We’re getting there, folks: this extremely silly year is almost over. I have a feeling that this will be the last monthly roundup of 2022, as December releases are usually pretty light, and it’s coming up on AOTY list time here at Noob Heavy. So without further ado, please enjoy a bunch of November releases that we enjoyed.
Houle – Houle
Black metal from France
Parisian five-piece Houle is a brand new outfit on the scene: this is their debut release, and what a fucking debut it is. The EP’s four tracks are so effective at transporting the listener to the ocean that you can practically smell the salt in the air and feel the spray on your face. Vocalist Adsagsona’s tortured performance stands at the helm, her harrowing screams, eerie wails, and unearthly cleans a dominant and moving presence across the runtime. The band’s ensemble is absolutely aces, delivering a deluge of riffs that rise and fall in swelling rhythm like waves and blast the skin raw with a tightness that belies the grimy production. The songwriting is outstanding as well, moving from moment to moment with the direction and inimitable flow of a sea current, tracks tied together by ambient ocean sounds so real and close you feel like you could reach out and dip a hand in the water. There are moments where you can feel the sun on your tearstained face as the waves lap at your feet, and passages that embody the very fury of an icy gale. It’s a sweeping, all-consuming listen that’s as emotive as any black metal has been in 2022. I can’t praise this release highly enough.
Griefbringer – The Horrible Wilting
Sludge/doom from Italy
Alice in Chains on meth, or whatever was more hardcore than Alice in Chains are on. Griefbringer do a fantastic job of melding grunge and doom and stoner in a menacing and enjoyable way. They have the horror aesthetic without sounding like a meme band you’d only listen to on Halloween. The synth backing the demonic doom riifs is an effective combination. Vocally it can be mixed with some solid unclean performances and some great cleans but sometimes the cleans can misfire. Some listeners might actually be put off by how brutal this sound is overall despite how clean and fun the opening is. I appreciate the harsher serious doom nature of it. By the end of “Obeying The Owl” I was truly chilled and submerged in my seat, good shit.
LUGOSi – inconsolable
Hardcore from France
I’m always on the lookout for modern hardcore that sounds like it retains the sonic ethos of 70s and 80s punk, even if it’s modernized by going heavier and faster. LUGOSi deliver on that stripped back element I love but flesh it out with great modern production and punch. They’re also certainly no instrumental slouches either—just listen to opening track “PIGS” to get a sense of their mature musicianship and sense of groove and try not to headbang when they drop a bomb of a breakdown. There is a very interesting mix of punk rock, mathcore, hardcore and post-hardcore going on with a strong sense for forward momentum. One of the best punk releases you’ll hear this year.
Dream Unending – Song of Salvation
Death/doom from the US
I love a good lie down in bed album, especially with the good headphones or good speakers. It’s in a league of albums like 2019’s Come the Tide by Eternal Storm or 2020’s Glow by Countless Skies for when I want to be whisked away. Concrete forty something minute journeys with a nice emotional range between sadness and curiosity. Melodic death metal that’s slower than most but somehow is still very punchy and well paced with some long ass tracks. Some of these riffs really drag on into funeral territory but their presentation makes them pleasant to listen to and there’s often little solos to break things up. It’s a well rounded, beautiful album. Song of Salvation is like a portable sensory deprivation tank sure to bring peace wherever you go. A band that actually live up to their album art.
Speglas – Time, Futility & Death
Progressive death metal from Sweden
From the full review: “The five tracks and 29 minutes of this EP are filled with production that’s reminiscent of old school Swedish death metal, but balanced deftly with the advantages of modern tech….Everything is marked by a sense of intelligent restraint, where no solo indulges in showing off above expression, keyboards are smartly dotted into the texture instead of breaking the musical flow to speak alone, and each song feels as though it has a clear trajectory that it follows to its natural end….I’ve been consistently blown away by the way that Time, Futility & Death feels earnest above all else. There’s no bluster here, no bullshit, no self-congratulatory noodling or moments that sacrifice flow for novelty. The songs are as well-composed as any I’ve ever heard, and they feel honest, like staring into the soul of the artist.”
Iōhannēs – Jacob’s Ladder
Atmospheric black metal from the US
After the September release of The Ocean EP, a now old project approach, Iōhannēs returns to their roots with this surprise release. Beyond the sheer versatility of genre exploration, Iōhannēs‘ greatest strength lies in their ability to properly craft and emphasize an emotional tone throughout this new EP, which is impressive considering the relative brevity. Iōhannēs vocals are wrought and full of anguish, while unexpectedly melodic guitars punch through and provide a wonderful backdrop. There is beauty and suffering woven tightly together, and I’d love to see this go further. I truly loved The Ocean and this feels like a powerful evolution of that direction.
Fliege – One Day They’ll Wonder What Happened Here
Black-ish metal from the US
This is the second John Carpenter’s The Thing-inspired album of 2022, and my personal preference of the two. Fliege’s storytelling is stellar, as they shapeshift between musical styles in the service of their haunting tale; you’ll find a base of gritty black metal, but there are plenty of killer spacey riffs, eerily creeping synths (the opening of “Man is the Warmest Place to Hide” lives in my head rent-free), driving death grooves, moody doom atmospheres, and even a bit of swaggering hair metal shred. Coleman Bentley (instruments, clean vocals) and Peter Rittweger (lead vocals) don’t impose any limits on their songwriting, and the music clearly benefits from their willingness to go musically wherever the story takes them. It’s hard to find adequate words to explain how well this record embodies the horror and eerie isolation of the movie, but it just does. This one is staying in heavy rotation for me.
Thy Listless Heart – Pilgrims on the Path of No Return
Atmospheric doom metal from the UK
From the full review: “Bibby’s timbre, delivery, and economical phrasing I can only describe as an experience that lifts one up. This is the type of music that I want to sing along to from the top of my lungs, headbanging in slow motion. I don’t think my pipes would hold up, but it’d be worth a shot. Set against the rich guitar harmonies that fans of the Peaceville sound like myself will simply never tire of, the sum here is simply moving. Where keyboards come into play they embellish and never crowd or cheapen the experience; the drums do exactly what they have to do—no more, no less. More often than not the pace moves along at a rate close to perhaps the genre’s pinnacle, Anathema’s The Silent Enigma.”
– Greg Schwan
We Are Magonia – Triangle Unicode
Darkwave from France
Electronic music and metal fans have a long history of not exactly getting along, but over the last decade that barrier has somewhat eroded. Carpenter Brut, Perturbator, and others have broken down the wall between these genres and become loved amongst metalheads. We Are Magonia is another fantastic representative of this darker and more aesthetically-aligned era of synthwave. We Are Magonia craft epic soundscapes of cinematic proportion while reveling in the chunky and gnarly grit of synthesizer tone and hard hitting bass drops. This group feels like they’ve picked up some tricks from Carpenter Brut without falling into a derivative copy-paste machine. This is some of the freshest sounding dark synthwave I’ve heard in years and if you’re a fan of this style you really need to give it a listen.
Critical Extravasation – Order of Decadence
Technical death/thrash from Russia
So this was an extremely pleasant surprise. Three twenty-something kids (plus a session drummer) from Russia playing old school shit in the style of early Pestilence, Sadus, and Death (aka stuff from well before any of these dudes were born). It’s the sort of music that’s not as in style these days, and could use a jolt from a hot young outfit that provides some fresh energy. They do a bang-up job of that because these tracks absolutely rule, and there’s a bright, exciting edge to their sound even as it feels unapologetically old school. The riffs are spirited and dynamic, always active and delivered with vicious razor-sharp tone, rollicking and jabbing and spiraling relentlessly. Victor Khaychenko’s bass is the star of the show for me, though, ripping through fretboard-spanning acrobatics with a sharp steely tone that really pops in the mix; it’s never overshadowed by the guitars, and that’s really saying something given how exciting and involved Sergey Stepanenko’s axework is. Stepanenko lays down some scorching solos, too—the one in “Doctrine of Atrophy” is particularly nifty. There’s no questioning the “technical” in Critical Extravasation’s subgenre tag; the riffs they play get my fingers twisted into knots just thinking about them. The shit whips.
Risingfall – Rise or Fall
Speed/trad metal from Japan
This incredible debut album is sadly mired in tragedy. The band’s founding guitarist Yoshiki passed away from chronic illness not long after the recording for Rise or Fall finished. Thankfully, we all get to hear his absolutely incredible axe shredding on this truly stunning piece of heavy metal thunder that mixes Japanese speed metal, Priest worship and plenty of classic shredding guitar. Featuring the phenomenal G. Ito on vocals, who you might recognize as the very identifiable singer on 2021’s equally impressive Significant Point debut album, Yoshiki demonstrates absolutely master level skill on the guitar and writes fantastic songs. He could have easily become a future guitar hero, and he was taken far too young. He should be proud to know that this album stands as an incredible monument to his talent and achievement.