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The Roundup (January 2024): Upon Stone, Vitriol, Lord Dying, and more...

Starting the year strong with an array that showcases promise and strength.

best albums of 2024.

Words by Luis (@HeaviestOfArt):


In what is otherwise a slow release month year after year, this past January 2024 was the contrary, delivering big on releases that excel in their craft while signaling a promise for the future of their respective genres (and subgenres). Trailblazing debuts and expansive compositions for bands both a few and several albums into their discography stood tall amidst a strong month for the heavier ranks. Whether it be Upon Stone's soaring Dead Mother Moon, Vitriol's stupefying Suffer & Become, or Knoll's nightmarish As Spoken, this month's standouts do more than excel on an instrumental level, but paint a bigger picture through its intentional approach to visual identity, profound lyricism, and creative development. These are albums to be listened through well beyond the release month for they never cease to stop surprising with layers of inspiration, remarkable instrumental moments, and more.


Here are our favorites for January 2024:

 

Upon StoneDead Mother Moon (Century Media) | Listen


Few have the work ethic of LA's Upon Stone — a band fervent in their desire to please their creative ambitions. One show after another, the melodeath outfit embody the same energy of the bands that informed the musical trajectory of their respective members, resulting in a full-length debut that never settles in its ability to confound those keen to engage in its wonder. Beginning with its Andreas Marschall (In Flames, Sodom, Immolation) cover, Dead Mother Moon steps forth as a glorious triumph that excels from the galloping speed its opening title track commands with. From there on out, Upon Stone fly their death metal flag high with a prowess so electrifyingly rewarding. Tomas Lindberg-esque screams, solo precision, and an instrumental clinic akin to that of the Scandinavian scene that sparked their creative flow can be found throughout the excellence of this debut album. As the band state, Dead Mother Moon is not a death metal revival, but a rebirth, one fueled by an enthusiasm so vibrant that it became a beacon of hope for a genre drowned by an abundance of releases.

upon stone dead mother moon, death metal.
Cover Artwork by Andreas Marschall


Vitriol Suffer & Become (Century Media) | Listen


With a debut album like To Bathe From The Throat Of Cowardice (2019) to set the standard, Vitriol came into Suffer & Become battling high expectations. Several listens and a deep-dive into the album with mastermind Kyle Rasmussen, it's strongly evident that they surpassed an already impressive threshold as a band so ambitious and confident in their mind-blowing talents. More than an instrumental showcase however, Suffer & Become is a cathartic and truly bombastic experience that immerses listeners (and viewers) into blackened atmospheres that pull from all ends of the metal spectrum. Opener Shame and Its Afterbirth astounds with vast variety that crescendoes into a spiraling closing solo to die for. Beyond speed and precision, Suffer & Become shifts gears on tracks like the groovy The Flowers of Sadism and moving instrumental Survival's Careening Inertia. There's no stagnant moments here, only significant transitions and profound use of every inch of space afforded to the masterclass that is Vitriol's Suffer & Become.

vitriol suffer & become, death metal.
Cover Artwork by Dylan Humphries

Lord Dying Clandestine Transcendence (MNRK Heavy) | Listen


Harrowing like the Alex Reisfar cover it sports, Lord Dying's latest is slow burning and downright heavy in its audiovisual presentation. Thematically centralized around The Dreamer, an immortal being who wants to die, Clandestine Transcendence continues where 2019's Mysterium Tremendum left off as part two of a three-part narrative so beautifully interweaved amidst a shape-shifting soundtrack. Ethereal melodies become one with earth shattering crashes and riffs so cinematic in scope. Though one could loosely categorize the album (and the band) as progressive sludge, it only scratches the surface of the band's defining characteristics. In short, Clandestine Transcendence is a beast of a listen.

lord dying, doom metal, dark artwork.
Cover Artwork by Alexander Reisfar

Cosmic Jokeself-titled (Hardlore Records / Triple B Records) | Listen


The joyous aggression of hardcore punk is perfectly encapsulated within Cosmic Joke's self-titled debut — a musical experience that draws on nostalgic elements while pushing the needle towards a fruitful future ahead. Kamikaze, an album standout, is an apt introduction to the punchy thrill ride that is this album from beginning to end. If Ryan Besch's pop art-esque cover illustration was enough to hook you in, be confident that the band's brimming energy is infectious and riveting enough to hold you down. It's only right that Cosmic Joke gave it a deserved release party at a hardcore breeding ground, The Midnight Hour. We patiently await what comes next for Cosmic Joke, Hardlore Records, and the future of LA hardcore.


cosmic coke, hardlore records, hardcore punk.
Cover Artwork by Ryan Besch


Infant IslandObsidian Wreath (Secret Voice) | Listen


An epic in every sense of word — Obsidian Wreath is cinematic with grand use of scale and atmosphere to leave you breathless just prior to its black metal explosions. It's an awe-inspiring listen, one meant to be experienced in solace among peace with its intentional compositional approach. Obsidian Wreath is impassioned and cathartic with every piercing scream reflective of the pain being released by each respective vocalist. It bridges sonic extremity and vulnerability very well, offering plenty within its runtime.

infant island obsidian wreath, black metal.
Cover Artwork by Sarah Bachman

Knoll As Spoken (self-release) | Listen


Knoll define extremity through a truly monstrous delivery of grind that is both haunting and rewarding as sonic layers unfold with each passing, shape-shifting minute. Abstract and unconventional, As Spoken guides listeners through Portal-esque territory that never ceases to settle. Beyond it being a showcase of musical chops, As Spoken exists as a larger, more comprehensive body of work that its band members crafted so meticulously to serve as a visual/conceptual extension of the lyrics. Interested listeners can engage with this experience via Unto Viewing — the ideal entry point from which to have As Spoken sink its teeth into you. Let the mirror on Ethan McCarthy's cover serve as your portal.


knoll grind, grindcore
Cover Artwork by Ethan McCarthy

 

Yes, I understand we're well into February and this sort of column should've been issued earlier this month, but life is life and unfortunately it sat until time became available to finalize it. However, the late publishing date reaffirms what we said above — these are albums that warrant steady listening throughout the year and not just during the week surrounding the release proximity. Rest assured, the February 2024 edition of this new column is in its final touches and will be published in a more timely manner from here on out. Music moves fast!


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