The fourth quarter is a busy one, with the quantity and usually the quality of new metal albums stepping up during the latter part of the year. As the summer ends, there were some excellent releases. Here are our picks for August 2019’s best new metal albums.
1. Tool – Fear Inocolum (RCA)
If you just want to know if Fear Inoculum is good, here you go: Tool have delivered a sprawling, epic, and enthralling album. The digital release is 87 minutes long, spread over six 10 plus minute songs and four interludes (the CD is missing three of those interludes, so as to fit on one disc). The songs themselves range from déjà vu to stunning, in all and in part. By the time we get to “Descending,” it’s obvious that Fear Inoculum is very much Adam Jones’ coming out party.
I would put forth that Tool are no longer an alt-metal band with math-y, progressive tendencies; they are very much a progressive post-metal band, more comparable to acts such as The Ocean than contemporary counterparts such as Soen. Like the band’s previous two albums, Fear Inoculum is going to take a long time to settle into. But taken at face value, Tool have delivered an excellent album that lacks the immediacy (“The Pot”) and fury (“Ticks & Leeches”) of past albums, instead opting for pensive and deliberate, yet no less effective sprawling tracks.
2. Imperium Dekadenz – When We Are Forgotten (Napalm)
It didn’t take long for Imperium Dekadenz to become one of the important and influential names of the world’s underground metal scene. By releasing two acclaimed albums (Meadows of Nostalgia and Dis Manibvs, Imperium Dekadenz’s status as a band who try to discover new gateways to atmospheric black metal was consolidated. And now they are here with When We Are Forgotten, an hour long sorrowful, emotional opus that extends the boundaries of their music.
Atmosphere on When We Are Forgotten is massive and epic. The songs don’t follow complex structures, but are lengthy and that is why the band had enough time to explore countless ideas and arrange extremely dynamic musical pieces. The melancholic melodies weep over the layers of the songs, while simultaneously narrating human suffering and dark moments. Brilliant songwriting and impressive performances by both Vespasian and Horaz help make When We Are Forgotten one of the most breathtaking albums of this year.
3. Sacred Reich – Awakening (Metal Blade)
Sacred Reich’s fifth album, Awakening, is significant for a few reasons. It’s their first full-length album since they reunited in 2006, as well as their first since 1996’s Heal. It must be difficult to live up to unrealistic expectations from those expecting the second coming of Ignorance, one of great thrash records of the late ’80s. Awakening is not Ignorance, but it’s also far thrashier than their last two albums, Independent and Heal.
Awakening tops off right around the 30-minute mark, making it the shortest album of the band’s career to date. Their “get in and get out” approach is refreshing when bands tend to go bigger. There’s not one wasted note, no misstep like a funk song (looking at you, “31 Flavors”). Eight songs with no filler, Awakening shows Sacred Reich re-energized and ready to enter their 35th year in existence on a high note.
4. Elvenking – Reader Of The Ruins – Divination (AFM)
Elvenking‘s Reader of the Runes – Divination, dives deep with a story that journeys “into a mystic world of runes, magic and ancient powers far away from the visible.” Divination is only the first chapter of this story and is intended to continue on future releases. If the music keeps on coming this strong from them, then I’m all for it. Divination could go down as thee defining moment of their career.
The power metal infused with Celtic and folk melodies and rituals are all there to be heard, but it’s constructed in a captivating and memorable manner that it yearns for repeated listens. Some of the band’s strongest material to date can be heard. Inspiration, that’s the most important aspect of Divination. These boys sound incredibly refreshed and the concept surrounding this story clearly injected some added motivation to make this a special record.
5. Sorcery – Necessary Excess of Violence (Xtreem)
Starting in 1986, Sorcery are arguably the earliest death metal band to originate in Sweden. The band released their debut, Bloodchilling Tales in 1991, and then disbanded in ’97. The rest of their full-length catalog came out in the last decade. Necessary Excess of Violence is purely Swedish compared to the death/thrash sound of the debut. The guitar follows Entombed’s maxed out guitar pedals advent.
Sorcery resemble Dismember’s chord play. There are clear melodic death tendencies, again an aspect Dismember perfected. “The Darkest Part of You” could have been on a Johan Liiva-led Arch Enemy record. Ola Malmström’s voice is not too growly, which again brings to mind Dismember/Arch Enemy. For this reason, his lyrics are easily understandable and memorable. “Where We Were Born We Will Demise” is one of the catchiest songs on the album. From the saw-blade guitar tones and ultra-catchy fret work to the vocal refrain, Necessary Excess of Violence is a modern Swedish death classic.
6. Tarja – In The Raw (earMusic)
During her now-fourteen-year solo career, Finnish singer Tarja Turunen has been nothing if not prolific. In the Raw is her seventh solo album. Tarja’s goal was to attack these songs with more elemental vigor. She wanted to maintain the soaring operatic style and the climactic classical movements, but at the same time have the proceedings injected with raw, metallic guitars and energy. Consider it done.
When I grabbed In the Raw, the last thing I expected was an album I couldn’t stop listening to. Yet here I am, a dozen or more spins into Tarja’s latest, and I can safely say this is the album her fans have been waiting for since 2005. Tarja and her team have really hit this one out of the park.
Other 2019 Monthly Best Heavy Metal Album Lists
January 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
February 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
March 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
April 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
May 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
June 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
July 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums