July 2019 Release Roundup
As beads of sweat rolled down our faces and swamp-ass began to take hold, we cranked these five albums to the goddamn maximum and relished in the delight they gave us, but all for different reasons of course. I won't burden you with too much malarkey this go-around (unlike last month), but suffice it to say this: let us pray to the metal gods for the cold of winter again, and for another month with so many stunning releases as last. As long as the heavy music keeps flowing, we'll keep on letting it saturate our minds, even as the world burns. For now, here's what we think of these few (which came out among many other great releases) from July 2019.
-- Andrew Rothmund
Sanguine Eagle -- Storm Mysticism + Shores of Avarice
July 5th, 2019
Sanguine Eagle is one of my favorite black metal projects from New York (yes, aside from Krallice, Liturgy, Woe, and all the other great ones)... not to imply that all New York black metal sounds the same, which it doesn't. And Sanguine Eagle made that case explicitly with this sprawling double-album release. Storm Mysticism and Shores of Avarice are more or less equal parts ambient and black metal, with both albums alternating between chaotic and serene at just a few key turning points within their narratives. It's from this dynamism that the raw, savage energy of this band comes to extra-bright negative light in their fastest and most exhilarating moments. The real idea with these two monsters is to play them back-to-back, nonstop, in complete focus on their rough textures and abstract nature -- if the jarring sounds of death's void could ever somehow be described as "lush," then Sanguine Eagle take on that quality without a hitch, imbuing what should be ugly with showstopping beauty.
Falls of Rauros -- Patterns in Mythology
July 19th, 2019
As far as I'm concerned, Falls of Rauros are the true masters of their craft. Now five albums into their decade-plus-long career, the band has evolved from a charming jumble of black metal and neofolk to the melodic, emotionally-charged cross-country band we know today, and it's all logically led up to this point. Patterns in Mythology is a culmination, a magical masterwork which pulls from the neofolk of Hail Wind and Hewn Oak and The Light that Dwells in Rotted Wood, the fury of Brotherhood, the clarity and lucidity of Vigilance Perennial, and the raw passion of Believe in No Coming Shore. Most artists which follow a linear path simply abandon the past in favor of a brighter future, but Falls of Rauros is wiser than that (in another publication I referred to them as "wizards"). Unlike the others, Falls learned from themselves and looked forward to the future without forgetting their past. With each new release, Falls of Rauros releases their best album to date, but it will be tough to top Patterns in Mythology.
Bonus: Check out Andrew's interview with the band.
Tomb Mold -- Planetary Clairvoyance
July 19th, 2019
In the remarkably short span of two years, interstellar OSDM cosmonauts Tomb Mold have grown from a well-respected underground act into one of the most daunting and awe-inspiring forces in the modern metal arena. The praiseworthy posterboys of 20 Buck Spin’s old-school revival, their sophomore record Manor of Infinite Forms was consistently mentioned among 2018’s top releases as a near perfect blend of ethereal Lovecraftian horror and twisted, 1990s-inspired gore and grime. As if their last record were not impressive enough, Tomb Mold blessed us with yet another full-length album more expansive and harrowing than anything they’ve produced to date, a dismal narrative that launches us into the inky void beyond the stars. Released less than 12 months after Manor of Infinite Forms, the cosmic weight of Planetary Clairvoyance displays the same tumultuous, all-consuming timbres at which Tomb Mold excel, communicated this time through an entirely different palette of themes and structures. Repeatedly dragging the listener from one claustrophobic hellscape to the next, the new album seamlessly captures the many mortal terrors of space, from the unfathomable frigidity of the void to the flesh-searing heat of a blazing star.
Bonus: check out Langdon's full review of Planetary Clairvoyance.
False -- Portent
July 12th, 2019
I loved the first False record, picking it up on release day from my local record store after pre-ordering it and playing the hell out of it and everything, but I wasn't prepared for the massive upgrade to their sound the group would employ on their follow-up. Normally, you'd look at lengthy track times like this and imagine something of the Cascadian variety, some post-rock and maybe some screamo tossed in for spice, and it would be a satisfying time... not so with False, who instead offer straight-up ripping black metal with just the right splashes of prog. Powerful guitar and keyboard lines even combine with a slight dash of power metal in the occasional world-conquering anthemic feeling of swarming out under a successful and virtuous war banner. Portent doesn't feel as much like a piece of art as much as stepping into a complete world, one where their fine attention to the little details of riff placement and timbre and tone and pacing creating an utterly engrossing and panoramic experience not unlike taking in a deeply satisfying novel or film. Even more remarkable is the fact that it does so without shoehorning in a corny conceptual narrative; the music is simply so commanding of your psyche that it's like the whole of the world washes away save for the sound.
Bonus: check out Langdon's full review of Portent.
Lingua Ignota -- Caligula
July 19th, 2019
All it takes is a cursory listen to tell that Caligula, the new album from Kristin Hayter's Lingua Ignota project, is challenging and confrontational art. The themes of violence are right there in the song titles (which include "MAY FAILURE BE YOUR NOOSE" and "IF THE POISON WON'T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL"), and Caligula wastes no time revealing itself as abrasive, anti-pop music. But it's not shocking for shock's sake; it's a genuinely great example of provocative art, and there's a real depth to the songs on this album. As a gothy, outré, vocal powerhouse, Lingua Ignota has gotten her fair share of comparisons to Diamanda Galas, and she is indeed in the lineage of artists that Galas helped paved the way for, but she is very much a force of her own. She sings in a theatrical, dark-cabaret kind of way one minute, but then lets out shrieks as harsh and blood-curling as any noise, industrial, or black metal band the next. All the while, the instrumentation sounds straight out of the score of a horror film. The songs sound clearly inspired by theater and film, and the imagery in her lyrics is vivid enough to make you feel like you're getting the full cinematic experience even without any actual visuals.
Bonus: check out Jenna DePasquale's interview with Kristin Hayter.