The Best Post-Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2019





With three songs whose approaches ring of Godspeed You! Black Emperor but whose moods ring of funeral doom, The Woods is slow and subdued and slowly builds up through percussion, organ, and violins to emotional catharsis through colossal guitars. This Swedish duo's music is bleak and sorrowful and absolutely awe-inspiring.

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How does a Dutch post-metal band create something different in the centralized post-metal realm? By adding a plethora of subgenres into their music smoothly and creatively. Post-rock, blackgaze, folk, and ambient flash moments of brilliance in this epic debut record. Beautiful guitar textures resonate with perfectly placed sludge-style roars. The production and mixing is top of the line. Each song is an ethereal journey into musical grandeur, and replay value is extremely high.

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Back down to Earth and on their lonesome after the spacefaring collaboration with Julie Christmas on Mariner, Cult Of Luna have smashed out almost 80 minutes on A Dawn To Fear, but 80 minutes of such consistently immense quality that the length is entirely justified. The soul-stirring emotion of "Lights On The Hill", the introduction of shimmering organs into their sound, the finality of "The Fall", all of it is delivered with the utmost conviction and aptitude. A Dawn To Fear further underlines Cult Of Luna's status as the preeminent force in post-metal and rounds off a spectacularly successful decade for the group.

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Elegy, the third chapter in the trilogy that explores our relationship to our world, is a piece of atmospheric and thoughtful metal art made to be listened to where the high mountains and the fog-engulfed trees of its cover lie. With six compositions that explore post-rock, metalgaze, black metal, crust, and doom, along with string instruments like hurdy-gurdy, cello, piano, and viola, and with guest appearances by Thor Harris (ex-Swans), Jarboe (ex-Swans), and Dylan Desmond (Bell Witch), among others, this album is a declaration of how metal can sometimes be really unique and cathartic.

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Let's play a round of Metal Album Taboo, okay? But what if the album title your teammates had to guess was Ethic Of Radical Finitude and the taboo phrases were "tight and dense", "Downfall Of Gaia", "5th album", "atmospheric sludge/post-metal", and "guest vocals by Nikita Kamprad"? Then all you can do is to give up and acknowledge that it's absolutely impossible to even remotely characterize the essence of this album without calling it tight. But, despite its density, Ethic Of Radical Finitude does not feel like a cold, permanently impenetrable wall of sound, either. The German quartet is torn between an interplay of blastbeat frenzy and atmospheric parts, and the constant alternation between double-bass eruptions and calmer passages ensures that even the most massive walls may not silence the occasional sounds of a piano, acoustic guitars, and even a glockenspiel.

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Mænad is the debut album from Swiss conceptual post-metal artists E-L-R, 45 minutes of crescendo-to-climax sensibility divided into 6 behemoth tracks. These songs are highlighted by rhythm sections showcasing layers of down-tuned guitars, consisting of both simplistic and monotonic patterns. Droning and cathartic melodies activate brainwaves and very spacious, thought-provoking feelings. Amenra's vocalist, Colin H. van Eeckhout, makes a guest appearance, enhancing Mænad's mysticism further.

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Inter Arma have never cared too much for genre distinction as long as they could create a gigantic, mood-heavy sound: in their heaviest moments, they're like the groan of earth settling magnified by a thousand; in their softest moments, they're like a forlorn IV drip of indie-western blues. We've never heard them move like this. Sulphur English is the result of a band delving deeper into the earth's crust than ever before and discovering the hellfire within. This might be Inter Arma's most shocking progression to date, with the most crushing doom, the most cavernous black metal, and the heaviest, foggiest, most acrid, most monolithic slab of post-metal they've ever tackled making Sulphur English a big step up.

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With the freight train of fame that is BTS, Bong Joon-Ho's show-stopping Parasite, and Kim Jong-Un's will-they-won't-they nuclear romance, Korean culture was all over the news in 2019. But there's even more to it than you thought: Jambinai use a mix of standard Western gear and traditional Korean instrumentation to play post-metal in a unique fashion. Onda circles back to the band's debut with its calming instrumentals and wide-open spaces, but watch out for its teeth - and maybe give some support to an underrepresented metal scene.

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Following firmly in the footsteps of their compatriots in Amenra, Lethvm deliver exquisite contrast between layered soft stretches and forceful post-metal explosions, capped off with gut-wrenchingly pained high-pitched shrieks. Although the band bears obvious similarities to Amenra, there is plenty enough in Lethvm's riffing approach, song structuring, and varied vocal styles to allow Acedia to escape the shadow of the Mass records and shine on its own merits. In particular, the monastic clean vocal style employed throughout Acedia equally elevates both its quieter and louder moments, and adds extra spiritual clout to a raw and emotionally charged powerhouse of an album.

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Reigning from Brooklyn, New York, this three-piece outfit, featuring husband and wife, has remained relatively underground since its debut release in 2016. Love & Decay has finally placed them on the post-metal landscape. Combining beauty and darkness by way of shoegaze textures and dense, bass-heavy tones, Spotlights has created a satisfyingly fresh sound - "dreamsludge", if you will.

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