The spookiest month of the year has come and gone, and after some real spooky shit in the last week, we're back to the standard anxiety, general lockdown malaise and, I dunno, waiting for Black Friday deals to come up?

October wasn't too bad of a month overall, but thinking about what could have been is painful. We finally got Halloween on a Saturday -- as lockdown restrictions clamped down again and coronavirus cases picked up speed. Cool. We did, at least, get a new Blue Öyster Cult album, which put me in a pretty good mood. In case you missed it, in the IO world we also continued our podcasting experiment, posted a ridiculously in-depth primer on 1990s Slovakian death metal, and, somewhat unusually, published an interview (+NSFW pics from the book) with Jeremy Saffer on his fine-art-meets-heavy-metal book Daughters of Darkness.

Besides all that, we've got top picks from October's bumper crop of releases that urgently require your ears. Read on and listen up.

-- Ted Nubel

Jon Rosenthal

Lamp of Murmuur -- Heir of Ecliptical Romanticism
October 2, 2020

By this point, I'm sure everyone's been made aware of the idiosyncrasies of the weird, hyper-limited black metal underground. Blink and you'll miss the physical media, but everything still ends up on Bandcamp, which is nice. What isn't nice is how incoherent and tied to aesthetics this type of music is -- so preoccupied with how it looks that the artists seem to, well, forget to actually make worthwhile content. Thankfully, we have the mysterious Lamp of Murmuur. Hailing from Olympia (I think?), mastermind M.'s music is memorable and riff-laden, adding a truly gothic atmosphere to their vampyric sounds. Also, try and play some of these riffs -- they're a workout!

Ted Nubel

Sons of Otis -- Isolation
October 16, 2020

Almost twenty years down the road, these Canadians are still overwhelming enough to make you sit down on the couch and stay there while the record's on -- or, if you're like me, forget where you're driving to when you've got it blasting in the car. Isolation is crushing, imposing doom slamming down on you like a leaded blanket, but with a good amount of bluesy groove (and wah pedal mastery) lurking in the wings.

The guitar tones on Isolation are staggeringly loud and large, almost like a live record -- it certainly feels "live," fully locked in note-for-note during each plodding steamroller, but the drum presence is fatter and warmer than you'd get from a soundboard recording. That puts it in the best of both worlds, I suppose, and makes it a rare treat for doom fans looking to get fucking obliterated right now.

Sahar Alzilu

Ghostemane -- ANTI ICON
October 21, 2020

There's no denying that hip hop has expanded significantly into heavier territory in the past decade, with more and more groups incorporating elements of industrial, hardcore, metal, and even noise music into their sounds. LA's Ghostemane is one of the best examples, originally a drummer in several South Florida metal bands who switched to rapping several years ago.

Ghostemane's work has always been very horrorcore-ish and hardcore leaning, but 2020's ANTI ICON could perhaps be the greatest example of this yet. Here Ghoste is going all out with a fusion of hip hop and industrial music at such a level that they're virtually indecipherable from each other. Featuring a pleasantly diverse approach, with some tracks sounding true to the East Coast horrorcore sound, and others sounding more like 90s era NIN or Marilyn Manson, ANTI ICON represents Ghostemane coming into his own as a musician perhaps more so than ever, and could very well be the rapper's finest hour.

Ivan Belcic

Multiple Personality -- Of Truth
October 30, 2020

The latest from long-running China-based black metal and dark folk label Pest Productions, Of Truth is Multiple Personality's second full-length — coming nine years after their previous record Song Unsung. While adhering more or less closely to genre boundaries at first — the record's intro and second track "Perfume for Human Stench" seeming to serve as a combination statement of intent and establishment of the ground rules — Of Truth abruptly metamorphoses from the third track "Pure Malice" to incorporate discrete sludge, drone, and doom influences into its blackened cauldron. It's an explosion of creativity and contextual experimentation that, while touching down in so much diverse terrain over its seemingly brief 28 minutes, maintains its unsettling aura all the way through.

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