October 2019 Release Roundup
October is always the best month. Summer dies. Winter approaches. Autumn soothes. Spring's cheer is distant. And Halloween is easily the best holiday of them all, capping off an entire month of freaky, deathly, or otherwise sinister tunes. Here are some of the albums which kept us company as our favorite month passed by, perhaps too quickly, but not without its own massive bang of excitement and musical passion.
-- Andrew Rothmund
Earth and Pillars -- Earth II
October 25th, 2019
One of my all-time favorite atmospheric black metal acts returns. Earth and Pillars captures all the obtuse abstraction of the subgenre without losing that resolute, all-important concrete grounding keeping ears on-point instead of melted into a soup. Earth II may very well be the band's top album so far, but do not let it detract from how good Earth I and Pillars I still are. Taken together, the run of releases from this Italian outfit pretty much tops the hyper-atmospheric realm of black metal, succeeding where others fail in manifesting engaging headspaces without becoming daft or dreamy. For more thoughts and reactions, check out Langdon Hickman's full review of Earth II.
Alcest -- Spiritual Instinct
October 25th, 2019
My relationship with Alcest has been complicated, an off-and-on connection defined by short periods of complete adoration and long periods of complete denial. I guess I went with the whole "fuck post-rock black metal" thing, right? But I was there in the (relative) beginning, when Le Secret and Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde baffled the black metal underground and made unknowing shoegaze fans out of basement dwelling dweebs (like me). After Ecailles de Lune, I fell off, but now I see something fresh, something interesting happening once again. What I see with Spiritual Instinct is Alcest reclaiming the throne, casting off the thousands of pretenders and showing everyone just how it's done. This is "soft music," at least compared to the roots from whence Alcest came, sure, but it hits hard and in all the right places. This is a game-changer, and as a longtime admirer, at least for periods of time, I feel solidified as an Alcest fan once again.
Xoth -- Interdimensional Invocations
October 18th, 2019
A stellar example of perfectly balanced technical death metal, Seattle outfit Xoth’s sophomore full-length sees the band’s talent and songwriting prowess skyrocketing to unprecedented levels. A tour-de-force of old-school angular prog-death and blistering neoclassical technicality, the record is astonishingly raw and primal for a work of its complexity, both in terms of the group’s visceral performance style and its straightforward yet consummate production. Thanks to its melding of thrashy, violent late 1990s Schuldiner intonations, jarringly mechanical precision, and Lovecraft-meets-sci-fi aesthetics, Interdimensional Invocations offers a decidedly novel perspective on the genre infused with vintage textures and stands out as one of the most well-rounded and satisfying tech-death records of the year.
Gatecreeper -- Deserted
October 4th, 2019
Gatecreeper successfully refined their grime on Deserted and with it quickly outgrew their simple labeling of OSDM. The album encapsulates the groove, the fury, and the sludge initially fleshed out on their 2016 debut record, now taking sides toward sounding like what vocalist Chase Mason calls “stadium death metal.” Or, in his words regarding the production, Gatecreeper wanted to sound like “’sell-out’ death-metal records like Morbid Angel's Domination, Obituary's World Demise, and Carcass's Heartwork. Deserted is huge and sounds like its cover art makes you feel -- horrifying, grotesque, and so damn intriguing that you just can’t tear yourself away.