Another month, another thirty minutes of trying to figure out the best possible alliterative title for this roundup article. Look, October probably takes the cake this year for sheer number of releases. There was a lot of good shit. A bunch of our favorites are below.
Anna Pest & Colin MacAndrew – A Moor Beneath the Cold Dead Sun
Deathcore from Canada
An absolute fucking banger of a collaboration between Anna Pest and Colin MacAndrew (Ashbreather) that goes so fucking hard and—if anything—grossly understays its welcome. The whole thing kicks off hard with “A Vision of the End” with Vanna Dillinger, and what had my breath catch in my throat were those beastly drums and a very catchy little riff and then the whole thing is swallowed by some brutal vocals that bring the whole track together in a real nasty package that I fucking loved every second of. Add to that that you’ve got the instrumental versions of all three, which I can only assume will be making their way onto karaoke machines any time now. Honestly though, if you’ve not picked this thing up, you’re missing one of 2022’s best releases, and if these two don’t put out a collaborative full-length album we should probably riot.
Groin – Groin
Grindcore from the US
If we love one thing over here at Noob Heavy it’s leftist grindcore bands, and Arizona’s Groin are all that and a set of brass knuckles that say “fuck the police”. Fronted by Luis Ferre, also of Gravecarver (who I wrote about here) and Phasma (whose debut LP I reviewed here), these lunatics play a brand of grind that’s rooted in the classic sound and is as fun and silly as it is deadly serious. This is that good punch-you-in-the-mouth shit, featuring 13 tracks—of which only four are longer than a minute—chock full of breakneck riffs, bruising drums, and a ludicrously wide-ranging vocal performance. Album highlights include anti-cop anthem “Snout to the Pavement” that ends with the words “Rest in piss”, a tongue-in-cheek 23-second song where the band talks about themselves (and that begins with the voice of James Bond saying “I am now aiming precisely at your groin”), commentary on drone warfare and mass shootings, and at least two instances of the words “We hug, not tug / We roll on rug” and I promise it makes sense. Tl;dr Groin is based as fuck and a fucking blast, listen to it.
Birds in Row – Gris Klein
Post-hardcore/emo violence from France
An emo violence record oozing with regret, the best kind. I’ve been following Birds in Row forever now, since the early 2010s where places like the post-hardcore subreddit had 2012’s You, Me And the Violence listed as a kind of modern staple of the genre. Their development has been gradual but impactful moving from a place of pure violence towards the abrasive theatrics of We Already Lost the World in 2018. Gris Klein is the most melodic form I’ve heard the band in yet. Patience is a word that keeps coming to the front of my mind throughout, they really spaced the melancholic elements and the powerviolence elements well, with more of a middle ground lending itself to more conventional screamo. A lot of the attitude of the album comes from the lyrics and guitar rhythms but every aspect of it feels like it’s being pushed out with the full force of all three members. The consistent energy yet different flavors between their albums make it easy to listen to their discography over and over again. This is a welcome addition to the career of what myself and many others consider underground kings of sad screaming.
Counterparts – A Eulogy for Those Still Here
Metalcore from Canada
There have been a few albums that have come out this year that really hit a nostalgic sweet spot for me, but none quite hit it in the same way that Counterparts did. While metalcore tends to feel pretty nostalgic in and of itself, there’s something about Canadian metalcore that really takes me back to a time and place, and this really does feel like slipping into a warm bath or something. There is such a familiar angst here that takes me back. I’m typically not a nostalgic person as well, and Counterparts is a band I’m not even familiar with beyond this album, but the way it feels to listen to is just wonderful. Nostalgia aside, the album does rule pretty hard. It’s satisfyingly heavy and shows off plenty of talent musically and vocally. If you’ve put this album off for whatever reason, I think maybe it’s time to check it out. You won’t be sorry that you did.
Worm – Bluenothing
Death/doom from the US
Last year Worm released Foreverglade, one of my favourite albums of 2021, and they’ve now returned with an incredible EP in Bluenothing. What little trappings of black metal Foreverglade had are now almost gone entirely, in favour of pushing out into further left field spaces. The fantastically talented Phillipe Tougas of Atramentus and First Fragment joins Worm to bring an exquisitely melodic and emotional lead guitar that feels like it’s pushing into the realms of prog, alongside the finely tuned spacey death/doom of the core band. This is a partnership I didn’t know I needed but it works so flawlessly that I fully believe Worm are on the path to being one of the most interesting bands in modern death metal history.
Nordicwinter – Beneath the Fleeting Light
Depressive/atmospheric black metal from Canada
I happened across depressive atmoblack outfit Nordicwinter with the release of their March 2021 release Sorrow, and I was instantly in love. The project’s meters-thick aura of sadness and heartbreaking beauty spoke to me then and it still does now with Beneath the Fleeting Light, their best release to date. There’s very little ferocity here; don’t come hoping for incessant blast beats and razor sharp riffs, because Nordicwinter’s mid-tempo laments aren’t built like that. Instead it’s wistful melody and that characteristic all-encompassing wash of sound that screams DSBM, opaque as though you were looking at it through eyes full of tears. Sole member evillair’s knack for creating breathtaking swells of emotion and finding just the right moment to bring vocals into the mix remains fantastic. This is an exquisitely mournful record, one that leaves you both stunned and cleansed, and it does that at a length of only 38 minutes, which is about as manageable a listen as you’ll find for this sort of music. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Brutus – Unison Life
Post-hardcore/post-metal from Belgium
From the full review: “This Belgian trio are remarkable, and if you have listened to any of their previous records you probably won’t need telling twice….Unison Life is a proper stunner, and a nailed-on contender for AOTY lists everywhere. Maybe that’s exactly what you were expecting if you’ve already heard Burst or Nest, but don’t let that take away from yet another triumph from a trio who are fast becoming as uniquely important as any of the bands that this review has namechecked. Give this one your time, give it your money, and absolutely check Brutus out live when you get a chance because if they’re anything like they were on the back of Nest then this record will gain even more power in that setting.”
Darkthrone – Astral Fortress
Blackened heavy/doom metal from Norway
This is my first serious attempt to really take in some Darkthrone; for whatever reason the two of us just haven’t really vibed in the past. Something about the production, perhaps, I’m not really sure. That said, after feeling some alarm with the first few notes sounding like they were underwater, Astral Fortress almost seems to break off the ice and emerge with a really satisfying sludgy album. I’m sure someone will call out that use of sludgy, but there really is something that feels like you’re pushing through a swamp about this release, and while it took me a couple of songs to really feel like I “get” this version of Darkthrone, by the end I knew it was something that would be staying in my library. That sludge doesn’t last either, the pace picks up in that first song and honestly the thing is just worth your fucking time. If you already like Darkthrone, then this is something that you’re already listening to, and if you don’t—maybe it’s time to give them a shot. It worked for me.
Disgusting Perversion – Remember Me
Death metal from Germany
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times: the death metal scene is massively oversaturated right now, and it takes something special to stand out in the crowd. Disgusting Perversion is an act that stands out, and the thing they do that’s so special is playing excellent OSDM with some of the most stellar songwriting I’ve heard this year. You want hooky riffs that dig in and bring the stank face? Remember Me is full to the gills with them. Want meaty brutality and production that supports it? This has it. Want touches of prog noodling that will remind you of the latter half of Death‘s catalogue? There’s a good amount of that here, too. The album kicks off with a hell of a display, too: the title track is a barnburner of an opener, chock full of the sort of well-balanced multi-faceted death these dudes traffic in. The full listen is a touch long, but it never drags and the riffs are top-notch.
Get the Shot – Merciless Destruction
Metalcore/punk from Canada
What a blast this album is. Start to finish, the thing is heavy and just bursting with energy. Given that the Quebec metal scene can be a bit of dicey territory, it was genuinely nice to find these guys and not feel particularly worried we were going to do some nationalism or something. Instead, it’s a loud, angry beast with just the right amount of nihilistic punk lyrics. It may not be redefining any genres or offering stuff that you’ve never heard before, but it really is just nothing but fun. Not to mention, look at that dang album art—anyone who knows me and the stuff that I tend to like probably knew that I was going to love it. One thing worth mentioning, for some reason, the Bandcamp release hasn’t updated, and so it is still listed as unreleased, but it’s available to stream if you want to check it out. I think you should, it goes off.
Forlesen – Black Terrain
Doom/drone from the US
From the full review: “Forlesen are not musicians but musical story tellers, masters of tone and rhythm and control, crafting sonic journeys into deeply moving territories of unspeakable experience. This album is an expertly constructed rendition of doom and drone that highlights the members decades of combined experience belying this projects relative newness. Everything about Black Terrain comes together to create one of the most viscerally satisfying albums I have heard throughout the entire year.”
Psychonaut – Violate Consensus Reality
Post-metal from Belgium
This titanic sophomore effort is the band’s first outing on Pelagic Records, the label owned by Robin Staps of The Ocean, and if it wasn’t already clear that that’s a match made in heaven it certainly should be now. Psychonaut sits in much the same aesthetic place as The Ocean, balancing gorgeous warm-toned guitars and plaintive clean vocals against towering passages of violent angst and pain. This record impresses across the board, from its remarkably deep and broad texture (all the more impressive considering the band is only a three-piece), to its outstandingly active and technical riff work, to its exquisitely mature songwriting, to its substantial runtime that somehow feels quite short. Add in guest vocal spots from Stefanie Mannaerts of Brutus and Colin Van Eeckhout of Amenra and you’ve got a record that deserves to start getting AOTY list consideration. The highlight track for me was “Interbeing”, but there’s nothing but great songs from start to epic finish. Listen to it.
Architects – The Classic Symptoms of a Broken Spirit
Metalcore from the UK
Architects, like Darkthrone, are far from some little indie band that needs a boost from Noob Heavy, but they are a band whose output I really do enjoy, and so it would have been dishonest of me not to give some kind of shout out to them with the release of The Classic Symptoms of a Broken Spirit. Uncharitably, I would say that as Architects albums go, it’s more Architects. That review is basically going to make or break your desire to listen to it, but if you already like them then you’re getting more of what you like, and sometimes I think that’s all album needs to be. Architects aren’t breaking the mold with Broken Spirit, but they remain one of (in my opinion) the best purveyors of metalcore out of Britain right now, along with that other one that everyone also knows. The album is big, loud, catchy, and fun—and your mileage will absolutely vary. There’s just no denying that, for some reason, the UK seems to have some prime metalcore and Architects are a solid example.
Mother of Graves – Where the Shadows Adorn
Melodic death/doom from the US
From the full review: “I’m not gonna overcomplicate this. I love Where the Shadows Adorn. It feels like it belongs in a neat little box with all the sad boi melodic death/doom and gothic-tinged metal that we all know and love. Mother of Graves is very much a spiritual and musical sibling of Paradise Lost, Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Décembre Noir, and the like, but here’s the important thing: the musical quality keeps pace with those acts, too. And what a damn great time to release it, right when the weather is begging you to start spinning the Peaceville Three and their kin again. I predict many, many chilly fall evenings with Mother of Graves for metalheads this year.”