MONARCH! – Never Forever

Managing an album’s length is more than just a numbers game. As important as the song count and run time of a track list may be, an album’s experiential length is more closely linked to the content contained within each track. More specifically, this is defined not by the quality of an album’s ideas, but the quantity of those ideas, as well as their organization. As an example, consider your standard 20-ish minute, 20+ track grindcore album—though it may be shorter than most people’s morning commute, a band with the the most simple genre formula is introducing the listener to roughly two dozen song ideas, and if these ideas are executed poorly, the album is going to drag and lose its appeal despite presenting bite size compositions. This isn’t relevant to Never Forever because it suffers from an ineffective length; to the contrary, MONARCH! (Monarch, from here on out), have crafted an album with perfect pacing and structure that enhances the impact of the record. But the band operate in a genre rife with overindulgence, as evident by the sheer number of doom and drone metal albums comprised of a handful of tracks that each rival the entirety of a grindcore album while presenting barely enough ideas to rise above being musical melatonin.

Talsur – Slough of Despond

One-man metal bands have traditionally been dominated by black metal acts. Superficially, this makes sense. Thematically, the hyper-isolated, frost-bitten anguish of black metal is probably best fostered in a singular, individualized setting. Further, the low-barrier recording requirements of tinny, high-treble bedroom black metal means more people can simply start projects on their own, no band-mates or professional sound set-up required. Of course, there are exceptions. But black metal’s icy grip on one-man metal has, at times, seemed so tight as to prevent other genres from getting in on the action. Thankfully, Talsur is here to bring doom metal into the one-man domain.

Hey! Listen to Goatpsalm!

I’m not incredibly knowledgable on folk metal, but I have noticed a recent trend of bands that have done a great job putting folk elements into their music. Wintersun and Saor are the first to come to my mind, but even other, lesser known groups, like Forndom (which will hopefully find its own HLT in the future) have done incredible jobs reinventing the folk metal sound.What Russia’s Goatpsalm brings to the proverbial folk metal table is, in my opinion, incredibly original, at least in presentation. It’s as if the band has been able to strip folk metal down to its barest elements—the sounds of nature, the occasional acoustic guitar, and an assortment of ethnic instruments—and sort of build their sound up from there.