2019 Under My Scope

In 2018 I decided to listen to as many albums as possible, and succeeded in finding new interesting stuff. But it took much effort, and in the end I think I wasn't really smart in my choices, so this year I'll try to do the same with higher creteria. Hopefully the list will grow without losing tightness like it did back then. I'm watching every new entry to MS database, and these are the few albums which caught my attention. - I mean, I'm pretty jaded so these are the only releases I've been able to sit through without complaining.

Alright, we hit September, i'm a bit disappointed this year. Most of death or black metal albums I picked were overly similar and dragging and had a sorrowful flavour. I wasn't in the mood for them at all. Heavy metal release on the other hand tended to have some nice ideas here and there, but most albums weren't solid at all and ended up being forgettable. What's left ? A lot of psychedelic/stoner/avant-garde/noise/drone/doom/gothic/etc, mostly female-fronted, and being closer to rock than metal. I'm jaded with metal I think. Here's some non-metal djent, I mean piano math rock or whatever...

Let's hope awesome things will come out this Fall or Winter.

(+) favorites / top list.
★ most played so far
new to the list / needs more spins
(-) was featured at one point but I don't want to listen to it anymore

Created by: Ansercanagicus | 25.01.2019

1. Sabbath Assembly - A Letter Of Red
(+++) ★ heavy?prog?psychedelic?doom? There's in fact a lot of stuff in this album. Maybe it's mainly portrayed as doom because of the singing. The female vocalist has got a style of her own. It reminds me of Lordian Guard. But it doesn't compare with your habitual doom, this is not slow, this is not sad. Some tracks really groove, some others rather are ballads. I like the drums sounding a little blunt, and the bass being present. The guitar is also performing a couple of tricks to get different textures. I like the use of varied sounds from acoustics to 70s-shaded tremolo effects, and really smooth synths. Which perfectly blend in the more modern mix. So this is a very pleasant surprise, and the fact Sabbath Assembly can bring so much flavor to their music is remarkable. From start to finish the album shines in different ways but manages to feel consistent. Great.
2. Helium Horse Fly - Hollowed
(+++) very interesting mix of noise and post in a mesmerizing atmosphere. It sounds a bit like Imperial Triumphant, without the death elements.
3. Lingua Ignota - Caligula
(+++) A Cappella drone, post experimental black? I'm new to this, I don't know, I like it. Another singing/screaming woman entering the list. Since I heard this album I don't eat, I don't sleep. I cannot doubt how great it is, it has beautiful harmonies, and a strong sense of dynamics. Some singing parts are so neat and soft, while the noisy ones get so loud and powerful, with soul-crushing lyrics. This is like some bright charming Gnaw Their Tongues without the boredom.
4. Health - Vol.4 :: Slaves Of Fear
(+++) noise rock... pop, synthwave, electro to a stretch. Oddzoo - Future Flesh was one of my favorite last year, I don't know if this is related but it certainly sounds alike. It's rather pop/rock/electro but with very gritty synthetic noises acting as a sound texture or drums. I don't know why I like this but it has a special mood, reminding me of some hangover times.
5. Bent Knee - You Know What They Mean
(+++) noise rock / avantgarde. What to say? Bent Knee is great! everything is surprising about their music, there's always a bunch of crazy sounds an ideas, but used very musically, and frankly this release is a banger. The singer is really impressive with her ability. I also praise that wide dynamic range
6. Big Brave - A Gaze Among Them
(++) drone+noise rock. Girls singing their lungs out over trippy music is my new fetish I guess. They make half of this list. But this one is very transcendental, a real pleasure to listen to despite the music being mostly stagnant. It is drone in a strict meaning, prepare to hear the same note and overtones for 40 minutes. The guitars are somewhat fuzzy in a very noisy and intelligible way, yet enjoyable one. Maybe it drags a bit towards the end but it's cool anyway.
7. Vaura - Sables
(++) prog, but this is like atmospheric rock, reminding of Depeche Mode maybe.
8. Gold - Why Aren't You Laughing?
(++) depressive post-rock
9. Yvette Young - Piano
[EP] (++) math band Covet's guitarist Yvette Young also is a solo artist, but decides to shred piano this time
10. Retina - Entropy
(++) post/prog, with a lot of great moments of diverse kinds, being the beautifully reverbed sound texture, or psychedelic-rock solos, the musical use of some noises, or groovy drum parts. The whole piece is varied but has a consistent atmosphere.
11. Moon Tooth - CRUX
(++) prog metal. Like someone put it this is like a different Mastodon. Intricate riffs and drums, and unheard harmonies. A very colorful record with a lot of influences and a bunch of surprising moments. Sounds fresh. On the other hand, the album rapidly drops in low momentum songs that feel quite underwhelming. This album is still noteworthy for the surprising harmonies and riffs. -> maybe check Ribozyme too. And you should also check their previous album, the guitarwork is just as amazing and fresh. The vocals are often off-pitch, but that's improved on CRUX.
12. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Infest The Rats' Nest
(++) stoner thrash. yes.
13. Wheel - Moving Backwards
(++) [1st] groovy alt-metal. The closest you'd have to a Tool album these times
14. Mamaleek - Cadejos
(++) [EP] this is truly experimental. A bunch of scary sounds merged in a low rhythm for psychedelic music.
15. Cynic - Traced In Air Remixed
(+) CYNIC!! always good, great sound and compositions. I'll admit Traced In Air didn't leave too much memory in my mind, so I can't really compare the mixes. That's the occasion to re-discover it.
16. Superlynx - New Moon
(+) Easy listen. Monotonous litanic singing over melodious music. A bit of doom, A bit of stoner. Sounds a bit like Messa ("New Moon" especially)
17. Ribozyme - Argute
(+) hard rock / prog influenced / some kind of rockcore maybe? well it's catchy and well crafted. Also -> check Moon Tooth
18. Haunt - Mosaic Vision
[EP] (+) ★ old school heavy metal. If you liked Satan and Cauldron from last year this one works alike. Maybe the whiny vocals are a bit off-putting, but the music is groovy. The guitars do a lot of harmonizations, like Iron Maiden would do, as much in the leads as for regular riffs. In fact, I must confess I'm listening only to #4 'Callouses' on loop, this song is so headbangable!
19. Skraeckoedlan - Eorþe (Earth)
(+) nice stoner but in an unusual way. Kinda like Anciients without harshness. Or Baroness too. It has a lot of great moments, with a solid sense of structure and melody. I was afraid that, like most stoner/sludge albums, I'd like it without any urge to come back to it, but I think I've found a grower here.
20. Dead Feathers - All Is Lost
[1st] (+) female fronted doom/stoner. The singing reminds me a lot of Messa. It's a bit generic but it's cool. The first track builds slowly towards little-saturated vintage but groovy and hypnotic guitar riffs. The percussions (idk tambourin or maracas) gently work in a Black-Sabbath-like way. It ends up sounding big without even pretending to. The "woo! woo!" carelessly hummed are ravishing too. So the first 10 minutes are a delight.
21. Dreadnought - Emergence
(+) prog, post, black, mixed with a bunch of acoustic instruments. It's neat and have a couple of soothing moments, but the general black metal features make my attention drop quickly.
22. Destrage - The Chosen One
(+) metalcore with extremely funny riffs in tapping mostly. It has the typical metalcore elements I usually dislike but they're scarce and don't clash with all the cool stuff.
23. Helms Alee - Noctiluca
(+) Sludge metal, Noise rock, Post-hardcore. That's interesting, even though some songs are weak and some songs don't seem to belong.
24. Amogh Symphony - IV.I
(+) avantgarde/experimental. Quick, let's mix jazz with electro with death metal with oriental music with noise with anything! It's a bit all over the place, and sounds like a jazzy Igorrr without breakcore. It's really funny to listen to though, and has some cool atmospheres/sounds/groove...
25. Paul Gilbert - Behold Electric Guitar
(+) jazz/shred/blues/rock/prog/instrumental A very jazzy entry for the guitar hero, this guy really likes to try new things to keep things fresh and interesting. His technique revolves around so many aspects, he's now working a lot on phrasing, song structure, and pattern variation to deliver long solos, very colorful and alive.
26. Haunter - Sacramental Death Qualia
(+) death/black. Like your regular DsO-inspired spacy spicy musical dark matter. Not outstanding but the dissonant harmony is always cool, the faint melodies too
27. VooDoo KungFu - Celestial Burial
(+) ★ always check Staff Picks, they're worth it. This album is fun. Voodoo + KungFu + Metal, yes it's hard to take seriously, but this doesn't mean to be taken seriously. On a sidenote, the voices are interesting and a little bit different than the usual growls. - You know what, today I take it seriously, I'm not a fan of the alt-metal elements, but the singing is really amazing. And do these guys play live blindfolded, really ?
28. Idle Hands - Mana
2019 (+) [1st] heavy. Ok so what about this thing? It's surely a noteworthy album, quite unusually sounding. First things first, I don't like the vocals. Even though they surely are the main appeal for this album. I guess they tried to replicate old 80s rock/pop vocals, kinda like Billy Idol and peers (edit: I found ! this sounds like Indochine ! quite a lot). The idea is cool but this is way too compressed and doesn't sit well in the mix. Also, the chorus effect on the guitars participates to this retro 80s sound. Part from that, it's rather "modern metal" judging by the thin triggered drums and oversaturated guitars. The songwriting is good, regular, maybe dull. The music is remarkably melodic and colorful, also very catchy, I wouldn't be surprised if this gets successful. As a whole, the album is ok, sometimes weak, sometimes great. - In fact listening to it again I found it hard to take it seriously. The mix is really off, and the screamed vocals and lyrics feel really weak, if not funny in a bad way.
29. Thank You Scientist - Terraformer
(+) very enjoyable prog/rock/math. A bit of CHON, of Michael Jackson, of awesome sax, of frenetic jazz, it's always surprising
30. Jute Gyte - Birefringence
(+) pitch-shifting black/noise. This doesn't really have harmonic boundaries, nor melody. It's an alternation of different sections, some soft, some harsh and noisy. The music want's to surprise you by beginning something, making it last for a bit too long, and just when you release your guard something new comes up. The surprise effect of things stopping, starting or changing spontaneously is an interesting idea, however some tedious sections can feel boring. It still has a sense of songwriting, expect different moods and identifiable patterns all along the album, and that's a good point. I think I'll have to listen to it more in order to mature my opinion about it.
31. Dark Suns - Half Light Souvenirs
[EP] (+) very pleasant mix of soft rock, prog metal, piano, saxophone, rich in melodies and harmony. Maybe the modern mix can be a turnoff, especially for the soft vocals which are enhanced and sound way louder than they really are, but the whole is very neat.
32. Spidergawd - Spidergawd V
(+) hard rock, fun and catchy with a faint 70s vibe. It's got its bunch of heavy moments, but it may a bit repetitive. Also some riffs sound borrowed from somewhere else (not a major issue though, since they're reused in a different context). I like the sax too. I'm convinced I'll have this CD in my car to sing on the highway sooner or later. - But just for the first two songs, since the album falls flat little by little with less inspired songs.
33. Cloud Rat - Pollinator
(+) grindcore, and a tap of botanist-like black. The two blend well. The melodies and harmonies are neat, and I like the subtle proggy elements
34. Babymetal - Metal Galaxy
• The first Babymetal album was a complete mess. It seems they refined their stuff a bit, and now the idea of mixing industrial metal with idol/anime music is still odd but works a lot better. I shall resist.... but it's too catchy :/ this is obviously gonna end up on osu!
35. Cellar Darling - The Spell
• gothic. Nice job, good album
36. Vircolac - Masque
• [1st] death. Sounds a bit like Hypocrisy - like Carcass too, but the drums are doing funny stuff, and give a strong pace to the music. The tone is murky.
37. Metal Inquisitor - Panopticon
• oldschool heavy. It's not yet speed metal but it's pretty up-paced. Sounds a bit like Iron Maiden and Oz combined. Good old recipes, but the listen is good and funny.
38. Lunar Shadow - The Smokeless Fires
• heavy/power The new Virgin Steele? it's C-D-Em heavy but the general sound is nice, I like the mix of saturated riffs and clean acoustic arpeggios / piano. I don't know. Are the vocals weak and dated, or is this a good revivalist thing? Are the chord progressions cliché or does that make the job? You see, if you're into VS that will work, I want to highlight this album for that reason. There's also a lot of reverb on the general sound which gives a peuliar atmosphere to the music. Like bittersweet dramatic power metal. - Still... it's difficult to go through the whole album as all the songs share exactly the same C-D-Em, you know I hate that
39. Tanith - In Another Time
• [1st] oldschool heavy again, male and female vocals, not aggressive at all. The sounds revolves more around 70s than 80s.
40. Screamer (SWE) - Highway Of Heroes
• yeat another oshm album which started a banger and ended up dull an deja vu. Fucking VI-V-vi progression in every song. It's like those bands only know 3 chords. One feeling. I get that harmonically it's a known gimmick and sounds great and powerful, but heavy metal isn't just about that one feeling. There's much more to it. cmon
41. Gygax - High Fantasy
• oldschool heavy, influenced by blues, NWOBHM and specifically a lot of Iron Maiden (mostly the Brave New World era, with the same guitar tone for duet and harmonization). A huge part of the music is dedicated to the solos. Even though the chord progression used are plain mere jaded C-D-Em, it still sounds cool overall. That's helped by the modern production I guess, and especially the way to treat lyrics, quite similar to Moon Tooth - Crux this year. This album isn't groundbreaking, I don't really care, but it's cool seeing NWOBHM with such a modern intent in the mix.
42. Helvetets Port - From Life To Death
• oldschool heavy between Arya and early Fates Warning. The song stuctures and voice harmony and changes of key are gently odd, but unfortunately it overall smells dead lazy heavy revival, like a lot of other heavy albums this year. I managed to find a few albums with a little somewhat interesting, but they were not good enough...
43. Krallice - Wolf ep
[EP] • death/avantgarde/doom + funny nonsensical riffs ; somehow awakes the Suffocation fan in me. There's a lot going on in there, and that's rather a plus, but on the other hand the songwriting can't be praised. In the end I don't think I would listen to this a lot, or even once more.
44. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
45. Ares Kingdom - Instruments Of War
[EP] instrumental thrash/atmo. The solos are very good
46. Astrosaur - Obscuroscope
at last! now this is progressive metal, musical, technical, with new ideas... great!
47. Kaleikr - Heart Of Lead
(-) [1st] death/black/atmo/prog. Once again a very good album, but I'm not in the mood atm. I need something lighter I think.
48. Kero Kero Bonito - Civilization I
[EP] pop/electro
49. Ningen Isu - 新青年
heavy/doom/rock/prog. With japanese old men. This sounds promising. They're taking a lot from Black Sabbath as well.
50. Nucleus - Entity
(-) nespithe-like death metal. I really liked Exlimitir last year, and this album as similar moments. I'm always surprised by the low ratings this kind of music gets. Is it because of some uninteresting parts? or a globally hard to digest album? anyway it can still be cool
51. Tool - Fear Inoculum
52. We Lost The Sea - Triumph & Disaster
post metal
53. Xoth - Interdimensional Invocations
death/thrash with Death influence (and maybe Vektor and Skelettonwitch for the various melodies), but with a modern sound
54. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
55. Akrotheism - Law Of Seven Deaths
(-) black, the dissonant and reverbed kind, almost spacey. It's definitely good even though I kinda lost interest in this kind of things lately.
56. Algebra - Pulse?
(-) thrash. It's good. Nothing new but it's good
57. Baroness - Gold & Grey
(-) While Baroness is always a cool band with nice tunes, this latest album is a bit disappointing. The production let most of the music drown into harsh saturation, and the songwriting isn't worth a good point either. The album alternates between sludgy songs, mellow pop ones and also a lot of short instrumentals, which aren't really convincing and leave the listener with unfulfilled expectations.
58. Bergraven - Det Framlidna Minnet
(-) bm/post with woodwinds. It's pretty soothing, sounds a bit like Kayo Dot from time to time. The folk elements and instrumentals are rad.
59. Black Mountain - Destroyer
(-) bom bom bom heavy/stoner with synths and trippy vocals. Can be cool maybe. I like the dual male/female vocals left and right. The album is ok, especially the first track, heavier than the others. Nice stoner like expected, but nothing outstanding.
60. Ceremony Of Silence - Oútis
(-) [1st] bm/dm, technical? a lot of things are going on instrument-wise. the constant drone and blastbeats create a bloated atmosphere, but are also monotonous. I feel sleepy now. Not unlike Portal in fact
61. Crowhurst - III
(-) experimental black. Very post-ish and atmospheric. It makes me feel depressed so let's not listen to this
62. Deathspell Omega - The Furnaces Of Palingenesia
(-) avantgarde black. Interesting, but I did not manage to captivate my attention for the full length
63. Deep Mountains - Perforate The Horizon
[EP] (-) post-rock songs in the vibe of the softer Agalloch or Pink Floyd music. It's soothing but doesn't manage to grab my attention for the whole EP.
64. Defacement - Deviant
(-) [1st] dissonant black/death. I feel like it's too repetitive. Like the album tries to teach you how to count up to 4. For its atmospheric value, I'd rather listen to Portal.
65. Embrional - Evil Dead
(-) I like dissonant death metal but the composition is a bit too regular. It still sounds very good
66. EndName - Eva
(-) instrumental space atmo with synths and theremin. In fact, we need a new name for this, spacewave? well it must be trippin' when you're in it, but it's also difficult not to get bored
67. Freighter - The Den
68. Glassing - Spotted Horse
(-) post-hardcore
69. Hante. - Fierce
(-) synthwave. It has the dark synthwave mood, but it's too repetitive, and the lyrics could be better (or the production).
70. Hath - Of Rot And Ruin
(-) [1st] modern death in the vein of Horrendous. This single characteristic is noteworthy, although the album isn't particularly memorable.
71. Herod (SUI) - Sombre Dessein
(-) big sludge, borderline math. It borrows elements from Meshuggah and Gojira. (harmonic sweeps, singing, 0-0-00 breakdowns not unlike Lethargica)
72. Immortal Bird - Thrive On Neglect
(-) death. Riffs are intriguing and interesting, part from that nothing really stands out
73. Jambinai - Onda
(-) instrumental stoner with traditional Korean instruments and microtonal harmony. It's soothing and pleasing, but perhaps a bit long and slow
74. Lord Dying - Mysterium Tremendum
(-) stoner/sludge
75. Monocluster - Ocean
(-) stoner. Yeah it's always the same with stoner, it's easy to listen to and nice and all, but it never really manages to stand out as something memorable.
76. Mo'ynoq - Dreaming In A Dead Language
(-) [1st] prog? black. With an atmosphere and technical parts. It's very good, although I wonder if I truly enjoy listening to this kind of music...
77. Nasheim - Jord Och Aska
(-) ambient black
78. Noctambulist - Atmospheres Of Desolation
(-) [1st] atmo blackened death. Very good but not standing out for me
79. Nocturnus AD - Paradox
(-) good old Nocturnus is back, atmo/death/thrash with synth... But I wonder if I wouldn't prefer going back to Thresholds and The Key. They did really well capturing the old sound (with better production), but nothing really stands out on this record. The vocals are off, they should have gone for growls, or stress on the Coroner-like style. I'm glad they can put up new material, let's see what's coming next.
80. Northlane - Alien
(-) progressive metalcore. I recall Night Verse from last year, this sounds a bit alike, even though it's got vocals and more corish elements. In fact forget about Night Verses, this is like Linkin Park - Meteora. On second thought, I don't like hardcore. Maybe "4D" is a nice track but that's all for me. The visual design is good tough.
81. Obscuring Veil - Fleshvoid To Naught
(-) atmo black. Yeah that's... interesting. Morries. Question is: how many times will I have to listen to this before liking it? Maybe I shouldn't force myself
82. Oh, Sleeper - Bloodied / Unbowed
(-) yes, it's metalcore, but cool, it has some Lamb Of God moments and energy. However it's filled with slow-ass breakdowns. Meh.
83. Pectora - Untaken
(-) [1st] modern heavy. The sound is very good, and those vocals reminding Hetfield on Load are nice (drums too sometimes). But the music is generally stuck on low ground harmony, and all the melodies, chord progressions, drumwork are predictable.
84. Rainer Landfermann - Mein Wort In Deiner Dunkelheit
(-) avantgarde, with inhale screams it seems. I summarize: yaaaaaaaaaaargh *blastbeats* yeeeeeeehhr *sad music* *more blastbeats*... I didn't enjoy my time listening to this
85. Sermon - Birth Of The Marvellous
(-) [1st] alt, post
86. Skaldic Curse - Devourer
(-) prog black/thrash "oh no a giant alien hourglass have transfixed the dimension and is taking over the moon". I guess there's a bit of Nocturnus in this
87. Sleep Terror - Abreaction
(-) Pryapisme + tech death + atmo rock. Not my cup of tea, as the mix of those elements is a bit heterogenous, but it was noteworthy.
88. Soen - Lotus
(-) the metal parts are solid, but I don't really care about the pop aspect, and I don't like the way the vocals are mixed
89. Spotlights - Love & Decay
(-) dark stoner sludge. Good but monotonous.
90. Stille Volk - Milharis
(-) medieval folk with french lyrics and vocal harmonies. I like the way it's sung and the effort put into the lyrics, but on the other hand they don't make too much sense. Musicwise the songs are a bit long and doomy.
91. Tempel (NOR) - Tempel
(-) [1st] what is this ? it says hard rock but it also feels like sludge. My genre knowledge is confused. Let's say alt-metal. There are too many elements from different sides of metal (harsh screaming, blastbeats, blues/stoner vibe...). I don't know. Interesting but the vocals are a turnoff for me
92. The Odious - Vesica Piscis
(-) mathcore. It's good and funny djentcore, but I have two problems with it: (1) the modern production, especially on the vocals, that deprives the music of personality. I mean this sounds really generic and I can't hear the musicians behind their music. (2) The songwriting is very messy. I get that it's intentional, but it's difficult to know what you're even supposed to feel or pay attention to: emotion? groove? technicity? lyrics? It's like there's a new focus every 15 seconds, totally wasting the outcome of the previous one.
93. The Ossuary - Southern Funeral
(-) hardrock/doom/stoner. There's a bunch of influences here, Deep Purple, My Dying Bride, Black Sabbath. The first tracks are good but my interest was slowly dropping as songs become longer, repetitive and more doom oriented
94. Torche - Admission
(-) big fat stoner
95. Twilight Force - Dawn Of The Dragonstar
(-) over the top symphnic power with the music of Superman. What a joke
96. Verwoed - De Val
(-) atmospheric black. Monotone sounding with cluster arpeggios, as usual. I really have nothing to say about it, it's plain good. Maybe in the same genre I liked Kriegsmachine's release of last year better, as both these albums are repetitive, but K's had more psychedelic values and funny drum parts.
97. Wolvennest - Vortex
(-) [EP] atmo black krautrock. good but repetitive
98. Yerûšelem - The Sublime
(-) [1st] indus/atmo. It ended up being boring unfortunately

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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