The year is coming to a close and yet the quality of music is far from on the decline with some huge albums last week to catch up on. If you need to catch up on the whole ass year, then take a gander at our massive playlist where we gathered every metal and hardcore release we could, and will continue to do so until the new year.
Pantheist – Closer to God
Atmopsheric death doom/funeral doom from a band that has been prominent in the doom scene since the early 00s with funeral classics like O Solutide that you may remember from being a teenager on the internet looking for more funeral doom after hearing Ahab for the first time. Pantheist are still kicking and still delivering a stellar performance with this mesmerising doom album fully loaded with flair and emotion. There’s so many nice elements thrown into the mix to keep the slow pace interesting like lush guitar tones and orchestra synths and some spacey moments that may even remind you of the Halo theme. Closer To God is a pleasure to listen to from beginning to end and is very clearly the work of an experienced musician who has refined their vision over and over again to create something with both beauty and finesse.
FFO: Swallow The Sun, October Tide, Rise To The Sky
Rejekts – Adamo
This Italian five-piece is an exercise in how much chaotic blackened screeching over crushing guitars and furiously driving drums you can tolerate. It starts oddly, in a distant, muted manner with “Samsara”, a 4 1/2-minute intro that’s also the longest track on the album. Even “L’astro del mattino” starts a bit more expansively than you might expect for blackened grindcore, but by the time the song is half over it’s an utterly breathless headlong riot from there til the spoken word atmospherics of “Limbo” end Adamo’s 43 minutes. Sure, there are darkly thoughtful opening sections to songs here and there, like in “L’ariete e l’argilla”, but they’re always more than balanced out by a tumultuous race to the end. The production is abrasive and harsh, with a strong focus on Black’s rapidly-paced and high-pitched shrieking vocals, which are the most obviously blackened element of the band’s sound. This is not a release that plays it safe on any front, even thought the slow start might trick you into thinking so. If you like your grindcore hyper-aggressive with fiercely irate vocals, give Rejekts’ Adamo a spin.
FFO: Fucked, Knocked Loose, early Anaal Nathrakh
Wolftooth – “Blood & Iron”
It’s that time of year where we all cram into the car and make our long trips to the Mall, to visit family, or to get away; and Wolftooth’s newest album, “Blood & Iron” is made for long journeys. It’s their third full-length album and it’s a true nod to classic, American Heavy Metal and all its glory. Heavy chords pull you onto the battlefield while a solid bass and classic drumming keeps you moving. It’s got an essence of Black Sabbath, and the heart of Judas Priest in its tunes with vocals that seem to hit on every musical memory, striking up both nostalgia and newfound respect for a band formed in 2017. Heavy hitters like “A King’s Land” and the title track “Blood & Iron” smack you in the face and put a sword in your hand. It’s heavy, nostalgic, and filled with all-around bangers. So, if you’re dreading that long drive across state lines to visit Uncle Burns-all-Food, make it a less painful by adding some Blood & Iron to your drive.
FFO: Grand Magus, Witchskull, Bone Church
Heiress – Collides
I guess I’ll just keep listening to emotionally shattering albums this week. Collides is a dirge take on post hardcore in a similar vein to the recent Kowloon Walled City album but with screaming and death growls thrown into the atmospheric hardcore mixture. This 43 minute LP will drag you slowly by the scruff of your neck until you too feel that dark agonised mood. There’s a huge doomy metal element to the album between the longer riffs and death-like growl, it defies your expectations of both post hardcore and metallic hardcore to make something intriguing and powerful. Sludge even. Post metal even. The guitars slice through the mix like they have a bouncing life of their own. The scope of this sound is impressive and thought provoking while also keeping you on edge.
FFO: Kowloon Walled City, old Devil Sold His soul, Cult Of Luna
Bog Wizard – Miasmic Purple Smoke
The BWiz has accomplished a lot in the three short years they’ve been around. From the Mire, their impressive first LP, is only a toddler at 16 months old, but here they come bringing another full-length into the world. And it’s good news: this record rules. Fans of fat riffs and nerdy shit, rejoice, because Miasmic Purple Smoke is an upgrade on From the Mire in every way. The production is viscerally authentic and noticeably heavier across the board, theres a greater predominance of harsh vocals that brings a more aggressive, brooding edge to their sound, and the overall scope—6 tracks and a little over 40 minutes—is a neater, more tightly composed package. This scratches that itch for grungy, plodding riffs that make you want to bang your head while also including enough psychedelic twists and stoner vocals to make you want to grab your pipeweed and minifigs. It’s all great, but I love the 12-minute ending track, “The Void Beckons”, the most.
FFO: Electric Wizard, Sleep, DnD
Redemptor – AGONIA
Prog death from Krakow, Poland. It’s overcast this morning here in the SF Bay area, like it is on many winter mornings, and that makes it the perfect background for some oppressive, atmospheric death metal! Thankfully Redemptor and their fourth LP, AGONIA, are just what the weather calls for. There’s plenty of gnarly riffs to go underneath the layers of atmosphere the band constructs as well. Definitely music in the vein of Fallujah. Some quieter moments appear on the record to give a brief respite from the blanketing darkness but we never stray too far from the all encompassing feel of anguish. If you also woke up with overcast skies or an overcast mood this is the record that will match.
Weedpecker – IV: The Stream of Forgotten Thoughts
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much because I’m pretty burnt out on mid tier stoner rock and doom constantly flowing out like a broken sewer pipe with shit that all sounds the same, but what I got from Weedpecker was something else. Something I thoroughly enjoyed. Far more on the proggy psychedelic side of stoner music, this new LP brings a shit tone of musical energy that is always expanding outwards with new textures and noises. Whoever is on the synth for this one knocked it out of the park with their perfectly timed shimmers and accentuations. This thing is flowing. The guitars are so relaxed but groovy as heck and when combined with the gorgeously cosmic clean vocals it evokes the best elements of Pink Floyd. It’s not done lazily though, the playing is technical and the the composition is enthralling. I don’t plan on doing acid again for a good while because last time I took it alone at midnight and it destroyed my soul from the inside out, but when I do you bet your ass I’m giving this a spin for the journey, to bring a bit of peace.
FFO: Pink Floyd, new Trophy Scars, Elder
Ashbreather – “Ow, My Eye”
Ashbreather’s new EP is a delightfully weird and eclectic release. It starts off furiously with sludgy riffing and snarled vocals. We get our first psychedelic moment about 5 minutes into the first track when a trumpet dripping with effects enters over a lush groove. “Ow, My Eye” just gets weirder from there. The real kicker on this EP is the inclusion of real brass and bowed string instruments. Cello mixes with clean guitars at the beginning of “Tranquilizer” to beautifully set up the psychedelic chorus. Tasty brass lines set the mood impeccably for the jazz noir 1st half of “Assablanca” (lol, ass) Mixed by the wonderfully talented April Hutchins, Ashbreather’s new EP sounds amazing and is a fun, quirky release you don’t want to miss!
FFO: Mastodon, The Ocean, King Gizzard
Husqwarnah – Front: Toward Enemy
Husqwarnah, out of Lombardy, Italy, went through the wringer this year to get Front: Toward Enemy out. The album was ready for release in April, but after a scuffle with an unfortunate excuse for a label, they had to push it back. Lucky for the band, they found a new home with Fuel Records, and lucky for us, Front: Toward Enemy is out now and it rips. This is that Bolt Thrower-esque, mostly mid-tempo sort of bonecrushing death metal that’s centered around tasty buzzsaw guitars and snarling vocals. It’s fun as hell, and not only because of the riffs, which are super groovy and bring plenty of heaviness and vicious biting edge, but also because of the overall variety. The song to song transitions never leave you feeling like things are running together, and each track has its own energy. Highlights for me were “Melting Face”, “Ignoto1”, and “Screams from the Cellar”, but definitely stick around for the closer: “Dreamline”, a Rush (!) cover featuring Mikael Stanne of Dark Tranquility (!!).
FFO: Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, Hail of Bullets