7 brilliant metal albums you might have missed last month

Metal albums of April 2023
(Image credit: Press)

It can be an act of sheer lunacy trying to keep track of every new metal release each month - so thankfully, we're here to help. Much as we did last month, we've searched high and low to find you the very best metal albums that maybe got lost in the cacophony of getting new releases from big names like Metallica and Enter Shikari. 

That in mind, we present some of the best-regarded albums according to our critics, ranging from the goth revivalism of Grave Pleasures to black metal nastiness from Dodheimsgard and good old fashioned thrash from Germany's Holy Moses. So what are you waiting for - scroll down and explore these killer new albums to your heart's desire. 

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Grave Pleasures - Plagueboys (Century Media)

Eight years after the release of the first Grave Pleasures album, Dreamcrash, the influence of post-punk on contemporary rock has never been more apparent. Chuck a Bauhaus CD out of the window, and you will almost certainly hit someone wearing a Joy Division t-shirt, if not one promoting one of the countless bands currently obsessed with the bleak, industrial fag-end of the 70s and the gothic glories that came soon after. 

Always sharper than the average new wave revisionists, Grave Pleasures have conjured a third full-length that casually confirms that no one does this stuff better. If Dreamcrash was the flawed but feisty debut and 2017’s Motherblood the righteous, potential-fulfilling follow-up, Plagueboys is the moment when everything comes together for Kvohst and his Finnish chums. 

The band’s sound remains rooted in the glowering intimacy of gothic rock, but this is a much more diverse and adventurous set, and more in keeping with post-punk’s endless malleability as a result. For those who have worshipped at this altar since Grave Pleasures’ previous incarnation as Beastmilk, there’s plenty of the darkly sexy rock’n’roll that defined that era. They may no longer be ahead of their time, but Grave Pleasures are still firmly ahead of the rest. Dom Lawson

Holy Moses - Invisible Queen (Fireflash)

When it comes to pioneering women in heavy music, Sabina Classen is unquestionably near the top of the list. Holy Moses formed in 1980, and their frontwoman broke new ground the minute she first opened her mouth and let rip with one of her trademark screams. 

Alongside the more widely celebrated Kreator, Destruction, Sodom and Tankard, the Germans were an integral part of thrash metal’s genesis and subsequent evolution in their native country. It remains a crying shame that Holy Moses aren’t a much bigger deal. Few bands from any era of thrash have released records as righteously berserk as 1986’s Finished With The Dogs and 1989’s The New Machine Of Liechtenstein and, to this day, Sabina’s vocals are among the most thrillingly hostile in metal. 

Very firmly announced as the final Holy Moses album, Invisible Queen aims to bring the band’s legacy to an end with all the subtlety of a wrecking ball smashing through your living room window. As ever, the band’s riffs are jagged, perverse and often closer to the tech-thrash of Mekong Delta than any of Germany’s Big 4. Sabina sounds imperious throughout this closing statement, and with good reason. Holy Moses are bowing out at the peak of their powers, led by an iconic, gamechanging woman. Queen is about right. Dom Lawson

As Everything Unfolds - Ultraviolet (Long Branch)

With second album Ultraviolet As Everything Unfolds present themselves as one of the most refined brands of metalcore to be found in 2023. Rather than being stale and unimaginative in an oversaturated market, the UK five-piece are adventurous enough to gain the interest of the most seasoned metalcore fans. 

Vocalist Charlie Rolfe demonstrates her wide vocal range throughout, as she soars through anthemic choruses and twirls through catchy hooks with melodic cleans, before effortlessly divebombing into screamed breakdowns. These sections are made more weighty and compelling thanks to Jon Cassidy’s layers of synth. Intricate yet punchy guitar work from Adam Kerr adds an extra dimension, and brings each track to life with a kick. 

Ultraviolet is a huge step forward, and sees the band learning from their previous material while evolving and maturing. If Charlie sticks to the aggressive, screamed vocal style of tracks such as Saint Or Rogue and Flip Side, AEU will have an unbeatable formula. Cheri Faulkner

Dodheimsgard - Black Medium Current (Peaceville)

Ever since they torched the black metal rulebook with 666 International in 1999, Dødheimsgard have been relentless in their dedication to being seriously fucking weird. The long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s A Umbra Omega goes further out than any previous album, with a fervently progressive mindset informing the majority of these sprawling, wayward songs. 

Black metal is still an invigorating presence, particularly on epic opener Et Smelter, but the prevailing mood is one of febrile surrealism and profoundly warped post-/progressive rock. It reaches a peak of lysergic abandon on Abyss Perihelion Transit: a bewitching, 11-minute avalanche of dark ambience, Pink Floyd-esque astral jams and crushing, off-kilter doom. Their most overtly prog-influenced album is also one of their very best. Dom Lawson

Healthyliving - Songs Of Abundance, Psalms Of Grief (La Rubia Producciones)

Songs Of Abundance, Psalms Of Grief occupies the liminal, frequently fascinating zone known to fans of modern rock music as “umm, post-something?” It presents a sprawling, neither-fish-nor-foul amalgam of sound that chucklingly muddles genre boundaries and invents its own strange folk knowledge. 

Grunge-y, Vitalogy-esque melodies hobnob with a baroque and undeniably gothic sense of drama, while the uncanny post-rock of Slint makes spidering forays to the base of your spine. For all the subtle wrongfooting, the music laid down by guitarist/bassist Scott McLean and drummer Stefan Pötzsch is tasteful, apposite and always engaging, despite its refusal to take the easy or obvious path. 

The real wildcard, however, comes in the presence of Amaya López-Carromero. Her voice slips from vapour-trail calm to world-ending power as if it were the easiest thing in the world, and commands your full attention whether dealing in quiet, Cocteau Twins-esque whispers or going full-on gothic powerhouse. 

If there are some occasional minor flaws to be found on Songs Of Abundance, Psalms Of Grief, even these suggest that there are reasons to be excited, since they imply there’s plenty of time yet to grow, expand and explore. In the meantime, they’ve gifted us with an album that does their name proud – one that raises the pulse, exercises the mind and nourishes the spirit. Alex Deller

Bell Witch - The Clandestine Gate (Profound Lore)

Too many doom acts mistake punishing runtime for scope or grandeur, but Seattle’s Bell Witch use it to warp the genre’s very fabric. Opening with eight minutes of funerary organ sets the tone, both in terms of vibe and the pace at which the pair dissect their ideas. 

The Clandestine Gate is a single, towering, 83-minute track, slowly unfurling like the poisonous flowers on a sticky, choking vine. Monastic chants, death grunts and deep, dolorous melodies mark its grim passage, with organ drones and lugubrious synth swells providing additional texture. Staggering in its own right, it also marks the first part of a trilogy exploring the concept of ‘eternal return’ – a thrillingly terrifying prospect we’d be happy to see stretch into forever. Alex Deller

Predatory Void - Seven Keys To The Discomfort Of Being (Century Media)

Predatory Void were born during lockdown as a cathartic outlet while live performance was prohibited. Lennart Bossu’s solo project soon became a band, the Amenra/ Oathbreaker guitarist recruiting from artists he was connected to through audio/visual art collective, the Church Of Ra: black metal vocalist Lina R of Cross Bringer, Amenra bassist Tim De Gieter, guitarist Thijs De Cloedt of metalcore progressives Cobra The Impaler and drummer Vincent Verstrepen of Carnation.

Seven Keys… explores the inner struggle for selfacceptance, unleashing an apoplexy primed for live catharsis. Be it the dissonant, doomy pound of opener Grovel, the blasting fury of *(struggling..), the relentless grind of The Well Within or the haunting, interspersed melodies, varying styles of extremity collide, making for an excitingly explosive addition to the Church Of Ra congregation. Tom O'Boyle

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.