March sees the dawn of spring. Mother Nature begins to shed its wintry shell and greet hibernating creatures back into her sunny, warm aura. The rise of spring also brings with it a sea of new music and the beginning of touring season for those who keep an ear to the ground for who is coming to town. Albums are being completed and bands gear up for the road hauls. It is an exciting time for fans of all kinds of music. March brought many new releases, Bailey and I were able to sift through and find our favorites to share.
Following the dissolution of Cobalt’s original lineup in 2014, Erik Wunder recruited Charlie Fell, formerly of Lord Mantis and a couple other notable bands, to become the new vocalist for the upcoming follow-up to Gin. A new twist and a greater diversity in Cobalt’s sound gave rise to the rousing triumph of their newest full-length album, Slow Forever. a 90-minute, double-album bruiser worthy of Album of the Year praise runs rampant with nihilism. Wunder incorporates sounds and styles from numerous genres of music including prog rock, Americana, and extreme metal. Much of Slow Forever feels like a Western-Noir from Hell that hits the listener in the chest like a ton of bricks.
Panopticon & Waldgeflüster – Split Album
March brought a very brilliant split album from two friends who also happen to be masters in atmospheric black metal. Austin Lunn, known as Panopticon, and Winterherz of Waldgeflüster have a strong kinship and it seeps into this split album. Each respective act brings an original song and a cover of one of the other act’s prior songs. Waldgeflüster opens with the lengthy “Der Traumschänder” and a cover of Panopticon’s “Norwegian Nights”. Lunn brings a new song dedicated to his first child, called “Håkan’s Song” and a cover of Waldgeflüster’s “Trauerweide II” that has been given an Appalachia twist complete with banjo and folk influences.
Pyrrhon – Running Out of Skin
New York’s tech-death outift, Pyrrhon, came out of nowhere this month with a new EP it seems like. Running Out of Skin is a four-song offering complete with a very Pyrrhon cover of Death’s “Crystal Mountain”. The EP also features three new songs from the group, the second and third happen to be improvisational pieces. Pyrrhon play a very unique and intriguing brand of death metal. They tear apart the classic Death track and they excite me for the possibility of more music in the future. I am also seeing them April 10th in Raleigh with Immortal Bird and I cannot wait for it.
The grossest pop album of all time lives up to the hype. Chip King and Lee Buford continue to move in a direction towards genre transcendence. They are shaking away the constraints of typical metal classification and infuse influences from other music like top hits, 80’s dance, and experimental noise. Longtime collaborators with The Body, Chrissy Wolpert and the Assembly of Light Choir make appearances on the album as well as Maralie Armstrong of Humanbeast. No One Deserves Happiness also features atypical instruments (at least for the classically-defined metal music from The Body) like an 808 drum machine and a cello. It is a unique beast and unlike anything else that has been released recently.
Wolvserpent – Aporia:Kāla:Ananta
Boise, Idaho duo, Wolvserpent, released a single 40-minute long EP this month that masterfully blended doom, drone, and death metal on top of non-metallic influences like folk. Aporia:Kāla:Ananta is an entity that specializes in immersing the listener in an experience. It calls to other bands like Sunn O))) who create a soundscape for one to get lost in. Field recordings and radiant violin populate the 40-minute track alongside outright bursts of blackened death metal aggression, creating peaks and valleys for the listener to travel over. Wolvserpent’s music has been a great discovery for me this year.
DAZE – Variations LP
DAZE is an artist that fly under everyone’s radar and he should not. DAZE’s Variations LP is an entire remix of previous songs he has made. Normally I am not a fan of artists basing future work off of previous work but DAZE pulls it off well this time due in part to his uniqueness. His singular sound is unlike anyone else’s, thus giving him more room to work with. It’s not your generic Dubstep, Drum & Bass or anything like that for example (too “mainstream” for lack of a better word nor are those subgenera of his). Variations LP can be seen as the reverse side of his previous work, a “flip side of the coin” if you will. He’s allowing us to see the other side of his work, which is a treat with any artist.
Gibbz – Above Water
The “Most Underrated Artist of Month/Year/Decade” award goes to Gibbz without a doubt. Gibbz’s Above Water achieves something that other electronic artists/albums cannot, emotion and even a story. The vocals paired with the smooth melodies and beats make for a better pair that rivals peanut butter and jelly. With other artists, the lack of vocals pays a hefty opportunity cost. Even the smallest one line vocal can improve a song immensely, but with Gibbz, the vocals are the foundation of the album. Making the beats the secondary process creates this masterpiece of an album.
I recently wrote a review for this album so I won’t go into great detail here. However, we have to give credit where credit is due, and this album deserves a lot of credit. The immediate rising and slow descent of beats before a return to normalcy lends to a fun rollercoaster ride with features in almost every song to help give it that flare. Wrap this up into one package and the album is a stand-alone album of the year candidate.
Killswitch Engage – Incarnate
Killswitch has taken their sweet time releasing another album, but they made up for it with giving us a jammed packed 15-song album. Since the days of Howard, Killswitch had to adapt back to the previous vocals of Jesse Leach. But the beautiful thing gained with Jesse at the helm is consistency. Before, their albums lacked the cohesion between tracks, but now (with Incarnate and Disarm The Descent) each album is an absolute head banger to listen to from start to finish.
Miike Snow – iii
Album of the month has to go to the artist right here, Miike Snow, also known as the hottest artist on the rise. iii, offers something other albums have difficulty doing and that is each song could be a powerful single if they wanted to. We’ve already heard “The Heart Of Me,” “Genghis Khan,” and both “Heart Is Full” songs before (they were all singles), but the consistency stays with the other seven songs. It’s only when all ten are brought together that causes this album to make its way to a perfect 10/10 and win Album of the Month.