In any given year I will listen to hundreds of albums from bands across the metal spectrum and beyond. There are a ton of records that will come in to SkullsNBones that sound very similar to each other and some that break the mold of what we are expecting. Because it is our responsibility to bring you fair reviews of that work, it can be difficult to differentiate what’s worth listening to and what might not work for you.
As a metal enthusiast, it happens once in a while that a record will come along reminding you why you fell in love with music in the first place. And that is where we find the subject of this post.
Like most people, I have accounts on most of the popular social networks, and one of the topics I read about often from connections is about how they feel there is no good music anymore. I feel almost insulted when I read about it because while I can agree that a lot of music sounds very similar, there are still many standouts.
Today I’d like to share with you four albums that prove modern music is awesome. I consistently listen to these records because to me they feel special in some way. All four are different from each other. While we love a lot music for a million different reasons here at SkullsNBones, here are four records standing the test of time for me personally.
Zeal & Ardor, Devil is Fine
For all those people saying that everything has been done already, here is my case in point that you are wrong. Zeal & Ardor is fusion between black metal, electronic and slavery work songs. If you haven’t heard it before, it can be hard to imagine, which is why this successful mix of those genres is so interesting.
The first Zeal & Ardor record, Devil Is Fine, is something truly special and worth your time to experience. I’m not going to oversell it, I don’t think this record is going to be on constant rotation in everyone’s playlists. But for those of us who get it, it’s a fantastic exploration into crossover music that proves we are nowhere near done with creating new and exciting things to listen to.
Myrkur, Mausoleum (Read Album Review)
It wasn’t until I was standing in front of Amalie Bruun while she performed her ass off at Tuska 2016 that I really learned anything about her. The mixture of clean vocals and black metal is something that would turn off most people if not for the superb execution.
Myrkur’s, Mausoleum is a live performance at Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum in Oslo, Norway. Accompanied only by the Norwegian Girls Choir, piano and acoustic guitar. The performance is all clean-vocal renditions of Myrkur’s first two full length records. The massive mausoleum adds a huge natural reverb to the sound that is truly unique to that space.
The whole performance is haunting, beautiful, and nothing short of uniquely special. Amalie re-wrote most of the songs to fit this performance and I think several of them are even better than the originals in this format.
I almost want to recommend that you check out the first two full-length records just to have context for Mausoleum. Whether or not you do, I highly recommend this incredible piece of art.
Départe, Failure, Subside
Of all the records on this list I probably listen to this one the most. Départe’s Failure, Subside is one of the most aggressive, atmospheric albums I’ve ever heard. It’s fast when it’s slow, it’s beautiful when it’s agonizing, and it’s back-to-back tracks that I can’t skip because I truly need to experience the whole body of work at once when I start it.
Failure, Subside came out in 2016, and despite a lot of praise from metal media, the band is still surprisingly underground. I was actually on tour in the early part of 2018 when my guitarist put on this record and it completely blew my mind – not only for how amazing the band is, but that I hadn’t heard of them until at least a year and a half after the record dropped.
This is probably my favorite band right now. Don’t miss out, get on board with Départe and their masterpiece, Failure, Subside.
Scale The Summit, V (Album Review)
I will be completely honest, I listen to Scale The Summit’s, V and The Migration back-to-back on a regular basis. Between 2013 and 2015 these guys really hit their stride and produced two masterpieces that stand the test of time for me.
The music is overall very progressive and melodic. It doesn’t stall too long on any particular section or part, which helps the vocal-free music keep the ear paying attention. There is a story, or at least there is a feeling that continues to evolve through each track of the record, even though it isn’t spoken.
Because Scale The Summit has no vocals, this is music I can play with a mixed audience at my apartment. There have been many times people have asked about who the band is and they aren’t metalheads at all. That’s because it’s just really good music that everyone can get on board with. I bet you’ll be surprised that you like it.
In this post I picked four albums that have honestly stayed with me over time. It is not on purpose they all turned out to be so different, but I think it’s awesome that’s the case. It goes to show you that music is still pushing boundaries, it’s still meaningful, and it’s important to open your mind to the possibility that modern music can create something special. These are just four of my examples. Imagine what your personal tastes might find with an open mind.