Well folks, here we are nearly halfway through 2023 and the killer releases just keep coming. It’s easy to lose some gems amongst the constant flood of quality metal, so we’re here to help bring some back into your view before June gets too far underway.
As per usual, here are quick links to all of our full reviews for May releases:
Nightmarer – Deformity Adrift
Countless Skies – Resonance
Finality – Technocracy
Nadir – Extinction Rituals
Blindfolded and Led to the Woods – Rejecting Obliteration
L’Homme Absurde – Stranger
Battle Born – Blood, Fire, Magic and Steel
Olkoth – At the Eye of Chaos
Dratna – Fomóraigh
Inherus – Beholden
And now on to more May favorites!
Pronostic – Chaotic Upheaval
Progressive/technical melodic death metal from Canada
I’m calling it now: Chaotic Upheaval is in the running for the best metal album of 2023. Everything about the record is constantly one upping itself – the atmosphere is genuine, the melody of the leadwork is stunning, the virtuosity is mindboggling, and the intensity of both the instrumentals and the production is crushing yet spacious. Pronostic have cracked a magic code that lets them warp reality to their will, crafting a perfect exploration of the depths to which extreme metal can go, simultaneously harsh and beautiful. The range this band demonstrates, the sophistication and violence juxtaposed, is nothing short of breath taking. You owe it to yourself, to this band, to the entirety of music to absorb this experience directly and immediately after you’re finished reading.
Intercourse – Halo Castration Institute
Noise rock/hardcore from the US
Just in case you’d finally managed to wash off all the filth of that excellent Chat Pile record from last year, Intercourse are here to douse you in a fresh dose of mire. As the comparison indicates, Halo Castration Institute is a work of manic, angular, sludge-caked noisecore with a particularly deranged performance from vocalist Tarek Ahmed which seems to borrow plenty from the inimitable Tim Singer of Deadguy, Kiss it Goodbye and many others. Lyrically it’s just as strong too – grim and vivid and scathing as anything, especially in the highlight “My Own Personal 9/11” which is worth quoting almost in full:
“You’ve spent too much time with Joe Rogan, you’re only supposed to listen to the comedian episodes, lightbulb. Then we got all you #activists patting yourselves on the back for how woke you are while you perpetuate the same white supremacist bullshit behind closed doors. You’re only an ally when it suits you, you think we’re stupid? You didn’t think we’d notice? Disney liberals and honest racists into the fucking wood chipper.”
MEM//BRANE – Demo
Crust punk/hardcore from the US
A lot of people will tell you that punk is dead. To that, I have this to say: a lot of people are wrong. And that’s putting it nicely—VERY nicely. Unlike MEM//BRANE, who play hardcore the way I like it: raw and dirty. If you’re looking for frills on this demo, you’re not going to find them. Like…anywhere. This is the kind of queercore that leaves you clutching your broken ribs in the back alley after the show, your nose broken in at least two places, and your eye swollen shut. Thirteen minutes doesn’t seem like a long run time for six songs, but these songs are designed for “crowdkilling” at a Republican rally. So lace up your TERFstompers and get your hands on this demo today!
Victory Over the Sun – Dance You Monster to My Soft Song!
Avant-garde can mean many things, but many bands who aspire to be cutting edge just end up feeling like a pastiche, with little real substance and not enough attention to real songwriting. Victory Over the Sun is the antithesis of bands like that, because everything is crafted so meticulously. There’s no disputing how out of the box this Dance is; there’s a bit of everything you might expect to find in avant-garde black metal, from microtones a la Jute Gyte to meandering angular melody to pulsing noise, and all that’s in between. You’ll find moments of upbeat rock groove that morph via dreamy tenor sax solo into gaze-y black metal blur, and dissonant black metal walls of sound that rise to complex rhythmic pattern passages and then descend in synth-driven cascades. And not a single moment of it feels without purpose! This album is nothing short of magnificent. It’s an absolute triumph of groundbreaking modern black metal, and it will likely be landing on my AOTY list.
Death Goals – A Garden of Dead Flowers
Queercore from the UK
Queercore came about in the late 80s with the decline of traditional hardcore, and was one of the most innovative and vital moments in punk history. Though the term and scene have themselves dwindled in recent decades, Death Goals are admirably keeping this particular flame alight on their latest LP. Fusing elements of noise rock, mathcore, metalcore, post-hardcore, and more into the central hardcore, Death Goals‘ authenticity and earnest emotional approach to the genre are as endearing as they are searing. Bright guitars, sludgey trawls, dancing grooves and plaintive barks for love and connection trade off, united by an incredibly sophisticated compositional framework. This is -core at its most soul baring and it absolutely sings.
Sacred Outcry – Towers of Gold
Power metal from Greece
Listen, no one wants to like power metal. It’s easily the goofiest of all the sub-genres of heavy metal (a music genre that is itself pretty goofy), but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s the musical equivalent to riding a dragon in full battle armor, sword raised high in the air as you sing along in the best falsetto your tender voice can muster. The brainchild of bassist George Apalodimas, this album features a brand new lineup consisting of guitarist Steve Lado, drummer Defkalion Dimos, and vocalist Daniel Heiman, formerly of Lost Horizon. But it’s not all slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress for Sacred Outcry; their brand of power metal has a darker edge to its tales of adventure and glory. And each song has a hidden message. Just listen to Daniel’s gloriously golden voice and enjoy the ride.
Hour of Reprisal – A New World from the Ashes of the Old
Metallic hardcore from the UK
The first thing one hears on A New World from the Ashes of the Old – on a track called “1312” no less – is a couple of samples laying bare the abject failures of the Metropolitan police force here in the UK. It makes immediately clear where this straight edge metallic hardcore outfit stand, and should be an easy sell to the readers of Noob Heavy, but it is even more satisfying that Hour of Reprisal have all the chops they need to back it up. Desperately hawkish vocals are delivered over all the classic tropes of chugging riffs, stabby panic chords and some absolutely world-ending breakdowns. Any issues one may have with the fact that all this has been done well enough before should be easily dispelled by the sheer fury of it all, and the lyrics especially elevate this one to truly essential. “If this is your kingdom come, answer me this; do you feel safe yet?”.
The End of Six Thousand Years – The End of Six Thousand Years
Blackened death metal/crust punk from Italy
How do you make a comeback after a ten-year hiatus? With an EP that packs enough power to blow out the average stereo speaker. Reinvigorated with the addition of new members Michele Basso and Gianmaria Mustillo taking over on guitar, this sounds like a band that’s fresh and ready to grab the world by the throat. Not one single second is wasted on these four songs—three originals and one cover—and is a treat for fans both old and new. End to end, this a rough and raw return to form for The End of Six Thousand Years that will leave you bruised, bloody, out of breath, and begging for more.
Vomitheist – NekroFvneral
Death metal from Switzerland
Is it pronounced vomit-heist, Oceans Eleven of Chunks style? Do they worship vomit or is it more of a “religion makes me puke” thing? I have zero idea, but I do know that the debut by this incredible HM-2 worship is gnarly and full of bile and vinegar. It’s compellingly rhythmic, and covered in enough grime that it feels properly underground. They also remembered to make the bass audible, so the dynamics on this album sound like authentic 90s music in all the best ways. This is nasty and fun death metal produced to the perfect balance.
Balmog – Covenants of Salt
Black metal from Spain
Black metal is cool. There, I said it! But it’s true, black metal is cool. At least the niche, inventive, experimental stuff; the cookie cutter, generic, neofascist black metal sucks balls. But not Balmog! Leaning into the experimental side with hints of post black metal is their latest EP, Covenants of Salt. If you’ve been paying attention to the band, it’s a follow-up to 2020’s Pillars of Salt and hits at least as hard if not harder. But there is a sinister energy here that wasn’t as prevalent on Pillars of Salt, a sense of urgency or aggression that lurks—ever present—throughout the course of this EP. This is just 18 minutes of face-melting black metal fury, and it’s something I just can’t get enough of.
A Constant Knowledge of Death – Dissecting a One-Winged Bird
Sludge/post-metal from the US
I’m ashamed to say that I slept on A Constant Knowledge of Death for quite a while. I gave Dissecting a listen with decently high expectations based on the band members other projects and widespread praise among my friends, though I’d never heard any past ACKOD releases. To say I was floored would be an understatement. This album is a filthy cocktail of visceral sludge, post-metal of the type that feels like floating through a waking nightmare, and bits of noise and wide-ranging textures. There’s emotional weight in spades—the deeply personal lyrics alone are enough to dig into your soul, and that’s without even considering the varied vocal deliveries from James Goldmann, Aki McCullough, and a slew of guests—and a wealth of quality songwriting to back it up. These songs have a lot in them, with all sorts of stylistic influences thrown into the pot along with some avant-garde experimentation (including violin and flugelhorn on the final track!), but no matter how many ingredients they add each track comes out as a cohesive and affecting whole. The production is killer too: tons of heaviness but with breathing room in the mix, so the frenetic angular math-y sections hit just as hard as the thumping sludge grooves. The album is just so fucking good.
Incendiary – Change the Way You Think About Pain
Metallic hardcore from the US
Incendiary have only ever made excellent records and Change the Way You Think About Pain is no exception. It’s been a while coming – six years since their previous full-length Thousand Mile Stare – but they’ve lost none of their effortless swagger in the interim. Half an hour, ten tracks, huge riffs, loads of – erm – incendiary lyrics, this album goes absurdly hard and every punch lands thanks to the always brilliant production of the returning Will Putney. “Every window deserves a brick”.
Kalmah – Kalmah
Melodic death metal from Finland
Kalmah are nine albums deep after more than twenty years in the scene, and they’ve been incredibly consistent in putting out good material. The latest offering is no different, and testament to their ability to survive the shadow that Children of Bodom cast on the majority of the Finnish scene. Going with the self-titled this deep into your career is a statement of identity – you know what a Kalmah record will sound like at this point, and so do they; but that simply highlights the strength of their ability. This is full of great songs, good writing and a lot of classic Kalmah hooks. Sweeping grandiosity, and rock ‘n’ roll. If you’ve ever been a fan of the band, this is another album absolutely worth digging into.
Non Est Deus – Legacy
Black metal from Germany
This band, a solo project from a man called Noise, actually predates what I would consider his more famous projects Kanonenfieber and Leiþa, and Legacy is its fourth full length. It’s a concept album in a sense: each song tells a Bible story, but changed to remove the divine intervention so that the tale plays out with no god involved. It’s a very literal approach for a project with a name that translates to “there is no god,” and the songs play out in a way that’s disastrous and quite bleak. Non Est Deus has always been Noise’s most “aggressive” project—you can tell there’s a real chunk of his personal experience with religion being poured into the music—but Legacy really raises the bar on that front as well. The riffs are vicious carving things, and his signature melodic work is tempered a bit with a greater emphasis on pure pointed rage. The album as a whole hits with a tremendous lacerating blow, and it’s 42-minute runtime feels pretty well perfect. It’s the best Non Est Deus album yet, without question.
Toombs – The Shmeckoning
Progressive sludge metal from Ireland
When you hear the words “progressive rock,” do you instinctively shudder? Do you think of holier-than-thou musicians who drink overly-expensive alcohol and smoke cigarettes they rolled by hand and wear meticulously tailored suits? What about a trio of Irish fellas who find standard time signatures boring and have a penchant for writing fun, sludgy songs with silly titles like “Anvil Crawler,” “Stabbed in the Head,” and “Megalobong 2”? Chances are it’s not the latter, which means you need to listen to the new Tooms EP, The Shmeckoning. This EP is heavy, squawky, and just an all-around good time. It’s painfully obvious these guys are having the time of their lives playing these songs, so my only suggestion is to get in on the action. You won’t regret it!