feel bad about it.

Another month down. Another load of bangers delivered and consumed. We reviewed a bunch of releases and loved even more, and we’re gonna damn well tell you about it.

As usual, here are quick links to our reviews for July albums:

Whettman ChelmetsKoppen
A Dark HaloOmnibus One
AuralayerThousand Petals
Agriculture Agriculture
Aeons of AshesDetermination
Dead HeatEndless Torment
Radiant KnifePressure
FleshvesselYearning: Promethean Fates Sealed
FlightEchoes of Journeys Past
Helena FordTherapy Goals

And now on the the best of what we didn’t review!

Calligram Position | Momentum

Black metal/post-metal/hardcore from the UK

This London based pan-European black metal band is fueled by incredibly evocative emotional expression channeled by way of hardcore’s appreciation for groove and heaviness. This is embodied best by vocalist Matteo Rizzardo, who carries the intensity of sheer fucking hatred that can be so powerful embodied by black metal. The music is incredibly mature and compositionally rich but still built around the sense of incredible violence found in extreme music. Calligram create a streamlined and modern sound that delivers intensity combined with intrigue as they expertly push the boundaries around exactly what it means to make black metal.

– Westin

Astralborne Across the Aeons

Melodic death metal from the US

Let’s be honest here for a minute: there’s way too much mediocre melodeath in this world. So much of it—far more than any other metal subgenre—is neither bad enough to make me wish I’d never heard it or good enough to make me want to hear it again. That’s one small reason that Astralborne’s sophomore outing is so damn memorable: in a sea of meh, their positive impression is lasting. The production and performances have teeth, the melodic work is powerful and engaging, and their songwriting competently carries a sci-fi lyrical base to stellar heights. I really can’t speak highly enough of Across the Aeons; it’s one of the most enjoyable hours you can spend with an album this year, and that’s saying something in and of itself, because the 56 minutes absolutely sail by and beg you start again once you’re finished. Massive bonus points for a delightful cover of In Flames’ “December Flower”, too, and extra props for popping it in the middle of the runtime as a particularly pleasant mid-listen surprise. Listen to this album. 

– Kep

Hazing OverTunnel Vision

Metallic hardcore from the US

Code Orange-approved, Taylor Young-produced hardcore outfit Hazing Over have a lot going for them on their latest EP Tunnel Vision. Having intentionally stepped a little further away from their roots in deathcore and mathcore, this one grooves way harder than their 2021 effort Pestilence, and as such it leaves more of an immediate and lasting impact. It’s still got the chaotic edge of their earlier material, but it’s more focused on elements of death metal, grindcore and hardcore and unsurprisingly it hits way harder with Young behind the desk this time around. Not exactly a game-changer but still a wonderfully punishing way to spend 11 and a half minutes.

– Ellis

Atonement Sadistic Invaders

Blackened thrash metal from Sweden

There’s a lot of blackened thrash out there, a lot of which owes a hell of a lot to the Teutonic thrash scene in particular. There’s a new wave of young Scandinavian kids getting signed to Dying Victims Productions to release their own take on Destruction and Sodom, and Atonement is the latest in line (their bassist is also in Eternal Evil, another DVP band I touted in 2021 for their debut). When I say young I mean these kids are young – they’re usually all under 18 and out putting together their first bands. It’s impressive honestly – even if the records don’t necessarily push any boundaries, they sound way better than they have any right being and highlight that the next generation is already ready to pick up the mantle. Sadistic Invaders is vicious, mean, ugly, and aggressive, and what more could you want from some evil thrash?

– Westin

abriction Interstates

abriction was already set to make end-of-year lists with their split with sadness that was released in March, so it’s surprising to see such a great follow-up so soon. On Interstates, abriction makes the most out of their signature condensed and processed shoegaze instrumentals with one-of-a-kind harmonies and screams all done by the same person. Like other abriction releases, the tracks carry an ethereal ambiance that fizzles into atmospheric noise. Interstates capitalizes off its lack of structure and emphasis on spontaneity… multi-part tracks, piano segments, unresolved chord progressions, and a variety of drum machines. Emo meets shoegaze meets black metal in this one-hour testament to the growing scene of American blackgaze.

– Rae-Aila

Gateway Galgendood

Death/doom metal from Belgium

Death/doom might be my favourite style of death metal – it’s a perfect marriage of the crushing heaviness that both genres embody in different ways. The newest record from Belgian band Gateway is one of the sickest and gnarliest in the genre you’ll hear. This album is absolutely dripping in viscera and wet with slime as it crawls out of the muck to suffocate whatever it can catch. At a scant 30 minutes it also never runs the risk of dragging out too long like a bad horror film that you thought was fun at first but should have ended a while ago. This sopping pile of swamp goo is gonna stick to you like a parasite and fester in your fucking mind ’til it’s all you hear.

– Westin

Hiverlucide & spaceseerΦ​α​λ​α​ι​ν​ο​μ​α​ν​ι​τ​ά​ρ​ι

Ambient/drone/experimental/noise from France/US

The month of July is apparently the month of experimental drone noise albums. If I didn’t completely lose the entire Noob Heavy reader base with my review of Whettman Chelmets’s Koppen (which I shouldn’t have, that album is fantastic), I may send the rest of y’all running to the hills with this split album from Hiverlucide and spaceseer. For those of you not in the know, Hiverlucide is the side project (side side project?) of Non Serviam, and their debut album Satan Death Whale utilizes actual whale chants to create over forty minutes of experimental noise. As for spaceseer, they are a doom synth project that has been experimenting with the electrical impulses emitted by various types of mushrooms and combining those elements with various synth compositions. Radical stuff, so once those elements could be combined into a single musical entity, Φ​α​λ​α​ι​ν​ο​μ​α​ν​ι​τ​ά​ρ​ι was born. A sprawling amalgamation of these two natural sonic influences, Φ​α​λ​α​ι​ν​ο​μ​α​ν​ι​τ​ά​ρ​ι is the journey of the Fulgen Beast, a bioluminescent mushroom whale. Sorry, but mere words cannot do this album justice; just go buy it, please. Because if this album doesn’t completely blow your mind, I really don’t know what will.

– Kirk

Crisis SigilGod Cum Poltergeist

Cybergrind from Canada

Cybergrind is experiencing a small rennaisance online right now, and the latest Crisis Sigil album from Ada Rook is a phenomenal example of this. The angle for Crisis Sigil is maximal abrasion through the incorporation of the more industrial and musique conrete sides of harsh electronica – acting as impenetrable walls against which the flailing grindcore smashes itself. Momentum is a powerful natural force that feels deftly controlled to keep from veering into a black hole even as it dances on the event horizon. There is still exploration of the emotional and musical boundaries – like the somber and quiet end of “Blood Semen Box-Elder” transitioning to the haunting “Project Zero”. The ability of Rook to craft an emotional current inside this dizzying eddy is a testament to her strength as an artist and the genre’s still unmarked frontiers.

– Westin

Sludge KeeperSlough of Despair

Death metal from Italy

It may have taken Selfmadegod Records approximately 60 hours too long to click the goddamn release button, but once I finally got a taste of Sludge Keeper I was hooked. Drawing on Doom lore for inspiration—the album shares its name with a level in the original 1993 game, fyi—Slough of Despair is a remarkably addicting record that hits the Morbid Angel-loving spot in my heart. Full-bore and bursting with strangely brutal angular riffs, this album will wreck your shit by channeling Azagthoth and Rutan without sounding like a pale imitation. Andrea Tocchetto shows on on guitars, vocals, and songwriting—his solos are particularly wicked—while session performers Kevin Paradis (Benighted, drums) and Marco Mastrobuono (Hour of Penance, bass) lay down an excellent rhythm section. 

– Kep

Johnny BoothMoments Elsewhere

Metalcore from the US

Johnny Booth are one of those increasingly rare bands that can do that more polished modern take on metalcore and still be absolutely brilliant. There are almost entire rosters of labels like Fearless and Rise Records that could do with paying a lot of attention to a record like Moments Elsewhere. It’s got big melodic choruses, it’s got electronic elements and gentle breaks, it’s even got the fully radio-ready “Why Becomes How” in the middle of the record, but it doesn’t water the other stuff down either. Opener “2040” separates the wheat from the chaff by coming in as chaotic and violent as anything off that Vein.FM record from last year; vocalist Andrew Herman stands out throughout with a real bristling style reminiscent of someone like Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die; and if you’re looking for the dopamine hit of a good old-fashioned breakdown you’ll find plenty of that here too. Fresh proof that metalcore should be able to shoot for more mainstream appeal without the creative bankruptcy and constant bet-hedging that lets so many of these bands down.

– Ellis

LanzerRathMetagalactic Domination

Black metal from the US

LanzerRath is masterminded by Orelisk, the individual also behind the projects Orelisk and Draudr. This experience comes out in the specific flavours of each project – LanzerRath is the most straightforward black metal of the trio, leaning towards the rawer end of the second wave without becoming completely uncooked. It’s got the slightly thrashy death metal undercurrent that paints the influence of the early 90s very clearly, but the modern evolution of the genre leaves room for Orelisk to bring in some melodies and variation to the sound to keep it original.

– Westin

StillbeingWorld Builder

Atmospheric post-death/doomgaze from the US

Does the state of the world have you feeling down? Is work crushing your spirit to the point where you feel yourself losing the will to live? Do you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time staring out the window and asking yourself, “When will the meteor hit and wipe out human civilization”? If you answered, “Yes,” to these questions, I recommend listening to World Builder, the debut album from Texas progressive death/doomers Stillbeing. Combining all of the best elements of death/doom, post-metal, and shoegaze, it has riffs for days that wash over your body like a heavy rain on a sweltering summer afternoon. As the album title suggests, Stillbeing have created a world in which to explore, full of mystery and wonder as you unlock the secrets of its vast valleys, majestic mountaintops, and countless crevasses. Because why ponder the seemingly infinite perils of this world when you can discover something new?

– Kirk

Orbital GateVoyage to the Closing Star

Slamming brutal death from the US

Tucked away amongst the many releases on July 21 was this absolute blast of a slamming brutal death metal album from one-person Illinois-based outfit Orbital Gate. The best slamming brutal death balances heaviness and technicality with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek understanding of the inherent goofiness of the style, and this fits that bill completely. Mastermind Evan Van Dyne lays down crushing groove after crushing groove and throws in plenty of spacey arpeggios and bits of pseudo-melody, but where the album shines the most is simply in how fun it is. The whole thing feels like a big goofy party without losing its musical quality. We’ve got a sample from Clone High and songs that start with the jingle my mother-in-law’s dryer plays when it finishes a load. And good luck finding a song title in 2023 that’s better than “Femboy Bussy Implosion”. If you enjoy big dumb techy slam that doesn’t just feel like a gimmick, this is one you need to check out. 

– Kep

Tailgunner – Guns for Hire

Heavy metal from the UK

Y’all know I’m a huge fan of modern heavy metal – Tailgunner are fantastic. That this is a debut is honestly surprising, because it’s so well put together that it sounds like a more experienced band. I can’t help but imagine the band are inspired at least in part by Iron Maiden, both in namesake and their appreciation for bass gallops and melody. The record is punchy and energetic, with flourishes of power metal that strongly showcase a penchant for bombast over street grit that can regularly be found in modern trad metal bands. The music is dynamic and well produced, full of life and the ability to appreciate the entire depth of the sound the band creates, especially the endless solos that rip on each track. Feels like there’s also a couple of absolute future classics here, especially “Crashdive”.

– Westin

Chloe DancerThe Hum of an Eternal Midnight

Blackgaze from the US

If last year’s self-titled EP from these instrumental blackgaze enthusiasts left you with a vampiric thirst for something more, then you’re in luck. Perpetual purveyors of delectably delicious music, Syrup Moose Records has you covered with the sophomore EP from Chloe Dancer, but this time a new element has been added. No longer an instrumental trio, Chloe Dancer have added the vocal skills of the terminally talented Espi Kvlt, whose shrieks, yowls, and growls make this release an absolute treat for the senses. From the antifascist battle cry of opening song “Gaslight, Gatekeep, Fuck Off” through the closing track “Ruiner,” it’s amazing how harmoniously all the elements of this EP are, almost as if they were meant to be. May this union be like that of obsidian: born of fire, forged by the earth, black as night, and nigh unbreakable. I just have one question: What’s next?

– Kirk