Jun 012023

(With the month of May now behind us, Gonzo reflects on five albums released during the month that got him excited.)

As I type this, I’m sitting at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, haggard as hell after the three-day whirlwind of Northwest Terror Fest. I’m not on speaking terms with my liver just yet, and my ears are still ringing despite having fairly high-quality earplugs in every night.

I’ll have a separate write-up coming soon enough about all that, but here’s a spoiler: It was fucking glorious.

Before we get to all that, there were some seriously noteworthy releases that saw the light of day through this month, and I’d be remiss if I skipped over them in favor of getting right to recapping my 72 hours of complete batshit insanity.



Currents, The Death We Seek

I love bands like Connecticut’s Currents – their brand of metalcore has a beefier side of “metal” than whatever’s left in the “core,” and just enough melody to occasionally air out the brutality. This formula works wonders on The Death We Seek, the group’s bruiser of a fifth album.

Since their inception, it’s clear that Currents have only refined their craft into a razor-sharp broadsword that absolutely slices and bludgeons its way through anything in its path. The previous album The Way It Ends was a big step up for the band in almost every way imaginable – songwriting, riffs, production quality, musicianship, you name it – and Seek has only taken that game to the next level.

The title track kicks things off with a monstrous bang, with “Living in Tragedy” almost threatening to burst your speakers into a fine pink mist right after that. “Unfamiliar” takes a more melodic-first approach and will undoubtedly be living in your head rent-free after you hear it, but then the Meshuggah-like chug of “So Alone” blasts into the room like the Kool-Aide Man doing a windmill through drywall.

And then you get pummeled by the rest of the album just as thoroughly. Namely, “Over and Over” features a breakdown that could cause involuntary diarrhea. The closing duo of “Remember Me” and “Guide Us Home” round out the album on a more emotional note, which somehow fits the blueprint of what the band lays out here – and they do it just as well as the heavier material.

With the number of lineup changes this band has experienced in recent years, it’s fair to wonder just how the hell Currents can stay this focused and produce such bombastic slabs of modern-day metalcore of this magnitude. However they do it, though, I’m here for however much of it they want to do.




Gozu, Remedy

If you know my monthly feature, you’ll probably be sitting there anticipating the inevitable stoner metal entry into this list. I’m happy to announce you’re not wrong – not this month, and probably not ever.

For the uninitiated, Gozu writes one hell of a bongwater-drenched riff. Remedy sees much more of this band doing exactly that, and doing it a hell of a lot better than a lot of others in this smoky subgenre in 2023. Guitarist/vocalist Mark Gaffney has the perfect voice for the plodding riffs on display here; imagine a halfway point between Sleep and Truckfighters and you wouldn’t be too far off.

Lead single and leadoff track “Tom Cruise Control” slides its way into your eardrums with ease, and I wouldn’t blame you if you gave it another spin right after the first time you heard it. There’s something primal about the music here, as if the very act of listening to it helps it emerge from some kind of primordial ooze in real-time. It’s got enough bottom end to sound formidable, but also enough hooks and clean-ish vocals to balance things out a little. I might get crucified for this, but I think a lot of stoner metal vocals should take a page from the Gozu manual and rely less on a garbled, acid-drenched formula. Gaffney knows what he’s doing, and his voice morphs exceptionally well as the music becomes more dynamic throughout the album.

In the stoner metal world, I’ve always thought Gozu has been criminally overlooked. Remedy might just be the cure for that condition.




Unearth, The Wretched; The Ruinous

Aaaand it’s back to metalcore-land with the newest release from one of the bands that have become a subgenre stalwart: None other than the mighty Unearth.

I dunno about you, but I still blast The Oncoming Storm when the mood strikes me. That album still reigns immortal to me in the realm of metalcore, and for good reason. It’s basically a melodeath record that wouldn’t sound out of place alongside some of the greatest albums from the Gothenburg scene. “Zombie Autopilot,” anyone?

But for as much as I adored Storm, the band’s output after 2011’s Darkness in the Light never really resonated with me. With The Wretched; The Ruinous, though, that trend has been fucking bucked.

Founding members Trevor Phipps (vocals) and Buz McGrath (guitars) are up to their old tricks on this album, sounding refreshed and ferocious as hell with the addition of new guitarist Peter Layman. The chugga-chugga factor is right back to where it should be (see that bone-crushing breakdown right in the middle of “Cremation of the Living”) and a somewhat surprising injection of moody atmosphere is sparingly added in places you might not expect (the almost-doomy intro to “Mother Betrayal”). The band brings back their glory days in the best possible way with “Dawn of the Militant” and closes us out with a totally fucking killer dual-guitar-harmony-laden track called “Theaters of War.”

The end result of Ruinous, though, is the evolutionary step I’ve been hoping to hear from Unearth for a long time now, and it’s only getting better with every listen.




Sunburster, Trudging to Extinction

Any band that describes its sound as “neolithic knuckle-draggin’ grunge-tinged sludge metal that’ll hit all the right notes for anyone falling in between Eyehategod and Alice in Chains” will immediately pique my curiosity. It’s a good thing, then, that this new EP from Philly’s Sunburster does, in fact, hit all the right notes for said fans – and likely an unsuspecting audience beyond that.

This one’s a quick listen, to be sure, with three original songs and two covers – “Night Goat” by Melvins and “Last” by Nine Inch Nails. My fondness for the Broken album turned me on to the latter, and we’ll get to that in a second. The original tracks on Trudging to Extinction all roar and pulsate and deliver the kind of sludgy swagger that bands like Crowbar do so well, with “Roach” being my favorite of the trio.

Vocally, though, Sunburster distinguish themselves as less like Kirk Windstein and more akin to a post-hardcore squawk. It fits the ten-ton hammer of the riffing quite well, with the songs not overstaying their welcome in the slightest. I’ll have my eye on whatever’s next for this promising east coast crew.




Frozen Soul, Glacial Domination

I’m amazed that we haven’t covered this incredible release from Fort Worth’s Frozen Soul yet.

2021’s Crypt of Ice earned this band a ton of shouts when it was released. Personally, I was just impressed that a band from Texas, of all places, could sound like they were straight out of Norway in the late ‘90s. Seeing this band live is also an experience you won’t forget – ever had a huge man scream at you in between playing metal songs and then demand you drop to the ground and “give him 20 pushups” like we’re in boot camp? Me neither, until that night.

Glacial Domination, though, is an absolutely savage successor to Ice. It packs in more riffs, more memorably ferocious choruses, and incredibly clean production value into 11 of the most infectious metal songs of 2023 so far. “Invisible Tormentor” kicks us into the highest of gears from its opening seconds, and the half-time breakdown in “Arsenal of War” is pure weapons-grade mayhem.

As if that wasn’t enough, guest appearances from the likes of Dying Fetus’s John Gallagher and Trivium’s Matt Heafy spice things up nicely, with an interesting – and surprising – inclusion of the dark mage of synth Gost for the band’s eponymous track.

If Glacial Domination is a new band firing on all fucking cylinders, there’s a lot to be excited about what’s coming out of the Dallas/Fort Worth scene right now.



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

  3 Responses to “GONZO’S HEAVY ROUNDUP, MAY 2023”

  1. Looking forward to reading your write up of the NW Terror Fest.

    We thank you and your liver for your service!

  2. I never listened much to Unearth, but this record is good. I’m gonna check them out more.

    But–isnt this record from 10 years ago?

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.