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Best User Reviews: March 2022

User reviews from the month of March that I found to be worth a quick shout-out.
1The Flower Kings
By Royal Decree

Tracks such as the lead single Revolution tears through its runtime with cartoon keys and focused melodies that bend and soar above the familiar timbre of frontman Roine Stolts voice. The drums are tight to the core of the song and the snare rolls throughout the verses add a sense of wonder and urgency to the warbling synths and symphonic backdrops. The textures are lush and full yet the band does a wonderful job toeing the line between the perfect arrangement and the pompousness of overproduction. --Zakusz
This World is Going to Ruin You

Devastating, crushing, and uncompromisingly heavy would be putting it lightly. The band wastes absolutely no time as guitarist Jeremy Martin's savage riffs meld alongside drummer Matt Wood's face melting fills. "LET ME GO!" cries the shrill, wailing howls of vocalist Anthony DiDio as the song unfolds and builds into a teeth gritting breakdown that will make you want to bench press a sixteen wheeler and punch your grandmother simultaneously. As the song bleeds into the crowd killing lead single "The Killing Womb" and the schizophrenic episode of terror "Versus Wyoming" it may become clear to the listener that TWIGTRY is a different beast altogether. --JayEnder

Opening track "Slaughter" is, in many ways, a looming middle figure to anyone who would advise the sheer notion of progress. Consisting almost entirely of (immensely) downtuned chugging and gutturals reminiscent of my last visit to the pig pens of a local farm, it operates dually as both a welcome embrace and a defiant shove (that of which depends on your disposition towards the tropes of all things -core). From here on it is the band's ability to operate within these narrow confines that showcase the grand panorama of sheer talent they possess. Alternating between blazing arpeggios and holy-hannah where's my Hello Kitty pillow breakdowns, breakneck witchy rasps, bellowing shouts, and some of the lowest gutturals to bless this side of the hemisphere, it makes for an experience that is still engaging in spite of how one-track it can all be. --Dedes
4Murder by Death
The Other Shore

While the band has always excelled at finding a way to balance the bevy of folk instruments they employ with their traditional ‘guitar, bass & drums’ setup, The Other Shore also benefits from one of the best production-jobs in their catalog. Sarah Balliet’s cello cuts through like a hot knife through butter, no longer battling with the band’s rhythm section (drummer Dagan Thogerson, bassist Tyler Morse) in the way she did on previous releases. And for his part, Tulla’s voice soars above the rewardingly dense, but never cluttered mix. --JamesW
5Gloves Off
Life...And Everything After

The remainder of the album flies by in a whirlwind of frenetic drumming, crushingly heavy riffs, jarring panic chords and the occasional destructive breakdown. Songs such as “In Reflection” and “Winter Solstice” contain riffs of skull-crushing proportions while the closing track “Between Greetings and Goodbyes” adds an additional layer to the mix in the form of black metal influenced atmosphere. The punishing qualities of the music are matched perfectly by the vocalist who delivers a performance with a supreme degree of anger and ferocity. --BitterJalepenoJr

That experimental flair becomes even more apparent with a couple curveballs during the second half. I might still be wrapping my head around “Twenties” with its more offbeat rhythm and hissing vocals deeply mired in themes of political corruption, but it has the makings of a grower. “Darkness at the Heart of my Love” is another interesting number with an almost Europop sheen that feels like an extension of the introspective tone on 2018’s Prequelle; the timing feels a little off with the structure not quite catching fire, but the burlesque routines sure to adopt it are fun to imagine. --PsychicChris
7Denzel Curry
Melt My Eyez See Your Future

Melt My Eyez is a focused album. The quirky, rapid fire artist is standing on the proverbial soap box and he is commanding your attention through every bar. Denzel's flow dances effortlessly over these beats, and like the Dr. Who of the rap game, he is grabbing influences from his generation while simultaneously tipping his hat to the legends that preceded his era and these inspirations are not limited to the rap game (Jazz legend Freddie Hubbard gets a shoutout as well). This album pulls some influence from the deep cuts of 90's hip hop and R&B while still sounding current. The tenth track, Angelz, has a bass line that is deeply reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest with a flow that is eerily similar to Nas, yet it is unequivocally a Denzel Curry production. --InfernalDeity
8Wolves at the Gate

Erupting with Detty’s high screech, the verses of “Eulogies” combine desperate screaming with group chants before the quintet slips into an undeniably epic chorus featuring Cobucci’s soaring tenor and bassist Ben Summers’ complementary backing vocals filling in the gaps while strings flutter overhead. Just when the song seems out of steam once Detty’s piano creeps into the bridge, the band erupts into a stirring call-and-response before the song culminates with a final extended chorus replete with heartfelt screams. --Teal
9Charli XCX

I think a lot of fans will listen to CRASH and feel like Charli regressed because she unchecked ‘sounding like a bunch of pots and pans in a washing machine’ from her list of necessities. It’s unfortunate because I think this is some of her best material in a really long time - look past the low points and there’s some really good stuff to be found in the songwriting. Emotionally revealing closer Twice feels like it doubles as an ode to her creative process - take that idea in your head and deliver it as best you can. --gryndstone
10Tears for Fears
The Tipping Point

Even when the record seems like it's about to dip in quality, The Tipping Point frequently reels you back in - take "Rivers of Mercy", for example. Though the track starts with a hokey, free-form piano tune, it suddenly glides into this gorgeous, reverberated ballad decorated with ambient synth pads, echoing harps, and heavenly vocal harmonies that wash over the listener like rain and light. What sounded like one of the worst songs on the record quickly transitioned into possibly the best of the bunch, and this is the level of quality The Tipping Point stays at throughout. --ghostalgeist

A spacey synth backed by a snare metronome effectively pulls you into the atmosphere before live drums break through the mix to remind you that we are in fact listening to a band. You’re also reminded that it’s a big band (a septet!) as each instrument continues to reveal itself. How about some parading Sax, groovin Bass, and more layered Percussion? A flickering guitar riff and catchy vocal refrain? Keep it building! And it does keep on building, reaching a peak as the saxophone beams through the hive of instrumentation, really lettin the whole thing loose. Simmering down this musical frenzy is a flawless transition into a clav-centered breakdown from which everything builds right back up again. --untitled
12Ethel Cain

Anhedonia’s characters feel deeply real, their self-destructive obsessions and their anger at God and the world perfectly encapsulating the melodramatic emotions of youth who struggle to reconcile their love of home with the oppressions that often come with it, especially for one like Anhedonia herself, a trans woman raised in a deeply religious setting. But the music is just as impressive, adding a modern sheen to genres in which other revivalists often seem content to settle for what’s been done before. Anhedonia has refined her craft here to create a fully cohesive vision that belies how early she still is in her career, and she deserves all the success that may come her way. --theBoneyKing
The End of Noise

Have you ever wished djent was less heavy? Have you ever been annoyed by the high gain, crushing intensity of those blasting percussions, relentless palm-muted riffs, and wish bands like Meshuggah would take it easy for once in their life? Well, I think I've got just the album for you! Introducing The End of Noise, the debut by WAIT (Aka: We Are In Transit). This band takes the syncopated, groovy rhythms, and the palm-muted riffs of djent and delivers a final product much more on the subdued, atmospheric, and hypnotic side of the genre; maybe even more so than anything you might have experienced before. --WattPheasant
14Bladee x ECCO2K

Crest’s spiritual mantras and twinkling electronica instrumentals may be too cutesy to stand in for something as massive as God, but it’s clearly the work of artists trying to create their own source of religious transcendence. Ecco2k and Bladee’s lyrics are charged with spiritual ecstasy while Whitearmor, who continues to take cues from Sadboy associate Gud, pares away reverb to let his signature twinkling synths shine over shifting drum machines. Despite this progression in mood and audio fidelity, it’s still easy trace a line to Crest from the group’s early work, especially tracks like “Deletee (Intro)” which might as well be a synthesizer-backed choral hymn. --Toad
15Drug Church

That’s not to say there isn’t some risk-taking involved here. The LA-NY punks double down on their pop tendencies with bouncy riffs and layered vocal effects. Meanwhile, lead singer Patrick Kindlon furthers his brand of off-beat honesty, covering topics like the emotional bitterness we create for ourselves and the way people judge others. The instrumentation feels tighter than ever with a delicate mix of grungy punk riffs, heavy drumming, and intricate melodies that stick to your brain like hot glue. Whether all of this is better than what we’ve heard before remains to be seen, but what’s on display is exceptional nonetheless and worthy of multiple playthroughs, especially for fans of the Pixies, Black Flag, and more recently, Turnstile. --deathofasalesman

The narrative of her previous album, El Mal Querer, was based on the anonymous 13th-century novel Flamenca. Motomami, then, is not only a musical shift — from the flamenco-pop of that album to the alternative reggaeton and experimental pop of this one — but a lyrical one as well, as she offers the most honest picture of her personal life so far. During ‘SAKURA’, she likens the fame she’s received as an artist to a cherry blossom, not for its beauty, but for its ephemeral nature (“Se una popstar nunca te dura”/”Being a popstar never lasts”). But if Motomami proves anything, it’s that she is magnetic and multi-faceted enough to stick around. There’s humor, confidence and intimacy throughout the whole record. There’s aggression, sweetness and grandiosity and those can exist next to each other in the tracklist or even in the same song. Even though there are a handful of tracks that slow down the momentum this album builds up, there’s no denying the talents Motomami presents. --PanosChris
The Ailing Facade

“Aeviternity” describes a state that Christian scholasticism attributes to both saints and angels. It defines their interstitial relationship with time – they are neither eternal (as only God can be) nor mortal (prey to the vices and failures of flesh), and this concept raises a number of interesting philosophical questions. Which lower urges of the body can a saint transcend? Which elements of the mundane can an angel’s divinity never exceed? This liminal space is the core of The Ailing Façade; it uses this Aeviterne state to represent the unresolvable dread with which the modern world wrestles. We are suspended, helplessly, between the urges of our body and the comprehension of their insignificance, between an unsustainable reality and a horrifying dependence upon it. What’s gripping about The Ailing Façade is how comprehensively it goes about crafting this atmosphere.--Biscuitborn
18Animals As Leaders

Stringsmen Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes seamlessly navigate bizarre time signatures and glide through innumerable key and scale changes with utter ease, while drummer Matt Garstka pounds out obtuse, jilted polyrhythms and fast-twitch double bass sections as easily as most people tie their shoes. And yet, what is the point? All of this stuff was present on 2014's acclaimed The Joy of Motion, but that record felt significantly more interested in establishing coherent musical motifs and memorable songwriting than The Madness of Many or this album. There's nothing comparable to the bouncy and head-bobbing catchiness of "Physical Education" here, not even close; Parrhesia feels like music destined to and designed for twisting Berklee students' brains into ampersands first and foremost, with little creative vision beyond that point. --TooManyFriends
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