I know, the title is bad. I must be stopped, etc. Anyways, spooky season has ended, but luckily we can keep listening to October’s most kickass records forever. We reviewed several, but there’s a whole bunch more we loved. Dig in below for a dose of the good shit.
Quick links to our reviews for October releases:
Notturno – Inside
Body Void – Atrocity Machine
Aiwass – The Falling
20 Watt Tombstone – The Chosen Few
Afterbirth – In but Not Of
Howling Giant – Glass Future
Lightlorn – At One With the Night Sky
Adzes – Inver
Hebephrenique – Non Compos Mentis
And now on to even more of October’s best!
Dreamwell – In My Saddest Dreams, I am Beside You
Screamo from the US
Back in 2021, Dreamwell‘s last record Modern Grotesque made quite a few Album of the Year lists here at Noob Heavy, including my own. The latest LP from the Rhode Island quintet sounds like a completely new band – Keziah Staska‘s vocals are still readily identifiable, Aki and Ryan‘s guitars carry that same shiny and knife-under-the-skin tone, yet the total package is on such a level above what we’d heard previously that it’s actually shocking. The emotional melodies and lyrics hit even harder than ever, the nearly black metal shrieks from backup vocals by either Ryan or Aki are fucking scathing and the rhythm section keeps things bouncing along even in the midst of raw expression. This is chaos incarnate, this is one of the best records in any genre you’ll hear this year, don’t be surprised if history repeats itself.
Distaste – Der Entraeger und das Fleisch
Brutal death metal/grind from Germany
This record was put on my radar by Max of Sublation, and he continues to be a bottomless well of elite recommendations. Germany’s Distaste have been around since 2000 but have only released four full-length albums in that time, which might explain why I’d never crossed their music before. Der Ertraeger und das Fleisch is the sound of a steamroller at 100 miles per hour, an enormous machine of uncanny destructive capabilities. The chaotic elements of grindcore run strong, especially in the track lengths—14 tracks in 29 minutes, with only two songs running beyond three minutes—but this thing is obscenely fast and heavy, crushingly brutal, a far more huge and terrifying than you’d expect. It’s a pulverizing experience that will leave you breathless and exhausted, featuring top-notch production (especially on the bass!) from guitarist Lukas Haidinger (also a member of Endonomos, along with guitarist/vocalist Armin Schweiger, and Profanity). These tracks are bonecrunching blow after bonecrunching blow, but the unquestionable highlight is nearly six-minute centerpiece “Das Leid und sein Gift”.
Year of the Knife – No Love Lost
Metallic hardcore from the US
It is hard not to be moved the immense strength shown by Year of the Knife over the past few months. Still on the road to recovery following a major van accident that left all with serious injuries – especially vocalist Madi Watkins – the band have forged ahead with the release of their new full-length after only a slight delay all things considered. No Love Lost barely clears the 20-minute mark and in that time the band rip through nine tracks of vicious metallic hardcore with generous helpings of grind and death metal, all held together by the glorious production talents of the mighty Kurt Ballou. Some of the grooves on this thing are ridiculous – all thick and ugly and bludgeoning especially in tracks like “Sometimes”, “Mourning the Living” and the firm overall highlight of “Heaven Denied”, while the 47-second “Last Laugh” stands out as an absolute blast fest sharpened by the always horrible vocals of Dylan Walker of Full of Hell. It’s not like Watkins really needs the help in that regard though, as she absolutely steals the show in her first full-length appearance in the role with a performance that’s versatile and visceral in equal measure.
Appalooza — The Shining Son
Stoner groove metal from France
Not trying to date myself here, but I was a huge fan of Alice in Chains when I was in high school. As far as I was concerned, grunge was the only style of music worth listening to, and AiC were the kings of it all. Of course I was crushed when Layne Staley died in 2002–the band had been on hiatus and the grunge scene was effectively dead—but that bottle of lightning was sadly put on the shelf. William Duvall was able to tap into it when he joined the band when they reunited in 2005, and there was fortunately some left over when Appalooza formed in western France around 2012. With a sound grounded as deeply in that dark, brooding Alice in Chains sound as it is in the stoner rock of the Californian desert, The Shining Son is just about everything you could have hoped for in this most recent wave of grunge revivalists. But Appalooza isn’t just some cardboard cutout knockoff band; these guys are the real deal, fusing their particular style of grunge with stoner and psychedelic rock.
The Plague – Erosion of Gods
Death metal from Australia
Bloodbath‘s Nightmares Made Flesh is on the record as my favourite death metal record of all time. Before that though, their debut Resurrection Through Carnage was a storm of retro Swedish buzzsaw and aggression, and had my favourite guitar tone for a long time. The latest LP from The Plague nails that particular sound – sickening speed, a tone that threatens to run you over and a sonic texture like rotting flesh, while retaining the organic energy of genuine musicality. Vocalist Mike Ryan hits in that old school way where he actually has some range, including gnarly high end screams, and very legible vocal deliveries. Everything about this sophomore release is tight, well-produced, and well-executed, and at a scant 32 minutes it’s in no danger of ever lagging or feeling like it stumbles.
Putrid Torso – Trails of Hypnotized Human Veins
Brutal death metal from Italy
I’m a big fan of brutal death, but there’s a whole lot of middling brutal shit out there. Luckily Putrid Torso are here to deliver an unexpected late-year gem that isn’t mediocre in any way, much like Stabbing did last year. The two-man outfit hails from Basque Country in Spain, and now that this, their debut LP, has been released, brutal death fans should be paying attention. Trails is an extremely tight half-hour of inhuman violence and murderous battering. Expect to find chunky dissonant riffage in spades, monstrous bass that could level mountains, powerfully hellish growls and roars, and a goddamn cavalcade of punishingly fast drumwork from session player Krzysztof Klingbein (whose name you might recognize from his performance on this year’s Olkoth album). So far, so brutal death, sure, but Ion Santos is far more innovative and interesting on the frets than your average BDM guitarist. These riffs and licks jerk and whip in directions you wouldn’t expect, and settle into some of the more engaging grooves you’ll hear this year.
Cirith Ungol – Dark Parade
Epic doom/heavy metal from the US
Recently announcing they’d be stepping away from touring in 2024, this may very well be Cirith Ungol‘s last studio album. If that is the case, what a hell of a way to close out a career. This record feels a lot more aggressive and up tempo than their previous reunion album, full of sick guitar solos and in-your-face attitude. They still manage to retain the sonic aura of an authentic eighties band, sounding old school without sounding neo. “Sailor on the Seas of Fate” could have easily come from one of their original records, Tim Baker‘s haunting vocals creeping out from under big guitars and heavy riffs. The entire band sound like they haven’t missed a step since 1991, and Baker in particular sounds like his voice has not changed in the slightest, which hammers home the consitent quality that this band has always been capable of, and deserved recognition of long before they finally got it.
Rile – Pessimist
Metallic hardcore from the US
As the world – or at least some of it – remains in wait for a new full-length from the inimitable Cult Leader, that band’s bassist Sam Richards has done all he can to keep the wolves at bay with the release of the debut full-length from his side project Rile. As you’d expect, Pessimist does sound a fair bit like Richards’ regular gig, especially in the churning violence of opener “Dead End” for example, but it draws even stronger comparisons to the angular metallic hardcore of bands like Botch and Converge, which, to be clear, is only ever a really good thing. It’s also elevated by a considerable degree of variation – the melodic and hypnotic seven-and-a-half minutes of “Stone Tapes” being a prime example, and indeed the Mastodon-esque proggy riffing and hints of screamo found in “Half Love” which follows. With another production credit for Kurt Ballou this month, plus the fact that this is out via the always brilliant Church Road Records, you just can’t go wrong here.
Dream Unending / Worm – Starpath
Atmospheric death/doom metal from the US/Canada / blackened death/doom metal from the US
I don’t think anyone necessarily expected a split between Dream Unending and Worm, but in hindsight it’s such a brilliant pairing that I must ask “why did no one demand this beforehand?” Both bands are moving into a similar spacey void of moody and gripping composition, centering similarly around beautifully bright and melodic lead guitarwork that feels more artfully crafted and emotionally plaintive than two death metal bands ought to on paper. Both bands sound fantastic, but I’m personally most excited by Worm‘s continuing evolution from Foreverglade into Bluenothing and now Starpath. Their sound here has become larger and a bit more bombastic, hinting at touches of the symphonic and grandiose while retaining their now signature Lovecraftian space monster speaking in gooey indecipherabilities between dimensions. I really can’t wait to hear more from both bands.
La Chinga — Primal Forces
Hard/stoner rock from Canada
Have you ever wondered what it might sound like if Cinderella gave up the hard drugs and decided to start touring in the Cheech & Chong van, visibility obscured by a haze that’s equal parts Aqua Net hairspray and government-issue weed? Oh, you haven’t? Well, guess what: YOU ARE NOW. The Canadian power trio have finally unleashed their Ripple Music debut, and it might be the label’s most potent debut in a while. It’s loud, chaotic, and full of lyrics with tongue so firmly planted in cheek that it’s causing a canker sore. But, above all else, it’s fun, and that’s what’s most important. Because if you can listen to this record and aren’t having a good time, you need to reevaluate your life.
Heretoir – Nightsphere
Post-black metal from Germany
Heretoir actually released an EP called Wastelands back in May, and it was quite good. Nightsphere is the culmination of the ideas laid out in Wastelands; stretching across nearly three-quarters of an hour, it’s the sort of listen you can sink into. Gorgeous soundscapes wash over you, peace balanced against anguish, restful melodic calm building seamlessly to walls of furious shrieking and driving guitar. The contrast of tender, soulful harshes and throat-shredding screams is oh-so-satisfying and well-balanced, and the record as a whole reflects that overall affect of balance. Nightsphere as a title is really an excellent choice; this is music made for cloudless nights with nothing but the branches of trees and stars above. The album structure is a fascinating one also: three lengthy songs, plus a shimmering seven-minute ambient track in the middle and shorter but no less compelling atmospheric/ambient number to close.
Sadistic Force – Midnight Assassin
Black/thrash metal from the US
October is the prefect month for the spooky and murderous, and Sadistic Force delivered with, well, sadistic intent. Produced by Joel Grind from Toxic Holocaust, this record is meaty and punchy with just enough balance between thrash grit and black metal haunting. This would mean only so much if the music wasn’t up to par, but it’s even better than it has right to be. Vocalist and guitarist James Oliver is the sole songwriter here, and he’s got a penchant for absolutely top notch compositions that really make for memorable tracks that kick ass, especially the killer leadwork he lays all over the damn record. It feels like a throwback to the 80s when solos really were identity shaping for bands. If you were a fan of the latest Hellripper release, this LP is the next best thing you’ll hear in that vein this year.
Atomçk – Towering Failures
Grindcore from the UK
There will always be a place in my heart for that sort of rabidly aggressive, willfully abstruse grindcore that grabs you by the hair and throws you around the room a bit. Atomçk fit the bill, and their new album Towering Failures is consequently a ride on a dystopian roller coaster from hell. This is the band’s first record as a four-piece, having added a full-time bassist, and so this is one of the thicker, heavier trve grindcore offerings you’ll find. It’s wildly combative shit, with vocalist Linus’ animalistic screams, roars, and manic shrieks standing out as particularly hysterical. Luke’s guitars are chunky and brutish, while the overdriven fuzz of Barthur’s bass and the just-raw-enough tones of Karl’s drums are a magic made in grind heaven. 19 tracks in 21 minutes is vintage shit, and the band’s devotion to being recklessly obtuse and gleefully madcap shines through in every moment. Get it in your ears.