Here’s the perfect storm of pre-release bait for me, it’s an Australian tech death release featuring the artwork of Mariousz Lewandowski (I know how we all feel but this one’s really good). Xenobitoic: ‘A xenobiotic is a chemical substance found within an organism that is not naturally produced or expected to be present within the organism“ are a tech deathcore band from Australia’s new metal mecca, Perth. Take a look at my Top 25 Australian Metal Releases article and drink every time I wrote Perth, then just drink recreationally. Mordrake releases on the 21st of February and features a couple of guests vocals that really make their tracks for me. Expect more of a scifi prog approach than a bunch of breakdowns, we’re telling a story here with an album of a higher brow.
Well risen from their grave and way past their mid-and-late-2000’s nadir, the Italian power folk metal sextet is back with what seems to be the first in a series of several concept albums to come. Reader of the Runes – Divination is intended to follow its two preceding albums, Pagan Manifesto (2014) and Secrets of the Magick Grimoire (2017) which were able to redeem the band’s tarnished reputation; but is it the next step on the road to grandeur or is it just an album to announce they are still there and working?
There isn’t much information as to the identity or location of Bull Elephant, as they choose to stay anonymous. Their debut record is a concept album, and despite having listened to this record several times I still couldn’t tell you what’s going on in my own words, but their Facebook bio sums it up pretty well, “Bull Elephant is the story of a slain African elephant that occultist Ahnenerbe SS attempted to bring back from the dead as a new form of battle asset. However, before re-animation could be completed it was intercepted by a mysterious witch-shaman, pursuing her own agenda and redirecting the undead creature’s purpose.”
Carcinoid are a fun band to me, there’s something inherently goofy about it without it actually being a joke. This is raw af sludgeoned black death doom metal that will do things you haven’t really heard before, like absurdly clean bass tones and unexpected lofi melody. It’s not very accessible though, perhaps only existing for the sake of the most nihilistic and misanthropic metalheads around. There’s just so much sludge and generally ominous shit, this isn’t supposed to be accessible or palatable. It will be a sure hit for those like myself who enjoy super abrasive death doom, which is a lot of the metal cassette community.
Do you like death metal? Do you like hardcore? The easy answer to both of these questions is fuck yes! And so you’ll quite enjoy this dark and gritty stomper of a release from Australia. We can’t make any kind of music without throwing a thick layer of sludge on it and that makes me really bloody happy. It’s the cheese of music, you can put it on almost anything. Considering there’s already the presence of hardcore and death metal stylings, this album is basically like locking a bunch of random neighbourhood dogs in a room that’s just got a grimed up tarp on the floor.
Fimbultýr is a dazzling lofi blend of stoner doom, hard core, death rock and a bunch of stuff. It’s an incredible work that hits just right.This is the right mixing levels for the genre, it’s an older more analogue sounding fuzz. It’s very much the Electric Wizard school of doom and it’s of the highest grade. There’s also grunge and post rock elements that are used effectively, making Fimbultyr an overall engrossing record that should not be overlooked by doomers looking for a harsher longer buzz.
A solid name combining the ideas of violent holy crusades and pure human sadism, Crusadist are a Chicago based death metal band with a helping of thrash influence. Their debut LP The Unholy Grail is generally a modern style of death metal but with the old school thrash metal hooks. It’s here that people may divide, depending on how they feel about thrash metal in general, personally I find it to be a stagnant genre that brings a lot of repetition to this album. Others may say it brings more groove to the album. In reality, it’s likely to be somewhere in between with the solid mixing and recording evening it all out. It’s an interesting album either way and a hearty independent release, check out the new lyric video for the track “For Blood And Conquest” below. The Unholy Grail drops on black friday 2019 (29th November).
2019 has been a very interesting and unique year for music and my taste in general. I won’t go fully into my thoughts on the year, but one thing I’ve noticed is all the amazing releases dropping at the very tale end of the year. For example, one of the best goddamn black metal records of the year dropped last Friday. The record I’m speaking of is the new Abigail Williams outing, it has absolutely blown me away.
Zyklus is an outstanding black metal record that not a lot of people have heard over here and I’m honestly surprised. The quality and creative direction are both high end and it’s presented eloquently. Wandar are a German band who have been around since 2006 putting out music independently. I received the cassette from indie tape bistro Repose Records earlier this year and it has since become one of my favorite tapes. It’s also out on Vinyl, very recently actually. I’d recommend this to any black metal fan, especially those I see on social media growing weary of post-black releases this year. Wandar encompass most forms of black metal and won’t bore you about it.
Is this Treebeards band? The vocals deadset sound like they’re coming for a colossal fucking tree. I shit you not. OAK are a death doom duo from Portugal and this is Lone, their debut LP featuring the artwork of Paolo Gerardi. There’s a strong presence with OAK that I think has carried over from their experience writing black metal songs in the band Gaerea. While it is certainly death doom, it is sometimes coated in black influence – particularly the song structure and vocal execution. Lone will be a memorable late year release many doom heads will take with them into 2020.
Here in the states and surrounding countries, winter is coming on. Hell, depending on where you are, you might already be getting the brunt of it. With winter comes changes, like the weather, and the holidays, and the very distinct difference in mood, atmosphere, and aesthetic. I find black metal to fit winter quite well, so naturally I jam a lot of black metal around this time of year.
This year has been incredible and if you’ve been reading for a bit now then you’ve seen me become increasingly excited about metal over the course of 2019. I was starting to think it may slump then I started getting some really good submissions from very talented bands putting out music towards the end of the year. Death Metal, black metal and hardcore have been insane this year and so has sludge but until today I didn’t realise I was missing something that I fondly remember having last year – A solid and true to form post hardcore album in the visage of bands like Boss-De-Nage or Birds In Row. Toluca offers an experience equally eloquent and abrasive from the lands of Russia with their new album Soras. Out November 29th via Tokyo Jupiter Records.
Well this is a hit, there’s death metal for the whole family on Enraged and Unbound, the dad and uncle that still listen to The Big 4 and Morbid Angel, the the older son who likes it a bit more technical, and the youngest of the children becka with the Disentomb tee who likes it fucking dank and filthy. It has guest vocals by death metal growlers Julien Truchan from Benighted and Sven de Caluwé from Aborted. The album art is a work made by the incredible Eliran Kantor. This album is like the heisenberg recipe of pure death metal and it comes out November 22nd on Willowtip Records.
It’s stupid how fast this grindcore is, its speedgrind. Overall I’m super impressed with Abu Ghraib as an Australian band, I originally found out about them by scouring the Metal Archives for hours searching by Australia for the Heavypedia project. I encountered Abu Ghraib and their band photo was so funny and endearing I ended up saving it “for later” which I guess is now because they’ve released a massive grind album that surpasses even their sublime memery in ability and entertainment. There was no sign of this beast earlier in the year with just a demo to their name, don’t be sleeping on this one.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve covered a straight up rager on this site, so when I heard “The Tether’s End” by Remission, i knew I had to talk about it. Remission are a death metal band with some thrash influences and melodic death metal textures. This is their debut album and it’s set for release on November 15th. This is one you aren’t going to want to miss!
The hype is insane on this one, so I’m excited for everyone else as I listen to Blood Incantation’s new album Hidden History of the Human Race for a pre-release review. The moment I pressed play the silence was broken so abruptly that it legitimately frightened me, so early signs are promising. I also have a fondness for bands that use long and mysterious titles and track names which Blood Incantation understand and deliver on. Cosmetically The Hidden History Of The Human Race is top notch.
Endless is straight up ‘the shit’, that’s the most important fact of this review. It’s an album that has made me swoon like few others this year and it’s not exactly that metal or heavy. It is however, perfectly suited to the current climate of stoner rock and doom, bringing something quite zesty and refreshing, a fusion of fuzz, alt rock and doom rock. I’m hearing influences from Type O Negative and My Bloody Valentine, it’s super inspired and engorged with energy despite the doomy tempo. They nailed it musically and in terms of doom aesthetic – something Australia has been refining for some time now.
Opposites attract is a cliche that has long applied to metal music. Crossover and fusion genres are a huge part of metal and do a lot to keep the genre interesting. From crossover thrash, to the numerous core genres, to folk metal, the possibilities are endless. The band we will be talking about today mixes quite a few genres for a very unique sound. Their Facebook biography describes their sound a lot better than I ever could, so here’s a excerpt, “Exulansis forms a nuanced variation of antifascist black metal, doom, crust, folk and chamber music by presenting acoustic elements with rapid blast beats, soaring melodies and dark harmonies.”
Rings Of Saturn have been around for a bit perfecting their insane brand of techno death metal, and with this latest album they prove they can soar alongside current titans Infant Annihilator and Cattle Decapitation. 2019 keeps upping the vocal game and setting an insane standard that most just can’t compete with. Add an overgrown child prodigy of a guitarist and you’ve got the essence of RoS, it’s excessive… and fancy. Utilizing brutality with finesse rather than toxic bravado. I’ve heard so many albums try to reach this peak but fall short, so it’s not without pause that I consider this one of the greatest tech death works of like… the decade? Imagine if Dragonforce was good.
I love coming across albums that are very long, but feel like nothing. Albums you can just sink into and lose yourself in are the absolute best. A prime supplier of records like these are post-black metal and atmospheric black metal in general. White Ward fit this quite well with their new album “Love Exchange Failure” that eclipses an hour in length with only 7 tracks to its name.
I’m so excited to share this album with you guys, it’s an absolute gem. Moon and Azure Shadow is a solo project that mixes atmospheric black metal with Japanese style soundtracks. You have to listen to this with headphones on in a dark room to get the full effect of how grand this album is. As a fan of soundtrack style music and dark ambient, I’m so stoked to see that type of sound being so well mixed with the harshness of black metal.
Progressive death metal is a very underrated subgenre. I think it’s sort of overlooked because it’s pretty hard to classify, I often think of it as all encompassing yet forward thinking death metal. Every year there’s at least one progressive death record that absolutely blows me away. Last year it was Where Owls Know My Name by Rivers Of Nihil, this year it’s The Door by Messora.
This is one of those scenarios where you don’t understand Spanish but can identify enough words capable of setting a tone. Get ready for some psychedelic action from this Chilean doom trio that’s wet with distortion, I may have even heard an amp blow at some point – unless it’s a drum they’ve down tuned or a pedal effect. There’s a strange aspect to it that a lot of people would describe as “not music”, bordering on noise doom, but it works organically into the overall sound. It’s an interesting release made ever more so by its distinguishable album art created by the frontman Francisco Rivera who offered some insight to the story behind their art as well as their anti-fascist stance (included at the end).
Before even pressing play I am more or less in love with this album and I think the concept of Morrowind Metal has been a long ass time coming. Morrowind was the game of my life, no doubt about it, I found it at Video Ezy on original XBOX when I was 11. I played Morrowind and only Morrowind until Oblivion was released on 360 when I was 15. I have an encyclopedia like memory of that game and its many quest lines, as well as exploits. I found that fucking Dwemer Cube about 300 times. I’ve played it plenty as an adult too, fully modded. This is even more in my wheelhouse than Dark Souls. The Ritual Aura are also an Australian band with great album art. The music would have to suck more balls than I can imagine being sucked to fuck this up.
I had an epiphany during the opening track, “Archaic Vision Of Despair”, that death doom is supposed to be a combination of death metal into doom metal but in reality it’s mostly death growls over doom instrumentals. Well in this case the instrumentation brings a strong sense of death riffery but with a sludgy twist. It feels old school, it reminds me of some solid shit out of the late 90s and early 00s of death doomdom. Like all good music, this sounds like descending into the mouth of madness. Well, madness is a mixed bag.
The latter half of the 2010s has brought a savage strain of hardcore to the masses. It’s metalcore tinged hardcore filled with savage breakdowns, fight riffs, and 2-steps galore. It’s been a very nice evolution to the genre, and popularity is at an all-time high with bands like Knocked Loose raking in huge first week sales and Billboard numbers. A front runner in the genre has been the mighty Kublai Khan, or Kublai Khan TX now (they haven’t spoken out about the inclusion of the TX to my knowledge, but I can assume it’s because of legal troubles with an old speed metal band by the same name). I was super pumped for this album. I’ve seen the band live, met their lead singer, own some of their merch, and jam their stuff on the regular. They did not disappoint my sky-high expectations!
Insomnium – the band that got me hooked on melodic death metal for life. And here we are with their latest album, Heart Like a Grave. And what a gem of an album it is! The sound of the album and the image it depicts through words and melodies are as bleak and dispirited as the taiga forests and fens of their motherland in winter. It takes the cheery and chirpy soul and renders it depressed and forlorn, casting it into the abyss of desolation.
Very few names in the history of prog metal can shine as dazzlingly as Opeth does, and even fewer bands have had such a repertoire of stunning albums as those of Opeth throughout their career of 30 years. They have established themselves as an undisputable act of Swedish metal and have also been able to garner a huge fan base in addition to instilling imposing respect among fellow musicians and critics alike. Their brand of progressive death metal in their early years and their own take on progressive metal in their midcareer were the main basis for this awe-inspiring stature the band enjoys these days. However, starting maybe with Heritage (2011), the band inclined ever more toward progressive rock, bringing their metal roots with themselves to this rather ‘new’ sphere – of course ‘new’ for the band. Taking this different approach, they proved to prioritize progression and holding this issue above all else. They are a true “progressive” band.
Brisbane has some great black metal and Consummation is a strong bit of evidence for that. They have such a dark style that sounds like a presence in constant pursuit. It can catch you off guard if you have a tendency to zone out, it forces you back with glorious momentous metal that would be a crime to not acknowledge with a facial expression somewhere between surprise and smelling shit. Seriously, this is really good black metal. They’ve managed to well exceed to expectations I had from hearing their previous EP, Ritual Severance on tape recently.