A big bag of albums we’ve been listening to that came out in May. Albums picked by Kep, Barlovv, Ellis and Melinda. Below is the Noob Heavy 2022 release radar for metal and hardcore, for those looking to catch up.
Cave In – Heavy Pendulum
Posthardcore from Boston, USA
The much anticipated return album from Cave In that will be acting as my entry point to the band, only having heard their early stuff like Jupiter a few times back in the day. It took me a bit to get into it perhaps due to the intimidating hour and ten minute runtime, but once I became familiar with the pace and various distinct tracks I found myself enjoying it immensely and even looking forward to listening to it. It doesn’t flow like a metal or hardcore album, instead it feels more like an Alice In Chains type of album or recent favorites The Hyena Kill. There’s a rock sensibility and groove to it, not surprising for a band who cut their teeth in the hey day of old school style post hardcore like Unwound. The middle of the album lights up like a powder keg with memorable catchy tracks like “Careless Offering”, “Blinded by A Blaze” and “Amaranthine”. Love the album art, made me start to think it would be a deathcore album or something.
Malignant Aura – Abysmal Misfortune is Draped Upon Me
Death/doom from Australia
Bitter Loss Records
Just making it under the wire at the tail end of May (and on a nonstandard release day) was this hefty hunk of misery, and I hope people are checking it out because it’s fantastic. These Aussies have provided nearly an hour’s worth of delightfully gloomy music for delightfully gloomy people, slowly crushing riffs and wretchedly sad melodies that scratch the itch of anyone who loves the more somber side of metal. The songwriting is tight and economical despite lengthy tracks, every drop of doleful goodness drawn from the melancholic depths of each riff and melody without ever making them feel stale. The songs are dishearteningly dark and palpably sorrowful, and they’ll transport you to the moldering subterranean ruins of some forgotten crypt where you’ll live in maddening solitude for all eternity while every person in the world that you loved forgets you exist. These are tracks you will get lost in, that you’ll wallow forlornly in, tracks that burn like fire and then bury the ashes beneath six feet of cold dirt. Listen to it.
…But the Shadows Have Foes – A Great Variety of Morbid Symptoms
Neocrust from Illinois
Described by themselves as an album made “about art’s ability to [adequately] capture the inhumanity of what we have… inflicted on ordinary people during the slow unraveling of neoliberal capitalism and liberal democracy”. As a reader of Noob Heavy, that should be enough to grab your interest, but if not, then the absolutely crushing soundscapes that play out in AGVoMS sure as hell will. There is a grand and poignant feeling to each song, while also crushing you under the collapsing world, using speech samples to bring things together thematically, …But the Shadows Have Foes want you to feel the boot crushing your neck. It’s a hell of a thing, so do yourselves a favor.
Vital Spirit – Still as the Night, Cold as the Wind
Black metal from Canada
Hey, remember last month when I talked about how everything the guys in Wormwitch touch is amazing? Well, if April’s Thebes release was a good example, this album stands as the single best example yet. Still as the Night, Cold as the Wind is flat out stunning. There’s this sadness that permeates the very essence of the music, a somber beauty that aches beneath the surface no matter how violent and ugly the songs can be from moment to moment. And it suits the painful subject matter: poetic retellings of the soulless taking of the American west from the indigenous peoples who had lived there since the beginning of humanity. There are bits of American west influence in the music itself, despite its mostly straight ahead black metal style, yet they never feel celebratory; instead they’re a sobering reminder of the murderous, greedy trespassers that took by force what was not theirs.
Eat Your Own Head – Neck-Deep In The Blyth
Noise/Prog from Norwich, UK
As well as having the coolest band name you’ve ever heard, Norwich’s Eat Your Own Head fit quite nicely into that noisy proggy alternative thing that seems quite specific to the UK at the moment; think bands like the late, great Black Peaks, or Alpha Male Tea Party or The Hyena Kill or Phoxjaw. Like all those artists, EYOH’s debut full-length Neck-Deep In The Blyth is phenomenal. It pulls from all kinds of stuff, from abrasive and aggressive noise rock, to windy proggy Mastodon/TOOL-isms, to sparkly little mathy bits – sometimes even all at once such as on a track like “Poltergeist”. It makes for a dynamic and often utterly raging listen that will no doubt be even more fun to behold live, with Tom Peters of the aforementioned Alpha Male Tea Party absolutely nailing the production job to capture the band at their most intricate and furious in equal measure.
Gospel – The Loser
Post hardcore from New York, USA
The gospel is preaching, and what they are preaching is gleeful nihilism. Among the bright tones and entertaining sound layers such as church organs is a world of despair and very little faith in the “current”. The conversational tone of the lyrics suits the jazzy mathy hardcore style well, following in the footsteps of some of my favorite bands ever like Trophy Scars, Horse The Band and Fear Before. Vocally it toes the line between clean delivery and unhinged screaming well, bringing plenty of grit and gain while maintaining a level of communication with the listener. The guitars and keys are proggy and the rhythm section are lively, the band feels like they are ready to break out into a scifi prog soap opera at any moment, leaving every speck of bullshit on earth behind. Gospel is angst and finesse.
Olhava – Reborn
Blackgaze from Russia
It feels wrong to call this an EP, even though it’s only four songs long, but at over an hour it doesn’t seem like a fitting label. Olhava has released what might be the best black gaze album I’ve heard this year, and I can’t wait to listen to it again, and probably again. Each song is an epic and sprawling experience from start to finish, feeling desolate and furious all at once. The vocals for the album are mixed down to sit almost underneath the instrumentals and it creates and almost white-noise sensation that apparently is the exact frequency to calm my racing brain. It’s absolutely excellent, and don’t be surprised to see a longer review from me soon.
Clayshaper – Vampiric
Progressive melodic death metal from Sweden
I really enjoyed the 2020 Celestian EP from this Swedish solo act, so when I found out that it was finally time for Clayshaper’s first full-length I was thrilled, to put it mildly. This album measured up to my expectations in every way, delivering everything I loved about Celestian but in a larger, more epic package. Mastermind Shaper takes a thoughtful approach to a distinctly progressive Swedish death melodic metal sound, pulling from obvious influences like Opeth and Edge of Sanity to create storytelling metal of the highest order. It’s mostly mid-tempo stuff, flush with expressive melodic material that brings a soulful edge to the gothic romanticism of the subject material. There are gorgeous harmonies, little touches of acoustic guitar, a balance of fury and pain in Shaper’s vocals, and more heartfelt expression than you can shake a stake at. I highly recommend this one, and a dive through the back catalogue as well.
Cairns – Keening
Emotionally heavy atmospheric black metal that might be an album titled after the Morrowind artifact Keening? Unlikely, but one can hope and it’s certainly what caught my attention. An assortment of harrowing riffs and post rock inspired melodic jolts of warmth that travel just beneath the skin like a warm weighted blanket. Some very impressive clean vocals and also a touch of background synth that goes a long way, often morphing into something closer resembling Opeth before launching back into black metal as heard on the track “The Eternal Sea”. A brisk but enjoyable EP.
God Mother – Obeveklig
Metallic Hardcore from Stockholm, Sweden
Nine minutes of caustic, screeching metallic hardcore perhaps most helpfully summed up in the English translation of the record’s title as ‘relentless’; let’s not bloat the word count here, this is visceral, grindy, Converge-esque wonderfulness that’s just a touch blackened at the edges and if it doesn’t make you go and check out the Swedes’ two preceding full-lengths you will only have yourself to blame.
Sacred Son – The Foul Deth of Engelond
Black metal from the UK Independent/self-release
Quick, raise your hand if you like music about peasants rising up and taking back power from the rich in a bloody and brutal uprising. If your hand is up, and I don’t know why it wouldn’t be, you should make sure that you get the newest Sacred Son album into your ears ASAP. The Foul Deth of Engelond is absolutely delightful (unless you’re a rich bastard, of course), combining storytelling elements and the most violent and pissed off black metal stylings to create an immersive 42 minutes of glorious revolution. I’ll be honest, I was skeptical about how effective this could be, especially after Pillaging Villagers nailed a similar concept already this year. But I stand impressed and an immediate fan of this project, which took me straight to 14th-century England with savagely biting riffs, battering drums, and absolutely vicious vocals.
Thy Kingdom Will Burn – The Void and the Vengeance
This is a strange and lovable beast of an album, a mix between gothic metal and melodic death metal. The guitarist is clearly a big fan of prog and will throw a heap of technical and aesthetic sound into the mix. Songs like “Fortress Of Solitude” exhibit their melodic 2000s style the most, coming up somewhere between old Paradise Lost and Arch Enemy. Across the album they touch on many of those older comforting notes with lots of little melodic instrumental twists that twang at your attention span. The persistent and simple drumming also prove engaging. All round catchy and fun metal album.