More (Metal) Guitar In The Monitor – January 2019

The return of our (hopefully soon to be again) monthly column where we look at the new metal releases currently in heavy rotation at The Metal Dad household.


Critical Defiance – Misconception
Anyone who follows our Metal Dad Radio Show knows the Heavy Metal World Tour segment featured a handful of Chilean bands a few months back. Unfortunately thrash act Critical Defiance hadn’t released their full-length debut at that point. If they had, they would have absolutely stolen the show. Emerging from an already dominant metal scene at home, Critical Defiance has come exploding onto the worldwide scene with an album that smacks you around like a cat toying with its prey from note one. This is thrash metal done in all the right ways, hearkening back to all the great masters of the genre, and to a time before major labels got their greedy hands on the scene and watered everything down beyond recognition. Gritty, powerful, and violent, yet with just the right amount of technicality and melody when called for, Misconception is about as perfect a thrash record as you can get in 2019. This is not a band simply sitting around and co-opting their heroes either. There’s enough originality in the songwriting to keep things fresh through all eight tracks. Old school rockers rejoice. You have your first great thrash record of the year and one that will be hard pressed to top anytime soon. 


Traveler – Traveler
I have to admit that, for me, there have been a lot of bands over the last half a decade or so that have attempted this sort of old school, traditional metal, NWOBHM-ish thing and have simply fallen flat. The cranky, old metal guy in me (O.k., he’s not ‘in’ me, I’m just a cranky, old metal guy.) just doesn’t need some re-hashed thing that comes off as a bunch of hipsters playing music that deep down they are completely insincere about. However, every now and then a band comes along and shows this cranky, old metal guy just what good traditional metal can sound like in this day and age. I’m here to tell you that Canada’s Traveler are the real deal in every sense of the term. From the soaring vocals, to the ripping leads, to the headbanging melodies, this band makes me want to throw on my battle vest, pound a dozen beers and vomit in the card catalog rack at the high school library. The fact that this album is their debut is even more impressive. These guys have the chops of seasoned vets working towards that ‘masterpiece’ album we are all writing sonnets about twenty years from now. Fans of traditional metal, anything heavy that emerged out of the UK between 1978-1984, and three-quarter sleeve t-shirts should be all over this band all day long.


Ossuarium – Living Tomb
One of my favorite indie metal labels (20 Buck Spin) is back with a vengeance in 2019, starting with the first great death metal album of the year. In a scene that is absolutely bursting at the seams with talent, Ossuarium stand out among their peers as an act to absolutely be reckoned with. Mixing sludgy doom-like passages with both mid-tempo and blasting offerings, Living Tomb is an album that keeps you guessing, not just from song to song, but within each individual track. It’s a truly brutal array of songs that don’t disappoint even after multiple listens. Each time through this record there’s some little nuance that wasn’t apparent on previous listens, making this the rare death metal record that will keep you on your toes over and over again. For fans of the extreme metals it’s a sordid, tortured affair worthy of your time.


Pulchra Morte – Divina Autem Et Aniles
Somewhere between the bombastic explosions of death metal and the somber dirges of doom metal there exists a blackened void that creates the perfect storm for a band like Pulchra Morte. Throw in the occasional melodic riffing, some ambient aesthetics, and the occasional traditional metal call-back, and you might get a close approximation to what Pulchra Morte is going for on their debut album, Divina Autem Et Aniles. It’s an album that might find some push back from the traditionalists in death metal and doom realms, (…death metal bands aren’t supposed to have female backing vocals and doom bands aren’t supposed to play at a tempo faster than paint drying…) but frankly those traditionalists usually miss the boat on way too much killer music anyway. This is an album that at first listen is often hard to define, and that should be taken as a compliment. While you’re over here trying to figure out what sub-sub-genre to cram these guys into, they’re getting busy creating an album’s worth of material that’s as brutal as it is engaging. Fans of everything from Mindrot to SubRosa to Amenra will find plenty to love on this record. 


Maestus – Deliquesce
Epic is a word that gets thrown around way, way too much in metal circles. I’m guilty of it myself. So when I break one of my own unwritten rules and I fall back into calling an album “epic” I beg of you not to take it lightly. Portland’s Maestus have delivered the first truly epic album of 2019. Deliquesce is an absolute masterwork of monumental proportions. This is doom metal done with ambiance, elegance, and tone that is somehow both inspiring and depressive all at the same time. All four tracks, which clock in between 10-15 minutes in length, are like mini-movie scores with the occasional death-doom bludgeoning in the middle of these beautiful, yet foreboding, aural soundscapes. Everything about this record is constructed with a surgeon’s precision and an artist’s flair. I’m going to wager that few records this year will knock me on my ass from out of the blue and make me fall in love as hard and as quickly as this record has. A true triumph of the doom metal genre and an album that should easily find its place on multiple year end lists. Highly recommended for fans of acts like My Dying Bride, Skepticism, Morgion, and Shape of Despair among others.

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