6 Essential New Metal Albums for a Blistering Spring

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Full of Hell and Primitive Man

I’m going to level with you. The six metal albums I’ve written about this month that, to my ears, stand out as the best heavy music I’ve heard in the past 30 days, don’t really have that much in common. I typically try to find some kind of common thread—a thematic element or sonic signifier. Either they’re weird, or they’re old-school, or they evade easy categorization. There’s always a means of tying together what, on the surface, might seem like disparate sounds.

That’s not really true this month. They’re all metal albums, and they’re all great, but those are about the only things you’ll find in common among this latest batch of favorites, which comprise a gothic-ish black metal group with the wind at their backs, a proggy psych-metal band with elements of shoegaze, an annihilating collaboration, some decidedly atypical mathcore, burly death metal and an epic charity black metal album for a good cause.

And that’s cool with me. But seeing as how spring has arrived, there’s one thing that holds true: The thaw has inevitably led to more great metal blasting through the pipes, so the opportunity to be overwhelmed by new music is really just beginning. I guarantee nothing but six great new metal albums to listen to—as for what happens next month, that’s anyone’s guess.

Lamp of Murmuur – Saturnian Bloodstorm

There are few bands capable of stirring up as much buzz and naysaying alike these days as Lamp of Murmuur. Metal needs a new controversial rising star every couple of years, after all, and I suppose everyone moved on from trying to combat Deafheaven’s rising tide. But, you know, here’s the thing about all that: They’re awesome. Lamp of Murmuur caught my attention a couple years back with the release of Submission and Slavery, a hybrid of black metal and gothic rock that, despite being a little too heavy on intros and outros and interludes, provided everything I look for in a black metal record. (The more goth, the better, if you ask me.) Their latest is an even stronger and more substantial slice of malevolence—old-school, thrashy first wave black metal with a hint of their previous album’s gloomy post-punk atmosphere. But most of all, Saturnian Bloodstorm is a journey through black metal at its most exciting and climactic, doing away with too many bands’ kink for hissy transilvanian starvation in favor of something that actually flexes its might. (Argento/Not Kvlt)

Rezn – Solace

I can thank fellow Treble metal fan and resident prog historian Langdon Hickman for turning me on to the new Rezn album, which I’ve written about at least once before this. Solace occupy a curious middle ground in heavy music—you might hear them as a stoner metal or sludge band based on the sheer density of their riffs, and that’s not entirely wrong, but there’s a psychedelic streak to what they do, as well as an element of shoegaze that at times reminds me of Cloakroom’s heavier material. All of which adds up to a consistently interesting and immersive listening experience, not all of which immediately scans as metal (and some of it, like “Faded and Fleeting,” is more explicitly prog). Their closest peers in terms of approach are probably Elder, but even that band has more Zeppelin in their veins, while Rezn is more detached from classic rock, instead embracing the best of contemporary, melodic heavy music and stretching it further until the borderlines are no longer visible. I do love a band that won’t allow themselves to be boxed in. (Self-released)

Thin – Dusk

Don’t let the “mastered by Colin Marston” credit fool you—New York’s Thin are a mathcore/grindcore hybrid rather than a dissonant or progressive black metal band. But then again, they fit right in with anything the Krallice multi-instrumentalist and engineer touches, simply because they don’t play it straight. Dusk—which was released in February, but bear with me—is an onslaught of abrasive and knotty math-grind outbursts that detours through haunting arpeggios and intricate cycles of mayhem on its way to absolute chaos. That most of the songs here are around a minute long and often shorter is immaterial; there’s so much happening within any single track that an instant replay is probably in the offing regardless. Thin overwhelm, but they won’t waste your time in doing so. (Twelve Gauge)

Spectral Lore – 11 Days

Since his best-of-year epic split album with Mare Cognitum, Ayloss of Spectral Lore has released another Spectral Lore album, an album with A Banner As Black As Blood, an album as Mystras, an album as Auriferous Flame, and possibly even more that I’ve overlooked. To call him prolific is an understatement, but even more remarkably, it’s all been pretty much awesome. The same goes for 11 Days, which is relatively brief by his standards at only 44 minutes and featuring four songs, which each stretch to epic lengths in pursuit of a sort of menacing transcendence. As with his other recent releases, Ayloss’ latest is cosmic and mysterious, a plunge into the vast abyss of space and driven by a righteous fury. On that note: The EP (album?) is accompanied by a note decrying the treatment of refugees throughout Europe and with a pledge that proceeds will be donated to pro-refugee organizations. That would be reason enough to pay the 4 Euro asking price, but black metal this complex and ambitious is an added benefit. (Self-released)

Full of Hell & Primitive Man – Suffocating Hallucination

Early last month I wrote in greater depth about the new collaborative album between Full of Hell and Primitive Man, a cacophonous and claustrophobic score for a world on fire. It’s at once exactly what you’d expect from this pairing as well as rife with unexpected directions in carnage. Each of the four long tracks (and one interlude) on Suffocating Hallucination essentially takes an entirely different direction, which makes this less an opportunity for the two bands to fall into old habits than it is a chance to hit reset each time, and though each permutation is invariably dark and bleak, the approach is always changing, whether in the form of a sludgy beast in “Trepanation for Future Joys” or a riff-driven anthem of antagonism in “Rubble Home.” Two of the best bands in metal right now simply continuing to prove their strengths—you love to see it. (Closed Casket Activities)

Kommand – Death Age

I’m never not going to have a soft spot for blunt-object death metal with a Bolt Thrower influence, so when a particularly awesome one comes along, I’m going to mention it here, they’re going to get my endorsement—this is all just part of the agreement. L.A. group Kommand is just such a band, making their 20 Buck Spin debut with Death Age and kicking a whole lot of ass in doing so. The year started off strong with a pair of great death metal albums from Kommand’s now-labelmates in Ulthar, but this is something a lot more direct in its bruising assault, forgoing the more progressive paths taken by some of the best North American new wave death metal bands right now in favor of something that just pummels. Which doesn’t mean there’s not more to it than that—like their trapped-in-a-crypt production, their machete-blade riffs, their dramatic employment of gloom and their consistently engaging songwriting. But just know that the pummeling never stops, no matter where else this album takes you. (20 Buck Spin)

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