Best Metal Albums of the Month–April 2020

Kvaen v. Sweven–Battle of similar final syllables!  I’m lame as fuck!

 

1. Kvaen–The Funeral Pyre

I am just a sucker for the word “pyre” this year–perhaps because the whole world has become one? Like Slaughter Messiah last month, Kvaen is here to bring the speed and bite back to your black metal. And fuck if it isn’t just about as fun as the Midnight album.

Like Destroyer 666 and Watain without the guilt!

 

2. Sweven–The Eternal Resonance

Morbus Chron died so Sweven could live.  Fair trade.  If you loved the album Sweven but favored the Pink Floyd over the Pestilence aspects, you just found your album of the year. The record avoids the jam band crutch of pure meander, picking up the pace and focus with uncanny timing to snap the songs back into form.

 

3. Black Royal–Firebride

When you think “this sounds like if Asphyx fucked Mastodon,” you are probably listening to a good album.

 

4. Lucifer III

Warning–Lucifer is a band I am simply in the bag for now.  Don’t listen to anything I have to say in the guise of criticism, because my objectivity is out the window.

But do listen to me when I say this–Lucifer is rad. Is this their best record?  Does it approach The Oath?  NO, but who cares? It is awesome that Lucifer is a thing that exists, so turn it up and get loose.

 

5. Rosy Finch–Scarlet

A nod to the excellent angrymetalguy blog for another under-the-radar recommendation here. This record is an interesting Melvins/Royal Thunder mix. Though the songs don’t have enough hooks to really lodge in your brain, the band provides a welcome throwback to quality early/mid 90s alternative, and is well worth a look.

 

6. Earth Rot–Black Tides of Obscurity

Earth Rot are in a similar lane to Sulphur Aeon and The Great Old Ones. They are technically excellent, and the record is always engaging, but they play a style of death metal that does not hold my attention at the upper-echelon level of, say, a Tomb Mold or Horrendous. This is a shame, because when Earth Rot clicks into place like on the swaggering stomp in the middle of The Cape of Storms, it’s hard to imagine better death metal coming out all year. A strong effort, and a band that can absolutely reach the next level–but not there just yet.

 

7. Wake–Devouring Ruin

I’m not feeling the new direction. For many metal fans, this will be a year-ender, and I get that on an intellectual level. It is certainly dense and ambitious, and I intend to keep spinning it in the hopes it grows on me.

Misery Rites didn’t have to grow on me. Sure, it featured atmospheric touches and tempo changes, but it never stopped going for the throat. And when a visceral, vicious metal band decides to stop writing coherent songs in favor of atmospherics, they risk losing what made them powerful in the first place. This might be the old gatekeeper streak in me. This isn’t grindcore, pussies!

Simply put, Devouring Ruin leaves me cold, as most dissonance-focused metal projects tend to. The only exception is Gorguts. And Wake may be objectively great, but they ain’t Gorguts.

From now on, if I see the terms “dissonant” and/or “noise” as descriptors, I am steering clear. He said while planning to buy the new Ulcerate record.

 

I also want to mention the two great, and one not so great, rock records I spun this month:

1. Pearl Jam–Gigaton–A welcome return to form. If you wanted to put it on top of the Binaural-Lightning Bolt era, I wouldn’t argue. Only quibble is it may be lacking that one transcendent moment, like an Unthought Known. Sometimes with PJ, though, you can’t make that judgment until you hear the songs live. I’m thinking Superblood Wolfmoon and Quick Escape have real potential to enter the pantheon, and hopefully that hypothesis can be tested again before I fucking turn fucking 40.

2. Local H–Lifers–Big riffs, killer lyrics, permanent sneer–sounds like Local H to me.

3. The Strokes–The New Abnormal--Ugh.

Hey Rick, how should this chorus go?

I don’t know Julian, maybe just shoehorn in an abject Billy Idol rip-off, then follow it up with the only riff we have that’s actually good? That way people will really feel how awful the chorus is?

Cool with me, can I go play in a band I actually like now?

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