September 2019 Release Roundup
Maybe it's the death of summer which brings the year's glut of heavy new tunes; as wildlife begins to prepare for another winter's onslaught, so too does the metal scene with aggressive, desolate new albums. Last month introduced much of the country to its first taste of cooler air and, with that, nature's warning that frigid, brief days are on the horizon. Even if you (or any given band) are in a part of the world which does not experience "winter" as traditionally defined, you can still live vicariously through the bleak beauty of these five picks. Each can be interpreted as a different angle/perspective on the change in season -- and thus, changing moods and mental states -- setting us up perfectly for another trip around the sun. Dig in, bundle up, and stay metal.
-- Andrew Rothmund
Disillusion -- The Liberation
September 6th, 2019
Disillusion's outgoing full-length Gloria released in 2006, a year not so long ago by math, but a year very long ago in terms of heavy metal history already. One question always arises in these "comeback" situations: will the band sound like just an echo from the past, or can they somehow still reverberate a realistic musical future, or maybe both? The band released The Liberation to many fresh ears among seasoned ones in the melodic death metal scene, but truly, I think in this specific case, both types of listeners will hear the exact same thing. The Liberation is timelessly acquainted with the subgenre's past, but not beholden to any of its tenets; for sure, the album feels hyper-modern both in execution and style without losing any of that all-important inbuilt familiarity. The album, beyond the fact that it's just so goddamn catchy and great, is so effortlessly easy to listen to that it can't be anything but this month's most enjoyable ear-candy. Bonus points for this badass music video, too.
Blut aus Nord -- Hallucinogen
September 20th, 2019
Blut aus Nord is... a lot. It really is. With such an exhausting, varied discography, it is impossible to figure out just which album is the right one to listen to or which Blut aus Nord "mood" is most moment-appropriate. Hallucinogen is the answer to that 20+ year problem. Now bifurcated into Yeruselem and Blut aus Nord, Hallucinogen traverses all the melodicisms which made the Memoria Vetusta series so wonderful, but with the psychedelia which made the other side of the coin so unique and perspective-altering. Though many will rightfully argue for The Work Which Transforms God as Blut aus Nord's crown jewel, it is Hallucinogen's melodic near-traditional fare which is the true usurper.
Haunter -- Sacramental Death Qualia
September 13th, 2019
With their baroque sophomore record Sacramental Death Qualia, San Antonio blackened death metal outfit Haunter have made an impressive and somewhat unexpected leap forward into nuanced complexity and avant-garde artistry as of yet untried by the group. A manifold expansion on the murky, lo-fi black metal of their debut record Thrinodia, their latest release (which sees them forming a logical partnership with Italian label I, Voidhanger) utilizes massive compositional structures to cast rituals of crypt-crawling majesty, the group prostrating itself at the feet of the almighty void. This display is heavily decorated with elements forming a stylistic nod to the medieval wraithlike alchemy of Opeth’s first era, especially in its hair-raising death growls and intrepid, awe-inspiring harmonic patterns. Dancing between bizarre, uncanny structures of cavernous brutal melancholy, somber autumnal acoustic guitar, and jolting bestial rhythmic breakdowns, the album suggests a forbidden knowledge unfurled tangibly, a psychological tour-de-force that finally makes sonic contact with the lofty cerebral territory of the group’s lyrical content. Primordial yet deeply progressive, Sacramental Death Qualia steps outside any simplistic OSDM paradigm to deliver something truly, well, haunting.
White Ward -- Love Exchange Failure
September 20th, 2019
Sometimes I wonder if anyone could like Ihsahn’s solo material as much as me. Granted, I think it’s better than Emperor’s rightly-vaunted material, so I doubted finding someone of like mind would ever happen. And then White Ward came along. This, their second album, is more individual than their debut, deepening the noirish nocturnalist urban ambiance, trading wind-scorned fields of ice for the comparatively deeper psychic frost of the modern city. It’s black metal, sure, but it’s also something else, and that slight but noticeable implacability -- plus some killer songs and lines all over -- make this a killer record.
SeeYouSpaceCowboy -- The Correlation Between Entrance and Exit Wounds
September 27th, 2019
SeeYouSpaceCowboy have referred to themselves as "sasscore," and they tag themselves "whitebelt" on Bandcamp, and while some of their earlier work may have fit neatly into the sassy screamo revival, their proper debut album The Correlation Between Entrance and Exit Wounds totally defies it. And, at times, it's very much a metal album. This band is still reviving a handful of sounds on this album, but they don't seem like a band interested in being pigeonholed into a "revival" of anything, especially not of any one thing. "Art made by queer individuals has always had boundaries of what you can and can't do," guitarist Jesse Price told Revolver earlier this year. "We always wanted to push past that and not live in any specific world. We didn't want to hide behind cryptic, artsy writing anymore. This record is unapologetically direct." And that is all very clear when you listen to this latest album. Singer Connie Sgabossa addresses heavy, personal topics like suicide, mental illness, and addiction all throughout The Correlation Between Entrance and Exit Wounds, and, sonically, it's all over the place in the best way. There is still some of the chaos and some of the mathcore signifiers that you might expect from this band (and genre) at this point, but there's so much more. SeeYouSpaceCowboy work in everything from bludgeoning metalcore breakdowns to adenoidal emo to beautiful, climactic post-rock. It's the kind of album that starts off purely physical with in-your-face head-bangers like "Armed With Their Teeth," but it really reveals greater depths towards the end with more cerebral cuts like the instrumental "No Words, No Compensating Lies" and the multi-layered scream/sung "Dissertation of an Idle Voice."
Their band name might seem a little silly, and they might openly embrace styles of music that were once deemed "uncool," but The Correlation Between Entrance and Exit Wounds is a passionate, dead-serious album, and it's cooler than anyone who would suggest otherwise. If you lived through late 1990s and early 2000s post-hardcore, there are some sounds on this album that will be very familiar, but this doesn't feel retro at all. Actually, it feels like the future.