(Another month has closed its doors, and Gonzo takes another look through them, this time spotlighting five favored albums released during February 2023.)
I can’t be alone here in saying February is the most useless fucking month on the calendar. More often than not during that godforsaken stretch of time – in its cold, dreary misery – I’m finding myself constantly losing track of time, forgetting what day it is, and scrambling to fit four weeks’ worth of plans into what seems like two.
Priorities, I suppose – that’s what it all comes down to. I’ve managed to listen to an alarming amount of music already, and seeing that we’re only just over two months into 2023, that’s always time well-prioritized.
Here’s the new shit that’s been on my heavy rotation through the last 28 days.
Hailing from Minneapolis, the dissonant knuckle-dragging nightmare machine known as Nothingness have just unleashed their sophomore album unto the masses. One look at the cover art and you’ll know exactly what you’ll get when you take a spin with Supraliminal.
It’s a dizzying, uncomfortable, and overall suffocating experience in interdimensional sonic terror. Vocalist Barclay Olson’s howl could peel paint off the walls, first and foremost, while his rhythm section sends the listener into a cavernous lair of sinister riffs and punishing time changes.
“Catapulted into Hyperspace,” for example, would be a perfect soundtrack for doing exactly that, while “Temple of Broken Swords” roars with ferocious unpredictability before unfurling into a riff that would make Cannibal Corpse’s bloodstained dicks hard.
If it’s a heavy experience you crave that’s so dense it could swallow light itself, this record has exactly what you need.
Venomous Concept, The Good Ship Lollipop
Some “supergroups” work better than others, and I think that largely comes down to one question:
Do the assembled musicians actually sound like they’re having fun?
Because if the answer is “yes,” I can guaran-fucking-tee you you’ll have fun listening to it. And as much as we like to gloss over it sometimes when giving an album our (sometimes overly) critical analysis, the “fun” part does play one hell of an important role in creating music that’s got replay value for the listener.
The newest album from longtime friends in Venomous Concept – whose members make up a lot of the brains behind Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, and Cancer – almost hits a “10” when it comes to instant repeat spins.
The Good Ship Lollipop charges right out of the gate with blistering energy that evokes the no-bullshit days of ’90s hardcore punk, with a backbone that carries much of the same DNA that Shane Embury has injected into the most recent Napalm output. If nothing else, it’s worth listening to the first song (also the title track) just to hear Kevin Sharp continuously bark out “THE GOOD SHIP LOLLIPOP” over and over again. It sounds better than it should.
At 13 tracks, Lollipop also manages to not overstay its welcome, thanks to the nice and punchy song lengths that generally don’t exceed 4 minutes. It’s over before you realize it, and you’ll find yourself wanting another hit right after it ends – like any good dessert. Or drug of choice, whatever – I don’t judge.
Furnace, The Casca Trilogy
As far as track records are concerned, few have a broader repertoire in metal than Rogga Johansson. See it for yourself – I was shocked to see how many bands he’s been in over the years.
This project of his, though, might be producing some of the best from the Swedish extreme underbelly in recent memory. Drawing inspiration from early Dismember to Paradise Lost to Bolt Thrower, Furnace have released this album, a conceptual trilogy that spans a staggering 30 songs in total, onto the masses with close to zero fanfare. The concept behind the album is laid out in the band’s Bandcamp page, and I won’t even attempt to summarize it, but you can read about all the details on the page I’ve linked below.
As an album, this beast has surprisingly little filler for its ambitious length. There might be some overlap in style and tempo, but that’s to be expected given its scope. The Casca Trilogy really does hit its peak with the second chapter, starting with “Where the Sea Meets the Sky,” a soaring track that checks off all the boxes on any “melodeath must-haves” – stirring melodies, riffs that slash their way through your speakers, and Johansson’s consistently awesome guttural bark.
Pick any track of the 30 on display here and let this sonic story unfold.
While not really a “metal” band in the strictest sense of the word, I always get excited when there’s something new from Poland’s Riverside. Not to tread too much into unabashed fanboy territory, but ID.Entity might be the best album they’ve ever released.
Through and through, this album is a total joy to listen to. Opening with the dreamy synth-driven “Friend or Foe?”, the album dives into familiar territory for those who’ve followed the band for a while, but there’s something… different… about this one. It hits on relevant themes, lyrically, without sounding gimmicky or contrived, and the arrangements are way more accessible and memorable.
One of my favorite parts about this record is how bass-driven it is. Vocalist/bassist Mariusz Duda has laid down some absolutely filthy licks for this one, most notably in “Landmine Blast” and throughout the epic 13-minute “The Place Where I Belong.” And then there’s “Big Tech Brother,” which evokes moments of mid-2000s Dream Theater except without the three-minute guitar solos.
If you were disappointed by the newest Porcupine Tree album, Riverside’s latest might be the best way to scratch that itch.
Entheos, Time Will Take Us All
I know it’s only March, but if I hear a better tech death album this year than Time Will Take Us All, I’d be pretty fucking shocked.
Entheos first caught my attention last year when I saw them open for Archspire. They came out and decimated the stage with such calculated aggression that I was compelled to go home and dive into their discography. It’s an impressive body of work, to be sure, but Time now stands at the top of that space.
Leading with the frenetic “Absolute Zero,” with its precision staccato warfare and dizzying leads, it barrels its way into your ear canals with a vengeance. The barrage continues with “In Purgatory” and doesn’t even come close to letting up until about 2 minutes into “The Interior Wilderness,” when a doomy interlude and glorious lead guitar give respite from the abject brutality (which is also thoroughly glorious.)
While the tempos slow down a little during the middle of the album in favor of more of the aforementioned doomy flavor, Time kicks back up with an absolute blaster with “The Sinking Sun.” This song might as well come with a seat belt and a disclaimer warning. At around the 4-minute mark, the band hit the nastiest breakdown I’ve heard in recent memory, with madwoman Chaney Crabb channeling the demon from The Exorcist into her vocal work. She does everything short of screaming “YOUR MOTHER SUCKS COCK IN HELL.”
Follow my best-of-2023 Spotify playlist to hear songs from all of the above albums and a shitload more: