paranorm - empyrean
I really dig this. it evokes what I love about thrash metal while bringing enough other stuff to keep it fresh and interesting. lots of interesting harmonies, great drums, great mix. I think they could probably have dropped a track: at 54 minutes, this is extremely long by thrash standards but it does *almost* earn it
atramentus - stygian
45 minutes and 3 tracks of atmospheric doom metal: sub 50bpm, organ, growls, assorted drones. what's not to love? (nothing. this rules.) I can see why this made a lot of 2020 album of the year lists
cangaço - rastros
brazilian folk/death metal, this is really great! it's very dense, rhythmically complex and driven, really great bass work. it took me a few tracks to get into it, but listening for a second time now it's all great. it doesn't really sound quite like anything else. highly recommend!
gaupa - feberdröm
this is fairly straightforward proggy stoner rock, except for the vocals. the vocal performance is arresting, reminiscent of bent knee, and meshes well with the band. for me, the drums stop it from really hitting, though this is more a reflection on my enjoyment of rock drumming than the drummer, I suspect (not a double kick to be heard!)
the gathering - mandylion
i LOVE this. anneke van giersburgen has an amazing voice: I've heard her collaborating in so much other stuff, so I'm surprised I've not listened to this before. the band and composition are also incredible. it's a very simple sound in some ways, but they do an awful lot with it. definitely an inspiration for my own music
abiotic - ikigai
this is a mixed bag for me. some excellent moments, and some great individual tracks, but the brutal/technical sections don't really land for me: the drums get a bit ticky tacky at that speed (only really in those sections though, there's a lot of the drumming I do like!), and that takes the life out of them.
good album, I think, but not quite to my tastes
leprous - aphelion
this album largely continues leprous' move towards rock, and I think it's the poorer for it. einar's vocals continue to impress, and move, but the music behind him often lacks the dramatic flair of previous releases. the strings sound the same across the album, and there's a lot of homogenous singing over pads. I still enjoyed it, but am less excited for their future releases, I think. nighttime disguise, the closing track, is the standout (and gives me some hope!)
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