Well what do you know, we’ve made it through 2/3 of the year and the world is only simultaneously on fire and flooding and also ships are getting stuck in canals again and cops still fucking suck. It’s a damn good thing we’ve still got metal and metal-adjacent (and also not at all metal-adjacent, apparently) music to keep us going while everything around us falls to shit. Come along with me, Kep, the new editor around these parts, and a host of Noob Heavy contributors as we share the August jams that we loved.
Doldrey – Celestial Deconstruction
Death/crust from Singapore
When you put artwork like that on the cover of your record, you’re making some pretty hefty and specific promises. Doldrey, a relatively new outfit with only an 11-minute demo and an EP to their name before this release, unquestionably deliver on those promises with this half-hour of rippage. The mix is a goddamn delight in particular, a glorious symphony of harsh metallic chainsaw goodness and dry clattering drums balanced perfectly against each other and the vocalist’s hoarse punky death shouts. Wild old school animalistic aggression is the name of the game, with riffs that gallop hideously like a wounded beast and nary a second of rest in the entire runtime. Celestial Deconstruction scratches a very specific itch, one that’s grimy and covered in bristling crust and craves brutality of the most relentless sort. It’s the most satisfying listen of its type this year so far and fans of punky OSDM shouldn’t miss it.
Eluvian – Tales of Ymaarenth
Melodeath from Norway
I’ve been following these guys since their debut Prophetic Flame in 2018 and their melodic death metal style has taken a couple of different forms since then with this being their fanciest sound yet. Aside from the epic guitars and sweeping rhythms, the vocals show off some very nice concepts like on “Upperclass Adultery” where the approach is more focused on storytelling and clarity of voice. “Space Marines” is another stand out track that is more on the techdeath side with bright-sounding guitar tones to accompany the space sci-fi themes. This is immediately followed by “Meadhouse Scuttlebutt” that I would best describe as melodic death power folk with some super crunchy moments, so you never know where these Tales of Ymaarenth will take you. The boundaries of it’s possibilities feel unlimited on this well made 22 minute adventure. Shoutout to Luke Oram who did the artwork for this cover as with their previous releases.
Revered and Reviled Above All Others – Swinevoid
Doomviolence from the US
From the full review: “Massive fuzzed-out bass and only massive fuzzed-out bass (don’t you bring that guitar shit up in here), ponderous drums, vocals that sound like a rabid bear gargling nails, and a healthy smattering of samples and some related noise. It’s a minimalistic approach, sure, but the only things that RRAAO are short on are track lengths and bullshit. The genius of Swinevoid (and indeed the project’s music in general) is that it doesn’t need much to get its points across; in fact, while these haymakers to the gut would knock the breath out of you in any circumstance, the impact would be lessened with a bunch of fuss around them. The no-frills approach has real punch to it.”
Cheem – Guilty Pleasure
Post-hardcore/pop punk from Connecticut, US
What if pop punk, hip-hop, and nu metal were all one thing? It might sound like an exhausting prospect. I was skeptical heading into my first listen but there’s no denying that Cheem‘s July release Guilty Pleasure is a fucking blast that was completely off my radar. The album blends seemingly unblendable genres in a really satisfying way and it makes for one of the most entertaining listens I’ve heard this year. What a blast.
Cyborg Octopus – Between the Light and Air
Progressive metal from California, US
From the full review: “The riffs are fast and furious, often with strong melodicism. The drums match the pace of the guitars with Josh Mathis producing controlled cacophony. The synths are alternately lush and jagged, helping to pace the album. The breakdowns are inspired by the finest metalcore and are even nastier this time around. Oh and there’s a saxophone!…Expanding on their sound and diversifying their sound palette, this new record from the SF Bay Area prog metallers is a bold step forward and is required listening for any prog nerds out there.”
Non Serviam – We Are Nothing but Your Krill
Avant-garde metal from France
From the full review: “There is so much focus on display here, everything feels deliberate even in its most chaotic moments. I don’t imagine this is going to drop from my rotation anytime soon. Even the fact that the band lists a side project, Biollante, which is an experimental hip-hop project shows through in this album. It is one of those things that feels pointless to describe because it’s hard to be clear about what a person can expect….We Are Your Nothing But Your Krill joins the ranks of my favourites of the year.”
Sigh – Shiki
Avant-garde death/black metal from Japan
I dont know what they are saying but they’re going off. One hell of an opening track. Sigh are always going to make something interesting, they’ve never failed at that. They are one of the most talented and seasoned bands in the avant-garde industry so you know you’ll be in for a treat. There’s a high level of musicianship on display with a heavy use of synth and wind instruments for a big ass sound. The vocals on “Kuroi Kage” alone are possibly my favorite Sigh vocals yet. If you fuck with Akercocke then you will absolutely fuck with this. “Satsui – Geshi No Ato” blew my hair back when it came on. There’s a lot of impressive tracks across this album and even on tracks that don’t seem like much at first there’s always some kind of creasing moment that pays off. Outside of the usual avant-garde death/black sounds of Sigh there’s also a strong presence of thrash metal rhythm and traditional heavy metal inspired guitar solos. It’s a highly satisfying blend making Shiki quite simply one of the most competently made albums of 2022. I will be spending a lot more time with it this year to delve further into what is going on thematically but sonically it’s a flex of an album showing how good they can be this late in their career. No sign of stopping.
Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze
Black metal from British Columbia, Canada
From the full review: “All Virtues Ablaze is stunning, a triumph on multiple levels and a vast step up from their previous work. All three members shine, the songwriting is masterful, and the production is spot on. Hell, the only complaint I can muster is that I wish the album were longer, so that I’d have more of it to listen to….I’ve found All Virtues Ablaze to be deeply impactful, using masterful performances and quality songwriting to touch on the intimacies of personal struggle in a way that feels eminently relatable and cathartic.”
Ósserp – Els nous cants de la Sibil-la
Deathgrind from Spain
From the full review: “Els nous cants de la Sibil-la also doesn’t waste a single fucking second – after an inhale, the brutal vocals and absolutely insane drumming starts and we are fucking off to the races right away. It’s also wild that a 40-minute grind album has absolutely no waste to it. It manages that kind of length, while still being lean as hell….First track ‘Cavalcant l’ossa menor’ is one of the hardest and best album openers I’ve heard this year. It’s also hard not to appreciate that the album doesn’t let up until its over, and it really doesn’t offer you an off ramp. You’re on this ride now, so strap in.”
Pale Witch / Shedding Velvet – Split
Doom metal from Pennsylvania, US / Noise/drone from Mississippi, US
A fucking beast of a split, Pale Witch and Shedding Velvet both bring a whole lot to these five songs – clocking in at a bananas 41 minutes – and if its passed you by, that’s a mistake. The two bands have very different sounds; Pale Witch plays an aggressive, raw-edged brand of gritty doom, while Shedding Velvet is expansive harsh noise-based drone. Despite this the split doesn’t feel disjointed, and alternating tracks instead of giving each band a half is a big part of why it works. Poison Arrow Records releases some insanely good shit, and that should be enough of an endorsement to go pick this beautiful creature up right now. Also, come on, how good of a name is Shedding Velvet?
Might – Abyss
Sludge/noise rock from Germany
Here we meet again, at the intersection between stoner, shoegaze and gothic alt-rock. I actually double checked that this wasn’t from Australia because it shares a lot of common root sounds with our grungy goth stuff but Might are a duo from Germany. It’s a collection of cohesive songs that genre-hop between various styles and moods. It shifts from as melancholic and slow as soul to eventually having songs with metal elements in them as well with a solid mosh moment or two. It’s an intriguing release from a new project that has a couple of my favorite songs of the year on it (they’re more on the voidgaze side) and a few tracks that didn’t quite hit but certainly didn’t ruin the mood or curiosity of the spectacle.
Olim – Ursine
Atmospheric post-black metal from Ontario, Canada
This sophomore effort from the Ontarian one-man project has two notable things going for it. First, at a manageable 40 minutes in length it’s an enjoyable listen that never drags, and second, the one man behind it is Joe Caswell of excellent black/folk outfit Burden of Ymir. Ursine is expectedly wonderful, an exercise in gorgeous black metal textures and soaring tremolo-picked melodies both tuneful and dissonant. The song to song experience is delightful, real cohesiveness on display between tracks even as they’re all distinctly different. Picture that starry night and massive golden moon from the cover art above you as you purge your negativity and darkness on the paths of an ancient living forest, emerging on the other side with rediscovered balance. I’m a sucker for this kind of atmosphere, because it feels so real. The lyrics are excellent too, and elegantly push forward that continuous aura of reinvigoration and personal growth: “Braving the chill of existence, endeavor to improve / Tying the chains of endurance, a presence to soothe”.
Megan Thee Stallion – Traumazine
Hip-hop from Texas, US
Megan Thee Stallion is an unusual feature for this list, no denying that. That said, this album fucks and I think it’s worth talking about it. This is a furious piece of work from Megan, who is likely best known for “WAP” or even the (extremely terrible) single from this album, “Sweetest Pie”. Traumazine wants to talk about something else though. Let’s not forget that Megan was shot by Tory Lanez, who fired at her feet shouting “dance”. So, to put it lightly, shit is fucked up and she’s processing that and plenty more on this record. She also continues to own her sexuality in a way that could only be seen as wildly progressive in a culture that has so many fucking problems with women owning their sexuality, especially black women. The album is angry and doesn’t give a single fuck about it. For real though, “Sweetest Pie” is really bad and weird and feels completely out of place on the album, so don’t judge the record by the single.
Auriferous Flame – The Great Mist Within
Black metal from Greece
From the full review: “‘Auriferous’ means ‘yielding or containing gold’, by the way, and that gleaming sort of warm shine is ever-present in the album’s atmosphere. Everything seems to shimmer, like the gilded surface of a mountain lake at dawn, musical lines rising and falling like ripples within the shine. But there’s plenty of ferocity, and plenty of aggression, too; Ayloss’s guitar lines have a particular wildness to them, riding the front of the beat and pushing the music forward with hair-to-the-wind hostility….The Great Mist Within continues the perennial parade of quality releases from the various projects of Ayloss.”