(Here’s KevinP’s list of favorite releases during the month of November.)
Last month this column was posted on October 28th, three days before the end of the month. I had a reader and then a friend of mine on Facebook ask me how I could create my list when the month didn’t even ended yet (since there were a plethora of releases due on October 30th). So I realized maybe what I thought was common knowledge (advance promos) wasn’t as common as I thought? For instance, as I type this now, I already have four albums on my iPhone that are due in February.
One of the perks for this labor of love we do here is getting to hear albums from a few weeks to many months prior to release. Record labels and PR companies know websites/magazines need lead time to prepare stuff. As flattering as it may be for some to think so, I would not be able to hear an album on the release date (say October 30th), make an accurate assessment of it, write a column, send it off to Islander, and get it posted the same day.
And now for a few housekeeping items before we get to this month’s releases. This is the first year I’ve done a monthly column. I will still be doing a Best of 2015 list, but will have that ready in early January as to give it some separation from December’s releases. You’re the Best Around, Nothing’s Gonna Keep You Down will be ready next week (where I go over all the OTHER best stuff of the year).
5. Otargos – Xeno Chaos
The sixth full-length album from this French band continues their turn from straight-up black metal to an extreme dark metal, black/death entity (originally envisioned on 2013’s Apex Terror). It’s not the most original thing you will hear this year, but it’s expertly crafted from songwriting to production. The industrial element is present here again, but never gets in the way or feels overused.
4. Extreme Cold Winter – Paradise Ends Here
Instead of me trying to be pithy, Islander summed it up better than I could in his review last week (which also includes the stream):
3. Dragged into Sunlight / Gnaw Their Tongues – N.V.
Ugly, dirty, nasty. If you saw the press release, they talk about reimagining (or being inspired by) Godflesh’s Streetcleaner. But it goes far beyond that. Both bands wrote sections and then had it combined, creating a very coherent yet disgusting vision. Essentially, both bands have parts on all the songs, this wasn’t each band taking a separate track. You can’t tell which band is doing what exactly, as it flows seamlessly from one track to the next. Quite amazing.
2. Autopsy – Skull Grinder
Currently these seven new songs are only available on the four-disc version of the After the Cutting discography, but will be released on vinyl next month and CD in early 2016. It’s what you would expect from Autopsy: grimy death metal in the vein of all the material they’ve released since their return in 2011. I’m not surprised they are able to mine the same well and extract fresh goodies at will. One of the few bands you can count on to bring their A game each and every time.
1. Awe – Providentia
If you didn’t catch the exclusive stream we featured earlier this month, you’re in for a real treat.
Again I’m going to defer to Islander and his assessment:
“The songs are densely textured and intricate, and the music is produced with the kind of clarity that allows all of the music’s multi-faceted and beautifully performed components to shine through.
“All three tracks are also exuberantly and explosively creative, a rich and surreal tapestry of sound. They’re ‘progressive’ in the true sense of the word. Adjectives like ‘experimental’ and ‘avant garde’ wouldn’t be out of place either. Fans of bands like Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, Dødheimsgard, and Ved Buens Ende should welcome Providentia with open arms.
“There’s a sweeping, panoramic, mystical aura to the long introduction that opens the first track “Actus Primus”, and an air of majestic grandeur surrounds the music even when the band erupt into a dense storm of fiery tremolo chords, blasting drums, and harsh, bear-like growls and roars — reaching an intense crescendo before the music’s massive, ponderous, eerie finale.”
Here’s my interview with a member of the band as well: