Editor’s Pick: The Best Music of June 2020

Ah yes, ‘Editor’s Pick’, my favourite and least favourite part of the month. A time to revisit the month’s greatest releases which I must then cull to a select few in a process that makes Sophie’s choice seem straightforward. Let’s see who made the cut this month…

Ebonivory – The Long Dream I

Image Credit: Wild Thing Records

Perhaps a month will pass when I don’t end up finding a prog metal album I like; June was not to be this month. The Long Dream I is your typical glorious affair of an instrumental blend of the blindingly bright and cataclysmically dark, glossed with operatic melodies that are all executed with the ingenuity and intelligence that a Rick and Morty fan might pretend to possess. Ebonivory does flourish this increasingly worn attire with infectious pop-flare that is mainly channelled through Charlie Powlett’s boy-band falsetto vocals which, in true Aussie prog vocalist fashion, are something to behold.

Elsewhere on Ebonyivory’s lineup, the band, whether you inspect its restless rhythms, the mind-bending riffs or the guttural basslines, displays a deceptive level of virtuosity considering The Long Dream I is only their second LP.  Hanmer Street, Introvection, Patting the Black Dog, they all stand as more than enough reason to give this record a few spins.

Rating: 8/10

16 – Dream Squasher 

Image Credit: Relapse Records

The rumbling mainstays of sludge metal have rarely breached the upper echelons of my monthly recaps, so what makes 16’s Dream Squasher any different? Well, to put it simply, Dream Squasher is a sludgy record, very sludgy indeed. I realise now that I may as well be speaking another language and should probably start making some sense. What ‘sludge’ means is that we turn the distortion up beyond the knob’s limit, write some tectonic riffs and hypnotic rhythms and then proceed to scream over them; sound good? Dream Squasher kicked off June with a meaty slap, incorporating elements of hardcore across its 42-minute runtime where tracks like Me and the Dog Die Together and Ride the Waves switch up their stoner grooves for some class-A speed. In all honesty, there’s not too much to say about Dream Squasher as all boxes find no issue being ticked; sludge is back on the menu boys.

Rating: 8/10

Covet – Technicolour 

Image Credit: Triple Crown Records

Every now and again I like to treat my ear canals to something that isn’t trying to rupture them (shocking, I know) with the euphonic furnishings of Covet’s Technicolour helping me rest my weary drums this month. Fronted by the plucky finger-work of guitarist Yvette Young, Technicolour leads us through an exquisite display of audible vibrance and expression. The record, of course, has its highlight singles but I would suggest a priority on listening to Technicolour in its entirety to get a grasp of this kaleidoscopic adventure. Occasionally, there are moments where the palette shows shades that are less than desirable. The latter of the album, for example, features moments where Covet’s songwriting becomes less methodical and more a case of ‘how many ideas can we ram into six-minutes of recording?’. This, along with Young’s slightly underwhelming vocal performances (which are fortunately infrequent) do leave their mark but aren’t enough to mire Technicolour’s overall appeal. 

Rating: 7.5/10

End – Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face 

Image Credit: Closed Casket Activities

Of course, after resting my mind in a little blanket of instrumental math-rock tranquillity, courtesy of Covet, there must come the bellowing wake up call to strike things back into place; End assumed the role this month and sort of flew off the wall a bit. End are the metalcore supergroup taking the underground with a vice-tight grip and their debut release, Splinters From an Ever-Changing Face (thanks guys), is an unbridled romper that matches the band’s own gravity with an inescapable half-an-hour slaughterhouse of sound. Punishing those that dare lose fixation, tracks like Pariah, Covet Not and An Apparition will give hesitant listeners a well-rounded taste of what is to come; if I were you I’d bring a spare set of ears.  

Rating: 8.5/10

Firelink – Firelink 

Image Credit: Firelink Records

Black metal? *My eyes narrow*. Melodic black metal? *My eyes open and eyebrows raise in curiosity*. Melodic black metal with artwork and lyrical narratives based upon the lore of RPG franchise Dark Souls? *I’m rushed to hospital after fainting in pure euphoria*. Yes, indeed, this is the sophomore, self-titled, LP from the ruthless yet stately Firelink who adopt their motif from the equally as ruthless and stately Dark Souls video game series.

Having ruled out the majority of black metal, (I tend to prefer music that hasn’t been recorded with a potato) it was my love for the Souls series that drew me to Firelink’s unforgiving world; I haven’t enjoyed eating my own words I must say. With most tracks just shooting short of the 10-minute mark and brimmed with acerbic shrieks, Firelink is not just for any deprived soul. With time, however, as you explore its depths, the album’s penchant for cinematics and beauty become just as clear as its darker soul. 

Rating: 8.5/10

Honourable Mentions

  • Witches – The Fates
  • Black Orchid EmpireSemaphore
  • VampireRex
  • Protest The HeroPalimpsest
  • Lamb of GodSelf-Titled
  • OperusScore of Nightmares

By Alex Mace

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