Slicers, Hookers, Cutters: Best Metal Albums, March 2019 [NSFW]

Slicers, Hookers, Cutters is a monthly rundown of the best and worst albums released during the previous month. Let’s be real…there’s only so much time we can dedicate to albums every month, so feel free to tweet @BethpageBM and let us know what we missed. Understand, of course, that we may have actually hated the garbage you recommend…so if you don’t see a social shout-out for that release, you’ll just have to sit there and wonder whether we missed your comment…or whether your taste is terrible. This crushing paranoia is all part of the doom metal experience.

EAGLE: Gomorrah by Gomorrah

‘Gomorrah’ by Gomorrah

Gomorrah’s Bowen Matheson was born with the hair to be a wildly successful power metal guitarist. Fortunately, due to wholly-speculated childhood trauma, he came into progressive death metal instead. Where Matheson would have finger-tapped his way to glory with power metal, here his seven-strings skitter frantically amid verses (“The Carnage Wrought,” “Frailty”), as if he’s he’s just barely holding the train together while the engine overheats. Or maybe he’s the one pushing it off the tracks while session drummer extraordinaire Hannes Grossman is working to keep it straight. Although both may be losing their grip, no tracks break the four-minute mark. It’s an admittedly acceptable safety belt, as overambition has been the death of many a progressive death group. And although it may not borrow from the subgenre in terms of length, the loom-’n’-doom production is the deft touch to put Gomorrah atop its peers (Bowen’s presumed bass additions help the “loom”). It is worth pointing out, to be fair, that Jeff Bryan is also great. And he does not look like he would fit in a power metal group.

 

BIRDIE: Gods Without Name by Aoratos

‘Gods Without Name’ by Aoratos

Naas Alcameth—of Nightbringer and Akhlys—is apparently trying the one-man-black-metal-band thing, but all the promotional photos suggest there’s a second member for Aoratos. Who? Hell, we don’t know; the promotional materials don’t go that deep. Maybe it’s just a blind to add to the constant kvlt Alcameth is trying to add to his projects. Just read the label description of the band. Then again, that LSD-laced band description kind of feeds into the H.P. Lovecraft cult (different spelling! it matters!) fascination Aoratos is playing into; Gods Without Name fits conveniently between the truly “dark ambient” dreamscapes of Akhlys and the more straightforward black metal appreciations of Nightbringer. Which is to say that Alcameth presents a chorus of bass synth over his black metal mechanizations where other acts may have opted for the orchestra. Is one more “kvlt” than the other? Again: Hell, we don’t know. It’s an apt soundtrack for someone looking to summon nameless gods in a Rocky Mountain cabin. Big-room, horror-inducing production was our thing during March, based on these first two recommendations.

 

BIRDIE: Mount Crushmore by Asthma Castle

‘Mount Crushmore’ by Asthma Castle

Despite having fully-embraced the conceptual absurdity of bands like Slugdge, we still come warily into every album bearing the slightest hint of humor. Few more so than Asthma Castle (sounds legit enough)’s Mount Crushmore (sounds like it could…should…be kitschy garbage). We stand corrected. You can front on irreverent titles such as “Methlehem” and “The Book of Duderonomy,” but you can’t front on the riff. Considering the aforementioned titles, you’d be correct to assume this fits safely within the “stoner” subgenre of sludge. Consider Crowbar as a starting place for the blend of crushing riffs and bluesy licks and, although the mood is lighter than those New Orleans stalwarts, Asthma Castle never reaches Clutch-level goofiness (despite the track titles). We’ve always assumed, post-Crack The Skye, that Mastodon had stopped having fun with its progressive tendencies, and wanted to scale it back. If this assessment stands up, Asthma Castle would have been the ideal result. Leviathan heaviness without the mental strain. That’s not a diss.

 

BIRDIE: Samsara by Venom Prison

‘Samsara’ by Venom Prison

Metal is unpleasant and, by proxy, so are its album covers. Sometimes that’s taken to comical extremes (Aborted’s Terrorvision) or literal jaw-dropping extremes (don’t Google “Pissgrave” while eating). Technically, by FCC requirements, the “NSFW” label in this month’s title refers to the earlier Gomorrah cover (she’s nude!!!), but Venom Prison has been producing some of the most brutal of album covers for years…and slipping it past censors by disguising it as Renaissance art! For example, the rapist being force-fed his own testicles upon Animus. We heard a clip from an interview with frontwoman Larissa Stupar where she explained current single “Uterine Industrialization” and the concept of religious forced pregnancy. With that pleasant topic in mind, the art for Samsara makes more contextual sense. At this point, you’re getting an idea for the loaded political ideas that come packaged with this pushing-deathcore group. This isn’t the feel-good death metal of Aborted.

 

BOGEY: Anesthetic by Mark Morton

‘Anesthetic’ by Mark Morton

The explanation for Mark Morton’s solo album is good enough; he had a load of stuff that just wasn’t going to fly with Lamb of God so he figured he would try it on elsewhere with different vocalists. There were definitely some eye-catching names (Mark Lanegan, Chester Bennington) as well as eyebrow-raising names (Jacoby Shaddux and Myles Kennedy). Morton’s description of his interaction with Lanegan sums up Anesthetic pretty well…he sent the Screaming Trees frontman the song, and the dude recorded it. And as a huge fan of both bands…Lanegan’s flow is just off. Like he needed someone in the room with him. That’s the case more often than not here…the licks Morton plays just don’t jive with the guy in the room. And then you get to “The Truth Is Dead,” the album’s last track. Featuring Randy Blythe. And it sounds so on-point…maybe not quite a Lamb song, but a Lamb possibility, for sure. It’s easily the best on the album, and it seems Spinefarm realized it to…hence how it became the first signal for Morton’s supposed departure from the norm. Hearing Chester Bennington on “Cross Off” is surreal at first, but upon second listen, you can’t help but think Blythe would sound more at place within Morton’s atmosphere. The guitarist can probably handle a solo gig…but he needs to commit more to not groove metal. We’re not ones to suggest people take a lesson from Zeal & Ardor but…he could take a lesson from Zeal & Ardor.

Did we do your favorite metal band wrong? Did we ignore your favorite metal band altogether? Get at us @BPBlackMetal on Twitter or @BethpageBlackMetal on Instagram.

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