Feb 012023


(Gonzo has delivered to us another monthly round-up of his favorite releases for the month that just ended.)

And we’re back.

January has already found its way into our rearview mirror, and not a moment too soon. It’s been 6 degrees Fahrenheit in Denver for the past few days and I can’t feel my nuts. No respite seems to be on the way. It’s the land of the ice and snow over here, to be sure, but it also gives me a good reason to sneak a larger-than-usual portion of whiskey into my coffee. Is it coping with being a daytime corporate asshole, or is it a problem?

No one knows.

Moving on!

January is a notoriously shit time for new music, but if the first month of ’23 is any indicator, that trend may very well be on its way out. Whether it’s something in the water or labels just deciding to not take January off for a change, I’m already impressed with some gems I discovered this month – here’s the best of the bunch.



Katatonia, Sky Void of Stars

Though they may be on the cusp of “too big” to routinely include on these pages, the kings of gloom in Katatonia can always be relied upon to release some gloriously depressing songs. Being that this is the dead of winter, Sky Void of Stars is a most welcome listen.

“Austerity” gets this one off to a rousing start, with chugging riffs and Jonas Renske’s unmistakably miserable croon reminding us that this is in fact a doom metal record. (Kind of.) “Colossal Shade,” perhaps my top pick on the album, comes in with that melancholic heaviness these Swedes always do so well – head-nodding grooves, plodding tempos, memorable choruses. It’s why this band has developed the following they have after such a drastic style change in the late ’90s.

Overall, Stars isn’t on par with, say, 2006’s The Great Cold Distance, but it’s the kind of album that reminds you just how consistent Katatonia has been for almost three decades.




Fucked Up, One Day

Speaking of consistency, Toronto’s Fucked Up might not have the rap sheet or the following that a band like Katatonia now has, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a shitty album from them since their 2001 emergence. One Day continues the trend.

While their sound might be hard to fully describe – basically what you’d hear if Helmet and Jawbreaker threw a bender in a basement with Turnstile, and Drug Church brought everyone weed – this unique outfit always finds ways to make their sound into something far more malleable than it probably should be. It’s an aggressive take on being weird; the kind of band that would appeal to just as many punks and metalheads as it would hardcore kids from the ’90s. Case in point: The self-aware venomous dork-rage of “I Think I Might Be Weird” and the uplifting post-hardcore leads in “Huge New Year.”

Shit just gets better from there. “Lords of Kensington” and “Cicada” practically beg for multiple listens, while the title track is one of those songs that bristles with stage-rushing energy.




Ablaze My Sorrow, The Loss of All Hope

Katatonia isn’t the only Swedish melodeath unit that released some good shit this month – their countrymen in Ablaze My Sorrow sneaked out this EP last week, and it’s a keeper.

With razor-sharp vocals and guitar leads that, uh, blaze, The Loss of All Hope reminds us how deep the melodeath rabbit hole can go. Ablaze My Sorrow channels some early In Flames and Nightrage and throws it into a multifaceted sonic blender. You could argue that the results of these influences are sometimes too obviously worn on their sleeves (“Rotten to the Core” could almost literally be an At the Gates song), but that’s to take nothing away from the ferocity of the fretwork and the airtight songwriting.

It’s only four tracks deep, but for what The Loss of All Hope lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality.




Psychostasy, The Empty Circle

You like a little less “core” in your deathcore? You’re not the only one. Look no further than Italy’s Psychostasy.

The Empty Circle, the second album from this progressive powerhouse of death, is a savagely angular, unpredictable rollercoaster. It lurches when you expect a lunge, slashes when you expect a parry, and generally just brings the brutality exactly when it should. The pit-stirring mania of “Eclipse” is downright infectious, while album opener “Discovery” gets right to the fucking point in just over two minutes.

Meanwhile, the opening minute of “Disease” demands repeat listens. It’s right at this point that I first realized how surprisingly beefy the production is here. For a name that might be largely unknown on this side of the Atlantic, self-releasing a record that sounds this good is an encouraging sign of Psychostasy’s emergence. Keep an eye on these guys.


Follow my best-of-2023 Spotify playlist to hear songs from all of the above albums and a shitload more: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7zWqE685GVpuB5M3qRDvog?si=7388b5b9430342e5

  4 Responses to “GONZO’S HEAVY ROUNDUP, JANUARY 2023”

  1. That Katatonia album is loads better than City Burials but doesn’t reach the heights of their best (The Fall of Hearts, Last Fair Deal…, Night is the New Day, Great Cold Distance).

    • Wholeheartedly agree. It’s a solid listen and has some much stronger individual tracks than CB did, but I don’t think they’ll ever touch Night is the New Day or Great Cold Distance again.

  2. Dude that Glyph album was fucking fire

  3. Pretty cool choises, but IMHO Obituary’s “Dying of Everything”, Ashen’s “Ritual of Ash” and Grá’s “Lycaon” will take the crown of the best of January!

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