There is so much heavy, extreme, and beautiful metal music being conjured all around the world that it can be overwhelming. Fortunately, Metal Has No Borders has curated the best of the best released this month, from Greece and Slovakia to Poland and Croatia, as well as everything in between.
Enjoy our hand-picked favorite albums, singles, and videos for January 2023 below. Enjoy and share which bands you were headbanging to this past month in the comment section!
Album of the Month (Gold Tier)
Wothrosch – Odium
Released via Hammerheart Records
A majority of black metal output puts me in a cold, desolate, and vulnerable headspace. Wothrosch enters the extreme music bloodstream, harnessing the aforementioned tropes, yet adding the most peculiar dose of horror, a fascination for the darkest of tragedies. Themes of sickness and death regurgitate all through Odium, to the point where you find yourself immersed in and somehow comforted by the mental dystopia. Slithering grooves meet lead guitars that wail out in slow-motion, like trauma. These compositions would score Lovecraft’s longest fever dreams. After nearly an hour, this record released it’s sharpened grasp from my throat. The density within this album made witnessing silence again like first breath after asphyxiation. For those macabre-minded and enjoy the forced catharsis in blackened sludge metal, I have nothing less than a plead to listen to this effort.
Odium by Wothrosch is awarded Best Album of the Month (Gold Tier) for January 2023
Favorite Songs: “Child,” “Disease,” “Mass“
FFO: Slugdge, late Behemoth, Wolvhammer
Album of the Month (Silver Tier)
Riverside – ID.Entity
Released via Inside Out Music
Stranger Things and The Weeknd are just a couple examples of how prominently 80’s culture is finding a comeback in modern media. While some argue that such a revival is only propped up by nostalgia, I feel that a return to a bygone era can be much-needed escapism, especially when artists allow contemporary creativity to gloss over the flaws present in music decades ago. Haken presented a superb ‘blast from the past’ progressive metal showcase on their 1985 record, so naturally it’s Riverside‘s turn to crank up the synth. There’s frustration, heartbreak, and paranoia, staining the cyberpunk prog here. This project initially caught my attention on their debut twenty years ago, but I’m even more touched by the group’s ability to stylistically explore even today.
ID.Entity by Riverside is awarded Album of the Month (Silver Tier) for January 2023
FFO: Klone, Porcupine Tree, Soen
Album of the Month (Bronze Tier)
Mask of Prospero – Hiraeth
Although I’m a fairly large fan of modern progressive metalcore, the recent material in that scene has started to lose its novelty. The djent grooves, vocal duality, and gentle appeals towards radio accessibility have become predictable and tired. In the unfortunate saturation of a subgenre, a few entities shine in the static. Mask of Prospero holds all the qualities you’d wish for in modern metalcore, while bringing a heavier standard and refreshing sense of dynamics. Hiraeth shows much potential and is a step in a great direction for this budding band; I hope for an even deeper peer into the mind of Mask of Prospero in future releases considering I have a hunch there’s even further greatness to come.
Hiraeth by Mask of Prospero is awarded Album of the Month (Bronze Tier) for January 2023
FFO: Silent Planet, Tesseract, Spiritbox
Album of the Month (Honorable Mentions)
Varmia – Prolog
Pagan themes and wintered black metal emerge from this 3-track release with misanthropic disdain, eventually leading to the down-to-Earth folk meditation closing track.
Listen to “Oddal“
Prognan – Naši Životi Više Ne Postoje
Alike the striking artwork, the war metal churning through the battlegrounds of Naši Životi Više Ne Postoje (roughly ‘Our Lives No Longer Exist’) is grotesquely heavy and impactful.
Listen to “Po Ovoj Zimi Nalazimo Smrt“
Seer of the Void – Mantra Monolith
It has been a half-century since Black Sabbath‘s iconic doom debut and their downtuned grooves are showing their influence alongside a Kyuss-like stoner pace on this smoky jam album.
Listen to “Electric Father“
Check out All Recent, Upcoming, and Past Notable Releases by Clicking Here
Single / Video of the Month
Besna – “Neha”
The fusion of post-rock and black metal is by far the most underrated melding of styles in recent years. “Neha” begins with Explosions in the Sky-like wanderings. The tone of the track somehow holds both the warmth of a neon city, yet the crisp cold North European forests of January. This aggressive duality combusts in a blackened aggression, portraying the dense dynamics of Envy, Isis, or Ihsahn. With an awakening musical presentation, the message accompanying this single is most commendable. As the black metal genre has had history with bigotry including homophobia, we cherish Besna‘s acknowledgement of Juraj Vankulič and Matúš Horváth, victims of a LGBTQ bar terrorist attack: “Half of the proceeds will benefit Iniciatíva Inakosť, an organization that helps and supports LGBTI+ people in Slovakia. The release is a part of the Slovenská Tepláreň, a joined movement of artists, venues and other subjects in response to the above mentioned hate crime. The movement shares common goals: We want to express our solidarity with the families and loved ones of Matúš and Juraj, who were murdered out of hatred in the Tepláreň bar in Bratislava. We want to express our respect and honor those who made Tepláreň an open place for free people to meet. We want to show support for LGBTI+ people. We want Slovakia to be a country where everyone can feel safe and where belonging to any minority is accepted with respect as a natural part of society. We want to change the legislation so that it ensures a full-fledged life for all people in Slovakia, including the LGBTI+ minority.”
“Neha” by Besna is awarded Best Single / Video of the Month for January 2023
Single / Video of the Month (Honorable Mentions)
Enemy of Reality – “Serenade of Death”
There’s certain bands that embody the spirit of Metal Has No Borders. Enemy of Reality uniquely brings folk stringed instrumentation to their grandiose, yet grounded symphonic metal with Nightwish level vocals and Ignea-esque musicality. We eagerly await their new album next month; listen here
Dusk – “Lethal Perspectives”
The beauty in modern progressive metal is how innovation is still inevitable. I could call similarities to After the Burial or Darko, however Dusk‘s latest is genuinely new heavy territory; listen here
Shredhead – “44“
Although we were highly intrigued by the ‘early Meshuggah‘-meets Lamb of God style presented on their previous album, Live Unholy, the band’s further exploration of a more distinct sound is a clear victory for any fan of the following: groove, metalcore, thrash, death, and stoner metal; listen here
Skypunch – “Ghost Maker”
Even if Linkin Park‘s early material wasn’t fully embraced by the entire metal community, those crucially accessible and heavy albums still ripple towards current acts including Bring Me the Horizon and the transformative SkyPunch; listen here