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Albums of 5/31/24

The most interesting releases of the week!

Beaten To Death – Sunrise Over Rigor Mortis

Beaten To Death might not be the best grindcore band ever. But it would be rude to at least not mention them in the conversation. Sunrise Over Rigor Mortis is the band’s sixth full-length if you count that weird pseudo full-length, pseudo quadruple EP thing they did a few years back. They’ve yet to disappoint. Beaten To Death sound more vibrant and theatrical than most grindcore bands. Their songwriting spirals out in a way that sounds maximalist and distinct. Songs such as “Enkel Resa Till Limfabriken” feel like longer journeys than their short runtimes would suggest, mainly due to Beaten To Death‘s ability to jam multiple styles and shifts within a short amount of time. The quick turns between emotionally cohesive passages while maintaining a throughline is marvelous. I’m happy that this band exists.

On Sunrise Over Rigor Mortis, the production is beautiful. The drums thump along, the guitars simultaneously grind in the lower chugging style and travel all over their tonal possibilities when given a melodic line, and the bass plays with such style that I zoned out for a solid two tracks while writing this paragraph. The moments that best showcase the bass are when the instrument drops out in the second half of “Mosh For Mika (Waddle Waddle)”. Hearing the bass twang its way back into the song gives the listener such a sense of release. I wish that the harsh vocals had less of a punk sound and more of a death metal one, but that’s more of a style preference than an actual problem. My album of the year if I had to choose today.

Louvado Abismo – Louvado Abismo

Louvado Abismo echoed around my skull for a while after the first time I listened. The Portuguese release from Half-Life Records thematically contains “A search for serenity in the midst of chaos,” which matches the music quite well. Most of the time. This release is messy and melodic, aggressive and shimmering. Portions of the Louvado Abismo contain strictly-structured drums underneath precise riffs, only to have vocals shrieking over the top single words in a similar fashion to Ashenspire or A Forest Of Stars. Other sections lure you into a trance, only to fall apart into danceable chaos. It’s weird and intriguing music with a big heart that it rips out and flings at you.

There are some downsides. Some of the tracks could have been shorter, although there’s nothing egregious here. The songs get their point across and then just repeat themselves one too many times. The melodic lines on Louvado Abismo are catchy and lively enough that the songs dragging doesn’t cause too much pain, but it does make me restless. Additionally, for an album about serenity in chaos, some of the verses come across as more awkward than anything else. Despite these complaints, Louvado Abismo created something memorable and daring.

Haunted Plasma – I

Very few metal-adjacent bands deserve to be called “snazzy.” Haunted Plasma is snazzy. Their new release I, brought to us via Svart Records, sounds like playing laser tag in a tuxedo. The cover art fits the album, as Haunted Plasma consists of various gestures bouncing around in unnatural colors. The opening track starts with some whispered lyrics that gradually crescendo into a nice groove. Some black metal resides in Haunted Plasma. But this album will mostly give you some nifty synth with distorted guitar.

The obvious comparisons are Master Boot Record and Ulver, for different reasons, but if you go into I expecting either of those bands you’ll be confused. This style of metal-tinged synth has some of the forlorn retrospective nature of Ulver and some of the inhuman relentlessness of Master Boot Record, but the resulting blend sounds distinct. What ultimately carries Haunted Plasma and keeps them interesting is the smooth and sad harmonizing that exists in both the vocals and guitars over energized beats. The contrast works well, resulting in a melancholic bounciness that I love.

Auro Control – The Harp

The Harp is the debut album from Brazillian power metallers Auro Control. The obligatory sub-two minute intro actually sounds quite nice, although it doesn’t quite lead into true opener “Feed The Fire” the way I was hoping. From there, you get heartfelt power metal, complete with belting vibrato vocals with nice harmonies emphasizing the important parts, piercing guitar melodies, and a production job that could’ve been better. At their worst, Auro Control sound like a budget Angra (some of who show up as guest musicians here) or Armored Saint. At their best, you get passionate metal devoid of cynicism and featuring great riffs.

Auro Control hit every single power metal trope, and they do so without caring in the slightest about all of their flaws. There’s a lot to criticize here, from the previously mentioned production to some big choruses that need to hit and don’t to some repetitive songwriting crutches, but I end up caring about none of that. My memory of The Harp isn’t the choruses that don’t quite work, it’s the emotional honesty. It’s the corniness that works because of how whole-hearted it is. The variety of instrumental passages helps, and the songwriting on The Harp has a great moment to complement every questionable one. After I finish listening to Auro Control, the result is fond memories and a smile.