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The Best Post-Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2020





I would advise taking a trip toward the sun at night, so that the sun won't burn you, but a trip on Toward The Sun probably works best due to how well Garganjua intertwine post- and doom metal, taking some massive riffs and growls when necessary, but some airy atmospheres and wailing vocals as well. Ultimately the album dips its toes so much into post-rock wanderings that it ends up tipping the scale towards larger, more epic territories. Towards The Sun is never too fuzzy, too spacey, too crushing, or too dramatic, it finds the sweet spot in between.

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Katla. is still being billed as a Sólstafir offshoot. Allt Þetta Helvítis Myrkur is where we put a stop to this trend, for several reasons. First, Katla. is more accurately a Potentiam spinoff. Second, and following from that, the musical nature of Katla. has more in common with the other works of Einar Guðmundsson. Third, in only two albums Katla. has demonstrated tremendous growth, with the result that Allt Þetta Helvítis Myrkur places them at the top of their scene (be that the physical scene of Iceland or the conceptual scene of slow-moving, atmosphere-driven metal). This is a massive album, described by the band as "cinematic stream-of-consciousness," and that it is, with a seemingly endless progression of musical ideas flowing into and out from each other; there is no wasted space, only an immersive atmosphere drawing on doom, black metal, and post-rock, with creative applications of keys, vocals, and strings throughout. Icelandic black metal may be known largely for its derivation, but soon Icelandic post-metal will be known for Katla..

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Kevel's attempt at uniting elements of black metal with a Cult Of Luna-esque atmosphere has worked out brilliantly with this release, at times immersed fully in the depths of riptide ferocity, other times treading water at a seemingly burdened pace to ensure safe passage to a destination of evolutionary requisition, its utmost purpose. Furious riffs and pummeling drums carry the bulk of the load on this hazardous journey, but with the promise of positive change on the horizon, even the most chaotic and perilous undertakings can feel somehow welcoming under the circumstances, a vibe emanating from Mutatis Mutandis's accessible approach to a serious concept.

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Oresteia, the epic trilogy by the Greek writer Aeschylus, was chosen as the source of inspiration for lyrics and music. The layout is simple yet impactful: Short songs - sometimes no more than an instrumental floating passage - alternate with quite long compositions. Deliberately diverse, intense song structures with several tempo changes in a narrative manner create a coherent album with clear post-rock influences. Female-fronted post-metal bands are still unicorns in today's metal music realm and Lotus Thief, by way of angelic female vocals beautifully executed, have certainly left their mark with impressive atmosphere and aura while diligently crossing genre boundaries.

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A lumbering drum-and-bass combo, hollow vocals, and a variety of riffing styles elicit a sense of Loviatar being massive and weightless at the same time - punchy, dour, and doom-laden at one end, distant, spacey, and meandering on the other. The heaving stress in each guitar line supports JD Gobell's desperate, Ozzy-like voice, turning surprisingly accessible alt rock into gargantuan post-metal with a dramatic and dire atmosphere. Sensations of Candlemass, Alice In Chains, Mastodon, and others intertwine, resulting in six songs that sound very distinct from each other and yet part of the same band's inner turmoil. Lightless can be fast, rough, and groovy, but it ultimately leaves its mark as a purveyor of atmosphere, closing with an expressive doom finale that will echo through your mind for a long time.

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Since their last release, the highly acclaimed Passage, California's Mountaineer added three band members, further expanding their ideas and the creative writing process. Bloodletting is the reward, flaunting a brand of post-, doom, and shoegaze of grandiose magnitude. The songs embellish gloom and desperation, purposefully weaving along a calculated and cathartic trajectory. For much of Bloodletting, dark, sad dissonance with overflowing melodies and depressive-sounding chords stand for themselves. Slow-burning doom sequences are on full display and Miguel Meza's vocal talent is exhibited with still cleans and violent, sludge-style screams.

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An emphatic debut record from New Zealand trio Pull Down The Sun, Of Valleys And Mountains sees influences from the likes of Gojira, Isis and The Ocean combined excellently within a progressive post-metal framework. The Gojira-isms (pick scrapes, tapping, syncopated rhythms) come on a bit hard on occasion, but there are also successful detours through metalcore and alt-metal territories on other tracks, and every different stylistic move is backed up by excellent songwriting, providing force to the heavier moments and a lushness to the cleaner sections. The integration of Māori culture into the band's music and image (right down to their name, inspired by Māui's feats) is something of a novelty for a global metal scene in which New Zealand is underrepresented, but Of Valleys And Mountains shines purely based on the merits of its outstanding compositions.

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Certainly the most established name of the bunch, The Ocean prove their place as post-metal royalty with the sequel to 2018's post-metal Metal Storm Awards winner, Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic. Even though they squash both the Mesozoic and the Cenozoic eras into a single record, it doesn't make the album twice as geological, but that doesn't take away from how powerful the performances and the dynamic songwriting are. The Ocean continue to be adventurous in how they play with (and how well they play) the intricacies of prog, the atmospherics of post-, and the punch of hardcore, sprinkling some extra elements throughout.

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Wasting no time in following up their 2019 debut record, Champ Du Sang, French duo Vous Autres refine their distinctive combination of black, sludge, industrial, and post-metal elements on Sel De Pierre. The eerie blackened chords, the powerful, mechanical percussion, the dense sludgy riffs, and the atmospheric post-metal song progressions work synergistically to pound listeners into submission. A briefer affair than its predecessor, Sel De Pierre still finds time to weave in substantial dynamic shifts, shifting into periods of ambience on multiple occasions to allow the force of the heavier moments to hit even harder. A solidification of the potential demonstrated on their debut, Sel De Pierre hints at a productive future from Vous Autres.

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With the title of their latest album, Yuri Gagarin set themselves a destination, and by Jojo do they intend to reach it. Within seconds, Yuri Gagarin is flying as high as the cosmonaut who currently has no idea that his name is being used to preface bone-jellying space rock. Repetitive, mesmeric stoner riffs warp into eternity and become tangled in weird, stratospheric magic, steadily dissociating from the present; like garbled transmissions from beyond the solar system, The Outskirts Of Reality is a barrage of bizarre bleeping, bludgeoning, and sometimes bopping. The ceaseless babble of fuzzy riffs and space flight controls builds all the way to the final frontier, leaving naught but a mass of dimension-tripping metal in its wake.

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