2019’s momentum continues with another strong month in March. The top releases include some familiar names along with some new faces. Here are our choices for the best heavy metal albums released in March of 2019.
1. Sermon – Birth Of The Marvellous (Prosthetic)
The anonymous British band Sermon come out of the gates strong with their debut album Birth Of The Marvellous. It’s a theological concept album, though the band is neither pro or anti-religion. Instead, they say it’s about equilibrium.
The band’s progressive style will draw comparisons to bands like Katatonia, especially in the clean vocals. Tool and Opeth are other musical touchstones. Tracks like “Chasm” utilize melodic vocals exclusively. While singing is the prevalent vocal style, there are some periodic harsh vocals on songs such as “The Drift” that add variety. The arrangements are atmospheric with a lot of twists and turns, but Sermon prove with songs like “Festival” that they can inject catchy hooks as well. Equally adept at compact tracks and more epic songs like “The Preacher” and closer “The Rise Of Desiderata,” Sermon deliver a dynamic, cinematic and yes, marvelous debut that is the month’s best.
2. Venom Prison – Samsara (Prosthetic)
Exhausting is one description of Venom Prison’s sophomore album Samsara, but that’s not a diss on this top-notch record. In this case, exhaustion is a release, as the band is utterly relentless in ways only hinted at on their Animus debut back in 2016. Lyrics dig into more personal grounds, portraying the misogynistic, hateful world through the weathered eyes of vocalist Larissa Stupar. Her message never wavers: there is no happy ending worth searching for.
Even if there was, the savage death metal on Samsara wouldn’t allow it to come to life. Venom Prison have upped their songwriting since their first album, with fantastic guitar solos and low-key moody passages that hint at a progressive sonic mentality. The overall longer song lengths make this possible, though no amount of muted restraint sabotages the bitter attitude of Samsara.
3. Vltimas – Something Wicked Marches In (Season Of Mist)
The term “supergroup” is tossed around pretty loosely, but in the world of extreme metal, a lineup consisting of Rune “Blasphemer” Eriksen (Mayhem, Aura Noir), David Vincent (Morbid Angel) and Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy) fits that description. The trio’s new band Vltimas are unleashing their debut album Something Wicked Marches In.
Each member brings a different extreme music background to the table. Mounier delivers a punishing performance with technical prowess, while Eriksen’s guitar work injects both groove and iciness to the proceedings, and Vincent’s unmistakable vocals are harsh and intense. They vary the tempos, from the regal mid-pace of “Monolith” to the pedal to the metal “Total Destroy.” The three members of Vltimas complement each other very well, resulting in an album that has influences of their past work while creating a unique and compelling sound of their own.
4. Oozing Wound – High Anxiety (Thrill Jockey)
Simply put, Chicago, Illinois trio Oozing Wound have but one rule regarding its musical output: that it slay. And slay it does, seemingly with little effort, as was evidenced in the mere 24-hour recording time of the band’s critically-lauded 2013 debut, Retrash. Now, a handful of years and a few (great) albums later, Oozing Wound are poised to loose their fourth full-length upon the metal masses. It’s called High Anxiety, and it is glorious.
Oozing Wound are often touted as a thrash metal band. This is a little misleading, as they are an amalgamation of thrash, hardcore, noise, punk and even (gasp) pop sensibilities. All combined, the end result is frenetic, bombastic, fresh, and when taking the lyrics into account, hilarious and thought-provoking. Far from cookie-cutter “throwback” thrash, Oozing Wound are doing their own thing and that, dear reader, is what I’d call successfully “slaying.”
5. Misery Index – Rituals Of Power (Season Of Mist)
Long standing Maryland death/grind unit Misery Index have ended their five year drought of new material with Rituals of Power. There isn’t a weak track on Rituals of Power. It is clearly the work of some very polished musicians who don’t rush to keep creating new music and let this stuff marinate before unleashing it upon the masses.
It continues to reward on repeat listens, too, especially towards the end of the record where there are some subtle hints of technicality that might be missed upon first play through. Rituals of Power has a little something for each and every fan of the genre and shows off a more fun side to what can be an overly serious genre at times.
6. Noisem – Cease To Exist (20 Buck Spin)
When Noisem burst onto the scene a few years back, their combination of death and thrash was an old school breath of fresh air. Cease To Exist, the band’s third offering, helps to remind fans of theirs what kind of extreme fury that Noisem circa 2019 can bring to the game. Album opener “Constricted Cognition” wastes absolutely no time in making the band’s intentions known; fast and furious riffs and songs of a modern grindcore length all hit at full speed.
Think of Noisem as being a thrash metal band that is the Napalm Death to Power Trip’s modern day D.R.I. If fast and furious is the name of your game, other than Misery Index you would be hard pressed to find a more angry representation for Charm City than these guys. They are just hitting their stride and we the listeners are along for the ride.