Circumstances may have worsened, but metal surely hasn't.
As we close out a difficult month of March, it's important to look back at some of the good that came out from the darkness, one thing being the amount of killer music we were treated to on a weekly basis. Though quantity was high, it's the quality of the releases that stand as a highlight for fans of all things heavy. From the arrival of MY DYING BRIDE's heart-wrenching return to the beautiful soundscapes of HUNTSMEN's Mandala of Fear, there was no weak release week. That said, compiling this month's Monthly Notable feature was no easy task, but it was indeed a fun one, as it required multiple reruns of this month's elite. Live shows may be a thing of the past (for now), but with music this good to fill our hearts, we'll be fine until the quarantines are lifted. Stay home and plug in those headphones because the below six are sure to please.
Here are our picks for top records of March 2020:
MY DYING BRIDE - The Ghost of Orion (Nuclear Blast) | March 6, 2020
Kicking off this month's feature is the hard-hitting The Ghost of Orion by death doom giants MY DYING BRIDE. Three decades into their career and the band have yet to lose their touch, releasing a towering composition of emotional despair that defines the power of death doom. The Ghost of Orion further cements the English ensemble among the cream of the crop, especially with tracks like The Long Black Land and To Outlive The Gods still seeing the light of the day after a period of existence where most bands tend to phone it in. Pain simply radiates from each offering, pairing well with the melancholic nature of Eliran Kantor's illustration at the forefront, which was featured in our interview with frontman Aaron Stainthorpe and Kantor himself. This is a record to be experienced in solace, inviting you to dive deep into your sorrows and bury them into the ground. Prepare yourself for an outing of the most emotional variation of death metal.
Stream album standout To Outlive The Gods below and get your copy HERE.
SPECTRAL LORE/MARE COGNITUM - Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine (I-Voidhanger) | March 13, 2020
Beneath the mesmerizing art of Elijah Tamu lies a journey worth exploring, one that goes by the name of Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine. This 2-hour split release comes by way of SPECTRAL LORE and MARE COGNITUM, each of which consists of one multi-instrumentalist with the power of many. What each of these bands has put together here is grandiose in scope, taking black metal to heights that stray the two from their counterparts. Beautiful aggression is but one of the many descriptions that one can use to describe the cohesive nature of Wanderers. Each band may have their own respective take on the genre via their own unique projects, however, Wanderers plays as one, rotating tracks between bands in seamless fashion. This isn't the first time SPECTRAL LORE and MARE COGNITUM collide either, with Sol (2013) marking the first instance where the two composed a split together. We just hope this isn't the last.
Stream the album in full below and pickup a sweet 3xLP copy HERE.
HUNSTMEN - Mandala of Fear (Prosthetic Records) | March 13, 2020
Compositions that harness from every end of the musical spectrum to great measure are few and far in between. These are the records that keep listeners on their toes by popping in new sound elements with every passing minute, seamlessly traversing through predetermined musical expectations. Chicago's HUNTSMEN achieved said feat with Mandala of Fear. The 13-track story that is Mandala of Fear has brought together doom, sludge, folk, country, and more for one dissonant Americana-infused experience. With each passing track, HUNTSMEN deliver atmospheres that transport you to their dystopian tale of pain, paired perfectly with glaring melodies. This is a growing listen, introducing you to new layers as you continue to dive into each track time after time. We wouldn't be wrong in saying this will still make the rounds come December, marking one of the more special releases we'll come to see in 2020.
Stream God Will Stop Trying below and pickup your copy of the record HERE.
IRIST - Order Of The Mind (Nuclear Blast) | March 27, 2020
Debut records are sometimes met with pressure, and rightfully so given their ability to make or break a band's planned career. With the staggering debut that is Order Of The Mind, IRIST catapult themselves to the top of the ranks. Despite being the band's first record, the musicianship present throughout excels beyond measure, representing the very best of what metal has to offer. Order of the Mind is unorthodox, straying from conventional song structures and infusing elements from across Pablo Alberto Davila's (guitar) and best friend Bruno Alejandro Segovia Canales' (bass) rich and diverse South American history. Production is crisp, making Jason Belisha's drumming sound as earth shattering as it should while Adam Mitchell's elevates the songs with an aggressive vocal performance. Opening track Eons warms listeners to the explosive listening experience that is to come, further met by the controlled madness of Creation and Dead Prayers. The only downside to Order Of The Mind is that they've set an incredibly high standard for albums to come. However, one can be sure that future offerings will not only meet the standard, but possibly exceed it.
Stream the pummeling Creation below and order your copy HERE via Nuclear Blast.
ROTTING KINGDOM - A Deeper Shade of Sorrow (Boris Records) | March 13, 2020
It would appear March is the month of death doom, with releases from MY DYING BRIDE, SOLOTHUS, TEMPLE OF VOID, and ROTTING KINGDOM hitting shelves and putting the genre on a pedestal. Kentucky's ROTTING KINGDOM has risen as a modern force in the genre, making it safe to say death doom is set to have a bright future ahead in the hands of musicians capable of putting together beasts of the nature of A Deeper Shade of Sorrow. The towering atmospheres present on this record serve triumph and serve as an achievement for the young quintet. Beautiful guitar melodies become one with Anton Escobar's blood curling growls, all the while Brandon Glancy provides a cataclysmic drum display to breathe new life into the already menacing composition. Let Adam Burke's beautiful visuals guide you into this death doom achievement.
Stream the punishing Barren Harvest below and order your copy of the record HERE.
SWEVEN - The Eternal Resonance (Ván Records) | March 20, 2020
Rising from the ashes of MORBUS CHRON is SWEVEN, Robert Andersson's newly formed unit of heavy complexity. From the moment the band and The Eternal Resonance were surprisingly announced, expectations were set high for the ex-MORBUS CHRON frontman's new outing. It takes but one full listen through the record to have those expectations shattered as Andersson and co. have composed a truly remarkable collection of songs that will catapult the record to the top of several year end lists, regardless of what albums are yet to come. It serves as a standard for progressive death metal, establishing a foothold on the genre like HORRENDOUS did with 2018's Idol. It's no easy listen, but it's a rewarding one, as it bombards listeners with layer upon layer of musical prowess that pulls from all extremes of the musical spectrum. Music aside, the beautiful Raul Gonzalez album cover that lies before it is worth it alone.
Stream the lead single Reduced To An Amber below and pickup 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 tracks. Stay tuned to Heaviest of Art on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for killer art and music recommendations throughout the day.