best metal albums of October 2022

MetalMatters: The Best Metal Albums of October 2022

This month’s best metal albums feature grind phenoms Cloud Rat, Faceless Burial’s death metal recipe, and Desbot opening new pathways for post-metal.

Psychonaut – Violate Consensus Reality (Pelagic)

Psychonaut - Violate Consensus Reality

Not one, but two excellent post-metal records in a single month! Unlike Desbot (reviewed earlier on these pages) who often steer far away from post-metal fundamentals, Belgian power trio Psychonaut are masters at shaping the genre’s core elements into exciting music. Take the opening cut “A Storm Approaching” as an example. Although the basic makeup is post-metal through and through, from the sound of their guitars and the vocalists’ inflection to the interlocked playing of bass and drums, the structures they compose with this palette are superb.

At times, they end up in hypnotically progressive, technically inclined serpentine sections complete with seesawing, burning riffs. At others, they explode sludge into a million grooving fragments and find a broken, mourning fiddle in the debris left behind. Simultaneously, the contrast between these sections and atmospheres instills a sense of inherent, thrilling dynamism often missing from the genre. From start to finish, Violate Consensus Reality manages to eclipse their debut, 2018’s Unfold the God Man, by being bigger and better in every way. Considering how excellent and statement-like that the first album felt, this is a true triumph. – Antonio Poscic

Ripped to Shreds – 劇變 (Jubian) (Relapse)

Ripped to Shreds - Jubian

Now here is a band that lives up to its name! The San Jose project’s third LP is a balls-to-the-wall, no holds barred take on death metal and adjacent styles. 劇變 (Jubian) spares no second on atmospheric interludes, buildups, respite, or any other platitudes and instead runs amok from start to finish. Simply, it rips! From the buzzing At the Gates evoking guitar attacks and melo-death of “Violent Compulsion for Conquest” and the brutal, slamming grooves of “Split Apart by Five Chariots” it shifts to the Bloodbath-reminiscent old school death metal energy of “Reek of Burning Freedom”. The blazing, shredding grindcore of “Scripture Containing the Supreme Internal Energy Arts That Render the Practitioner Invincible Throughout the Martial Realm” then turns the album into a ball of fire by starting and finishing before you’ve even had a chance to pronounce its title.

However, look beyond this aggression, and you’ll find an exploration of social constructs that feels unusually nuanced for the genre. The band’s mastermind and previously sole member Andrew Lee—joined here by a cast of Bay Area musicians, Doomsday bassist Ryan, Spinebreaker drummer Brian Do, and Hemotoxin guitarist Michael Chavez—uses the face-tearing music to explore historical and contemporary questions of the Chinese diaspora in the US, elevating the band to a vessel for this exploration and a way of championing Chinese musicians in US metal. – Antonio Poscic

Riot City – Electric Elite (No Remorse)

Riot City - Electric Elite

In certain metal circles, constant progress and sonic evolution are seen as paramount for a band to be considered good, while others—whose styles remain stable or that, god forbid, draw from retro aesthetics—are seen as abominations. Riot City stand in direct affront to such a joyless understanding of music. From their name—a reference to legendary New York heavy metallers Riot—and appearance to the flesh-melting opening riffs of “Eye of the Jaguar”, the Canadian group wears their influences on their sleeves, and they do so with utter joy and pride.

Part New Wave of British Heavy Metal, part 1980s American heavy/power metal, Electric Elite is a raucous, wild album. Over its eight cuts, the quintet comfortably stroll around classic styles, whether thrashing high-speed grooves reminiscent of Judas Priest, Agent Steel, and, obviously, Riot or laying down mid-tempo scorchers in the vein of Iron Maiden and Grave Digger. Throughout, their music is a display of instrumental and songwriting prowess, with vocalist Jordan Jacobs often stealing the limelight with his mercurial, sky-tearing voice that shifts from Rob Halford’s screaming falsetto to Hansi Kusch’s gravelly delivery. But more than that, their music is supremely fun—a jolt of energy to brighten even the grayest days. – Antonio Poscic

Universally Estranged – Dimension of Deviant Clusters (Blood Harvest)

Universally Estranged - Dimension of Deviant Clusters

Houston’s Universally Estranged joins the trend of sci-fi-fuelled death metal projects, inviting comparisons to Blood Incantation, Cosmic Putrefaction, or Wormed. Yet, other bands don’t dig quite so deep into the sci-fi, a retro-futuristic gamut of sounds, as synth pads and stabs come to play a significant role on Dimension of Deviant Clusters, the group’s second full-length. Not only are bombastic, proggy death metal scorchers like “Psychic Laceration” continuously underlined by neon-tinged, pulsating electronic effects, and space rock flourishes, but they regularly surface into the foreground and begin to guide the onslaught in the background.

Across the seven longer cuts and two purely electronic shorts—the lovely, Carpenter-esque “(Prelude)” and “(Interlude)”—the music switches modes between deconstructed grooves and galloping techy attacks, while growls, riffs, blasts, and cymbal rides seem to be stuck on a lightspeed rollercoaster to another galaxy. The journey ultimately ends up in a hellish dimension between worlds (think Event Horizon) as the filthy, sludgy closer “Universally Estranged” dissipates into proper experimental electronics, complete with spectral static noises and textural breathing. Mind-expanding stuff. – Antonio Poscic

Vacuous – Dreams of Dysphoria (Dark Descent/Me Saco un Ojo)

Vacuous - Dreams of Dysphoria

The death metal of London quintet Vacuous is mostly bloody insane, evoking a mass of the thickest tar swirling around in a tornado, while bits of the filthiest growls, riffs, and drum blasts splinter off in all directions. And in the midst of all the chaos of down-tuned, gnarly-sounding guitars, migraine-like pulsations, and unnerving dissonance on Dreams of Dysphoria, they crawl down into some killer doom metal or entertain an atmospheric passage, conjuring the image of a predator stalking its prey ready to ramp back up into brutal attack mode. Add the existential heaviness of their nihilistic themes to the crushing weight of the music, and you get a ravishingly oppressive death metal debut and hopefully a promise of more to come. – Antonio Poscic



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