Australian metal has always been a huge focus for this site so there was plenty to pick from in forming this lists. If you are in a band and want to be considered for next year then send your album before it’s released using the information provided on my submissions page. Also check out the Australian Heavypedia, my main 2020 project, to possibly participate in.
This list isn’t pride in Australia as much as it is a list celebrating musicians who despite being Australians, managed to successfully create and distribute their music. There’s a lot of barriers to musicians here due to a fucked economy, poor employment availability and terrible telecommunications infrastructure. So these bands deserve praise and attention for having the ability to create potent art in this modern western culture, even at the risk of crippling debt, or even worse, no one hearing it.
A couple of these were on my 25 Glorious Metal Album Covers of 2019 list, and will be on my upcoming general end of year list with the rest of the NH staff. The ranking is vague with 20 – 25 being reserved for outstanding EP releases.
Support these bands! There’s also a Spotify playlist at the bottom.
Blackened Thrash Metal
One of the earliest tapes I purchased in my new collection. This is a straight forward speed romp prepared just the way you like it, with a lot of treble. It involves some notable metalheads from within the scene such as James Campbell who is always around putting out tapes through multiple bands and doing artwork, making it look easy. It’s a really fun album that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but rather charm you with propositions of beer and spiked clothing. Bloodlust are a dependable band.
FFO: Bastardizer, Hellripper, Venom.
A studio project turned live band that I’d really like to see sometime, it’s an exciting amount of intensity. It’s not for everyone and that’s the kind of music we make best here, an anti-convention “fuck your mums butterfly tattoo and Pink albums” style of music for the wonderfully perverted. Lofi aesthetic is all the rage these days as overproduction and soul sucking gentrification dull our senses – leaving us unfulfilled and craving tragedy or death. Munt are another classy addition to the putrid underground world of blackened grind trying to bring some grit back onto the white painted walls of modern living. A lot of this list will be Australian musicians who can’t wait for a new extinction event, or at least that’s the vibe I get this year.
FFO: Carcinoid, Ploughshare, Snorlax.
Heavy punching grindcore with a huge helping of hardcore and blackened death to make for one hell of a frenetic and aggressive tape. The whole album is under 10 minutes, making it the perfect length for a grindcore album – and it’s really cheap. It’s hard to fault this album, except that it is grindcore. I’m always down for some apocalyptic misanthropy which is a core theme now very popular in the genre, but there’s also anti masculinity messages that are as relevant as ever. It’s a hyper aggressive broadcast and I like that level of commitment when a band claims to stand for something. Yes, the cassette shell is pink too.
FFO: The Locust, Napalm Death, Insect Warfare.
Ok, it’s more grindcore. I can’t help it if we put out some of the worlds best grindcore this year. Maggot Cave are another fresh face in the scene who are very quick to make an impression. Considering how many grind tropes they embody (<10min album, lazy horror asset cover art, gratuitous samples) they manage to keep it surprisingly fresh with oddball elements from traditional heavy metal and other places. Huge mix of vocal styles and some guitar solos too! The samples are a lot of fun, I recognise some of them and they do what samples are supposed to, building hype through pause. Another dirt cheap cassette I recommend.
FFO: Corpseflesh, Crypt Crawler,
Can you hear the bells? This is some witch city black metal for those who enjoy all of the frills and fashion of the metal and gothic subcultures. This style of black metal is more hook driven and mosh friendly than the weird shit we usually hear from Europe, there’s a distinct Aussie accent to the overall sound that’s almost sludge. This EP got to me real early in the year but it’s still managed to stick with me till the end. They also have the coolest band shirt I’ve seen in years with an “Australian Black Metal” coat of arms.
FFO: Abbath, Cradle Of Filth, Immortal.
My top EP pick easily, such big energy on this one. This is Abu Ghraib and this is finger-pointing tongue-poking goat-stroking speed-grind. I recently interviewed the trio for the Australian Heavypedia and they’re funny guys who are truly stoked to be playing completely fucked music around the country. Great attitude and performance all around. With this song writing and artistic direction I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more to dig into soon and hopefully some dates near me.
FFO: Hellripper, Slayer, Population Control.
One of the few thrash bands on the list because I typically don’t enjoy the genre but when used in conjunction with death metal it can go either way. In the case of Remission it went in a very positive direction for me. The pace is fast and the solo tones are whammy high, overall it will remind a lot of metalheads of being a teen and listening to early 00’s stuff like Trivium and Nevermore. It’s cleaner than a lot of metal bands going right now and that oddly stands out in the current scene compared to a decade and a half ago. Good musicians.
FFO: Trivium, Black Dahlia Murder, Nevermore.
An interesting mix of metal ideas through obviously technically minded musicians. It feels post, it feels prog. The production values are crisp af and there’s some of the most well recorded bass I’ve heard this year. A real treat to listen to and not a very conventional pick for a metal list. There’s a lot of jazz at the heart of this record with winding instrumentals that conceal deadly mathlike vocals and outright holy cleans. It’s a whole package that even had a follow up release for an instrumental version.
FFO: Ephel Duath, Rolo Tomassi, Maudlin Of The Well.
The new and second LP from King is a strong and classical approach to the genre with the kind of black metal vocals we all love, that aren’t too high or low and offer some expression. The key difference that sets this album apart is the inclusion of melodic death metal style songwriting and guitar riffs. It’s an interesting angle because I’m used to hearing death and black so fused together but here on Coldest Of Cold you can hear them in concert side by side in an interesting way.
FFO: Immortal, Marduk, Abbath.
Old School Death Metal
After 27 years in the making Impenitent finally dropped in 2019 and it’s a chunky prog laden OSDM album. They have an unusually large and tight sound for a duo, I doubt most people would even realise this fact which provides a unique vibe to the record. I find that the fewer the cooks the more curious the meal. The guitars on this tell big stories and make up a major focal point of the album, as a guitarist myself I appreciate that a lot. Very memorable licks. I recently interviewed the visual artist Satta who did the fantastic album cover.
FFO: Bolt Thrower, Vader, Morbid Angel.
This album is hooky and a heap of fun. Astrodeath are another impressive duo and they play into their strengths well, particularly the vocals which carry a tune somewhere between Pearl Jam and Dillinger Escape Plan. It’s an entertaining variety album with disarming sincerity in the song writing. Even the tracks have quite a variety with inconsistent lengths and ideas. I’m super interested in the future direction of the project.
FFO: Black Sabbath, RATM, Tool (old).
Post Black Metal/Doom
I saw Hope Drone headline an awesome show earlier in the year and I’m kicking myself for not having cash at the merch table for a tape. This is a style of doom that isn’t instrumental but has so much space that it sometimes feels that way. The vocals are much appreciated death growls littered throughout the sound-sculpture like a ghostly inhabitant. This is a great night time album with spectacular production and long songs.
FFO: Isis, Bongripper, Cult Of Luna.
A stimulating blend of various death metal and black metal ideas even stepping between eras of old school death and melodic black. It’s all done with a focused edge and an appropriately middle range to lofi mixing situation – it doesn’t sound overproduced. There’s a lot of energy in the song writing and technical licks that stand out along with the belting vocals. It’s a strong debut album that suggests a good decade for the band ahead.
FFO: Death, Marduk, Cradle Of Filth.
Perth, WA (And Russia)
Corpseflesh turned some heads with their 2011 Self-titled (NSFW af cover) and for whatever reasons laid pretty low since then until this year. I’m glad they decided to return because Rearranged With a Twelve Gauge is one of my new favorite deathgrind tapes. It’s got the perfect mid/treble focus and it plays around the analogue static very nicely. It’s a through and through buzzsaw grind album not for weak heart shitcunts.
FFO: Whoretopsy, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide.
A fantastic upcoming death metal album with hardcore and sludge influences. It’s one of the biggest Aussie mosh albums of the year and there’s a lot of jive to cop. They’re pretty underground at the moment but I’d expect that to change once this makes the rounds and beats some ears. Neuro Siege releases on the 6th of December so you’ll have to check it out to complete this list or else you’re not allowed to disagree… right? I’m looking forward to getting this on cassette when those roll out.
FFO: Descent, Vein, Crowbar.
Depressive Black Metal
An ambitious band with three major releases in 2019. I enjoyed them all quite a bit but The Grand Disillusionment just wins out for me. It’s grown on me over time like an earworm and I just enjoy being around the aesthetic. There’s a lot of theatrics and mysticism which is always a lot of fun when handled well. The weird crossover between occult and humor works nicely for me and overall it’s a complex black metal record that’s also highly entertaining. Great photo for the cover too, a lot of expression and the redundancy factor of the noose is great.
FFO: Advent Sorrow, Winter Eternal, Forgotten Tomb.
Carcinoid are basically ruling the underground sludge scene at the moment and there’s plenty of headbangers waiting on every bit of carnage they release. I have all of their tapes so far myself and plan and getting any future ones, it’s great for the format due to the lofi ideology behind the music. Metastatic Declination has some of the most badass bass work I’ve heard in DM this year as well utilising cleaner tones nicely. I really love that old school bass pop like a bloody elastic band. It’s super gritty death doom. If you like it you like it, like chocolate.
FFO: Autopsy, Cianide, Horrisonous.
The Ritual Aura
Technical Death Metal
I’ve talked about this album a fair bit this year because it’s core foundation is combining my favorite RPG, Morrowind and modern death metal. It’s a super specific kind of band that is just right for me and probably you too if you’re still reading written words in 2019. It has the scifi and fantasy sounds that I’ve come to expect of all good tech death. There’s a lot of intense symphonics, unpredictable proggy licks and piercing solos. Highly memorable, get on it or it be a s-wit.
FFO: Cynic, BTBAM, ACKOD.
Another ambitious black metal band with two solid 2019 releases, this one left the biggest impression on me at the get-go. From the cosmic artwork to the growing twisting soundscape – it’s a fantastical journey through raw black metal and melodic distortion. The songs are all long and hold their own distinct narrative and undertones, they don’t get boring, at worst they simply blend into the background like comforting white noise. Waiting to catch you off guard and torture you like prey with luna traps, it’s metal for the imagination. Word is they are going to be playing live in 2020 so keep an eye.
FFO: Mork, Drudkh, MGLA.
One of the filthiest sludge-touched albums I’ve heard this entire year worldwide. Comprised of members from many Australian bands like Bludgeoner , Illimitable Dolor, Nazxul and Backyard Mortuary to name a few. The member experience in abrasive and doomy music carries over onto this beast of a plague themed death metal project. It’s crushing, its contagious – it’s Horrisonous. If you can look at that cover and not want to listen to it, then it’s probably too good for you.
FFO: Carcinoid, Mortiferum, Tomb Mold.
Old School Death Metal
Self-worshipping death metal with a super fun halloween-esque vibe and plenty of catchy riffs. I’ve recommended this to a lot of people since it’s release early in the year and everyone who has tried it has enjoyed it. It’s a romp pure and simple. Be sure to check out my interview with the band for the Australian Heavypedia. “Soul Harvester” is one of the best DM anthems I’ve heard.
FFO: Obituary, Bolt Thrower, Morbid Angel.
Thy Art Is Murder
Metalheads love to hate it and Australia produces it really well, it’s deathcore! This stomper of an album hits hard with some of the darkest breakdowns around and more of those world ending messages I love so much. It’s one of this years biggest guilty pleasures but it should just be a pleasure because of how competent and heavy this record is. It’s safe to assume most metalheads have been won over to deathcore in 2019 by this and Infant Annihilator or Rings Of Saturn. Love the logo and art.
FFO: Whitechapel, Infant Annihilator, Fit For An Autopsy.
With an eye-catching cover featuring iconic Australian imagery and the audio trimmings of a stoner band on Riding Easy Records, Holy Serpent have put out one of the best stoner albums in the entire world this year. It’s such a big and dynamic album in genre scope incorporating shoegaze, grunge and alt rock in smooth and surprising ways. There’s juicy transitions and hooks that will stick in your memory long after the record ends.
FFO: Here Lies Man, Uncle Acid, The Flaming Lips.
I don’t know if they are still based in Brisbane now, I’m assuming they have some kind of Unique Leader recording compound that flies around the globe acquiring all the best guitar picks and amplifier leads the world has available. This is the top of the mountain as far as studio brutal death metal quality bands go, these blokes are basically Australia’s answer Dethklok. Disentomb have an intense focus on refinement and as a result they have developed of the most cutting edge and brutal sounds in modern death metal. In terms of brutality, Australia has set the pace this year with The Decaying Light being held at the forefront as an example of achievement – rightfully so.
FFO: Psycroptic, Dethklok, Bloodbath.
Depressive Black Metal
Perth, Western Australia
This is my Australian pick of the year, I’ve listened to this album a lot and it’s a reliable choice to fall back on even in the worst of moods. This album resonates with me on many levels, some of these levels are quite misanthropic while others strike me in an artistic way. This is finely crafted black metal that feels like it mirrors the daily dread and mental chaos of living in a hyper-modern western society headfuck. The vocals and melodic instrument composition do so much to tell a story, I can’t help but be pulled in by the enchanting narrative. The fact that this work is the result of solo vision is all the more impressive. This isn’t just music, it’s escapism.
FFO: MGLA, Deadspace, Forgotten Tomb.
Noob Heavy Aussie Metal Playlist
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