Keeping to our hollowed tradition of fashionably late Record(s) o’ the Month entries, we will now take a look back to July as it fades into the haze of memory. There were a collection of worthy entries, and each had a small cadre of fierce partisans supporting their cause. Rather than fractious upheaval and heated debate, things were settled with a barbeque cook-off and bathing suit competition. This is what democracy looks like in 2022, folks, and it ain’t pretty.
Glasgow-based Ashenspire use their avant-garde progressive black metal style as a vehicle to hammer home their views society, wealth inequality, and human nature. On sophomore outing Hostile Architecture, they lay their activist cards on the table and rage against various machines with a conviction and passion that’s hard to deny. Though the band’s eclectic approach may draw comparisons to A Forest of Stars at times, their propulsive style is distinct and unique. Violin and saxophone join traditional blackened and post-metal tropes for an intoxicating journey through sound and space. The lyrics scream outrage and indignation about man’s inhumanity to man, and though the vocals may be somewhat of an acquired taste, they work more often than they don’t. As a highly impressed Dolphin Whisperer put it, “Hostile Architecture might upset you, but as you settle into its fury, you just might fall in love.”
Altars // Ascetic Reflection – Following a nearly 10-year hiatus, the dissonant deathers from down under in Altars return to offer an intense and dark soundscape on Ascetic Reflections. Blending Portal-isms and Gorguts-esque insanity designed to punish and twist the mind, tension and dread are conveyed in the dark riff-work and unpredictable rhythms. Throughout it all the listener is kept wary and on guard as hefty grooves plow the fields of horror into vast, bloody wounds. As Dear Hollow breathlessly implored, “Altars has created a fantastic album, a comeback that dwells in clarity and pain, proving that they are still kicking nearly a decade later. With Ascetic Reflection, they will challenge the dissonant death hierarchy for years to come.”
Chat Pile // God’s Country – Though sludge often gets abused by certain AMG staffers, there’s a time and place for it, and that time and place is Chat Pile‘s latest release, God’s Country. Fusing stark noise with heavy sludge, doom, and death metal, the Chat Pile sound is ugly, raw, and convulsive. A near-constant state of instability and tension hang over the material and the style dwells on the furthest edge of chaos. As a well impressed Cherd gushed, “Throughout God’s Country, they manage to access the universal through the tiny door of the specific, a mark of artistic maturity. It’s a harrowing statement of despair, but one I can’t stop listening to. AOTY contender.”