There were a ton of outstanding albums released in April. Narrowing down the list was a difficult feat. Here are our picks for the best new metal albums released in April of 2019.
1. Inter Arma – Sulphur English (Relapse)
Inter Arma’s excellent Paradise Gallows album came out in 2016, and not surprisingly ended up on a ton of year-end lists. Inexplicably, this has caused the band to give people the proverbial middle finger here, presumably for trying to pigeon-hole them into a purely sludge or doom genre. In fact, the band is far more multifaceted than that, and they prove it here on Sulphur English. Black metal, death metal, prog, post metal, and more, it’s all here in one vast and furious package.
The album seethes and groans under immense weight through blackened post-metal tracks like “A Waxen Sea,” but also offers far more. “Howling Lands” is a furious and primitive percussive blast, while “Stillness” is an introspective acoustic doom cut, and “The Atavist’s Meridian” is a complex, progressive animal full of jazz-inspired drumming and multiple time changes. Sulphur English tops Paradise Gallows in rage, fury, heaviness, and breadth of scope, and is sure to once again grace many year-end lists: I don’t know what that will do to the band’s mindset for their next album.
2. Latitudes – Part Island (Debemur Morti)
Since London, England’s sludge/post-metal act Latitudes added vocals to their music, many things have changed. Old Sunlightwas the start of the new chapter and now Part Islandhas completed it. The vocals inspirations that Adam Symonds has taken from Nick Drake and Camel’s Andy Latimer have added a whole new dimension to Latitudes’ lamenting, bleak music.
Tons of extraordinary guitars riffs and melodies blend with acoustic guitar, the delicate sound of synth hiding in the underlying layers of music. Along with highly passionate vocal harmonies, it all makes a magnificent and epic symphony of human pain and darkest corners, which might even point to some of the UK’s current political situation. The ocean which began at Harbour of Tears ends up on Part Island. This is how Latitudes created their masterpiece.
3. Lord Dying – Mysterium Tremendum (eOne)
Death. The end. Or is it? The events that shall unfold once we shuffle off this mortal coil have long been shrouded in mystery and wonderment. No one knows what lies in store on the other side of the veil, but Portland’s Lord Dying are none too afraid to explore the subject with their sprawling third studio LP, the concept-driven Mysterium Tremendum.
Upon hearing the first track “Envy The End,” it becomes immediately apparent Lord Dying made prodigious use of the four years separating the release of Poisoned Altars, which was, at its core, a standard sludge record (albeit an impressive one) and Mysterium Tremendum. Tremendum is an entirely different animal, mixing the band’s masterful use of heavier-than-thou bucketfuls of sludge with more progressive musical leanings, acoustic interludes, and actual singing. The result is a massive and mature musical study of the psychology of death and what might await us in the afterlife, replete with any and all misgivings we might harbor regarding our collective mortality. This album, and its concept centered around death signals a triumphant rebirth for Lord Dying as a band. Do not miss out on this experience.
4. Waste Of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis (Svart)
Syntheosis began as a commissioned piece for the annual Roadburn Festival, performed live in April 2018 by Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising. The ten piece combo was christened Waste Of Space Orchestra, and this is a studio recording of that performance.
It’s an expansive dose of doom, drone and psychedelia, an hour long trip telling the story of three beings and their search for knowledge. With three vocalists and a plethora of musicians, it’s a complex wall of sound with arrangements that are sometimes heavy, other times atmospheric and always intricate. Relatively streamlined songs like “Seeker’s Reflection” are augmented by extended and engaging epics like “Journey To The Center Of Mass” and the title track. The two bands merge, and out of that collaboration comes an entirely new creation that combines each band into a unique whole that’s even stronger than their individual parts.
5. Allegaeon – Apoptosis (Metal Blade)
There has been some turnover in Allegaeon‘s lineup over the past few years, adding vocalist Riley McShane for 2016’s Proponent For Sentience. New bassist Brandon Michael comes aboard for Apoptosis, the Colorado melodic death metal band’s fifth album.
Opening interludes are usually throwaways, but in its two minutes “Parthenogenesis” nicely sets the stage for what is to come: a creative combination of technical, progressive and melodic influences. They transition smoothly from intense technical sections to groove laden parts to prog flourishes. McShane’s aggressive growls are contrasted by catchy guitar parts, with clean vocals making a periodic appearance, such as “Tsunami and Submergence.” It’s an effective balance of technicality and melody that culminates in the 10 minute closing title track, a tour de force that showcases all Allegaeon have to offer.
6. Dead to a Dying World – Elegy (Profound Lore)
The emotional and tonal upheaval of a song from Dead to a Dying World is an act very few bands can pull off as well as they do, and this technique is fine-tuned on their latest album, Elegy. Structured as a narrative, with three 10-plus minute epics and an equal number of shorter tunes, Elegyincludes outside musicians like Jarboe and Bell Witch’s Dylan Desmond without shortchanging the members of the band.
The sorrowful notes of a viola, the back-and-forth between vocalists Mike Yaeger and Heidi Moore, the meticulous songwriting; all back from their last album, Litany, but with a more accomplished sonic design. The ebbs and peaks these songs go through put the band’s unpredictable nature—the push of black metal receding into a beautiful melody—at the forefront of their excellent third album.