Narrowing the musical influx one riff at a time.
We're just a few days into 2020 and release announcements are popping up left and right, reminiscent of last year's inaugural month. Though this may not necessarily be a bad thing, it can become overwhelming and easy for quality music to get lost among the horde. In fact, we wouldn't be the only writers to admit that a few records got past us sporadically and were appreciated a bit too late. However, efforts will be made to help those that shine among the rest, shine even brighter.
Our new Monthly Notable column aims to highlight what we feel are the month's top outings, regardless of sub-genre and any other category that separates one from the other. In staying true to the Heaviest of Art mantra, each record presented in the column will also come accompanied by great album covers, completing the audiovisual package. Needless to say, your eyes and ears will be pleased. Don't believe us? Just take a stab at DEFILED's Infinite Regress and the blood-curling Wes Benscoter art before it.
Here are six records out this month that should not be missed by any means:
HAUNT - Mind Freeze (Shadow Kingdom Records) | January 10, 2020
There's hardly anyone working harder than Trevor William Church at the moment. In addition to HAUNT's relentless touring schedule, the man remains consistent with the band's musical output. The release of Mind Freeze makes for the third HAUNT full-length released with each consecutive year (Burst Into Flame, 2018 and If Icarus Could Fly, 2019), not to mention all the splits and EP's scattered in between each full length.
Quantity of compositions may be high, but Mr. Church does not sacrifice quality one bit. Mind Freeze is as electric as anything else in HAUNT's discography, however, it adds 90's punk and mythical 70's synth to the signature traditional heavy metal sound, making for one cohesive melting pot of musical eras. The John Tucker and Trevor Church guitar solo ensemble remains astounding and brings a smile to the face every time the frets soar. If you'd like to start off the decade in glorious fashion, you best get this on your turntable.
HAZZERD - Delirium (M-Theory Audio) | January 24, 2020
An Andrei Bouzikov album cover is one that represents a maniacal body of riffs pressed beneath. From SKELETONWITCH to MUNICIPAL WASTE, Bouzikov's work is widely known for fronting genre defining records that will be remembered for years to come. HAZZERD's Delirium is one to add to that list and follow closely for the quality of exhilarating riffage it presents.
Hailing from Canada, the young unit radiate the same energy that their country counterparts RAZOR and ANNIHILATOR once did with a thrash outing for a different era. Razor sharp fret work is present throughout the 10-track demon with tracks like Sanctuary For The Mad and Waking Nightmare being true standouts, the latter of which includes a ferocious guitar solo. In a time where death metal reigns supreme, HAZZERD carry the thrash torch forward with an explosive barrage that is representative of what made the genre thrive in decades past.
Get a taste with single A Tormented Reality below and pre-order your copy HERE.
MIDNIGHT - Rebirth by Blasphemy (Metal Blade Records) | January 24, 2020
The next chapter of Athenar's malicious discography arrives this month with a rabid MIDNIGHT fanbase anxious to engage. With a new home in Metal Blade Records and endless support gained following months of touring, the stakes are raised high for the band's fourth full length release. However, Rebirth by Blasphemy eliminates any and all binding genre chains and expectations and further cements Athenar's DIY-style. This kick-ass collection of tracks is relentless at heart and everything you've come to expect from Ohio's MIDNIGHT. Tracks like Rising Scum offer an alternate yet still menacing pace to the otherwise relentless blackened punk sound whereas the title track holds true to the aggression present throughout the band's output. Get your leather jackets and bullet belts out because this is one you'll want to blast at full volume.
Stream Rising Scum below and pre-order your copy of the record HERE.
DEFILED - Infinite Regress (Season of Mist) | January 24, 2020
You can almost guarantee that a record with a Wes Benscoter album cover is a record you'll want to have in your collection, but let's not go on the cover alone. The Shinichiro Hamada-led unit has composed an old school death metal beast to be reckoned with, one of the likes of AUTOPSY and SUFFOCATION. With Eddie Van Halen-like guitar solo intros and tracks inspired by George Orwell's 1984, DEFILED contribute to the ongoing death metal renaissance with a gruesome record that stands above a growing death metal flood. A brilliant mixing and mastering job by the legendary Jim Morris helps the band's monstrous hymns sound immaculate and crisp to the ear. With that said, Infinite Regress is a composition that looks good, feels good, and sounds good.
Stream the lead single Tragedy below and pre-order your copy of the record HERE.
LUX LUNA - Mors Coronati Autumnus Est (Red Door Records) | January 25, 2020
Beneath the solemn autumn fields of Blencowe's Luminary of the Autumn Night Sky (2007) is the wondrous beauty of black metal, that being LUX LUNA's Mors Coronati Autumnus Est. Though it consists of one 24-minute track, there are multiple chapters layered within, making up a journey one would be pleased to have wandered. The raw nature of the outing holds true to genre origins, but the atmospheric inclusions are truly where it shines, complementing the painting that lies before it. LUX LUNA hails from the same entity behind Morríghan, serving as a clue to what awaits you all in a few weeks.
Stay tuned to the Red Door Records Bandcamp HERE for streaming/order info.
NATTVERD - Styggdom (Osmose Productions) | January 31, 2020
The month begins with the glory of feel good, traditional heavy metal and ends on a more hateful note. However, NATTVERD's Styggdom isn't entirely a furious beast. Patches of atmosphere and melodic instrumentation add a much welcome contrast to the otherwise frigid sophomore outing, creating a balance between two extremes and further exploring the musical capabilities of the young group. Tracks like Heksebrann and Gatelangs i land og rike are representative of said balance and serve as true album standouts for their pairing of melodic, tremolo-picked midsections and relentless aggression. The Norwegian unit do right by their country's black metal history and Styggdom offers not only a fantastic start to the band's decade, but a promising future ahead.
Stream the featured single Dragsvoll below and pre-order your copy HERE.
As always, thank you for supporting bands and the artists responsible for enriching our lives with their creativity. Let's continue to buy merch, records, and more importantly, introduce one another to killer tunes.