Written by Kep, Melinda, Barlovv, Iōhannēs, and Westin
Well, here we are. Another month has passed, another one is starting. I don’t have a lot to say about September outside of HOLY SHIT THAT WAS A LOT OF ALBUMS so without further ado, please enjoy some words about a bunch of stuff we enjoyed last month.
Floating – The Waves Have Teeth
Progressive death metal from Sweden
Sometimes an unfamiliar off-day release will show up in my sphere of awareness and I’ll take a chance on it, curious what sort of cool unsigned shit I might find. In Swedish outfit Floating’s case, I found what might be the single most underlistened album of the year in The Waves Have Teeth. This is stripped-down ugly prog death, not the sort of pretty and wanky shit that often claims the prog label. A side project of two members of Morbid Illusion, a straight-up death project, Floating explores the dissonant and disturbing side of proggy death; there are no keyboards, no nonstandard instruments, and precious few attempts to make sounds that are beautiful, which makes those fleeting moments deeply impactful when they happen. These are raw, haunting, post-apocalyptic wastelands of strange and angular musical radiation, centered around the visual of a ruined and disease-ridden beach. Streaking diagonals of tremolos fill the air as unhinged growls and howls depict lifeless carcasses, bones exposed on the sand. The band riffs like they’re trying to mix the melodic and through-composed aspects of Edge of Sanity with the nihilistic discordance of Ulcerate. It’s a shuddering, shambling, grotesque thing to behold, but just like all else that’s hideous, it’s hard to look away. What a great album.
Callous Daoboys – Celebrity Therapist
Mathcore from the US
So listen, this was going to be a full review, because honestly Callous Daoboys are something special, and Celebrity Therapist will absolutely be an album on the old AOTY list for this guy—you can almost certainly count on that. HOWEVER, this album has been fucking everywhere this month, so I thought I would just take a hot second to say very plainly: the thing lives up to the hype, and I fucking love it. There’s a real nostalgic feeling here too, growing up on mathcore, this beauty does take me back, while still feeling like something wholly new and exciting. The odds are, if you’re following this site and take part in the metal segments of any social media site, you already know this, but it just fucking rules and I felt it needed to be remarked upon.
Frayle – Skin & Sorrow
Doom/post-metal from the US
Frayle well and truly won me over with their 2020 debut LP 1692 so I was pretty excited for this follow up. The band mix various goth styles of music but with a heavier more doom metal guitar that helps keep a hypnotic flow. At the center of the sound is the vocals of Gwyn Strang who is responsible for the enchanting nature of it all and the strong imagery of the band. There’s a similar vibe to recent stuff like Bloodmoon with Chelsea Wolfe and Converge or King Woman, or even Author & Punisher, continuing to scratch that ever present Portishead-influenced itch. I will always enjoy an album that is not only moody but also catchy. “Bright Eyes” is a fantastic single and “Sacrifant” is a good non-single highlight. It’s a welcome albeit faithful continuation of what Frayle established with their first album.
END / Cult Leader – Gather and Mourn (split)
Metallic hardcore from the US
END and Cult Leader combine their powers to create an unreasonably heavy split EP. The thing just fucking bangs from front to back and is well worth taking a look at. It’s hard to pin down which band comes out on top of this one, not that it’s a competition, but you do get to spend more time overall with END and so they do stick out a little bit more. Also “The Host Will Soon Decay” might be one of my favourite titles in recent memory, so that’s another point in their favour. Honestly though, it does feel like this one got lost in the Friday release shuffle, so if you missed it now is the time to un-miss it.
Epoch of Unlight – At War With the Multiverse
Melodic death metal from the US
Did you ever find yourself wondering what Dark Tranquility would sound like if they were heavier? Epoch of Unlight is here to demonstrate that that idea fucking kicks ass. Metalcore mined In Flames and Slaughter of the Soul to death in the 2000s, and Dark Tranquility kind of got overlooked, so it’s actually extremely refreshing to hear this sort of sound in a modern band. Epoch has been making music since the mid-90s and this is their fourth album, so I will actively be looking backwards since I’ve somehow never heard them before and wish to make up for lost time. The melodies here are not super upfront so they feel like they return to the original intent of 90s melodeath—death metal that has some melody and thrash influence. Great guitar work, drumming and a beefy production really gives Epoch’s music a weight that can be lacking in the genre. This band is a hidden gem from a bygone era that deserves a listen and some respect.
KEN Mode – Null
Noise metal from Canada
Going back to an album isn’t something that I often have a ton of time to do with the glut of excellent music coming out this year, and any album that gets me to come back is well worth remarking on. That significant honour goes to the fellas from Winnipeg: KEN Mode. Obviously being from the same country, we are also extremely close and best friends. Just kidding—for now. Ok, rambling over, Null goes fucking hard and is not at all interested in wasting anyone’s time when it can misanthropically make you miserable instead. I have the phrase “I don’t believe that you mean well” permanently etched into a deep recess in my brain now, and I get goosebumps every fucking time. Goddamn. KEN Mode is on something fucking serious and you need to listen to this album right now.
Aeternam – Heir of the Rising Sun
Symphonic folk metal from Canada
History and symphonic metal nerds rejoice! Aeternam has presented to us a masterclass in how to make history fun and brutal. From heavy death metal-esque riffing to soaring string ensembles and choirs, this album has enough packed in its forty-seven minutes to keep you engaged and headbanging to tunes about the conquest of Constantinople. Aeternam nails the atmosphere with plenty of folk melody and instrumentation, as well as almost cinematic interjections to set the stage for the concept. The production is also immaculate and everything sounds clear and crisp to the ears. This is a really fun record whether you care for the history or you’re just here for the epic riffs. If you only listen to one song, I would highly recommend the concluding epic “The Fall of Constantinople”. That was the song that first hooked me on this album and this band as a whole, and I hope to see it hook even more people.
Phobophilic – Enveloping Absurdity
Death metal from the US
The thing about the death metal scene in 2022 is that it’s ridiculously oversaturated, and it takes a lot to really stand out among the field. Phobophilic manage to not just stand out, but to tower over nearly all of their peers. The long-awaited first full-length lived up to expectations and then some, delivering churning riff-fest after churning riff-fest over a picture perfect 38 minutes. The shit fucks to a preposterous degree. Enveloping Absurdity is chock full of active midtempo riffwork, utterly filthy stuff supported by strong production that’s full of grime but doesn’t hide the subtleties, of which there are a ton. Headspinning whirls, bludgeoning chugs, stupid fun heavy bounces, a killer Mazurkiewicz-esque drum performance, gargling blood vocals, it’s all here and it’s all glorious. This is death metal that will satisfy fans of caveman shit and cerebral shit alike, and it’s meant to be played loud and headbanged to with gusto. Don’t take your eyes off these guys.
Suis La Lune – Everything Else, Pt. 1 & Pt. 2
Screamo from Sweden
I feel like I am losing my mind with this one, not just because of how good it is but also because I do not know what it is. It doesn’t appear on their Wikipedia page or Discogs or Bandcamp or really anywhere but Spotify right now. Even their socials! But I’m pretty sure they are about to post it not long after I’ve written this as the 5th and 6th album in their Recollection discography release. I’m guessing by the name and their more recent history this is some kind of compilation, perhaps of all their loose singles and collaborations including a very good tribute to Swedish punks Förmögenhet. It’s pretty damn cohesive for a collection in that the tone doesn’t shift too wildly but rather eases you in and out of raw screamo and brooding ambience. You can hear the age in this band with the muddy approach to everything but the guitars which of course shine as brightly as their heart filled track titles like “Btw, That Untitled Song on Your Mixtape Was for You. I Wrote It When I Missed You.” and “Do You Always Taste Like Static?”. Whether you’re familiar with Suis La Lune or not is irrelevant to the enjoyment of these songs as long as you dig older style post hardcore inclined screamo. It’s a great introduction to their spirit for me. I can hear how hard they bled for these songs and how care is involved in their song writing style. I could listen to these all day and I have for hours now.
Collapsed Skull – Eternity Maze
Powerviolence from the US
I’m extremely late on this 11-song, 11-minute album from Collapsed Skull, but I’ve been listening to it a lot and so now you get to hear what I have to say about it. Fuck me, this thing is quick, gnarly, and delivers you exactly what you want from a cover like that one. There is not one single dull moment, and Eternity Maze is over before you really realize it. If anything, it under-stays its welcome (as is often the case with powerviolence), but that does leave me with more time to check out what else Collapsed Skull is doing. There are some weird and wild samples throughout the thing too which only add to what a cool beast this is. Get your fucking skull collapsed right now.
Lord of Confusion – Evil Mystery
Doom metal from Portugal
If you’re familiar with the early Swedish death metal scene, you’ll know the influence that Candlemass had on them. Even though they weren’t playing death metal, their dark heaviness was powerful—and Lord of Confusion perfectly nails that vibe down and buries it behind a brick wall in a wine cellar. For a debut album, the production is stellar—frontwoman Carlota Sousa’s haunting voice is the perfect tone for this ponderous but beautiful throwback sound, coupled with groovy strings and a keyboard that sounds like a Hammond organ in a wonderful ode to the source. I know this band lives in the crypts beneath the church on their album cover, and crafts music from the stories told of their creepy rituals. This entire record exudes an aura of midnight masses drifting out from an abandoned castle on a hilltop in a 19th-century village long abandoned by god and the local authorities, journey onwards only if you dare. If you love old school doom, Lord of Confusion is absolutely a band to keep an eye on.
Choking Game – smudge
Powerviolence from the US
Self proclaimed “power bottom violence” band responsible for previous hits such as “Bash Back” which is best described as a violent queer anthem. smudge is heavy and confrontational, managing to say an impressive amount within these ten minutes. Theres a good bag of styles thrown down and stomped on here peppering the straight forward hardcore with experimental conflict and thrash metal. This gives a whole new spin on key smashing, Choking Game will literally destroy your fucking keyboard and break your fingers just to make sure. Name your own price on Bandcamp.
Last Retch – Sadism and Severed Heads
Death metal from Canada
On September 23, a Friday within a month that included a million albums from highly touted death metal projects, Last Retch released a record that blows a good majority of them out of the water. Sadism and Severed Heads is an impressive debut from a young band with only a demo previously to their name, a monstrous and brutal take on hard-grooving death metal that will bash your skull in with a goddamn fire extinguisher within the first five minutes. The Canadian four-piece (now a five-piece, technically, as they’ve added a full-time bassist since recording the album) lays down riff after riff after riff of churning, chugging, bruising devastation, leaving nothing in their wake but blood pooling around broken corpses. They’re the kind of band you wouldn’t be surprised to find on Maggot Stomp: brutality first, grooves second, nuance last. And when that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for, few 2022 releases hit with as satisfying of a bone-shattering crunch as this record does. It’s larger than life, the production is spot on for the style, and their punishing tunes are worth going back to again and again.
156/Silence – Narrative
Hardcore punk from the US
This album has one of the strongest opening tracks I’ve heard in hardcore all year with “A Past Embrace” that pleasantly reminded me of Mushroomhead with layered well-timed screams and a strong sense of mood. On “The Rodents Race” there’s a “spooky” segment and that floored me when I first heard it. The inclusion of synth aesthetics in hardcore is underutilized. With each release they put out I’m becoming more and more of a fan. They often sound similar to Defeater or even La Dispute but if it was backed by heavy as shit nu-metal inspired metallic hardcore. The highlights are numerous with the vocals and basslines taking the spotlight for the majority of the songs. “To Take Your Place” is a good example of how they blend in a kind of sensitive harshness. “If Pleasure’s Gone” is a surprisingly jaunty midpoint of the album with more synth and catchier rhythms. “Stay Away” has a spacy kind of opening into heavy guitars. I’m actually excited for each new track because there’s always little or large wrinkles that set them apart rather than being totally expected which can lead to a slog towards the end. The overall pacing here really helps carry you to the end of the 43-minute runtime of Narrative no problem, especially with all being capped off by the power ending that is “Live to See a Darker Day”. A huge 2022 standout for me.
Zanjeer – Parcham Buland Ast
Hardcore punk from Germany
Boasting members from England, Colombia, Pakistan, and Germany, Zanjeer are bringing often marginalized voices into the genre, and they are a welcome fucking sound. Lyrics for this are—per the album description—mostly in Urdu and Farsi, and they absolutely fuck hard. Even not fully understanding what is being said, you still feel every ounce of rage that this band is putting forth. They aim to be uncompromising political punk, and I would say they hit that fucking target in a big way.