I know that this month Metal Periscope comes very late, but it’s due to the fact that there were so many great releases to listen to (and so little free time).
Some of the finest albums of the month are, as always, below:
Ursa – Abyss Between the Stars
If traditional doom metal with modern sound is up your alley, I highly recommend the debut album of this Californian band.
Composed entirely by the members of the band Cormorant, Ursa has nothing to do musically with it.
While there is a slight progressive touch inherent to this record, Abyss Between the Stars reminds me more of the other contemporary American doom metal bands, such as Pallbearer and Khemmis.
I hope that this album is just a taste of what’s about to come from these evidently talented musicians, but it already is a very good record.
The Ocean – Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic
After five long years of waiting the Berlin band presents us their new record that is supposed to be part one of two.
As usual, when it comes to The Ocean‘s music, what we can hear on Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic is an amalgam of progressive metal, sludge and post-metal. But I think that this albums leans a bit more towards the progressive side of the band’s music.
Or maybe it is just that some of the vocal lines remind me a lot of Ray Alder.
If you like a kind of music that is very thoughtful and philosophical, but at the same time manages to be fierce and passionate, you probably already know The Ocean‘s music pretty well. In this case, you will likely enjoy this album a lot.
But, if you’ve never heard of the band, the album in question will serve as a good entry point.
Rising – Sword and Scythe
The fourth full-length album of the Copenhagen quintet may be their finest so far.
For all those nostalgic about the early Mastodon records, Sword and Scythe can be just the right kind of medicine.
Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want
This album is an exception from the rule as it’s not a metal album at all, but it’s so interesting that I couldn’t avoid mentioning it here.
I never listened to Daughters‘ music before so I can’t tell, if You Won’t Get What You Want is any different from the band’s previous records, but this one definitely sounds crazy.
It’s very difficult to put a label on what the Providence group does on this album. It’s definitely experimental. Then, there are some elements of noise rock on it too. The vocals could have their roots in post-hardcore.
All in all, this is a kind of album that seems to want to make you feel uncomfortable and nearly drive you insane. Therefore I recommend it to all those who enjoy avant-garde and experimental music and have a strong psyche.
Sorrowful Land – I Remember
I confess I sometimes miss good old nineties’ doom/death metal. Luckily, there are some bands and musicians that feel the same way and create works that serve to satiate this thirst.
Ukrainian one-man-band Sorrowful Land is one of them.
I can’t express how grateful I am to Solitude Productions for keeping the spirit of doom metal alive. They have so many great bands in their catalogue, and I think that Max Molodtsov’s musical endeavors deserve some attention.
While the music presented on I Remember definitely lacks originality, there is no discussing its quality.
Nochnoy Dozor – Nochnoy Dozor (EP)
Curiously named after the Sergei Lukyanenko novel, this new band from Greece shows a lot of promise.
Nochnoy Dozor features Manos Georgakopoulos, the guitarist of Universe217, and it comes as no surprise as both bands share the same experimental spirit laid over the doom metal foundation.
Melancholic, but powerful dual female vocals soar over the riffs, creating intricate patterns that at times remind of Madder Mortem.
This EP is truly a brilliant debut for the band, and my expectations for Nochnoy Dozor‘s future works are quite high.
The Howling Void/Nyss – Ravens of the Burning God (Split)
This is the first split album featured on Metal Periscope, but I just couldn’t ignore it.
The Howling Void is actually one of my favourite funeral doom metal bands. I like Ryan Wilson’s approach to the sub-genre.
I never heard about Nyss before, but this French experimental black metal band definitely deserves some attention. While not revolutionary the sound of the band is quite unique and fresh.
Slegest – Introvert
Intrevert is already the third full-length album of Slegest, the band of the ex-guitarist of Vreid Stig Ese. It shames me to admit that this is the first album of the band I listened to, but I am planning on study their previous works as soon as I find time, because the music presented on Introvert is really cool.
It definitely reminds me of Vreid, but also of some other great Norwegian bands, such as Einherjer and Kveletrak.
This is a weird cocktail of black metal, doom metal and rock that, strangely, works. And works really well.
Warpath – Filthy Bastard Culture
Who says thrash metal is all about speed?
The Germans Warpath prove that you don’t have to go 200 BPM to play really aggressive music. Their brand of thrash metal is middle-paced and based on heavy (almost doom-y) riffs, but it hits more than many typical galloping thrash metal records.
Azusa – Heavy Yoke
Azusa is a supergroup that features members of Extol and The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Obviously, the music on this album couldn’t be easy listening and accessible.
There is so much going on that sometimes it takes a high level of concentration not to miss a detail. And even then you may fail.
Between intricate riffs, changes of pace and mood and brilliantly executed vocals courtesy of Eleni Zafiriadou, Heavy Yoke will be able to satisfy the most demanding extreme progressive music connoisseurs.
Sigh – Heir to Despair
It’s hard for me to be objective in this case, because I am a big admirer of Mirai Kawashima’s work. And even more so since You Oshima (Kadenzza) joined the band back in 2014.
Heir to Despair is the new chapter in the history of the band, and it’s not a chapter that copies the band’s previous albums, but rather a completely new one.
Despite the title, the music presented on this record is not that depressive. More accurate words would be “pensive” and “elaborate”.
I think that the fans of the band will be happy with the new album. And maybe the band will even be able to gain some new fans.
In the Woods… – Cease the Day
In the Woods… needs no introduction for it is one of the most important bands on Norwegian progressive/avant-garde metal scene.
Formed in the early 90’s as a black metal band (like many Norwegian bands at that time) Anders Kobro and Co. later evolved into an avant-garde metal band and offered us such great (and strange) records as Omnio and Strange in Stereo.
In 2016 the band returned with (a slightly more accessible) album, Pure. That record leaned more toward progressive metal as there was less weirdness, but the complexity was still very much present in the band’s music.
Cease the Day shows In the Woods… continuing in the same vein, which is not necessarily a band thing. The album is quite complex and demands a certain level of concentration to appreciate it.
Highly recommended to the most open-minded of prog fans.
Doomsday Outlaw – Hard Times
If you are looking for some great riff-based hard rock, look no longer!
This British band clearly knows how to do things right. They have all three main ingredients of a great hard rock album: catchy and heavy riifs, good vocalist and clear production.
Wardruna – Skald
If you like folk music in general or, more importantly, Nordic folk music in particular, you shouldn’t miss Wardruna‘s fourth full-length album.
The title of the album tells it all: it consists basically of singing in the style of scalds of yore.
King Dude – Music to Make War to
King Dude‘s newest record, Music to Make War to, is a great example of bleak and emotional music.
While the band is clearly influenced by such great English gothic rock/post-punk bands as The Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim, they incorporate some subtle elements of traditional American music (blues and country) and neofolk, which results in a musical cocktail that is as exciting as it is delicious.
Sadist – Spellbound
The latest album of Italian progressive metal experts Sadist follows the formula the band created years ago: jazzy rhythms, proggy riffs, deep grunts and atmospheric keyboards.
While this recipe doesn’t always work as well as on the eponymous 2007 album, Spellbound can be put on the shelf along the band’s best records.
And, if you are into horror movies, you will find a lyrical theme of this record appealing.
Einherjer – Norrøne spor
Viking metal titans Einherjer return with their new album, Norrøne spor(Norse track).
If you are not familiar with the band, then you should know that probably the most distinctive trait of Einherjer‘s music is that they favour electric guitars over traditional instruments when it comes to melodies and that their interpretation of traditional Norwegian music reminds me of the great Norwegian classical composer Edvard Grieg.
Balancing between the melodic and the epic, Norrøne spor is a worthy addition to the band’ discography.
Décembre Noir – Autumn Kings
I already mentioned some rather interesting releases from German doom/death metal bands this year. Autumn Kings is another one of them.
On their third full-length album Thuringians play a kind of doom/death that is both melodic and harsh, and, above all, filled with strong emotions.
While the aforementioned formula may sound familiar to the fans of bands like Swallow the Sun, Décembre Noir execute it very well.
Nanowar of Steel – Stairway to Valhalla
“And now for something completely different”…
If you are tired of all the gloom and seriousness and in the mood for laughing at the expense of some of the metal stereotypes, listen to the latest Nanowar of Steel record.
While the sense of humour is personal and not everyone will take well these Italians mocking their favourite bands, but there is no denying that they do it will a lot of technical proficiency and plenty of respect for the original (otherwise, what’s the point of making a parody?).
P.S. They even managed to convince Fabio Lione to participate in the craziness.
These are the albums I found the most interesting among the tons of records released in November.
I hope you enjoy this little compilation.
I guess, I’ll see you next year for December Metal Periscope. And then…
I will probably do a little “best of 2019” list.