A less stacked though no less substantial Release Day this time around, which sees surprisingly solid releases from the likes of Stratovarius and Venom Inc. and the long-awaited return of Ken Mode in addition to our top picks.
Mo'ynoq – A Place for Ash (progressive black metal)
Raw atmospheric black metal? Progressive DSBM? Call it what you will, North Carolina's Mo'ynoq have got something going on here that sets them aside from and above their fellow black metal up-and-comers. A Place for Ash is simultaneously confronting and soothing, frequently blending stark nihilism to lush progressive breaks. There's something genuinely transfixing about this record, despite its often confrontational presentation, that reminds me of Deafheaven and Nachtmystium while still retaining more of black metal's classic rawness than either of those bands ever possessed (the cover really does do a good job of summing up what the album has in store). A Place for Ash is endlessly harrowing, yet equally elating and entirely essential.
Gaerea – Mirage (progressive black metal)
Mirage is a lot cleaner and more melodic than A Place for Ash and even Gaerea's own previous material, but it's no less challenging or striking because of it. It's the kind of album whose epic scope demands attention and the enigmatic Portugese act really feel like they're teetering on the edge of something truly special with this one. There's still some fat to be trimmed and the songwriting could use a few more hooks, but Mirage easily replaces sitting still for fifty-four minutes as the best thing this band have ever done.
Miscreance – Convergence (prog death, thrash)
If you're looking for something more familiar, then I can't reccomend Convergence enough. 2022 is already killing it with the Death worship and this is yet another brilliant record to add to the pile. Miscreance bring a slight thrash edge to their sound, reminiscent of Unspeakable Axe label mates Algebra, who also dropped a decent record today, but it's the old-school Death vibes that give them the edge.