The coming of spring offered us quite a few great new releases. Some of them are pretty innovative and/or experimental, while others are solid, high quality musical offerings from long-established bands.
They also differ a lot stylistically. This month we have some progressive metal, some traditional heavy metal, some doom, some black and more…
But I don’t want to rant too much. Read on, and be sure to check out some of the most interesting records of March 2018!
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Oceans of Slumber‘s debut album Winter was one of the biggest surprises of 2016 for me. The band offered us an intriguing mix of doom metal and extreme progressive metal with Cammie Gilbert’s unique vocals that sometimes almost created a dissonance with what the isntruments were playing, but it was that tasty kind of dissonance that is so welcome in progressive music.
The problem with making a great debut album is that many bands can’t manage to surpass it with their sophomore records. Luckily, Oceans of Slumber not only meet the fans’ expectations, but create an even more diverse and complex album.
The band’s influences stay the same, but there is more confidence in songwriting as well as in performance.
The Banished Heart is not an album for listening in the background. You have to listen to every note and pay attention to every detail in order to appreciate its greatness.
Black Moth – Anatomical Venus
Anatomical Venus is already the third album of this Leeds quintet. Its predecessor, Condemned to Hope, was a fine piece of stoner/doom. Is this new offering as good? My answer is no. It is even better.
If you like groovy (but heavy) riffs, 70’s vibe in songwriting and non-operatic female vocals, then Black Moth is definitely a band for you.
Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology
The slugs are back!
Not content with stating in the fields of England they go on their fourth crusade since 2012.
Main weapons of these specimens are deep growls, tremolo picking, palm-muted riffs and crushing rhythm section with some occasional clean vocals used to motivate the warriors.
If you happen to stand in the way of these ruthless gastropods, you better run fast or you will be left in the dirt covered in slime.
Judas Priest – Firepower
The Metal Gods are back! Yes, Firepower is nothing like Nostradamus in a sense that there is no experimental and no novelty to find on this record.
Still, this album is an impressive feat in itself. How many bands can you name that have so much firepower after almost 50 years of making heavy metal music?
Richie Faulkner’s rejuvenatin energy was already evident on Redeemer of Souls, but this time it is overflowing.
This record is a statement that the veterans of the genre are not going to retire any time soon.
Drudkh – Їм часто сниться капіж (They Often See Dreams About the Spring)
Eleventh record of Ukranian black metal band Drudkh does not introduce any new elements to the band’s music. Roman Saenko and his bandmates follow the recipe they invented many years ago, which is a kind of black metal that is agressive, atmospheric and poetic in equal parts.
Also, this is probably the most appropriate record to celebrate the coming of spring.
Twitching Tongues – Gaining Purpose Through Passionate Hatred
Combining such different genres as traditional doom metal and hardcore punk may seem like a crazy thing to do, but that is only until you listen to Gaining Purpose Through Passionate Hatred.
The Californians manage to blend the (seemingly) impossible to blend ingredients into a juicy mix. Clocking under 40 minutes, this record swings between the heavy & epic and fast & aggressive.
Between the Buried and Me – Automata I
Automata I is the first of two Automata records set to be released this year.
If you are familiar with the band’s previous effort, then you already know what to expect. You still can notice some subtle traces of the BtBaM’s earlier metalcore sound, but they are mostly buried (no pun intended) between the layers of high class progressive music.
It is quite evident that the musicians feel very comfortable within the boundaries of their current musical direction. I wish there were some surprising moments on this record, but still the musical quality is so high that the fact that it does not offer anything new can be easily forgiven.
On Thorns I Lay – Aegean Sorrow
I was quite surprised to learn that On Thorns I Lay, one of the great Greek bands of the 90’s, was returning with a new record this year.
To be honest, the band’s 2003 album Egocentric was nothing but a disappointment for me, so I stopped following the band ever since. That is why I didn’t know that they released Eternal Silence album in 2015.
Eternal Silence was a good album and a return to the band’s gothic metal sound. Still, it was good compared to its predecessor, but I did not like its general blandness and the fact that it was mostly dominated by female vocals.
But ever since I’ve watched the Erevos video, I knew that Aegean Sorrow was going to be a really different kind of album. Now I can say that it really is.
The 8th record of On Thorns I Lay marks the return to the roots, which lay in death/doom metal. That means that there are a lot of slow and heavy riffs, deep growls and just a little bit of keyboards to help set the right atmosphere.
If you are an old-time admirer of the band, you should definitely listen to this album. You won’t be disappointed.
Crisix – Against the Odds
I must confess that the majority of thrash metal albums released in recent years bore me to death, because they are recycling the ideas of the classic thrash records of the 80s.
Crisix does not aim to revolutionize the genre either, but there is no denying the raw energy present on Against the Odds that compensates for the lack of innovation.
Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
The Silent Vigil is the second album in two years of the new band of Karl Willets, formed in 2016 as a tribute to late Bolt Thrower drummer Martin Kearns.
This record will definitely please the fans of Bolt Thrower and slower, groovier death metal in general. Karl Willets’ rasps sound as great as 30 years ago, and the instrumentation is top-notch.
Mournful Congregation – The Incubus of Karma
Australian masters of funeral doom metal released their fifth full-length record this year.
While not straying too far from the canon of the genre, Mournful Congregation offers us a gradiose almost 80-minutes-long album that is as complex as it is beautiful.
Kino – Radio Voltaire
13 years have passed since the release of the first Kino album, Picture. The musicians were busy with other bands, and it seemed that the first album would become the band’s last one too.
But then… Out of the blue, we were offered Radio Voltaire, the album worthy of its predecessor. John Mitchell (Arena, Frost*, Lonely Robot), Pete Trewavas (Marillion), John Beck, Bob Dalton (It Bites) and Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson, Frost*) created a modern prog rock record that finds a nearly perfect balance between the complexity and the accessibility.
Fireproven – Future Diary
These Finnish prog metallers combine the influences of such classic bands and artists as Dream Theater and Devin Townsend with modern metal sound to create a piece of art that is heavy, melodic and intricate at the same time.
Chaostar – The Undivided Light
The Undivided Light is already the 5th record of Chris Antoniou’s (Septicflesh) project Chaostar.
I really love such bands as Arcana or Elend, and I love Chris’ orchestrations a lot too. That’s why I always awaited impatiently new records of Chaostar, the band that merges all these things together with charming voice of Androniki Skoula on top.
Definitely the most epic and the most atmospheric album of the month.
Primordial – Exile Amongst the Ruins
Primordial throught all 25 years of the band’s existence keeps proving that pagan metal is much more than adding traditional instruments and making drinking songs. Drawing inspiration both from the dark side of Ireland’s history and the dark side of modern life, Dublin quintet creates a kind of music that is so unique in its passion and execution that no other band can hope to even come close.
Exile Amongst the Ruins is an album that definitely earns its place amongst such band’s masterpieces as Storm Before Calm and To the Nameless Dead.
Lychgate – The Contagion in Nine Steps
If you are in a mood for some progressive black metal, you should not miss out on a new offering by Lychgate.
The Contagion in Nine Steps is the third album of this band from London, and the one that shows that they still have some aces up their sleeves. Featuring Greg Chandler on vocals and guitar, it comes as no surprise that the band’s sound leans towards complex sonic landscapes, but without the same level of earache.
Clocking at a bit more than 40 minutes, this record is bound to leave you craving for more.
Well, that’s it for March. Enjoy the music and check out the Youtube playlist.
See you in April!