best metal albums of april 2023

MetalMatters: The Best Metal Albums of April 2023

In these best metal albums, Dødheimsgard define off-kilter black metal, Enforced follow their fierce crossover path, and Jesus Piece are at their most punishing.

Sunrot – The Unfailing Rope (Prosthetic)

It’s the sophomore record for the New Jersey act, and Sunrot come in with all of their trademark disfiguring weight. Following in the footsteps of their 2017 debut, Sunnata, the lashing doom malice fills the void from the get-go in The Unfailing Rope with “Trepanation,” as the cutthroat vocals of Lex Alex Nihilum pierce through the thick veil of riffs. This punishing essence defines much of Sunrot’s identity. It is further enhanced through the usage of samples and feedback distortion, showing off its full force in the likes of “Descent” and “The Cull.”

The doom motifs, however, morph. The drone presence transforms into something more otherworldly and, dare I say, sentimental in “Gutter”, while allowing a touch of stoner haziness to creep in with “The One You Feed Pt. 2″, before the towering yet detached presence of “Tower of Silence” is unleashed. The final inclusion that binds all together is the hardcore groove, moving this endeavor to a sludge trajectory. The nefarious progression of “Trepanation” collapses on itself while “Gutter” unleashes a true battery. It is the era of disfiguring doom and sludge, and Sunrot find themselves becoming a very important part of that scene. – Spyros Stasis

​​Tanith – Voyage (Metal Blade)

Russ Tippins’ resuscitated Satan have been one of the more intriguing groups riding the recent revival of NWOBHM, producing album after album of classic-sounding yet thoroughly fresh heavy metal. Accompanied by vocalist/bassist Cindy Maynard and drummer Keith Robinson, Tippins now brings the same creative vigor and songwriting knack to Tanith. Although there are flickers of traditional, Satan-indebted heavy metal in the trio’s music, their sophomore release, Voyage, combines the style with a myriad of other adjacent rock subgenres from the 1970s and 1980s.

On the roaring opener, “Snow Tiger”, a meaty interplay between bass and drums lays down a solid rhythmic foundation for frolicking guitar leads to bounce against while Tippins and Maynard’s dueling vocals join in lush harmonies. Elsewhere, “Falling Wizard” submits to the groove by featuring heavy Blue Öyster Cult vibes, “Olympus By Dawn” embraces progressively tinged hard rock in the vein of Jon Anderson and Uriah Heep, and “Architects of Time” gallops along like a lost collaboration between Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, complete with pumping, Steve Harris-reminiscent bass lines. Never mind the intrinsic nostalgia, this is some supremely well-written and fun music. – Antonio Poscic

Thysia – Islands in Cosmic Darkness (Chaos)

There is something particularly sinister in the sound of the Italian black metal four-piece Thysia. Beyond Mistyr’s loose, snazzy yet extremely tight drumming style—familiar to anyone who’s heard him play with doom juggernauts Messa—the tone of Nefasto’s gorgeously melodic guitar riffs, the organic interplay of Mrak’s expressive growls with Nihil’s pumping bass lines, and the general mysticism drench their debut Islands in Cosmic Darkness in an occult, deviously seductive atmosphere. For the most part, the record is a prime example of the simplicity and beauty that can be found in a back-to-basics kind of black metal affair. Most of the eight cuts here don’t try to reimagine what black metal is but instead commit to do its bidding and dive deep into the dark, bottomless essence, shifting gears from brutal soul evisceration to patient ritual along the way. – Antonio Poscic

Tunic – Wrong Dream (Artoffact)

The third record in the span of six years for noise rock/post-hardcore outfit Tunic, and Wrong Dream finds them at their finest. The usual suspects are all gathered here. The intricate progression causes cognitive dissonance through the repeating patterns of “Sounds Repeat”. The seemingly backward-placed movements are key in structuring the rhythmic component so well, with tracks like “My Body, My Blood” and “Whispering” creating this awkward motif, and similarly, “Under Glass” radiation with a feeling of unease.

The no-wave element is predominant, echoes of Swans creeping into “Punishment Enough”, a motif that combines great with this despairing essence. The noise and feedback roar in the opener, while a slight change with the mysterious ending of “Protected” points towards the post-punk ethos. Sharp riff work becomes a beautiful nuisance, cutting through the erratic drums in moments like “Disease”, while the mantra at the end of “Punishment Enough” add to this anguished procession. The final nail arrives with the excellent closer “Empty Husk”, as Tunic channel the distressed glory of Joy Division through a downtempo unfolding. The final melodic inclinations are a stunning surprise, injecting a few drops of sentimentality in what is otherwise a brutal piece of work. – Spyros Stasis

V:XII – Lu-Cipher Sabbatean (Sentient Ruin)

Carrying the lineage of Cold Meat Industry, Daniel Jansson unleashed his death industrial vision in 2020 with Rom, Rune and Ruin – The Odium Disciplina through Aesthetic Death. Dark ambient and industrial combined in great effect to create a claustrophobic and brutal work. Lu-Cipher Sabbatean carries down the same path, the cold and detached synths of “Blood Strategies” building a glacial domain. Aspects of Brighter Death Now come to the forefront as the uneasy sense of splendor moves the process to a celestial high with the title track.

Still, V:XII live in an intersection between ritualism and urban decadence. “True Unholy” unfolds through repetitive motifs, and the noise component masterfully controlled sets this constant, ominous tone. The same mystical energy is present in “Mindworm,” as dark ambient and industrial connect for this unnerving opus. It is the industrial aspect that is most unforgiving for V:XII, as the martial progression of “Council of 13” suggests. The rage and anguish are palpable, something that is further developed with “Cyclic Saturnial”. There is an even more brutal level that Jansson descends to, as the mechanical procession leaves behind its norm ritualistic form and erupts into polyrhythmic explosions with “Hivemind Nation” and a combo of power electronics and EBM rising in “Entity Saturation”. This is indeed a dark work filled with wonder. – Spyros Stasis

VoidCeremony – Threads of Unknowing (20 Buck Spin)

Modern death metal is capable of morphing into a plethora of different flavors. This month, Lunar Chamber opened up a meditative portal of transcendental death metal. On the opposite side of the spectrum, VoidCeremony establish a dark opus of twisted essence in their sophomore full-length, Threads of Unknowing. The hellscape is instantly defined with the title track, unifying the past and present. On one hand, the old-school brutality of Suffocation, and on the other end, the otherworldly, cosmic essence of Blood Incantation. The jazz infusions hold through years of distillation, creating labyrinthine structures in the likes of “Writhing in the Facade of Time”.

This unforgiving lineage is further expanded, with “Abyssic Knowledge Bequeathed” setting the scenery ablaze with its blackened quality. Their methodologies infect the death metal core, while the weaving melodies of “Entropic Reflections Continuum” bring to the surface a disturbing presence. Further atmospheric leanings tilt this endeavor toward its true dark nature. Slight additions like the outro in “Writhing in the Facade of Time” and the entirety of “At the Periphery of Human Realms (The Immaterial Grave)” see this ambient self take over. All of the above are finally incorporated in the 11-minute-long closing opus, “Forlorn Portrait: Ruins of an Ageless Slumber”. The experimental ambition of VoidCeremony leads to a wild ride through the deepest dungeons of the human psyche, giving Thread of Unknowing the end it deserves. – Spyros Stasis

Wallowing – Earth Reaper (Church Road)

Given the current hysteria around so-called “artificial intelligence”, Wallowing’s paranoid, ludicrously Luddite album Earth Reaper appears timely. Yet the science-fiction fuelled premise of conquering robots and the end of mankind is not the most outrageous part of the Birmingham group’s second album. At least on paper, the fusion of styles employed on Earth Reaper, which span from sludge and doom to noise and black metal, sounds even less plausible. But in practice, Wallowing pick and choose elements and strains from all these genres, glue them together, and deploy them at the most opportune time to maintain a beguiling sonic narrative.

Huge drifts of sludge resound around crunched voices, only to suddenly lunge forward into noise-encased, punk-driven black metal, complete with deranged blasts and tremolos, before finally crawling to a halt in a pit of funeral doom and bluesy riffs. The bonkers story progresses, and the mood darkens with each of these sections and musical shifts, feeling increasing as if spiraling into insanity until you’re absolutely confounded and totally in awe. – Antonio Poscic