The years have come and gone, and yet for some odd reason I still receive requests for my 'Best Of' journal entries in Heavy Metal, as well as several other genres. Why I still receive these requests I have no idea, but I've relented on being an e-seclusionist curmudgeon and eternally lazy long enough to post my Best in Heavy Metal of 2012 list. I hope whatever poor soul or bored last.fm troll that reads this dated meandering of metal finds something that they haven't otherwise heard or thought to listen to since '12. Unlike the previous journal entry, many if not most of the reviews here are sourced from other writers, webzines, and various publications as noted at the bottom of the review. Also, I encourage any suggestions for albums released in 2012 that I've omitted as it's painfully obvious from my list that I can't possibly listen to everything out there.
Please check out my other Journals for Heavy Metal:
Best In Heavy Metal 2011
Best In Heavy Metal 2010
Journal entry for 2013 is forthcoming. No, for real this time.
† Please support the artists listed here and purchase their music or merchandise †
Upon the first few listens of Atra Mors, my impression towards this record gives off a very large amount of improvement and musical experimentation to leave listeners astounded and spellbinded into a state of sorrow and personal empowerment. Evoken have created a record that almost puts me beyond words, as it reminds me of the crushing, funeral doom endeavors of Mournful Congregation and also the somber, solo echoing guitar riffs stand out and tell stories of their own. Atra Mors, has successfully embedded a vivid distinction of human emotion into music, a very powerful doom metal record which immediately stands out and flows in a rhythmic pattern from one song unto another.
It starts off with the first track which is titled same as the album and prepares you for a journey towards a personal apocalyptic dreamland. It is a somber starting point which guides listeners into various chambers of one’s own haven of dreams and nightmares alike. From this onward, song after song John Paradiso’s harsh vocals and somber guitar solos embark through various personal visions of times past those to be foretold, expressively as a personal ultimatum as well as the end of all things. All previous pessimistic parables channeled into these recordings and embedded into every structure of what Atra Mors, stands for.
“Requies Aeterna” is an interlude track which appropriately separates the story of which is being told through waves and musical frequencies of melancholy and carries on with the next track “The Unechoing Dread” and falls into a powerful ending track “Into Aphotic Devastation”. This album is also remarkable being that it is the 100th release from Profound Lore and most definitely a memorable one from beginning to end. Death to false utopian entities and birth of a new musical accomplishment.
For fans of: Skepticism, Mournful Congregation, Shape of Despair, Thergothon, Dolorian, The Howling Void.
Oppression has never felt so satisfying
Crushing. That’s the one word that keeps springing to mind when I try to come up with an adjective to describe Seattle’s Anhedonist and their debut release, Netherwards. Theirs is a sound that merges the bleak and unrelentingly heavy death/doom of Disembowelment with the plodding, death metal sound of Incantation (though much more doom-oriented) and adds in yet another layer of sonic oppression though an occasional Evoken influence. In fact, I almost feel as though ‘crushing’ doesn’t do the album justice, but it’s the best I seem to be able to muster. In any event, the four tracks and 41 minutes of material the band has assembled on this disc is some of the best death/doom I have heard in quite a while.
There are a number of factors that contribute to Netherwards’ success but the one that stands out for me the most is the way the band seamlessly shifts between tempos and styles while still maintaining the oppressive and all-encompassing atmosphere that pervades every waking moment of the album. The transition between opening cut, “Saturine”, with its lumbering crust-infused blasts, and second track, “Estrangement”, with its vast and sorrowful rung-out notes is demonstrative of the consistency of vision the band has and that they can channel and harness this vision seemingly irrespective of the approach they choose to take with their songs.
Netherwards isn’t so much an album to revere for its overt originality as it is its masterful adherence to the assemblage of death/doom building blocks into the kind of strong structures that the blueprints of the original pioneers of the style designed. This isn’t to suggest in any way that there is any plagiarism on display but, rather, that Anhedonist have clearly taken their cues from bands like diSEMBOWELMENT and used that template as the basis from which to build something excellent.
For fans of: Lycus, Vastum, Swallowed, Ilsa, Encoffination, Atriarch.
Når Sirkelen Brytes is the debut full-length from northern Norwegian quintet Taakeferd. The name translates as ‘a journey through fog’ or something along those lines and this is probably an apt description for the no-holds-barred, blazing black metal offered forth on this record.
Both melodic and raw, the songs on this 53-minute album rip through the speakers with devilish intent, never compromising, delivering nine straight-to-the-point work-outs of shrill and shrieking Black Metal with little or no let-up. The music blasts along fiercely and ferociously and there is barely time to breathe. It’s somehow claustrophobic and suffocating as it pounds along and at times all too familiar but, for all it lacks in originality, Når Sirkelen Brytes deserves respect for the manner in which it sticks to the core principles of what made black metal great in the first place.
Proficient and evil as fuck in saluting the scene’s brethren well - an album for those who appreciate black metal in the vein of the purveyors of the genre.
For fans of: Svikt, Framferd, Stridsmenn, Neetzach, Svartskogg, Vuohivasara.
Three & Seven is the debut release from enigmatic New York entity Occultation, and a fantastic example of the forward-thinking retro-tinged metal that has seen a surge of renewed interest in recent months. Placing a strong emphasis on crafting a palpably thick witching environment than other releases in the same eclectic category, the band skillfully crafts a black cathedral of sound that drips with Black Sabbath and Mercyful Fate flare. With near every track on the album, Occultation manages to capture perfectly that distinctive sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach upon realizing you’ve stumbled upon something you shouldn’t have – and the subsequently sudden dizzying flash of panic that stems from being unable to find a way out. A grotesque and withered hand greets you from beyond the void, bearing a cryptic invitation into a rich sonic catacomb of horror. You are beckoned.
For fans of: Sabbath Assembly, Year of the Goat, Uzala, Pallbearer, Essenz, Inverloch.
Trespass is an album drenched in the bleak and sorrow, resonating an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. The record still moves at an earth shattering pace for the most part but it’s in the atmosphere that it conjures where Trespass truly writhes in the austere.
Opener “Usurpation” holds as merciless proof, with a sickening barrage of bile fuelled riffs and a remorseless hail of drums that are simply punishing. Most of the songs are succinct lessons in bestial death metal, like the ghastly assault of “Compress” but conversely, “Identical” is a seven minute dirge of rot. First starting with unabashedly doom passages until the halfway mark, Knelt Rote then fearlessly plunge us back into familiar breakneck punishing territory. This is an album that isn’t afraid to dip its toe into a few different sonic waters but the end result, that of ruin and wreckage, is always the same.
Knelt Rote strike a near perfect balance between devastation and atmosphere. Usually one is sacrificed for the benefit of the other but this is not the case with Trespass. The cold hopeless vibe that runs through the album is altogether affecting but meanwhile, the vocals are utterly caustic and corrosive alongside the scorched earth riffing.
This is a deeply layered album, with so much density to wrap your ears around. It, in fact, makes it difficult at times to comprehend just how heavy and vicious this record is until you’ve submerged yourself in it for several listens.
For fans of: Antediluvian, Weregoat, Ritual Necromancy, Grave Upheaval, Temple Nightside, Muknal.
It really did not take much time for me to choose Chapel’s debut album for my next presentation so let me explain why by simply mentioning a couple of key points; the band comes from Canada and the album’s title implies mixing Rock ‘N Roll and Satan. That was it; I was sold since I know that a Canadian band cannot fail and the satanic/Rock ‘N Roll blend is destined to succeed. So, let’s see what happened after the play button had been pressed.
“Rock N Roll From Hell” opens the album with church organ sound creating the required satanic and evil atmosphere and then the song explodes with Motörhead-esque rhythm section with driving drum work and dominating bass action. There is no fancy singing just in-your-face lyrics spitting paying the proper respect to the early Punk scene that blended so well during the early days of Black Metal. This description might sound funny or strange to some but to the Metal connoisseurs this should raise the Venom flag. I guess this presentation could stop right here since whenever a band sounds like Venom should get high rates just for trying… Seriously now, Chapel have managed to get that awesome sound added more Motörhead references and to top things off introduced underlying Sodom structures from their Better Off Dead days. Don’t rush to characterize Chapel as a copycat since the guitar work really makes a difference here presenting really Rock ‘N Roll chord progressions and driving riffs.
Following the lineup trademark and old-school recipe the band features three members with upgraded bass role as the main ingredient of the rhythm section on the side of the simple yet driving drums. The sound production feels raw and almost sloppy (in a good sense) enhancing the loose atmosphere and supporting the most enjoyable lyrics under cult songtitles like “Alcoholocaust”, “Motorcult” and my personal pick “Satanist”. Especially the latter one has an awesome headbanging guitar groove that no one can resist hitting your ears hard with explosive drum work just for two minutes than are more than enough to wear you down until the next one!
So, if you like the influences I mentioned above (shame if you don’t) and fancy bands like Midnight putting out ideal music to mosh, headbang and drink a couple of cold ones then Chapel is the perfect choice for you. This is why I trust whatever comes out from the Canadian Metal! Horns UP!
For fans of: Speedwolf, Hellbringer, Hot Graves, Bunker 66, Sacriphyx, Deathhammer.
The following questions were excerpted from a black metal math test. Please choose the -best- response for each item.
1. A dodecahedron is a geometric solid consisting of how many faces?
a) a lot
b) BLACK FUCKING METAL!!!
d) sometimes a good burrito makes me feel like dropping a geometric solid
2. Fill in the blank: The number of black metal records brimming with personality is ___ the number of black metal records you can describe without ever listening to them.
a) greater than (>)
b) BLACK FUCKING METAL!!!
c) less than (<)
d) first let me fill in this commode with my geometric solid
The correct answers are both C. (Isn't it always?) If you answered A, thanks for at least trying. If you answered B or D, you will be removed from class and strangled with your own intestines shortly.
Those of you who are left, listen up. The non-believers might have drawn the lines for 21st century black metal between the unrelenting lo-fi antics of facepaint enthusiasts’ hellspawned too late to be authentic second wave retirees and the progged-all-out-of-proportion black-inspired artgaze, but all of us who know better get to listen to idiosyncratic nasty-liciousness like Dodecahedron's Season of Mist debut. The Dutch quintet wallow in the same dreary, melted chords as Sweden's Bergraven and draw from the same poisoned well of electronic space as Snorre Ruch's unfuckwithable Thorns project. But far beyond easy comparisons, this recording spits fiery passion and soaks the audience in its own perfect eccentricities.
"Allfather" broadcasts the band's intentions with a blitzkrieg of curdled arpeggios and bloodthirsty blasts, but hardly ninety seconds pass before the song cracks the serpents' den wide open and releases a stream of slithery percussion, bass lines, and vocal moaning. Follow-up "I, Chronocrator" uses modern advances in death tech to splice some jazz-prog base pairs into the album's rotted out DNA, then gives up a significant portion of its middle section to a dense feedback drone that devours itself before the black metal combat boot heel drops more mid-paced mindfuckery back onto your skull. "Vanitas" and "Descending Jacob's Ladder" deploy robo-vox from the underbelly of the known universe, the latter sounding as if Lustmord was performed by a dozen damaged T-1000s instead of one sound-sculpting Brit. The extraordinary three-part "View From Hverfell" traces a thematic path I don't understand and don't need to. The songs are long, but never the interminable blur that characterizes half of all extreme "epics" out there, nor the unconscionable bore that plagues the other half.
Whatever. Ignore all of the bullshit above. All that matters is this:
We metalheads have sacrificed our time, sanity, and cochlear integrity for a reason. Dodecahedron are that reason.
For fans of: Waning, Hail Spirit Noir, Krallice, Sektemtum, Smohalla.
Mutilation Rites’ discography is a bit confounding, traversing multiple line-ups, demos, splits, and EPs. The band’s rapid gestation has been very public, but every minute of their music to-date is worthwhile. Empyrean is the band’s first full-length, and the album’s breakneck plummet through black metal, thrash, death, and doom hits the spot with a vengeance. Mutilation Rites have arrived at their own birth fully grown and bristling with hatred.
Empyrean is a breathless barrage of ideas. The album’s expeditious, organic metamorphoses will entrap your ears without presenting a single moment of tedium. Mutilation Rites appropriate the droning tonal tropes of atmospheric black metal but turn its churn towards kinetic violence. With little notice, you’ll be dropped into a monstrous groove of thrashing oblivion, recalling the primal essences of both early Exodus and Slayer. These sudden, explosive interludes connect directly to a listener’s headbanging neurotransmitters; Empyrean is a dangerous album.
Mutilation Rites wield the sinister with swagger. Torrential, tremolo picked riffs often transmit enough melody to invoke Dissection, but this is not a constant. Some tracks take off with locomotive intensity, reminding me of [artistBlack Anvil’s jackhammer majesty. Doomy decelerations present entrancing melancholic detours but are always wrapped in thunderous cacophony. This band thrives on aural impact.
Much of Empyrean’s immediacy is owed to the band’s preposterous rhythm section and the righteous manner in which it was recorded. Justin Ennis’ drumming is monstrously manic, throwing around swing with impunity and pumping punk life into every corner of this recording. Ryan Jones’ bass is high in the mix, displaying keen interstitial skills and reminding me repeatedly of Frank Bello on Persistence of Time. These sonic landscapes are filled with abject hatred, disgust and sorrow. George Paul’s stone cold crazy, unintelligible screams are your guide on this tour of acrimony. His deranged voice is an important cog in Empyrean’s success, tying it together with an air of utter loathing. We have no idea what the man is saying (there are no printed lyrics), but the intent is blindingly clear; Mutilation Rites are not pleased with existence.
Empyrean will catch you off guard, luring you in with howling riffs, windswept ferocity and an immersive rhythmic enfilade. Prepare for the unexpected.
For fans of: Bosse-de-Nage, Ash Borer, Barghest, Obolus, Vattnet Viskar.
There’s a certain irony to how Revenge can possess such a royal lineage yet still produce some of the rawest blackened death metal to be released in recent years; formed in 2000, the blood of Revenge is thick with remnants of great bands past, an intermingling of Canada’s great blackened death hierarchy that includes the likes of Angelcorpse and Conqueror amongst others. Debuting with the utterly savage Triumph.Genocide.Antichrist in 2003, there was no mistaking Revenge’s Blasphemy inspired racket, a style which borrowed the seminal war metal acts brutality but blasted it all the way to eleven. Scum.Collapse.Eradication much like its predecessors shows no variation upon this style but does offer a bit of insight; with just an ever so slight improvement in the production department Revenge’s newest album reveals just why this Canadian act has become one of the most renowned bands of its kind.
Untamed as ever, Revenge’s newfound clarity in no way affects their burgeoning war metal mayhem but does make it a bit more listenable; where previous albums were cloaked in a cloud of excess noise and distortion Scum.Collapse.Eradication offers a smog-free view of the bands truly bestial nature, one that is carried out with in crude simplicity. Vermin’s guitar playing is muddy as ever, a juxtaposition of downtuned riffs that take the shape of black metal in their fastest moments and groove heavy death metal during the slower sections. Though some of the faster moments can blend together each of the slower paced segments on the album are excellent, a summoning of bestial thrashing that have you breaking neck in its indomitable groove.
Aside from annihilating his kit in a hurricane of blast-beats and ridiculous fills, James Read’s horrid squawk also deserves mention; just as raw and primal as the music, his shriek as well as disgustingly low gutturals adds excellently to the albums raw nature. Though not hooks in the traditional sense, his delivery on tracks like the beginning of “Scorned Detractor (Trust No One)” perfectly accents the music, showcasing its deadly flow amongst waves of intelligible growls and grunts.
From chaotic and spur of the moment shred solos to slow, doomy riffing, it’s in their nature to create the rawest music possible that Revenge excel; now well into their career the band is rightfully held as one of the best blackened death metal bands around and an overall classic within the genre. Scum.Collapse.Eradication sheds just enough light on Revenge’s sound to draw in newcomers while simultaneously keeping the same pitch black approach that has earned them such a cult status. In 2012 Revenge continue their reign as frostbitten warrior kings; the long-running conquerors of blasphemous and bestial blackened death metal.
For fans of: Proclamation, Conquerer, Diocletian, Black Witchery, Teitanblood.
Enslaved’s last few albums have been very well received by both fans and critics. The Norwegian black metal pioneers have become more and more progressive over the years, and their latest effort RIITIIR is no exception. The line between experimental and self-indulgent can be a fine one, but a band with Enslaved’s pedigree has earned the benefit of the doubt. The songs on RIITIIR are their longest collection ever, with five of the eight tracks clocking in at more than 8 minutes, the shortest being just over five minutes.
“Thoughts Like Hammers” kicks off the proceedings, with solemn black metal guitars giving way to acoustic interludes. Harsh vocals from Grutle Kjellson give the song bite and edge, with the smooth melodic tones of Herbrand Larsen a stark contrast. Spoken word vocals are also incorporated into this song.
RIITIIR is a very dynamic and dense album. The lengthy songs are constructed with layers of guitars and atmospheric keyboards that meander at times, but upon repeated listens burrow their way into the subconscious. It’s a daunting album, but ultimately a rewarding one. The ebbs and flows between progression and aggression keep things interesting, although the scale tilts toward the progressive side of the coin. There are still plenty of good old fashioned riffs, like on “Veilburner” along with more experimental sections.
“Roots Of The Mountain” is a standout, with a frantic beginning laden with blast-beats and harsh vocals that transitions into a melodic section that is extremely catchy. The song intensifies and mellows several times, and there’s a nice guitar solo as well. The second half of RIITIIR is also strong, with “Storm Of Memories’ probably the best track on album’s latter half. Album closer “Forsaken” is also the longest on the record, at over 11 minutes long. It's an appropriately epic song to finish a very epic album.
Axioma Ethica Odini was among my top metal albums of 2010, so RIITIIR had a lot of live up to. Upon first listen, it wasn’t even close. But after spending more time with RIITIIR, its strengths became more and more evident. It could definitely be shorter and more focused, but even with a little bloat and meandering, it’s still far superior to what almost anyone else is doing. RIITIIR is an ambitious and skilled effort that while not perfect, is still a really good and highly recommended release.
For fans of: Emperor, Borknagar, Ihsahn, Arcturus, Primordial.
If you are looking for a release that features the best of all realms of the extreme, Hellvetron’s Death Scroll of Seven Hells and It's Infernal is it. The flow of this album is amazing and the depths of despair reached by the Hell Paso underground act are as horrifying as they are satisfying. The unholy atmosphere is glaring to say the least, as Hellvetron continues this great year in the extreme underground.
Hellvetron is effectively two-thirds of extreme black metallers Nyogthaeblisz. Between the two extreme acts, they have solidified a strong underground presence in El Paso, paving the way for many other acts to follow. Hellvetron has been around since 2005, and despite a lack of released material, remain popular among the underground faithful. I would encourage any fan of the unconventional extreme to check out both bands – you won’t be disappointed. Death Scroll of Seven Hells and It's Infernal is really a gift to those craving a Hellvetron release, and I can only hope there is more to come.
Death Scroll of Seven Hells and It's Infernal is an atypical extreme metal release. There is much more of a doom tempo throughout the offering, which is laden with crawling rhythm. The guitars move seamlessly between harsh riffs to blackened bridges, almost as if conveying an inner struggle. Vocally, the deathly growls weave in and out of the crawling barrage of hellish instrumentation. I liken the sound that Hellvetron creates on ‘Death Scroll of Seven Hells and Its Infernal Majesties’ to that of Anhedonist on their newest release, Netherwards. This offering has a bit more black metal influence, especially in the guitar work, but the two bands pair up nicely. The grim brutality that Hellvetron brings is delivered in a very deliberate manner, and is definitely not overdone or lacking in depth.
For fans of: Lurker of Chalice, Xasthur, Crebain, Blut aus Nord, Krieg, Deathspell Omega, Craft, Krieg, Sapthuran.
Rape your face.
For fans of: Aderlating, De Magia Veterum, Menace Ruine, The Axis of Perdition, Cloak of Altering, NDE, Khanate, Grunt.
Easily among the more obscure releases a listener will come across this year, Revulsion of Seraphic Grace is nonetheless an admirable piece of work. Sharing more than a few traits in common with Incantation (especially 1992’s Onward to Golgotha), there’s a very old school vibe sense here, only a decidedly American take on old school as opposed to the Swedish sounds so many are playing nowadays.
Throughout the seven tracks on hand there’s a consistent theme throughout, the marriage of claustrophobic blasting sections and absolutely crushing funeral doom sections. If nothing else sets Father Befouled apart, it may be that – the absolutely cavernous sounding guitar and vocals during the doomier excursions that fill many of the songs (and make up the entirety of album closer “Triumvirate of Liturgical Desecration”). At times the mixing of tempos and the general ‘weirdness’ inherent within much of the music brought to mind Mitochondrion and even last year’s Sonne Adam release Transformation. The doomy moments absolutely seething with similarities to everything Evoken has done since 2001’s Quietus and going back further, Winter’s sole testament Into Darkness.
At a brisk 36 minutes Revulsion of Seraphic Grace does not overstay its welcome or cause the burnout that can come with music of this style. The mood across the album is particularly suffocating, resonating with increasing intensity after multiple listens – a nigh requirement with how dense the music is. “Irreverent Ascendancy” offers a foremost tour on the oppositions inherent in the album bouncing from a snail-paced opening to an absolutely ravenous set of blast sections before an abrupt end. “Desacrament” absolutely grooves, a blackhole steamroller consuming everything in its path. Production is a bit murky but it’s understandable with the musical intentions and execution, it serves its purpose.
A release from this deep in the abyss is going to be an acquired taste for whoever happens to come across it. That being said it has a lot going for outright and over time. A nice mix of old school death metal and modern funeral doom, there surely has to be some number of fans out there for this kind of sound (myself certainly among them). Pick it up, soak it in, and embrace the oppressive black that follows.
For fans of: Doombringer, Sadomator, Antediluvian, Nuclear Desecration, Deiphago, Kerasphorus.
French avant-garde (post) black metal formation Blut aus Nord are truly in a league of their own.The driving force behind this outfit is a man called Vindsval and the current cycle of albums under the 777 moniker is his most ambitious work to date. Last year saw the release of 777: Sect(s) and 777: The Desanctification, which are both stunning works in their own right. 777: Cosmosophy is the proverbial grand finale of the 777 sequence.
This third installment of the 777 trilogy is the most ethereal and evocative one. The bleak Godflesh-styled industrial tones are still ominously present but they are pushed in the background by endless layers of dissonant guitar parts, vast keyboard driven themes and other effects that give the album an almost post core/metal feel. Musically it has more in common with the pioneering works of Isis and Jesu than anything remotely resembling black metal. The devil is in details on 777: Cosmosophy. Little elements like the spoken word parts in “Epitome XV,” the relentless plodding in “Epitome XVIII” and the clean vocal parts in “Epitome XVI” are all examples of what makes this album such an evocative listening experience.
You can’t help being sucked into an endless vortex of musical layers and different moods and transcend to a higher form of consciousness. Only true visionaries can create such stunning and thought provoking art. Sound-wise the emphasis lays on the industrial and electronic effects, which gives 777: Cosmosophy almost a droning doom metal type feel to it. It also enhances the rather cold and eerie atmosphere that creeps through the entire album.
It’s hard to tell if 777: Cosmosophy is better than 777: Sect(s) or 777: The Desanctification, because all three albums have their own distinct personality and place within the greater musical concept behind the trilogy. What I can say that this record is a worthy closer of Vindsval’s most ambitious work to date. I’m wondering where he and Blut aus Nord will go next...
For fans of: Deathspell Omega, The Eye, Reverence, Darkspace, The Axis of Perdition.
It’s taken them eight years, but in 2012 Pseudogod have finally released a much-anticipated package of bestial hate and sonic rampage. A culmination of everything expected after many splits and demos from the Russians, Deathwomb Catechesis is a blackened death metal album comfortable with callback after callback to monsters of yesteryear like Incantation and Immolation. Their debut is all the better for it, too. It’s clear that Pseudogod have not inserted overwhelming amounts of creativity or innovation on their own, but their brand of death metal is particularly inspired and reverential.
Simplicity can be satisfying, and with this in mind there’s not much to a record like Deathwomb Catechesis. Much of its appeal is strictly in the focus of attitude and direction, as the album rarely deviates from the path of the aforementioned behemoths of death metal and bolstered by constant prayers to almighty Satan. With utter devastation in mind, Pseudogod mold a landscape of rumbling bass and little flair that works as a perfect complement to the vocals, which are absolutely insipid. The growls broil over the old-school-inspired riffs with an unrelenting vehemency, and are the centerpiece of Deathwomb Catechesis.
The band’s debut is a familiar album that almost falls off the cliff into strictly “derivative” territory but with their precision and technicality -aspects that transcend the sheer scope of the album- do not succumb to this brand of failure. What does manage to set this apart is the modern production that augments the clarity to the maelstrom of riffs, adding another dimension to the already-fertile concoction of hatred. So while Deathwomb Catechesis does not usher in any new waves of innovation to the scene, Pseudogod’s solid album adds, along with labelmates Antediluvian, a much-needed dose of death metal to 2012.
For fans of: TeitanFyre, Void Meditation Cult, Vasaeleth, Temple Nightside, Heresiarch.
Despite the fact that Satan Alpha Omega is only the band's third full-length, this group has been playing together since 1989. Style-wise Deiphago could best be described as blackened death metal/grind, with a distinct emphasis on the blackened end of things.
The album's 11 odes to Satan are a non-stop pummeling of the senses. Songs blur by with a ferocity that at times is simply insane - vocals are spewed forth like vomit and the guitars sound like fiery flames. Make no mistake, this album is not for the faint of heart.
Casual metal-heads will probably find this album to be nothing but noise; however, those into the heavier end of the spectrum will love the release's "take you by the throat" approach. Highly recommended.
For fans of: Sadomator, Nuclear Desecration, Abhorer, Weregoat, Weapon.
Ash Borer formed several years ago and in just a short time was recognized as one of the most prominent black metal bands from California. With a style of raw black metal that is bleak and atmospheric as well as harsh and searing, the group is aligned with such elite artists as the (now defunct) Weakling, Xasthur and Leviathan, along with the Black Twlight Circle (Volhan, Arizmenda, Dolovotre, etc.) and the Rhinocervs cult (Odz Manouk and Tukaaria). Their first demo, released in 2009, was just a mere glimpse of the coming sonic storm unleashed over the following years: a split EP with Santa Cruz’s Fell Voices, an acclaimed self-titled debut album, and a series of decimating live shows. The band’s new album Cold of Ages finds Ash Borer at the height of their powers, one of the most important acts hailing from the American scene alongside the likes of Negative Plane, Avichi, Inquisition, and the aforementioned Black Twilight Circle and Rhinocervs horde. A darker and much more devastating work than the debut, Cold of Ages is a surging, twisted, primal and sprawling epic and will find its place among the most prominent black metal releases of the year.
For fans of: Fell Voices, Skagos, Bosse-de-Nage, Panopticon, Altar of Plagues.
Genre mashing two opposing ends of music is where extreme metal really shines, providing everything from instrumental and symphonic heaviness to chorus-chanting pop metal. Another foray into the collision of two worlds, Blacklodge’s MachinatioN is an explosion of dark an unholy black metal delivered through an industrial filter of strobe lights and robotic overlords.
The album lets the audience know what to expect right off the bat with immediate machine gun drumming mixed into an electronic beat. The result is something along the lines of Marduk or Gorgoroth taking an industrial/techno trip, without letting go of the Satanic themes, and with a hint of the utter darkness you’d expect from Deathspell Omega or Dodecahedron. Even the song titles play with the mash up of styles, with names like “Antichrist Ex Machina” and “Neutron Shiva.”
MachinatioN is a definitely a different take on this burgeoning sub-genre than what can be heard from other entries in the field. Blacklodge offers a new metal experience, even for those who have already heard the electronic or techno focused material from Nachtmystium, Illidiance, or Nachtblut. The ending of each track tends to work into the beginning of the next song, creating a spectacular flow amidst all the chaos. Despite the introduction of “non-kvlt” elements, MachinatioN isn’t light on the black metal at all, as it’s still completely extreme. The vocals are as harsh and hateful as anything from a USBM band, and the tracks are based around the guitars as much as the industrial aspects.
The album blends the two opposing worlds together well by effectively utilizing strong drum beats, which bridge the gap between the arms-crossed metal and the head bobbing electronica. Every song has a recognizable hook, but it’s always taken to a heavy (and evil!) place. As far as sub-genres go, industrial black metal doesn’t have a whole lot of flag bearers, and Blacklodge is a welcome and necessary addition to the roster. If black metal purists can get over their elitism long enough to give it a listen, and industrial or techno fans can learn to deal with harsh vocals and heavier songs, both camps could find a new favorite in MachinatioN.
For fans of: Neo Inferno 262, Aborym, Gorgonea Prima, Diapsiquir, Mysticum, Hell Militia.
Prepare for a grotesque and bestial assault from the darkest bowels of Chile. The Sun of Moloch has risen to cast its searing rays upon us all. Wrathprayer engulfs listeners in the scorching fumes of ripping, gritty riffs and an ominous, archaic atmosphere. Beginning with a to-be-expected dark occult intro to set the atmosphere (paired with a similar outro) the cruel nature of this album is slowly revealed. It becomes sluggish and dissonant before tumbling into chaotic swelling riffs with distant, cavernous vocals and storming percussive barrages.
It’s a smooth balance between death and black metal that revels in the old path, maintaining a depraved and sour tone one would expect and at the same time satisfyingly revitalizing it. And this is generally how The Sun of Moloch feels throughout the 40 minutes you'll be enduring. Baneful, filthy and swirling in it's blasphemous tone. The record is spilling over with a ritualistic heat which incorporates the Incantation structure well with touches of Portal-esque writhing. Eerie sampling of discordant strings, screams, chants and moans with ambient rumbling accents some tracks like "The Darkest Fyre" and "From the Depths of the Phlegethon" sliding up the cult factor a few notches.
Vocal duties (more varied than expected) feel a little subdued by all other elements — there are some great echoing howls and screes that snake their way through. It does sound as if the vocals are emanating from a lightless tomb and considering the nature of the subject and style here matter this distant, ancient quality is a positive.
The bulk of the experience here surrounds the guitar work which doesn't meander from the traditional bestial template too much — not that I'm really complaining. It's all ugly, abrasive and tasty. The guitar tone is muddy in the most pleasurable way. A choice few spellbinding death grooves and pinched harmonics between the onslaught of blackened, labyrinthine tremolo sections but when these slabs enter it's a fucking blast as they carve out deep ridges in the darkened, ashy landscape. Good examples of these completely monstrous and punishing moments are found in "Devourers of Light", "Ritualization (Rev XIII)" and "In Visceribus Bestiæ".
The Sun of Moloch does its job exceedingly well, paced so as to not overextend its welcome with some thick production. It's certainly not innovative but fucking terrific regardless. Definitely a record that slays. Highly recommended especially for fans of Witchrist, Mitochondrion, Antediluvian, Teitanblood, etc. For now this is only available on vinyl through Nuclear War Now! Productions but in the coming weeks they will be putting it up for a digital download on the label's bandcamp page.
For fans of: Antediluvian, Diocletian, Proclamation, Pseudogod, Witchrist, Teitanblood.
Great full-length debut!
That release is Flesh Cathedral by Svartidauði, who hail from the far-flung frozen rock in the North Atlantic better known as Iceland. They’ve been contemplating their craft in obscurity for a while, spawning three demos between 2006 and 2010, but now this full-length monstrosity is set to propel them through the ranks. Like LURKER favourites Blut aus Nord,Deathspell Omega or Nightbringer, Svartidauði wield the ability to bend the will of black metal to their own horrific ends, giving rise to a thrillingly unique take on the genre.
An unshakeable sense of narrative unfolds to the drones of opener ‘Sterile Seeds’. It’s as though the listener has entered the titular Flesh Cathedral itself, blood trickling down carrion walls, preparing to imbibe the psychoactive sacrament to Satan as a demonic choir goads them on. It’s terrifying – and that’s before the riffs take hold. Indeed, a persistent psychedelic nausea binds the record together, enforced by the abstract squealing of guitars and biomechanical lurch of the rhythms. Across four tracks, all well over ten minutes long, Flesh Cathedral becomes the soundtrack of one wretched soul completely losing their mind as the secrets of the universe are torn asunder.
It’s the band’s stunning versatility that allows for these vivid hallucinations. Avoiding typical all-or-nothing aggression tactics, Svartidauði is a dynamic, shifting entity with a clear vision of how to project its particular grim atmospheres. In fact, everything on display is a small step away from the norm. Vocals lean towards a deep deranged death-rasp, as opposed to the regular eunuch shrieking. Then dense, down-tuned guitars seem to breathe and groan in the slower, more brooding sections, while groove-laden drums intricately build up the tension phrase by phrase before flying off into adept and flexible pummeling at whim. This is definitely HEAVY black metal – immense walls of power chords and a loud grumbling bass tone threaten to swallow the chaotic leads that often try to break free of the writhing mass around them.
Each composition defies its length, traversing so many different emotions, textures and melodies (yes, they’re present too!) that it feels like Flesh Cathedral should be showcasing even more new material. Without a doubt this is up there among Mgła’s With Hearts Toward None and Dødsengel’s Imperator vying for “best orthodox black metal album of the year”. LURKER is incredibly anxious and excited for its release, although no firm date has been set due to the band being “slow as hell with the layout”. When Flesh Cathedral does finally arrive, if it isn’t one of the true breakthrough hits of the year, I will have lost all faith in the metal underground.
For fans of: Vemod, Cultes des Ghoules, Hetroetzen, Acrimonious, One Tail, One Head.
Abominable Putridity - The Anomalies of Artificial Origin
Aborted - Global Flatline
Acephalix - Deathless Master
Aeon - Aeon's Black
Ævangelist – De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis (I, Voidhanger)
Agalloch - Faustian Echoes
Alcest - Les Voyages de l'Âme
Aldaaron - Suprême Silence
Alkerdeel - Morinde
All Pigs Must Die - Curse of Humanity EP
Aluk Todolo - Occult Rock
Anaal Nathrakh - Vanitas
Angel Witch - As Above, So Below
Antimatter - Fear of a Unique Identity
Aptorian Demon - Libertus
Aosoth - Our Crown Of Sins EP
ARCANUM INFERI - Ars Hermetica
Antediluvian & Adversarial - Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries - Split
Antediluvian & Temple Nightside - Cogitating Vacuous
Aphrenous - Ravaged By The Incessant Scourge Of Deception
Aptorian Demon - Libertus (Demo)
Árstíðir Lífsins - Vápna Lækjar Eldr
Ash Pool - Cremation Is Irreversible EP
Asphyx - Deathhammer
Autopsy - All Tomorrow’s Funerals EP
Aven - The Last Thought Of Judas
Azaghal - Nemesis
Azoic - Gateways
Barghest / False - Split
Beheaded - Never To Dawn
Begrime Exemious - Visions of the Scourge
Behexen - Nightside Emanations
Bell Witch - Longing
Bereft - Leichenhaus
Bestial Holocaust - Into The Goat Vulva
Birth of Depravity - The Coming Of The Ineffable
Black Breath - Sentenced To Life
Black Sheep Wall - No Matter Where it Ends
Blood of the Black Owl - Light The Fires!
Blood Mortized - The Key to a Black Heart
Bologna Violenta - Utopie E Piccole Soddisfazioni
Bonded By Blood - The Aftermath
Bone Dance - Bone Dance
Borgne - Royaume Des Ombres
Borgne - Titania
Borknagar – Urd
Bosse-de-Nage - III
Blut aus Nord - What Once Was... Liber II
Candlemass - Psalms for the Dead
Cannibal Corpse - Torture
Cape of Bats - Transylvania
Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity
Cerebrate- Cerebrate (Demo)
Chaos Inception - The Abrogation
Chthe'ilist - Amechth'ntaas'm'rriachth EP
Church Whip - Church Whip EP
Coffin Texts - The Tomb Of Infinite Ritual
Coldworker - The Doomsayer's Call
Converge & Napalm Death - Split
Cytotoxin - Radiophobia
Dantalion - Return To Deep Lethargy
Daylight Dies - Frail Becoming
Deathspell Omega - Drought EP
Demoncy - Enthroned Is the Night
Denial of God - Death and Beyond
Der Weg einer Freiheit - Unstille
Desaster - The Arts of Destruction
Dephosphorus - Night Sky Transform
Dephosphorus & Wake – Split
Desolate Shrine - The Sanctum Of Human Darkness
Destruction - Spiritual Genocide
Dødsengel - Imperator
Dopethrone - III
Dordeduh - Dar De Duh
Down - Down IV, Part 1: The Purple EP
Draumar - Gebirge
Drawn and Quartered - Feeding Hell's Furnace
Drudkh - Eternal Turn Of The Wheel
Dynfari - Sem Skugginn
Early Graves - Red Horse
Elizabeth - Where Vultures Land
Embrace of Thorns - Praying for Absolution
Enabler - All Hail the Void
Encoffination - Elegant Funerals for the Unknown Dead EP
Eschaton - Isolated Intelligence
Exumer - Fire & Damnation
Farsot - Insects
Faustcoven - Hellfire and Funeral Bells
Fhoi Myore - Fhoi Myore
Fiends At Feast - Towards the Baphomet’s Throne
Fvck Mountain - Fvck Mountain EP
Gnaw Their Tongues & Corephallism - Split
Goatwhore - Blood For The Master
Genocide Shrines - Devanation Monumentemples
Grand Magus - The Hunt
Grave Endless Procession Of Souls
Grave Upheaval & Manticore - Split
Habitual Defilement - The Redemption of Past Supremacy
Hades Archer - The Curse Over Mankind
Hail Spirit Noir - Pneuma
Hammers - Vardøgr
Hel - Das Atmen Der Erde
Hell – III
HeXeN - Being and Nothingness
Hideous Divinity - Obeisance Rising
High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
Hooded Menace - Effigies Of Evil
Hooded Menace - Necrotic Monuments EP
Horrendous – The Chills
Hour of Penance - Sedition
Hypnosia - Horror Infernal
JK Flesh - Posthuman
I Compagni Di Baal - I Compagni di Baal
Ihsahn - Eremita
Impiety - Ravage & Conquer
Impious Baptism - Path of the Inverted Trinity EP
Impious Baptism - V.A.N.V.D.A. EP
Incantation - Vanquish In Vengeance
Intestinal - The Rottening
Inverloch - Dusk… Subside
Israthoum - Black Poison and Shared Wounds
Kaevum - Natur
Karg - Apathie
Katatonia - Dead End Kings
Kommandant - The Draconian Archetype
Kreator - Phantom Antichrist
Kuxan Suum - Kuxan Suum
Les Discrets - Ariettes Oubliées...
Les Fleurs du Mal - Brunnen
Little Sister - Little Sister
Lunar Aurora – Hoagascht
Lustration - Psymbolik
Malignancy - Eugenics
Manetheren - Time
Manowar - Lord of Steel
Maranatha - Incarnate
Marduk - Serpent Sermon
Martyrdöd - Paranoia
Mass Burial - Of Carrion And Pestilence
Master - The New Elite
Master's Hammer - Vracejte Konve Na Místo
Melvins - Freak Puke
Menace Ruine - Alight In Ashes
Menegroth - Das Rote Werk
Merrimack - The Acausal Mass
Mgla - With Hearts Toward None
Mondstille - Seelenwund
Mongrel's Cross - The Sins Of Aquarius
Moss of Moonlight - Seed
Municipal Waste - The Fatal Feast
Municipal Waste & Toxic Holocaust - Toxic Waste (Split)
Mutant Supremacy - Rotting Season EP
My Dying Bride - A Map of All Our Failures
Nachtmystium - Silencing Machine
Nachtruf - Geistwerdung
Napalm Death - Utilitarian
Natassievila - Impermanence
Nawaharjan - Into the Void
Negative Standards – VI.VII.VIII.IX.X.XI
Nekromantheon - Rise, Vulcan Spectre
Neurosis - Honor Found In Decay
Nigh - Nigh EP
Nihill - Verdonkermaan
Nile - At the Gate of Sethu
Nine Covens - On the Dawning of Light
Nordvrede - Legion Nordvrede
Nox Illunis - Metepsychosis
Obulus - Lament
Odz Manouk - Odz Manouk
Ofermod - Thaumiel
Onirophagus - Defiler Of Hope
Ophidian I - Selvot Saeclum
Orange Goblin - A Eulogy For The Damned
Ormgård - Ormblot
Overkill - The Electric Age
Pact - The Dragon Lineage of Satan
Paradox - Tales of the Weird
Pendulum - Les Fragments du Chaos
P.H.O.B.O.S. - Atonal Hypermnesia
Plague Widow - Plague Widow
Proclamation - Nether Tombs of Armageddon
Profezia - The Truth of Ages
Prognan - Jama
Psycroptic - The Inherited Repression
Puteraeon - Cult Cthulhu
Putrevore - Macabre Kindgom
Putrified - Neurotic Necrotic
Ram - Death
Resurgency - False Enlightenment
Revel In Flesh - Deathevokation
Reverence - The Asthenic Ascension
Revolting - Hymns Of Ghastly Horror
Rhinocervs - RH 12
Rituals - Rituals
Royal Talons - Royal Talons
Ruined Families - Ruined Families
Saccage - Death Crust Satanique
Saint Vitus - LILLIE: F-65
Satanic Warmaster - In Eternal Fire - Ghost Wolves EP
Savage Messiah - Plague of Conscience
Severe - Severe
shEver - Rituals
Secrets of the Moon - Seven Bells
Sektemtum Aut Caesar, Aut Nihil
Septicopyemia - Supreme Art of Genital Carnage
Serpent Noir - Seeing Through The Shadow Consciousness - Open Up The Shells
Serpentine Path - Cerebus + Depravity
Serpentine Path - Serpentine Path
Shining - Redefining Darkness
Sinister - The Carnage Ending
Spawn of Possession - Incurso
Struck by Lightning - True Predation
Sutekh Hexen with Andrew Liles - Breed In Me The Darkness
Sutekh Hexen - Behind The Throne
Sutekh Hexen – Larvae
Sutekh Hexen - Empyraisch
Swallow the Sun - Emerald Forest And The Blackbird
Szron - Death Camp Earth
Tank - War Nation
Tankard - A Girl Called Cerveza
Terrorizer - Hordes of Zombies
Testament - Dark Roots of Earth
The Howling Wind - Of Babalon
The End of Six Thousand Years - Perpetuum
The Moon Mistress - Silent Voice Inside
The Royal Arch Blaspheme - II
The Secret - Agnus Dei
Thy Darkened Shade - Eternvs Mos, Nex Ritvs
Torch Runner - Committed To The Ground
Ufomammut - Oro - Opus Alter
Ufomammut - Oro - Opus Primum
Umbra Noctis - Il Primo Volo
Unholy Crucifix - Black Mass Metal
Unsacred - Where the Light Dims
Vassafor - The Obsidian Codex
Velnias - RuneEater
Vindicator - United We Fall
Vorkreist - Sigil Whore Christ
Weapon - Embers and Revelations
Witch In Her Tomb - Witch In Her Tomb
Witch Mountain - South Of Salem
Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor
Witchcraft - Legend
Wodensthrone - Curse
Woman is the Earth - This Place That Contains My Spirit
Wreck and Reference - No Youth
Year of the Goat - Angels' Necropolis