A big day for people who like much cooler music than me, with new releases from Ucerate, Julie Christmas, Mono, Rezn, Crypt Sermon, We Broke the Weather, New Horizon, Fu Manchu, Dagoba, Squid Pisser, Deprived Existence and plenty of saxophone, both expected and not.

a month ago

Top Picks

Julie Christmas – Ridiculous and Full of Blood (weird progressive post-sludge)

I, as I suspect many others, am mostly familiar with Julie Christmas from her collaboration with Cult of Luna on 2016's Mariner. Personally, While I personally prefer the albums either side of that one, there's no denying Mariner's position as a landmark in extreme, progressive music, and also possibly the greatest post metal album of all time. Moreover, while Cult of Luna have remained consistently active since then, this is the first we're hearing from Christmas since Mariner, to which Ridiculous and Full of Blood feels far more like a sequel to than her first solo album, The Bad Wife (2010), or anything by Made of Babies from my brief encounters with them.

Once again, Christmas's main collaborator on Ridiculous and Full of Blood is producer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Schneider, who worked with her on both The Bad Wife and Mariner, as well as records by Cave In, Ken Mode, The Red Chord, Rosetta and even On Broken Wings, if anyone remembers them,* along with Candiria guitarist John LaMacchi, Spotlights drummer Chris Enriquez and keyboardist Tom Tierney. Cult of Luna vocalist/guitarist Johannes Persson and drummer Thomas Hedlund also show up here and there, with Persson also taking up vocal duties on the very Cult of Luna-sounding "End of the World." Kylessa vocalist/guitarist Laura Pleasants also appears on album opener "Not Enough," although it's later track "Thin Skin" that sounds more Kylessa-esque. For the most part, Ridiculous and Full of Blood sits in the post-Cult of Luna mode, with only the very mid-period Bjork-sounding "Kids" and aggressive, late-album grunge number "Blast" breaking the mold. At the heart of it all though, is always Christmas's compelling and often confronting charisma, which never cease to exude charisma amid all the brooding chaos she and her collaborators have concocted.

There's no getting away from the Cult of Luna comparisons, but if anything Ridiculous and Full of Blood proves just how much of a collaborative effort Mariner truly was, and goes a long way toward suggesting that,as great as Cult of Luna can be on their own, it's Christmas who is the magic ingredient. Expect to see this one showing up on, or even topping, a lot of very cool AOTY lists, and for good reason.

*Also 5ive apparently, but not that 5ive, which is disappointing.

Deprived Existence – Diabolical Dissonance (powerful black metal)

Now for the fun stuff. New York duo Deprived Existence started off playing "technical brutal blackened deathgrind" on their self-titled debut album (2022). Diabolical Dissonance, however, is a straight up black metal album that sounds like a chunkier Immortal in full Blashyrkh mode, with some surprisingly catchy and rather lurid lyrics about impregnating Lilith thrown in for good measure. It's an absolute blast of frosty, fantasy-fueled adrenaline that feels rather like a suitable follow up to that last, extremely killer, Kvaen record, which—regardless of its quality—their new album (released next week) really isn't. While I (or anyone else) probably don't need an entire,instrumental version of the album tacked on the end to pad out the run-time, I'm also happy to let it run through every time, just to sit in that atmosphere for an extra twenty minutes. The true test will be whether they can maintain this kind of energy and quality across a proper full-length in future. Then again, they'll probably put out something completely different, but they may well have stumbled upon their sound with this shockingly enjoyable second outing.

(Dis)Honourable Mention

Ulcerate – Cutting the Throat Of God (post-dissodeath)

I'm not sure about this one. I was a massive Ulcerate fan, up until their last album, 2020's otherwise-acclaimed Stare into Death and Be Still, which I continue to just not get at all, but while I definitely prefer Cutting the Throat of God, I just don't think post-era ulcerate is for me. Sure, the album brings back a lot of the band's trademark brooding malevolence, which I felt was sorely missing from their previous outing, but compared to previous benchmarks like Everything is Fire (2009) and The Destroyers of All (2010) it still sounds pretty tame. To be fair, pretty much every other album does as well, but there are a lot of moments on Cutting the Throat of God where it literally feels, very specifically, like I'm just listening to Shrines of Paralysis (2016) on a lower RPM, which raises the question of why I'm not just listening to that rather exceptional album instead. Don't get me wrong, Cutting the Throat of God is a good album, and I can see why it's earning its accolades from everyone else. However, it's also an album that, for me, more often than not, just fades into the background, which is something I feel like an Ulcerate album really shouldn't be doing.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's also an extremely overblown Swedish power metal album by a band made up of members from H.E.A.T and Amaranthe out this week that I must attend to...

Release Roundup

Airbag – The Century Of The Self (chill alt-prog)

Al-Namrood – Al Aqrab (Arabian death metal, Nile-core)

Aldorfrea – The Wretched Congregation (black metal)

Ammify – Lost, Not Hiding (poorly superimposed and slightly luchador-themed nu-goth prog?)

Ancient Guard – Nightfall Enthroned (black metal)

Angel Sword – World Fighter (heavy/trad metal)

Antiflesh – Hosanna (symphonic black metal)

Apes – Pestilence (blackened death-sludge)

Atlantis Drive – Atlantis Drive (proggish AOR)

Axel Rudi Pell – Risen Symbol (heavy metal)

Black Country Communion – V (hard rock)

Bogmonster – Servants of the Necrosect (blackened death metal)

Cadaverous Condition – Never Arrive, Never Return (death metal)

Chained – Cut Out The Stigma (beatdown hardcore)

Crypt Sermon – The Stygian Rose (doom metal)

Dagoba – Different Breed (proggish groove death)

Darkend – Viaticum (black metal)

Darkened – Defilers of the Light (blackened death metal)

Dendera – Mask Of Lies (groove metalcore)

Desolat – Get Sick And Let Me Watch You Die (noise-ish alt rock)

Downfall of Mankind – Purgatory (slightly symphonic deathcore)

Dreamslain – Forge Of Rebellion (bad prog metal)

Drought – Drought (post hardcore, emo)

The Early November – Self-Titled (post-harcore, emo)

Eivør – ENN (Robyn in the woods)

Embryonic Autopsy – Origins Of The Deformed (brutal death metal)

Ensomhet – The Fall of Yggdrasill (black metal)

Favna Abisal – La casa de los siete espejos (weird goth doom)

Fellwarden – Legend: Forged in Defiance (blackened power-doom)

Fu Manchu – The Return of Tomorrow (stoner rock/metal)

Glitter Litter – Shocks To Sleeping Beauties (manic pixie glam rock)

Golgotha – Spreading The Wings Of Hope (goth doom)

Groin – Paid in Flesh (grindcore)

Hizaki – The Zodiac Sign (power shred)

Human Zoo – Echoes Beyond (melodic metal/rock, surprise saxophone!)

Impact Approved – Way Of The Warrior (death metal)

Ira Tenax – Dark Awakening (groove death)

IxionRestriction (sad synth prog)

Kerasfora – Six Nights Beyond The Serpents Threshold (unlistenable black metal)

Legionary – Prison Realm (progressive melodeath)

Lucifer’s Hammer – Be And Exist (spacey trad-metal)

Malignancy – …Discontinued (brutal tech-death)

Mana Diagram – Light of the Destiny (power metal)

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – ¡Blow it…at Madison's Quinceañera! (y tho?)

Miasmic Serum – Infected Seed (death metal)

Millennial Reign – World On Fire (prog metal)

Miško Boba – Gedulas ir viltis (meloblack)

Mono – Oath (post rock, I thought these guys were a doom band?)

Mythologik – Blood In The Sky (heavy metal, thrash)

96 Bitter Beings – Return To Hellview (new old CKY)

New Horizon – Conquerors (power metal)

Onlap – Waves (alt metal, butt rock)

Paradise in Flames – Blindness (Xaninho Discos) [Black]

Paraplexia – Disgorging the Faith (goregrind)

Perchta – D’Muata (folky black metal)

Pipe Dreamer – The Past Is Just a Memory (post/sludge-doom)

Questing Beast – Birth (doomish power metal)

Returned To The Earth – Stalagmite Steeple (post prog?)

Rezn – Burden (sludgy post-doom)

Royal Rage – Evolve (thrash)

Shamash – Done With Misery (melodeath)

Shotgun Mistress – Shot Down (like Jason Mews fronting Guns n Roses)

Sibiir – Undergang (crusty blackened crossover)

Squid Pisser – Dreams Of Puke (gross noise-punk/mathgrind)

Stand Still – Steps Ascending (post hardcore, alt rock)

Stonekind – Hollow Ground (stoner metal)

SuicidalGrind – Paranormal Mind (death metal)

Sunburst – Manifesto (prog metal)

Tortharry – Paměť kamenů (death metal)

Torturer’s Lobby – Deadened Nerves (death metal)

Uvkir – The Dark Fortress (black metal, melodeath)

Vendel – Out In The Fields (power trad)

We Broke the Weather – Restart Game (saxy prog rock)

Wound Collector – Begging For Chicxulub (death metal, more surprise sax!)

Wurgilnõ – Krijtland (black metal)


Joshua Bulleid

Published a month ago