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Editors' Picks // June 2024

Lo and behold, it is time for yet another Editors' Picks! This time around, we have June's edition which is somewhat of a weird one as we are already gearing up for July's Best So Far of 2024.

a month ago

Lo and behold, it is time for yet another Editors' Picks! This time around, we have June's edition which is somewhat of a weird one as we are already gearing up for July's Best So Far of 2024. Thus, our eyes are already turned towards the past, in summary mode, and we might make the stupid mistake of glazing over June's crop of music. And in 2024, that would be an especially idiotic mistake, as there was some killer music released in Summer's first "proper" month. So, a few weeks before we recap the monolithic 2024, delay a little and dive into June's offering; there's plenty on here that will undoubtedly crop up on that promised summary post.

Happy reading! See you soon.

BRING ME THE HORIZON - POST HUMAN: NEX GEN (alternative metal, metalcore) 

For better or worse, Bring Me The Horizon are one of the most inconsistent bands in metal. It’s actually lovely to see a band transform themselves time and time again, tapping into cross-generational waves of rock and metal and blending them into a sound all their own while achieving international headliner status, offering fans of mainstream rock a gateway into metalcore and the deathcore hidden within the depths of their discography. Perhaps it’s expected that a site such as this would put much more stock into the nostalgia of the band’s deathcore era, but at least for this writer personally, I’ve found that Bring Me The Horizon were far more adept at this alternative metal / metalcore / emo intersection they’ve been exploring over the past decade or more and making tweaks to reflect the surrounding metal scene along the way. It worked wonders on what is perhaps their best release to date in 2020’s Post Human: Survival Horror, which took an electronic and industrial aesthetic with cues from video game soundtracks and DOOM’s Mick Gordon (who helped co-produce a number of the tracks). I’m sorry, but they’re just better off doing a Linkin Park impression than they ever were doing pig squeals and breakdowns. And I love pig squeals and breakdowns.  

In the four long years since Survival Horror, Bring Me The Horizon have pulled those strings of influence further on the sudden release of NEX GEN, continuing the course correction back to metalcore from the pop-driven 2019 album Amo as well as playing up their electronic and industrial production style with a hyperpop influence to create an album perfect for the TikTok generation, or at least, the best one of its kind since last year’s Take Me Back To Eden. This of course means that this album won’t be for everybody, and may cause more than a few Heavy Blog readers to roll their eyes at this album’s inclusion in this column as one of the best albums of the last month, and that’s okay. I firmly believe that what BMTH does on NEX GEN with their blend of alternative metal, emo pop, metalcore, and hyperpop is awe inspiring, and deserves to be a template for the evolution of mainstream alternative music. 

The album is by no means perfect – and it doesn’t have to be – but it is fun as hell. “YOUtopia” may be one of the greatest BMTH songs of all time, absolutely ethereal, triumphant, and anthemic with a chorus to die for. “Limousine” bites Deftones in a big way, but I’m not complaining at all. “Kool Aid” is melodic metalcore done right, and its spiteful nature is enthralling. “Top 10 Statues That Cried Blood” and “A Bullet W/ My Name On” (featuring Underoath!) are both nostalgic 2000’s post-hardcore bangers that play up hyperpop keyboards and production and are infinitely catchy. “Lost” is a bit of a grower and answers a question nobody dared ask: what if 100 Gecs collaborated with My Chemical Romance? Repulsive to some, but it’s so infectious nonetheless. “Amen!” offers the album’s heaviest moments with panic chords and throat-searing howls and features some memorable contributions from Glassjaw’s Daryl Palumbo and a half-verse from rapper Lil Uzi Vert, and it actually works amazingly well. 

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows: Oli’s sensibilities are incredibly juvenile and often off-putting, with alternating caps in the tracklist not doing much favor when it comes to taking the band seriously, and Oli taps into some of the worst emo pop tropes for some juvenile lyrics about mental health. This isn’t a no-skip album, with the OST tracks being cool in theory alone beyond the first listen and the weird accent Oli dons on weakest link “Die4U” being pretty questionable. All told though, NeX GEn is one of the most fun, engaging, and catchy albums I’ve heard all year, and is doing some genuinely interesting work in experimenting with genre in a way that others simply aren’t. If you’ve got a soft spot for 2000’s metalcore, post-hardcore, emo pop, or nu metal, this album is worth the price of admission. 

-JR

NECROPANTHER – OBLIVION JONES (PROGRESSIVE BLACK-THRASH)

Something has been brewing in the Necropanther camp for a while now; slowly, over their last few releases, their blackened thrash sound has been mutated, augmented by more and more intricate progressive tendencies. Oblivion Jones, their latest release, has been birthed from this gestation, presenting Necropanther in their deadliest and most intricate form yet. Like Godzilla unveiling some sort of fucked up laser while holding on to its brute force, Oblivion Jones marries Necropanther’s penchant for fast, heavy, and aggressive thrash with their most eclectic and intricate compositions - saxophone, agile bass, “open” and chromatic guitars, and expansive track structures collaborate to make this album more than the sum of its part. The result is something that’s as broad and ambitious as it is serrated and incisive.

You’re probably best off starting at the beginning, by checking out the excellent “The Denver School”. It condenses into its four minutes and change everything that’s excellent about Oblivion Jones. First, there’s the main guitar riff, all groove and fury, and the signature blackened vocals that have won Necropanther their seat at the table. But things quickly start to morph; the groove section is much more complex and varied than before, not to mention the excellent saxophone feature which goes further than just an excursion and waves its way into the compositions that close out the track. Sprinkle in some of those aforementioned guitar chords, mainly in the final passages of the track and its bridges, some really clever callbacks throughout, and an overall structure that channels all of these elements into perfection, and you’ve got yourself a gleaming blade of an opening track.

Later on the album, Necorpanther will dabble in doom metal, return to their vociferous aggression, and explore many more sounds in between, with the tenor saxophone returning to beautifully inlay it all with its unique timbre. Whatever they end up doing, Necropanther do it with plenty of skill on Oblivion Jones. It’s an album that is as tightly produced, composed, and recorded as it is incredibly boundary-pushing for the band, expanding their excellence into new realms. With it, Necorpanther have fully solidified their place as a name to watch and a band to listen to, relying on their established core sound to do things wilder, faster, weirder, and better than ever before. All hail!

-EK

KNOCKED LOOSE - YOU WON’T GO BEFORE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO (metalcore)

Every so often a record arrives with that certain level of hype that has inherent baggage attached to it. In a musical space mainly occupied by people who have existed on the outskirts of the pop music zeitgeist for much of their lives, it’s a strange thing to see the harshness and brutality that we adore gain some level of mainstream popularity. There’s no better contemporary example of this strange phenomenon than the last five years in the life of Kentucky hardcore boys Knocked Loose, who have inexplicably become music industry darlings despite, well… everything about them. Theres is an especially heavy, merciless, and unrelenting brand of metallic hardcore punctuated by piercing, abrasive vocals that are as off-putting to some as they are incredible to the band’s devoted fan base. Following legendary sets at Coachella and Bonnaroo, the band’s star has risen to profoundly befuddling levels, flying in the face of general wisdom that hipster doofuses in flower fits can’t also mosh. 

Which, at least in part, is a notable reason why the band’s third full-length release is such a startling triumph. For a group that has reached an apex of crossover success that many extreme music acts can only dream of, You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To is surprisingly uncompromising. In fact, it would be possible to argue that this record is among their heaviest, nastiest, most certifiably mom-hateable releases to date. Those who have enjoyed Knocked Loose up to this point will find no softening of their sound, no dilution of their established mission. This is a vicious, murderous, straightforward metallic hardcore release that has one gear: monstrously heavy. 

I fucking love it with my whole heart. 

While You Won’t Go… contains less of the more progressive punches that made A Tear in the Fabric of Life (still one of the best extreme music EPs I’ve ever heard) and the Upon Loss singles such stark successes, it more than makes up for their absence by throwing some of the heaviest haymakers I’ve heard in a minute. Opener “Thirst” is a perfect introduction to the mayhem to come, featuring primary vocalist Bryan Garris and guitarist Isaac Hale alternating between hardcore barks and death metal growls with some seasoned, sweet synchronicity. The vocals of Knocked Loose feel firmly established at this point as a love them or hate them proposition, and this record will change no one’s mind. For those in the love it camp, You Won’t Go… is the band’s most electric and convincing work so far, featuring a veritable smorgasbord of tasty vocal gyrations and intense but weirdly poignant lyrics. Standard fare for Knocked Loose, but no less great than their best work. 

But it’s the music that takes center stage here, and it’s just under 30 minutes of punishment that will be difficult to top in any branch of extreme music this year. This isn’t heavy for hipster ears. This is heavy for any ears. “Suffocate”, “Don’t Reach for Me”, and “Blinding Faith” are among the most vicious tracks the band has yet written, highlighting Knocked Loose’s continued devotion to nastiness. But it’s the album’s non-single tracks that surprise and delight the most. “The Calm That Keeps You Awake” and “Sit & Mourn” are probably my favorite tracks on the entire record, blending the band’s propensity for heaviness with an emotional heft that their contemporaries so often fail to reach. It’s spellbinding stuff. 

It should be obvious that I couldn’t give a fuck at this point what the metal militia thinks about Knocked Loose. I’m a devotee of their particular brand of heaviness, and could not be more impressed by You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To. It’s an immense, concentrated dose of hardcore heaviness that my ears have sorely needed, and while it may not reach the highs of A Tear in the Fabric of Life, it’s no less effective in execution. I commend Knocked Loose for responding to meteoric fame by digging even deeper into the elements that make their music engaging and sonically prohibitive for many, and cannot wait to see where they take us next. 

-Jonathan Adams

THOU - UMBILICAL (sludge)

In a rare fit of inspiration, I’m hitting up a two-fer on the review front this month. Mainly because the records I decided to cover feel like two sides of the same sonic coin. While Knocked Loose brought a distilled version of their core sound in You Won’t Go…, the same could be said of Louisiana doomers Thou, though perhaps even more so. Over their multi-decade career, Thou have worn many musical hats. Their solo work has always been a unique and potent blend of sludge and doom metal, but their collaborative efforts over the past several years with the likes of Emma Ruth Rundle and The Body brought out an even more progressive side to the band’s established sound. Couple that with the release of their last solo effort, Magus, and you have what felt like a sea change in the band’s sound into more consistently progressive territory. That is, until Umbilical showed up and decided to just rip off heads. Exclusively. For nearly an hour. 

Hell yeah. 

At this stage in a band’s career a back-to-basics record shouldn’t be too surprising. With such an extensive catalog of releases one couldn’t fault Thou for deciding to delve deeply in their musical roots. But Umbilical is more than that. It doesn’t feel like a throwback at its core, though its musical trappings certainly feel like vintage Thou. Instead, the band’s latest record represents some of their most straightforward, genuinely abrasive, and boldly hateful music to date. Umbilical is filthy in every possible respect, and is in my estimation another strange and effective left turn in an already iconic discography. 

Not intended as a slight in any way, once you’ve heard opening track “Narcissist’s Prayer” you should have a good sense of what the album is going to deliver. In short, punishing sludge. There are trimmings of post-grunge in here as well, with Nirvana feeling like an apt comparison within some tracks. But that’s more if Nirvana decided that they wanted to be metal and hate everything even more than they already did. Umbilical is an outright machine of negativity, with Bryan Funck’s misanthropic lyrics punctuated with verve by ear-splitting screeches and hardcore barks. “House of Ideas” and “I Feel Nothing When You Cry” have become instant classics in the band’s catalog, showcasing every vile extremity and clever, subtle twist the most abrasive elements of Thou’s sound are capable of conjuring. Seeing this record performed live sounds both great and absolutely terrible, and I’m all in on making that happen. 

I could go on about this record, but the bottom line is it’s one of my favorite Thou releases in a long while and I heartily recommend it. It’s also fascinating how bands known for their penchant for experimentation have opted in 2024 for supreme heaviness and more straightforward brutality. Knocked Loose, Thou, and Bongripper all opted for this track to my ears and god I love to see it. Here’s to more talented bands remembering, now matter how deviant their path from the straight and narrow road of pure aggression has become, that heaviness in the right hands can be in and of itself a virtue. 

Here’s to more heavy, all the time. 

-JA

EL MOONO - THE WAKING SUN (alt metal, prog post-hardcore)

The British alternative metal and rock scene has been one of the more interesting and maybe not talked about enough regional scenes among heavy music, especially when it leans into the post-hardcore influence. Consistently over the past decade or two, there have been a number of bands to break out of this scene to get some much deserved global attention, backed by strong song-writing and often great vocals. We’re talking bands like Arcane Roots, Jamie Lenman’s projects, We Never Learned to Live, Port Noir, Black Peaks, and more. Progressive touches, seemingly influenced by bands like Karnivool, are often a theme here. The latest of such, is El Moono with their impressive debut The Waking Sun

While it fits loosely in with this scene, this is an album that stretches that typical connotations of those genres. Part of this are some very distinct influences, or at least direct comparisons that can be drawn. The biggest has to be vocalist Zac Johnson, who could very serviceably fill in for later-era Greg Puciato. The powerful, crooning melodies, even the timbre of the voice. It’s also that sort of voice that lives on the edge of breaking, frequently swinging back and forth with expressive passion and rage. It’s not quite the unhinged, worried-about-their-sanity delivery of some of Greg’s Dillinger work, but it’s not far off either. Given the general alternative sound here, this is definitely recommended for fans of Greg’s latest album Mirrorcell. 

Another point of comparison could be made to Deftones, and the growing grungy-shoegaze movement creeping into a lot of post-hardcore, metalcore and rock as a whole again. There’s some of that sensual, and little bit depraved energy of stuff like Around the Fur, meets the dense, lush atmospheric moments of their later material. El Moono is also undeniably heavy. Thick, hearty guitar tones carry equally beefy grooves that demand your attention. It’s almost Gojira-lite at times, delivering a memorable dynamic with the aforementioned moods and character, and prog-minded song-writing that keeps things from getting too repetitive. Despite wearing some of these influences on its sleeve, it feels beyond being just a knockoff or overtly derivative and keeps things interesting from start to finish. The Waking Sun is a surefire debut of the year contender, beaming with confidence and swagger beyond their years and refreshing, youthful creativity. 

-Trent Bos

Squelching Flesh - Psychic Incarnation (progressive goregrind)

A muddy tidal wave seems to be brewing in the world of extreme music. Goregrind, a subgenre that often festers in an isolated corner of underground projects and cult followings, is moving to centerstage with an onslaught of releases that wear their bloody influences on their sleeve.

New Jersey’s Squelching Flesh spew forth a toxic blend of murky goregrind and progressive metal that lands somewhere between Cuff, Fathomless Ritual, Atræ Bilis, and Blasted Pancreas. Mastered by Colin Marston and featuring guest appearances by Will Smith (Afterbirth, Reeking Aura) and Paulo Paguntalan (Miasmatic Necrosis, Encenathrakh), Psychic Incarnation joins a growing flood of superheavy releases that juxtapose the swampy depths of goregrind and slam with technical and progressive execution. 

Psychic Incarnation has an impressively well-developed vision for a debut release, wrapping pitch shifted vocals in a discordant atmosphere that’s spliced with razor-sharp riffs. Tapping into the new wave of death doom, Squelching Flesh embraces a cavernous sound that adds a distinct dimension to their music. The title track, featuring Paulo Paguntalan, opens with evil and downright groovy guitars that defy all gory logic and transition seamlessly into a miasma of gurgling vocals and chugging beats. The individual pieces shouldn’t work together, but Squelching Flesh transforms a mass of severed elements into a bloody masterpiece of dissonance, gore, and prog. 

-Bridget Hughes

Further Listening

Beaten to DeathSunrise Over Rigor Mortis (Progish Grindcore)

What can I say? I fucking love Beaten to Death. No other grindcore band keeps you guessing as much as they do and, on Sunrise Over Rigor Mortis, they’ve shown us they are the masters of the unholy merger of melody, melancholy, and grind.

-EK

Aseitas - Eden Trough (prog-disso-death)

A fiercely progressive release in all regards, Aseitas’ Eden Trough is some of the best death metal you’ll find this year.  A strong follow-up to their 2020 breakout album False Peace, this EP feels somehow more focused and more expansive, exploring a truly eclectic range of death and progressive metal. Brutal dissonance, avant-garde weirdness, punishing grooves, contemplative soundscapes for pondering the void, all flowing seamlessly together in a bizarrely enriching harmony. 

-TB

The Last of Lucy - Godform (technical death metal)

California’s The Last of Lucy play a devastating form of technical death metal that draws inspiration from brutal death metal and mathcore. Godform takes their sound to new heights with zero wasted space and a blistering pace that blazes with originality. 

-BH

Hemotoxin - When Time Becomes Loss (death thrash)

Hemotoxin just hits. With a bludgeoning mix of surgically precise thrash and pummeling death metal riffs, When Time Becomes Loss has been clinically proven to break your brain and your neck. 

-BH

Reliqa - Secrets of the Future (djentirifed nu-metal)

This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I'm happy to say that it did not disappoint. Reliqa use their first full length to build up on the groovy, jumpy, and punchy nu-metal of their previous EP, injecting it with a lot of momentum and new compositional ideas. You're moshing.

-EK

COBRA THE IMPALER – KARMA COLLISION (THRASHY STONER-PROG)
FOUR STROKE BARON – DATA DIAMOND (PROGISH ALT METAL)
GENERAL FIBROSIS – CROSSBREED GENERATION (TECHISH BRUTAL DEATH METAL)
HEKSEGRAV – SVART PORTAL (FUNERAL DOOM)
SWAMPBEAST – OFFERING OF CHAOS, LAMENTING IN THE BLOOD OF MAN (DEATH METAL/DOOM)
VALE OF PNATH – BETWEEN THE WORLDS OF LIFE AND DEATH (SYMPHONIC BLACKENED DEATH METAL)
ABRAMS – BLUE CITY (STONER-GRUNGE)
BLEAKHEART – SILVER PULSE (POST-GOTH DOOM)
SENTIMENT DISSOLVE – THE ORWELLIAN DREAM (BRUTAL TECH-DEATH)
SQUELCHING FLESH – INCARCERATION (PROGRESSIVE GOREGRIND)
GATECREEPER – DARK SUPERSTITION (CROSSOVER DEATH METAL/MELODEATH)
SHOKRAN – DUAT (PROGRESSIVE TECH-METAL/DEATHCORE)
THE LAST OF LUCY – GODFORM (BRUTAL/PROGGISH TECH DEATH)
BOTANIST – PALEOBOTANY (POST-BLACK)
INNER LANDSCAPE – 3H33 (PROGGY POST-METAL)
TZOMPANTLI – BEATING THE DRUMS OF ANCESTRAL FORCE (DEATH DOOM)
UFOMAMMUT – HIDDEN (WEIRD/PSYCHEDELIC STONER-SLUDGE)
EL MOONO – THE WAKING SUN (PROGRESSIVE POST-HARDCORE, ALT ROCK/METAL)
CHASKA – RITES OF JUNE (PROGRESSIVE MELODEATH, FOLK METAL)
MARKGRAF – HOHENBADEN (BLACKENED HEAVY METAL)
FIRE AT THE PLANTATION HOUSE – SOUTHAMPTON INSURRECTION (WEIRD PROGRESSIVE/TECH-DEATH)
TERMINAL NATION – ECHOES OF THE DEVIL’S DEN (BRUTAL DEATHCORE)

Eden Kupermintz

Published a month ago