Sweet googly moogly, this week was on fire! There were so many awesome new releases this week I couldn’t even get to them all and had to push some off for next week. I would just like to again point out the wealth of awesomeness that exists under the umbrella of metal. Can you think of any other genre that has produced 14+ albums this week, most of which are incredibly solid. Go ahead, I’ll wait. No? Okay. This isn’t even counting other metal albums that came out that aren’t to my taste but may be to you. Come on in people, the water is fine.
Melechesh – Enki
Back with their distinctive sound, Israeli black metallers Melechesh have crafted what might be a solid “party” black metal album. It’s bouncy and somewhat grooving and a little bit rocking. I’m a fan of these guys in so much as I think they’re pretty fun and I wouldn’t say this album was highly anticipated but I was looking forward to hearing more from them. It also has some interesting guests courtesy of Max Cavelara (Sepultura, Soulfly), Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ), and Rob Caggiano (Volbeat).
Utstøtt – Hjørungavågr
This was a pleasant surprise find. This is some epic/viking/norse styled black metal from Portland in the vein of Windr with a tinge of that Summoning level of epic-ness. Another shining example of the treasures metal has in waiting.
Harrow – Fallow Fields
Some beautiful and well crafted Canadian black metal. Heavy on the atmospherics. This was a new and awesome discovery.
Paths – Beauty and Nihility
Let’s keep the awesome Canadian black metal going. The extremely fuzzed up, black metal sound is grand and engrossing, pummeling and transcendent. My buddy sent this over one morning this week with he preface “this is going to be so good I pre-ordered it without hearing it.” It is, in fact, that good.
Ruby the Hatchet – Valley of the Snake
From the “vest metal” rage that stormed the scene in 2013 comes Ruby the Hatchet’s new album. I kind of dug on a lot of these occult rock, throwback bands at the time and still enjoy some of them but I was pleasantly surprised to hear them going in more of a doom metal direction on this one, while still keeping that occult influence. Jillian Taylor’s voice is powerful and sultry at times and is really the guiding light of this production.
Hacavitz – Darkness Beyond
If it’s on Dark Descent Records, I’ll check it out. That’s a given at this point. Hacavitz is new to me and from what I gathered they typically have a blackened death metal style. This album’s foot is more in the black metal pool. There is a HUGE amount of Norwegian influence in this bands black metal. Echoes of Immortal and Darkthrone are distinguishable. They seem to be having a good time playing it though, even if their influences are right up front. It’s straight forward, to the point and blasting. Might not go down as a classic but it’s solid.
Halshug – Blodets Band
Oh, this hit in all the right spots. 18 minutes of intense, Danish, crusted up, hardcore punk. Comfort food for the metal head.
Ensiferum – One Man Army
Speaking of comfort food, my love/hate relationship with Ensiferum continues. I really disliked their previous album but I heard the new one was cheesy good fun so I gave it a shot. It is exactly that. Theatrical, heathen, folk, powered up metal. Simple fun.
Code – Mut
As much as people criticize bands like Katatonia and Anathema for changing there sounds to a less heavy sound, I rather enjoy their current offerings. Such is the case with Code. They started as a progressive black metal band but on their current album, have gone with a darker rock vibe. Still heavy on experimentation and progression, this album in the vein of previously mentioned bands, in approach at least. It has a bit of a “Tool” vibe to it, which doesn’t please me but there are some great songs and sounds on this one.
Call of the Void – Ageless
Some pretty solid, crusted up hardcore punk with a tinge of sludge thrown in for good measure. Colorado metal.
A Forest of Stars – Beware the Sword You Cannot See
The UK psychedelic black metallers are back with yet another intricit and experimental slab of cross genre and instrumental noise. This band is one that I really enjoy when they put an album out but sort of space out about until the next one. I should rectify that. Any who, Beware the Sword you Cannot See really plays as a double album in the span of one albums length. The first five songs are longer productions, weaving in and out of progressive, folky, and atmospheric black metal (with some great lines like “fuck you and the worm you rode in on) that is both intense and beautiful. The album really takes off with song six, where a six part story unfolds. It gets more progressive here, involves classical instruments and a beautiful female vocalist showing up from time to time. This album is killer. A great release from a band that is getting better and better.
The Storyteller – Scared Fire
Some meat and potatoes power metal. They play in the classic power metal sound, not to over orchestrated, catchy riffs, chant along choruses, a balled. I’m a sucker for this sort of power metal though so this one was a good listen. I understand some of their earlier albums may be overlooked power metal classics. I’ll have to explore that some more.
Azaghal – Madon Sanat
Azaghal has been my go to band when I want to hear some extra nasty, hate-filled, overtly Satanic black metal. Throw a rock, I know, but there’s something so intense about just how hateful and satanic this band gets. Although Ihmisviha is a compilation album, that is sort of my standard for this band. Madon Sanat is not that album, but it’s pretty hate-filled and intense on it’s own. Not great, not terrible, but intense nonetheless.
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Oooooooh how I do love this type of “depressive black metal.” There is the droning, dismal, monotonous side of it, but then there are bands like Germ and Ghost Bath who take a more tranquil approach and add beautifully moving and emotive music to the sad proceedings. Germ took a nose dive with their last album, but I played their Loss album into the ground. This album sort of follows along Loss’ footsteps. Maybe not as reaching in scope but beautiful, serene, and overly intense. There are some of us who can find beauty in the darkness.
The Rest of the List
Electric Wizard – Come My Fanatics…
Alestorm – Black Sails at Midnight
Witchfinder General – Death Penalty
Void Ritual – Split
Fall of the Leafe – Evanescent, Everfading
Dream Death – Journey Into Mystery
Solitude Aeturnus – Beyond the Crimson Horizon