Nocturnus AD – Paradox
I don’t want to get into why Nocturnus is now adding “AD” to their name so let’s just sum it up by saying this Nocturnus is essentially the band that made the fucking masterpiece that is The Key, a balls out creatively wild, symphonic, death metal sci-fi monster from 1990, way the fuck before anybody was doing anything like that at all. So yeah, the promise of new music by that band is enticing. Paradox definitely wants you to know it was made by The Key as the production is very similar and very 90’s. It’s not a bad thing at all it’s just very much in your face with “HEY WE MADE THE KEY” which is fine because as we established, that album fucking rules and Paradox is pretty similar in it’s balls out approach to wild death metal musicianship. To me, that goes a long fucking way because creativity is scarce around these parts and Nocturnus are at least going for something their own and blasting you in the face with it. Even if it was a carbon copy clone of The Key it’s light years ahead of any OSDM band. I dig it and all it’s insanity.
Visigoth – Bells of Awakening
Um, yeah, absolutely unsurprising to me that Visigoth manage to destroy all other metal releases this year with a ten minute, two song, single release because that’s just how fucking monstrous this band is. This band is the very literal and emotional epitome of heavy metal as a whole. Everybody else is just posing.
Goregang – Neon Graves
I’ll admit I was 100% in on this band solely based on the cover art alone by artist Juanjo Castellano, clearly influenced by Dan Seagrave and very reminiscent of his work with Entombed, BUT the album is pretty fucking rad. Sure, it’s a bit of a throwback, as if the cover art didn’t suggest that already but what do you really expect from members of Soilwork, Ribspreader, and Venom Inc. However, the OSDM tendencies don’t take center stage and they aren’t galavanting around trying to prove how old school they are, it’s more informed by old Swedish death metal, Death, but with a fucking filthy layer of crust to give it a nice punk push. Fucking super fun all around.
Vale – Burden of Sight
Fucking blasting, crusty as fuck black metal. I just can’t get enough of this crust infused metal, particularly the bands that have those super sweet melodic tinged riffs. It makes it all the fucking shit.
Neckbeard Deathcamp – So Much for the Tolerant Left
I think Neckbeard’s anti-fascist meme within a meme humor is so fucking sidesplittingly funny that I give this band a huge high five. They’re so fucking good at riling up and pissing off these fucking NS supporters and alt-right metal ass clowns that it’s almost an art. These same fucks that sit around and boast about how “black metal should be offensive” yet Neckbeard offends them more than anything, the irony isn’t lost on me, just this dunderheaded dumb fucks. And their song titles, sheer comedic gold. They’re such a joke within a joke that it surprises me they’re getting so much label attention and festival support but hey, if this flash in the pan keeps pissing of NS idiots I say keep it coming. The music on So Much is hard to review because it’s made as a reflection of all the trappings of typical NS bands, IE war-metal like production, low quality, but also it has to stand on its own as good jams. I’m not sure they get there but I do enjoy it for the novelty and the complete and devastating blow the’ve been serving this basement dwelling fuck nuggets. Keep it up, boys.
Mispyrming – Algleymi
A lot of hype around this band and this album. It’s been four years since their debut, an album that was one of the focal points of the then exploding Icelandic black metal scene, which has since gone on to be extremely fruitful and creatively prolific. I’ll say this, Mispyrming bring all that same creative and unique energy that set that scene apart from all the rest with this new album while expanding their scope. It’s a massive album and something to behold.
Ares Kingdom – By the Light of Their Destruction
Ares Kingdom is so good at being so fucking good so of course I was anticipating their new release to be, well, fucking good, and it fucking sure is. Their determined approach to killer thrash/death is so satisfying I don’t have any idea why this band is just dominating everything. That being said, I think this album is just as good as any of the rest and that they all stand on equal footing. In my mind at least. Just super solid, enjoyable metal from a band that does it solidly every single outing.
Kull – Exile
So this is all the members of Bal-Sagoth minus the lead singer. From what I gather it’s the continuation of the idea of Bal-Sagoth just without Byron Roberts. I don’t know what the story there is but more Bal-Sagoth is a big fucking win for me and this album sounds just like what it promises: Bal-Sagoth with a new singer. All the grand, over-the-top, cheeseball, insanely symphonic black metal fantasy Bal-Sagoth did so well is here in fine form once again. It’s super satisfying for a Bal-Sagoth or cheese fan and I’m glad this exists in my ears because it’s fucking all over rad.
Epectase – Astres
it’s an I, Voidhanger release, my go to label for black and death metal bands that go above and beyond to expand and explore their metal genres and don’t give a fuck. I, Voidhanger has proven by far their bands are worth the listen and more often then not numerous label bands are jockeying for year end positions on my list. Epectase is going to be one of those bands. Completely not satisfied with the conventional black metal trappings, Epectase takes a “progressive” and wildly cosmic approach to black metal that dares (guffah!) to inject some melody and major chord stylings into black metal. It’s a creative powerhouse that makes me wonder why other bands are so stuck to the trappings of their genres.
Gloryhammer – Legends From Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex
I mean, if you don’t like overtly cheesy and theatrical, humorous power metal, you ain’t gonna like Gloryhammer. You really have to dig this sort of sensational metal or at least be willing to give yourself over to it completely. This is the bands third album and it’s just as fun and ridiculous as the other two. Gloryhammer fully embraces, unapologetically, the highest order of cheese power metal. You cannot take this stuff seriously or you’ll have a bad time. Just go with it. Embrace it. It’s fucking power metal. it’s supposed to be fun.
Esoctrilihum – The Telluric Ashes of the Ö Vrth Immemorial Gods
Just leave me alone with I, Voidhanger’s catalog of bands. Seriously, how does a label get so good at releasing amazing albums? Of all the bands on the roster though, Esoctrilihum is the one that excites me the most. They play death metal and black metal but not like you’ve ever heard. Those are just loose constructs that they play with. It’s fucking extremely creative and original and unique and inspired and is still brutally heavy. And this is the bands third release in just over a year. Year end contender, right here.
Nekroi Theoi – Dead Gods
Any metal band that is willing to play with genre limitations and purposefully try and expand them or break them is something that’ll catch my ear, even if it’s a genre of metal I don’t delve into all that much. That genre being Brutal Death Metal, a genre that’s rigidity is what’s kept me from it in the first place. Nekroi Theoi decided to root themselves in brutal but meld in a ton of doom, atmospherics, and prog-ish, technical aspects to view the genre from a different angle. Does it work? For the most part. There’s a lot of “this is the death metal part” or “this is the prog” part and I wish it was more integrated as a whole but yeah, it’s better than most brutal death metal I’ve heard so that’s saying something.
Captain Three Leg / Office – Suggested Listening/Executed Prophecy
Super awesome split between the humorous, sound clip heavy, nasty punk of Captain Three Leg, and the grindtastic face punch of Office. A killer split between to sonically different bands but emotionally similar.
Misanthropic Rage – Towards the Greyscale Aphorysm
This band is completely new to me but it checked a lot of my “must hear” marks. IE avant-garde, black/death from Poland (fingers crossed they aren’t full of fucking fascists). Poland has some killer bands along this line already. Thy Worshiper comes to mind, but Misanthropic Rage keeps the heavy side of things up front and center and lets the experimental and avant-garde nature float around in the back, informing the sound rather than being the sound. I like that approach and keeps things super balanced and engaging at the same time.
Skaphe + Wormlust – Kosmiskur hyrllingur
This is interesting as it’s not a split but a collaboration between two of the weirder Icelandic black metal bands and of course, it’s a weird, dissonant, psychedelic mind fuck. Particular interested in Wormlust’s involvement as that bad was one of the first to usher in the big explosion of the Icelandic black metal scene and has been rather quiet for years. Pretty killer and unique stuff here.
Atlas Entity – Beneath the Cosmic Silence
A one-man death metal band that is not fucking around with genre conventions. Equal parts technical, atmospheric, post, thrash, and melodic, this album is another blast of fresh air in an overcrowded, old school worshipping genre.
Sadistic Ritual – Visionaire of Death
Super fucking satisfying thrash metal that derives influence from a lot of the rougher, classic thrash bands but borrows so much it never ends up sound like just one band or style of thrash. While it’s nothing new to be sure, that non-specific thrash riffing and force is enough to separate it from the rest of the locked-in-place, new thrash bands and deliver a wholly pleasing thrash album.