During the summer the number of new releases tend to decrease, and that’s the case for June. Though the quantity was less than some other months, there was still plenty of quality. Here are our picks for the best new metal albums released in June of 2020.
1. Pyrrhon – Abscess Time (Willowtip)
NYC based extreme entity Pyrrhon are here to remind you that everything is far from OK. Harsh noise abounds from the outset of the title track, feeling like The Jesus Lizard, Swans and death metal all within the same breath. This follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2017 release What Passes For Survival shows a further evolution in the band’s overall sound, moving more and more away from the traditional song structures of their previous death metal endeavors. Even the voice samples of ignorance seem more poignant in times of people’s unwavering biases towards information, all encapsulated within this violent vessel.
Doug Moore’s vocals set the stage with varying different effects on display as guitarist Dylan DiLella does his best to keep up within each odd time signature. This cohesive effort is hard to break down into components, since this needs to be experienced in full; though “Another Day In Paradise” is a great encapsulating effort on its own. Tough to find many bands in the genre who are willing to take these risks and see it pay off so massively. One of the best and bizarre death metal albums of 2020.
2. Carach Angren – Franckensteina Strataemontanus (Season Of Mist)
Franckensteina Strataemontanus is the sixth full-length from the Dutch symphonic black metal band Carach Angren. They tell the story of Conrad Dippel, purportedly the inspiration for the classic Frankenstein tale by Mary Shelley.
Carach Angren’s brand of black metal is cinematic and theatrical, soaked in symphonic atmosphere and punctuated by narration and spoken word. Seregor is a versatile vocalist, shifting between various harsh deliveries along with some melodic moments on tracks like “Sewn For Solitude.” High points include “The Necromancer,” which is dramatic and intense along with being surprisingly catchy. Tracks like “Operation Compass” and “Der Vampir von Nurnberg” are more expansive and given more time to develop. It’s well-rounded and compelling both musically and lyrically.
3. Atavist – III: Absolution (Candlelight/Spinefarm)
After disbanding in 2007, the UK death/doom band Atavist resumed activities a few years ago and have re-emerged with their third album III: Absolution. The lineup includes Winterfylleth frontman Chris Naughton, who handles guitar duties with Toby Bradshaw (ex-They Are Cowards) on vocals.
Epic is the way to describe the album’s four tracks that range in length from just under 10 to nearly 18 minutes. There are a lot of quiet, atmospheric sections that alternate with the heavy death/doom parts. Prominent strings on tracks like the opener “Loss” and closer “Absolution” add even more variety and emotion. With its plodding pace, somber subject matter and hefty track lengths, it’s an album that requires patience to fully absorb, and that patience will be rewarded. It’s a welcome comeback that’s cathartic and able to connect with listeners on multiple levels.
4. Ormskrik – Ormskrik (Fysisk Format)
A quick glance at Facebook shows only a few hundred fans for Ormskrik. That might change soon, though, once people get their hands on this stellar debut of blackened thrash metal. Although still very young, this Norwegian quartet show an unexpected depth of songwriting maturity to go along with very convincing chops. Enlisting the assistance of heavyweight producer Daniel Bergstrand certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
Equal parts thrash, groove, and black metal are stirred together to create an amazingly vital album, and vocalist Gjøran Bårdsen takes things up a notch on every tune with his ear-shredding roars. The eleven songs presented are aggressive neck-breakers that a young Metallica would be proud of. Ormskrik are a thrash band ready to leave a mark on the genre.
5. Lamb Of God – Lamb Of God (Epic)
When a band that has been going for as long as Lamb Of God has decides to put out a self-titled album, it can be construed as some sort of statement, wiping the slate clean or the beginning of a new era. With the well-publicized departure of drummer Chris Adler, the first major lineup change since the band renamed themselves from Burn The Priest to Lamb Of God, all of these could’ve been an option. Instead, this album is not a departure or a reinvention, but a calculated effort proving the five years since their last album hasn’t lessened their deadliness.
Some may perceive this album as an overly political affair, a damning statement against the current U.S. administration in office. While single “Checkmate” comes off as a protest song, it’s more of the failings of the entire governmental system and not one particular person or party. A lineup shift hasn’t stopped their momentum, and listeners shouldn’t expect a self-titled affair to mean a whole new direction. While the album as a whole doesn’t step too far away from what Lamb Of God have been doing since the turn of the century, it’s a refined sound from a premier mainstream metal band.
6. Cro-Mags – In The Beginning (Mission Two)
Formed in 1980, Cro-Mags blended thrash and hardcore into some influential albums, most notably 1986’s The Age Of Quarrel. After burning brightly in the ’80s and early ’90s they hadn’t released a full-length since 2000. While vocalist/bassist Harley Flanagan is the lone original member, the rest of the lineup’s history with the band dates back to the ’90s.
In The Beginning delivers that classic Cro-Mags sound with blazing riffs and ample attitude, but also incorporates numerous other influences with something different around every corner. Lean and mean tracks like the 92 second “Drag You Under” and the razor sharp “From The Grave” are balanced with longer songs like “No One’s Coming” and the nearly 6 minute instrumental “Between Wars.” While it will certainly appeal to fans of early Cro-Mags, the band remains relevant enough to attract a new generation of hardcore fans who hopefully won’t have to wait another 20 years for a new album.