The summer months generally mean fewer releases, but there are always quality albums no matter the time of year. Here are our picks for the best albums released in June of 2019.
At the beginning of this decade, Portland’s The Odious made a big impression on the prog metal scene, with their debut EP That Night a Forest Grew and their follow-up LP, Joint Ventures. Then they seemed to have disappeared, until now. Vesica Piscis takes all that the band displayed seven years ago and ramps it up artistically and compositionally, giving us a complex, addictive, invigorating album.
The Odious take elements of progressive death metal, prog rock, jazz, avant-garde, hardcore and more, and fuse it all into something quite unique. Songs take unexpected turns down groovy swing- or jazz-drenched avenues when one would expect something completely different. The musicianship is beyond reproach and Patrick Jobe deftly nails every vocal variety presented. Vesica Piscis is one of the top releases of the year.
2. Serpent Of Gnosis – As I Drink From The Infinite Well Of Inebriation (1126)
It has been five years since the last Job For A Cowboy album. Frontman Jonny Davy has emerged as part of the new project Serpent Of Gnosis, whose members also include JFAC guitarists Al Glassman and Tony Sannicandro along with the Black Dahlia Murder bassist Max Lavelle and Goratory drummer Darren Cesca.
Their debut album As I Drink From The Infinite Well Of Inebriation is an extreme dose of death metal and grindcore. Most of the tracks are brief bursts of destruction clocking in at least than two minutes. However, tracks like “Cognivity” are lengthier and emphasize the death metal side of the band with groovy riffs and greater glimpses of melody. Songs such as “A Mask Of Lucidity” and “Entrenched Euphoria” are bludgeoning and dense with a fast tempo. The lyrics explore the effects of addiction. The ten tracks blaze by in just over 20 minutes. It’s an impressive debut, and hopefully will be more than just a one-off.
3. Bloodred Hourglass – Godsend (Out of Line)
Finland’s Bloodred Hourglass perform a tribute to old school melodic death metal on their fourth full-length album Godsend. They sound similar to Finnish greats like Insomnium, but they seem to pay more homage to the early forefathers of the genre like Dark Tranquility and early In Flames. The album is modern sounding enough, but does pay tribute to the classics. The riffs are enveloping and difficult not to fall in love with. The music is both catchy and classy and makes for some of the best music from this genre heard so far this year.
It’s an abrasive album, but also has the right amount of melody. It’s nice to hear music like this and the similar Black Therapy album giving melodic death metal fans a reason to rejoice. The music is quite solidly performed with the vocals, guitars and drums all fitting into the bigger piece of puzzle and playing their parts well in the overall mix. This is a crushing album that melodic death metal fans will lap up without a second thought.
4. Ashbringer – Absolution (Prosthetic)
When Ashbringer released Yūgen in 2016, they launched a different musical direction compared to their first album. With the release of Absolution, they have not only distanced themselves from the world of the first album, but have also separated themselves from the world of their second album. With Absolution, Ashbringer have redefined their music and have entered a new era that may change the future of the band forever.
Absolution is an hour long album, which is long, but they did it for one purpose: Making an epic journey through nature with raw, hyper dynamic, poetic songs which are filled with endless, massive tones of melodies. On Absolution, songs deal less with atmospheric black metal while retaining the term atmospheric. The songs show more traces of progressive/experimental music with the undeniable presence of jazz, blues and post-metal streaks. Absolution is the voice of nature and this is how nature talks to you.
5. TheNightTimeProject – Pale Season (Debemur Morti)
TheNightTimeProject is a Swedish supergroup of sorts, formed by members of Katatonia, Letters From the Colony, and October Tide. With lofty pedigree comes high expectations, and here on their debut album, Pale Season, the band try to put their stamp on the dark melancholic prog sound bands such as Katatonia and Mother of Millions perform.
For the most part, TheNightTimeProject succeeds. The opening of “Hound” and “Rotting Eden” is as strong as anything released by the other bands name-dropped, and the penultimate track “Signals in the Sky” features a mesmerizing vocal performance from Heiki Langhans. Not every song matches these high levels, but overall Pale Season is an outstanding dark prog release that fans of Katatonia and others will love.
6. Cave In – Final Transmission (Hydra Head)
Cave In hadn’t released a new album since 2011, with its members involved in various other projects. They had been working on a new record, but in March of last year, bassist Caleb Scofield was killed in an auto accident. The songs on Final Transmission were originally intended to be demos for the new record, and Scofield appears on all of them, playing bass on six and guitar on two.
Scofield had a hand in writing many of the songs, and after his death his wife found some lyrics in Caleb’s journal, which were used as the lyrics for “All Illusion.” The opening title track is a voice memo Scofield sent of a song idea with him playing acoustic guitar and humming the melody. With most of the lyrics and vocals recorded after Scofield’s death, vocalist Steve Brodsky’s performance on tracks like “Shake My Blood” are infused with a lot of emotion. There’s ample variety, from heavier tracks like “Night Crawler” to the spacey “Lunar Day” to the catchy rocker “Winter Day.” Knowing the circumstances behind the album makes it a heart wrenching listen at times, a poignant reminder of the skill and talent of Caleb and his bandmates, and the void left by his passing.