July. That was some time ago. It’s now October and the already oppressed AMG staff begin to feel a gnawing existential dread as end-of-year stressors insidiously creep into every facet of their waking psyches. There’s so much left to do before the glitter ball drops on 2023. Lists must be carefully curated. Record(s) o’ the Month must be debated and belatedly published. Unworthy n00bs must be put to the sword and baked into cakes which are passed around. The break room fridge must be given its yearly deep, DEEP decontamination rub down. And whoever draws the shortest straw must scrub, delouse, and re-grout the bathrooms on the third floor. The end of the year is a dark time at AMG. Oh, and here are the records that made the staff go all doe-eyed and drippy in July.
2023 has been a fine year for death metal of all stripes, and Pennsylvania’s OSDM sickos Outer Heaven added to the haul with a monstrously heavy, quirky, and entertaining platter called Infinite Psychic Depths. Taking the standardized template well tested by Cannibal Corpse and their cargo-beshorted ilk, they then fasten on a vicious layer of hardcore and sludge and drape a highfalutin sci-fi theme over the whole wet, festering mess. It’s like pre-prog-wonker Tomb Mold getting frisky with Morbid Angel and Mammoth Grinder at an 80s sex club, and you’ll probably catch a loathsome disease from extended exposure. Nasty, brutish, and sharp, but by no means brainless, there’s a cunning intellect operating behind the ruthless curb stomping and rusty hooks abound. As a well-kicked Kenstrosity wisely observed, “More memorable and featuring more unique ideas than its predecessor, Outer Heaven’s prequel kicks major ass.”
Somnuri // Desiderium – Whenever we get promos labeled as “progressive sludge/stoner metal,” I really have to pitch them hard to those staffers who normally appreciate the sludgy end of the cesspool. The progressive part always seems to put them off and make them suspicious. Luckily, NYC’s Somnuri are an easy sell, with strong Mastodon elements paired smartly with hardcore, doom, and grunge influences, resulting in a heady, intoxicating brew. As heavy as the riffs get, this is an album of hooks and earworms courtesy of that grunge injection. A happy Cherd summarized his impressions thusly, “Somnuri has done exactly what you want to see a promising band do with their third record. Namely, take anything that worked with the first two, amp that up a bit, and commit fully to a new wrinkle to elevate the material.”
Mutoid Man // Mutants – Mutoid Man have done well for themselves with their signature blend of metal, punk, hard and math rock. They’ve always demonstrated an ear for big hooks and memorable refrains, and on third album Mutuants, the musical DNA remains stable and sustainable. It’s a platter designed to get you worked up and having a good time, with rock and metal the keys to the candy store, and slick musicianship helping it all go down smoothly. As Saunders related in his astute review, “Difficult to pigeonhole, Mutants is at once a thrillingly fun, memorable, challenging, and unique blast of Mutoid Man’s genre-smashing shenanigans that seems destined to stay on high rotation for the foreseeable future.”