The summer doldrums are in full effect, with the number of metal releases dipping precipitously. Even with the lesser amount of new music, there were still plenty of quality albums to choose from for the month’s best. Here are our picks for July 2019’s best heavy metal albums.
1. Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance (20 Buck Spin)
In the two-and-a-half years since Canadian death metal group Tomb Mold stirred up the metal underground with their debut album, Primordial Malignity, they’ve been in full throttle mode. Planetary Clairvoyance tops their previous two, an admirable feat considering the pristine quality of those records. Tomb Mold haven’t veered away from the rotted death metal of the past, but they branch out just enough to make this album a notch above what they have been doing.
Most of these songs have a chance to land a long-term spot in Tomb Mold’s setlists. Sometimes, the best albums come from bands not looking to completely change the genre, but only to tweak and prod what was already great about it. That’s where Planetary Clairvoyance lands, and it’s tough to say it’s the band’s best album when it could rotate between this, Primordial Malignity, and Manor of Infinite Forms at any time, but as far as 2019 goes, this is one of the essential death metal releases of the year.
2. Falls of Rauros – Patterns In Mythology (Gilead)
New England’s answer to American folk black metal, Falls of Rauros share the same wonderful aesthetics of nature, chaos, and beauty of fellow countrymen Panopticon and Nechochwen. Patterns In Mythology is their fifth full-length foray and it is a continued sonic evolution from 2017’s Vigilance Perennial, more passages that scale mountains and draw inspiration from nature.
The six tracks span just over 45 minutes, so it is more of a day trip than a weekend excursion and two of the tracks act as an opener and a palate cleanser before some of the more long-form pieces come together. This could be the album that helps to separate Falls from the folk pack.
The pleasant surprise of the month goes to Arctic Sleep and their seventh full-length release, Kindred Spirits. The mastermind of Arctic Sleep is Keith D, who plays everything except drums here. A couple of guest vocalists augment the sound as well, giving added dimension to this atmospheric progressive doom album. For comparison’s sake, one might look towards Pink Floyd and Anathema a bit.
Kindred Spirits is a beautiful, expansive, vibrant album, full of emotional heft. Musical movements range from delicate to heavy and everything in between. Kevin D displays a deft hand when it comes to arrangements, making each song an engaging, captivating force. One added dimension that sets Arctic Sleep apart from some contemporaries is D’s excellent use of the cello, which adds even more scope to an already impressive album, and one that will be seeing repeated spins in the future.
4. Immortal Bird – Thrive on Neglect (20 Buck Spin)
To thrive on neglect, as Immortal Bird proclaim on the album title to their second album, means to blossom in a state of isolation. While the band is not alone in their portrayal of death metal with a dash of blackened grind, they seem to revel in the surrounding despair. It’s been about four years since the group’s Empress/Abscess debut full-length, and this time has sharpened what was already a honed-in sound.
There are real gains made from the songwriting, with the band playing around with technical rhythm leads (“House of Anhedonia”), poignant melodies (“Avolition”), and explosive guitar work (the solo at the end of “Stumbling Toward Catharsis”). All of this is held in place by vocalist Rae Amitay’s performance, a self-induced tearing of her vocal cords with every phrase bellowed out. Thrive on Neglect is another successful notch on the growing resume of Immortal Bird.
5. Sabaton – The Great War (Nuclear Blast)
For 20 years, the Swedish power metal band Sabaton have been singing songs about war and battles. Most of their albums touch on a variety of conflicts, but for their ninth studio album The Great War they focus exclusively on World War I. Musically, the album is typical Sabaton with bombastic riffs, catchy melodies and singalong choruses. However, this time around they inject a few flourishes that add some variety.
Sabaton have developed a very distinctive sound that has served them well, and they follow that pathway on The Great War along with adding some new elements that help add variety and move them forward. They are able to write extremely catchy songs that also are tailor made for live performances, and this album has several that will be staples of future concerts.
6. Torche – Admission (Relapse)
It may sound weird, but I’ve always thought of Torche as a cross between Fu Manchu and the Beach Boys. Their combination of fuzzy riffs and catchy vocal lines is unique in metal, and makes them hard to pin down to any single genre – stoner, doom, sludge, just plain rock, or all the above? Admission is the band’s fifth album, and first with longtime bassist Jon Nuñez switching over to guitar.
Right away Torche show us that things haven’t changed. Most of the songs on Admission are short and to the point, built around a single simple riff, with lyrics that reflect singer Steve Brooks’ darker side. There are a handful of true Torche gems here (“Admission,” “Reminder,” and “Changes Come”), and only a couple of forgettable tracks, making Admission a strong addition to the band’s catalog.
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