The obvious winner for Metal News of the Month (seriously, forget those silly death metal festivals in Maryland) is that University of Oxford scientists determined that some ancient mammoth-ivory flute discovered in a southwestern German cave was at least 42,000 years old -- "close to the time when the first anatomically modern humans were spreading into Central Europe," John Noble Wilford wrote in the New York Times -- not merely 35,000 years old as previously assumed. Since heavy metal is the only conceivable genre Germans would play on mammoth tusks, it now makes sense to argue that metal predated music itself!
No doubt that info makes the three German bands included among the 15 (much newer than 42,000-years-old) metal albums below sehr glücklich -- not to mention the Cro-Magnon-muscled mythology-metal gangs from Stockholm and Philadelphia. Whether any of this month's graduating class employed flutes themselves is another question (usually there's a few, but this time it's hard to gauge), but no big whoop: Especially given the quality of the list's first six albums (St. Vitus, pictured above, is responsible for No. 3), this may well be the best monthly metal roundup I've compiled yet. Metal is prehistoric, but still great!