best metal albums of august 2023

MetalMatters: The Best Metal Albums of August 2023

The best metal albums feature Crypta’s return with thrash intentions, Blut Aus Nord’s Lovecraftian aspirations, and the end of Urfaust’s psychedelic run.

Dead and Dripping – Blackened Cerebral Rifts (Transcending Obscurity)

Evan Daniele is perhaps best known as the drummer for New Jersey’s Sentient Horror. I underline this bit from his bio because while listening to Blackened Cerebral Rifts it becomes very difficult to believe everything on the album was played by a single person. Daniele is as true a multi-instrumentalist as they come, and pigeonholing him as a drummer feels like blasphemy. As Dead and Dripping, Daniele plays an incredibly technical, increasingly labyrinthine, and dissonant variant of brutal death metal that sounds as if you took DNA from Wormed, Dying Fetus, Gorguts, and Demilich to create the perfect sonic hybrid. Not only is this music fascinatingly complex, but the breakneck tempo changes, cascading riffs, and mercurial growls are delivered with strangely melodic gusto and intensity, like a monstrous creature from another dimension running amok through our world, wreaking havoc, and enjoying every second of it. – Antonio Poscic

Dripping Decay – Festering Grotesqueries (Satanik Royalty)

In the category of the filthiest, scummiest death metal of the month, this time the winner is Dripping Decay! But unlike the usual sludge and doom-infested death metal that is a certain bet for this title – check out Eternal Rot’s Moribund in the July edition of the column! – the Portland, Oregon fourpiece’s style veers closer to the deathgrind machine of early Carcass, Death, and Exhumed.

Case in point, their debut Festering Grotesqueries is merciless in its attacks. Rather than ruminating in place or crawling through downtuned mud, the fourteen bite-sized tracks build up the atmosphere of all-encompassing grime by rolling forward relentlessly, propelled by a wave of drum and bass lines picked straight from punk hardcore, riffs that buzz like a congregation of chainsaws, and vomit-like growls. Every now and again, like on the scorching “Chemical Lobotomy”, a groove and splintered break appear in the midst of it all, as a treat. Disgusting stuff. – Antonio Poscic

Godthrymm – Distortions (Profound Lore)

There is a delicate balance between paying homage to the past and not rehashing it. Hamish Glencross founded Godthrymm to recapture the magic of the UK’s doom scene. In that, he has definitely succeeded already. Godthrymm’s debut, Reflections, is one of the most outstanding offerings that scene has put forth in a very long time. Now, with Godthrymm’s sophomore record, Distortions, Glencross aims at the same target. And hits it again. If not paying attention, Distortions feels like a very good, well-played, nostalgic record in the Peaceville Three tradition. The melodic inclinations proudly embrace this tradition, and the downtrodden riffs of “Echoes” are plunged in the teachings of My Dying Bride, while the delicate, clean melodies favor the Paradise Lost circa Icon approach. The tilt towards the ethereal is undeniable, as Godthrymm strip down the instrumentation and allows Katherine Glencross’ vocals to shine in “As Titans”, “Follow Me”, and closer “Pictures Remain”.

Yet, there is more that steers beneath the surface, with Godthrymm extending their vision towards other doom scenes. The overarching Sabbath-ian spirit is a given, but there is a further dedication to the traditional metal sound. The layering of riffs points towards that direction, and the direct and forceful approach in “Devils” actually moves into the classic heavy metal sphere. This is very nicely coupled with the underlying epic feeling that Distortions radiate. Everyone is aware of Glencross’ tenure with My Dying Bride, however, he also spent a few years with Solstice, hammering on the epic doom/heavy tradition. This is where the subtle morphs of Distortions really shine, as the melancholic doom gives way to the epic sense of Candlemass and Solitude Aeternus. It is something that drives the longer tracks over the top, in “Follow Me” and “As Titans”. In the process of doing something extraordinary, Godthrymm are quietly amassing a discography that actually rivals the ones of their influences. – Spyros Stasis

Hallucinate – From the Bowels of the Earth (Caligari)

If, like me, you still mourn the demise of the Norwegian avant-black metal outfit Virus and especially if you’re a fan of their 2016 magnum opus Memento Collider, then consider Germany’s Hallucinate as a candidate able to at least partially fill that void. From the Bowels of the Earth doesn’t quite replicate Virus-like – nothing really does – but there is a certain psychedelic, deranged aura surrounding the nine songs on their debut that feels reminiscent of the atmosphere that came to define their work.

Although the record is anchored by death metal elements, there is much more at play here, as can be heard in the opener “A Universe Obscure”: from pillars of dense doom-sludge and bursts of blackened grindcore to start-stop struts reminiscent of metallic post-punk in the vein of Killing Joke. “Blackened Gills” in particular leans into the latter aesthetic, while the zither and electronics intermezzo “Mahavishnu’s Dream” inspires “Paracletus” to turn the psych, space, and prog rock elements into overdrive and “Tachycardia” takes another left turn into thrashing blackened death metal. Regardless of or thanks to its elusive style, this is a magnificent album from start to finish. – Antonio Poscic

Knife – Heaven Into Dust (Napalm)

The music played by Knife is stereotypically German in the best possible way. The Marburg, Hesse-based quartet indulge in supremely aggressive and fast thrash metal, sprinkled with bits of black and heavy metal and punk. If the combustible, energized result of this alchemy sounds recognizable, reminiscent of Sodom, Kreator, Destruction, Exumer, and other stalwarts of the Teutonic tradition of the genre, that’s because Knife’s music is a worthy descendant of these lineages.

Make no mistake, Heaven Into Dust, the group’s sophomore LP is still very contemporary sounding – from its bombastic production to the incorporation of melodic elements and instrumental flair – but the essence of each of the ten cuts appears to be a reincarnation of some of the most stellar moments of German thrash metal’s past. However, this is not a homage or straight case of mimicry, but the conscious act of taking something old and pushing it into the future, complete with all of its sweaty, mosh-inducing glory. – Antonio Poscic

Nixil – From the Wound Spilled Forth Fire (Prosthetic)

Baltimore, Maryland’s Nixil play a heady, cosmic-feeling take on traditional black metal, deconstructing and reassembling the genre’s usual tropes into something that can be best described as occult psychedelic journeys. While it’s difficult to pinpoint which exact part of the group’s idiom elevates their music from an endless sea of black metal drivel—the exquisite traces of death and doom, the moments of sustained beauty in the midst of relentless metallic attacks, or the undercurrent of atmospheric melancholy—From the Wound Spilled Forth Fire feels special from start to glorious finish, rounded off by the epic, idiosyncratic standout “The Way Is the Grave”. Add to all Nixil’s staunch and open antifascist stance—a blessing in today’s climate of crypto-fascism and dog-whistling—and From The Wound Spilled Forth Fire becomes an even easier album to recommend. – Antonio Poscic