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Albums of 3/1/24

The most interesting releases of 3/1/24!

Ministry – Hopiumforthemasses

I approached this album with trepidation. Ministry’s brand of muscle industrial that simultaneously sounds like dance pop and music to break brick walls to, and while they’re excellent at their best, their discography is not perfect. The legends of the industrial scene have soldiered on with plenty of scare tissue. Ministry’s album names are always terrible, but the name, album art, and general themes of Hopiumforthemasses reminded me a bit too much of Amerikkkant. That release could have been better. Moral Hygiene made for a good bounce back, but wondering how much this project has left in them for their sixteenth studio album released on Nuclear Blast felt fair.

The answer is that they had enough. While Hopiumforthemasses sounds like a step down from Moral Hygiene, it’s been an enjoyable experience with solid riffs, memorable moments, and a better blending of spoken word samples than on Amerikkkant. While this doesn’t compare to Ministry’s early heights, that would be an unfair standard to hold Hopiumforthemasses to. I’ve enjoyed this album and have come back to it repeatedly with excitement and joy.

Hands Of Goro – Hands Of Goro

I don’t know what’s happening with this album art. The bigger you view it, the worse it looks. It also doesn’t really match the heavy metal sound of Hands Of Goro. Luckily the music is better. This self-titled debut album was released on BSP Records and features members of Spirit Adrift and The Lord Weird Slough Feg. If you’ve listened to Hands Of Goro yet this will be the least shocking news possible.

80s smashing style with freaky guitar solos, vocals that sit behind the guitars in the mix, some fantastic drumming, prominent bass, and the chunkiest riffs that you’ll heard in quite a while. The songwriting on Hands Of Goro shines. Every track sounds smooth, confidant, and large. While the album mostly interacts honestly with its traditional metal roots and sounds pretty much as you’d expect a bastard child of Spirit Adrift and Slough Feg to sound, there are some delinquent moments that I deeply appreciate. Outside of a random 15 second silence at the end of “21st Century Plague” and the general failure of the track “You Have No Face”, Hands Of Goro have created as good of a debut release as you can desire.

Angmodnes – Rot of the Soul

Rot of the Soul is Angmodnes’s debut full length, released on Meuse Music Records. This funeral doom album reminds me of last year’s fantastic Convocation release. While Angmodnes doesn’t accomplish anything new on Rot of the Soul, they follow giant footsteps well enough to be worth attention from fans of the genre.

Clean vocals show up every now and then on Rot of the Soul, and they are always a nice touch. Otherwise Angmodnes check off all of the boxes you’d expect from a funeral doom band like this. Overly sorrowful music, riffs that oscillate between being the star and being buried underneath waves of anguished vocals, drums, and shimmering sounds, and songs that stretch on without feeling boring. At its worst Rot of the Soul sounds too much like its influences to separate itself, but the bellowing emotions of Angmodnes rarely let the listener worry about that.

Fathomless Ritual – Hymns for the Lesser Gods

Yet another debut, this time from Transcending Obscurity Records. Fathomless Ritual sounds like Demilich and nothing else. Like with Angmodnes, Fathomless Ritual careen towards sounding derivative rather than interesting a little too quickly, and like with Angmodnes, the songwriting makes the record usually worth listening to despite the shadow of past greats darkening the experience. Everything from the vocals to the guitar tone to the style of writing riffs just screams Demilich so much that no other influence appears to even be present.

While the problems with this are obvious, the good news is that Nespithe is a great album and so Hymns for the Lesser Gods contains some great moments as well. This mid-paced death metal offers some hypnotizing guitar lines that progress through a universe weirder than ones that I’m used to. Given how closely Fathomless Ritual holds their influence, Hymns for the Lesser Gods doesn’t really sound weird the way non-Necrophagist technical death metal sometimes can. Still, this is a fun journey that stuck in my head like Dr. Seuss with a chainsaw.