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
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!)
havukruunu - uinuos syömein sota
this was a consensus pick from 2020, and I can see why. really incredible black/folk metal, atmospheric, brutal in places, groovy in others. a real masterpiece
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!)
hooded menace - the tritonus bell
this just came out, and I've heard good things about hooded menace so I checked it out. I love this album! death/doom with 80s heavy metal inflections throughout, this sounds very melodeath to me, which is perfect. everything about this is great, the riffs, the songwriting, the production. I'm excited to check out more of their back catalogue (spoiler alert, I already did) as I've heard they mix up their sound each time out
hooded menace - ossuarium silhouettes unhallowed
this is hooded menace's second most recent release. I really liked this, but didn't love it as much as the tritonus bell. it feels darker, more sombre, less accessible (but by no means inaccessible). not a bad thing, just means I need to listen to it some more!
piah mater - the wandering daughter
this album is very much a spiritual successor to opeth's 00s output: heavy sections (mostly death, but some other sounds there too) with lyrical, flowing sections interspersed. the execution is excellent, so I love this! it does occasionally veer towards derivative, but never for long enough to be a problem. I'm very interested to hear what they'll do next, I'd like to hear them develop their own sound further
jinjer - wallflowers
this album rules! it has jinjers characteristic sound, blending brutal sections with grooves and soft sections, but it feels like the heavier parts are more melodic (and less purely djenty) than in the past. i've mostly listened to jinjer via youtube videos thus far, so I might be off base on that. regardless, this is a really great listen!
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