April is now upon us, spring is in the air, life is returning to this stupid planet and the new metal releases are pouring out. April is gearing up to be an incredible month for new releases and this week kickstarts the month with a fucking bang. It’s weeks like this that I live for, musically that is. This week I discovered some tremendous bands, got an awesome follow up to another awesome album and may have stumbled up two or more best of the year contenders. The metal is on full blast right now and we’re truly living in a inspiring time. I’ll eternally feel band for anybody who is missing this boat. So here we go:

New Releases

Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors
Their previous album hit me like a ton of bricks. I feel it got unjustly lumped in with all the “vest” metal bands that were popping up at the time. IE bands that sounded like 70’s occult rock. While there’s an element of that in Royal Thunder’s sound, there’s more elements of classic hard rock, 90’s indie rock/grunge and progressive and classic rock bands like The Scorpions or Baroness. The new album finds the band refining that sound into something that really puts them apart from the rest of the crowd. Not to mention Mlny Parsonz vocals are just killer and beautiful, reaching a new height of power on this one. Awesome album.

House of Atreus – The Spear and the Ichor that Follows
Can Dark Descent Records do no wrong? For example, the new House of Atreus, is another incredible entry into the labels recent output. House of Atreus are playing with melodic death/thrash, some greek inspired black metal and wrapping it all up under the banner of marching, chugging, militaristic death metal in the vein of the great Bolt Thrower but are going for a more greek tragedy, shakespearean approach. I know it’s sounds like a lot but just give this band a try. We may have an end of the year list contender on our hands here, and it wouldn’t surprise me given the stellar output by Dark Descent.

Terra – Untitled
A nice, crunchier, rougher take on atmospheric black metal in the vein of Caina or Deathspell Omega. Maybe not as grand and expansive as Deathspell but the same sort of rawness and intensity. Pretty solid album for just randomly discovering.

William Elliott Whitmore – Radium Death
I first became away of Whitmore through his excellent cover of the Bad Religion Song “Don’t Pray On Me” confirming what I’ve always suspected, that Bad Religion are writing folk protest songs with punk music. Whitmore is not punk, at least musically. Maybe in approach. His music is folk/country, drawing from the best of the old school with a modern sensibility. The songs are quick, cut and draw with no fluff. Just well-written and well executed, passionate at times, straight forward and wonderful.

Crom Dubh – Heimweh
A British black metal band, taking their name from an Irish Mythological figure, an album title in German, playing some Weakling inspired, Swedish melody infused, German aggression, black metal. Not as whimsical as fellow British black metal band Winterfylleth, although still capturing a lot of the same beauty, Crom Dubh have a more  unrelenting German black metal approach. It’s a tricky one, but a pretty impressive album.

Macabre  Omen – Gods of War – At War
Um, wow. What to say about this band and album. It’s fucking incredible, that’s what. Playing up the best parts of Hellenic black metal (Greece for those who don’t know about the awesomeness of Hellenic black metal, particularly early stuff) and smashing it together with mid-career Bathory, and an overwhelming sense of triumph, Macabre Omen have produced a brilliant album here. This needs to go in your ears now.

Au-Dessus – Au-Dessus
This Lithuanian band hovers around the “post” black metal genre. It’s not Deafheaven levels of post but they do have well placed moments. It’s more of a street level approach to post. I hate saying post. It’s pretty gritty at most times, sometimes veering a bit towards Blut Aus Nord territory but more straight forward then the awesome Blut get. It’s barely over 30 minutes so what’s there really shines and it’s hard to get sick of or bored with. Solid overall.

Sulphur Aeon – Gateway to the Antisphere
Lovecraft mythos is no stranger to extreme metal. There’s got to be hundreds of bands praising the power of the old ones. For my money, the bands that do it best are The Great Old Ones on the black metal side, Portal on the death metal side and recent comers Slugdge, from a melodic death metal approach albeit a more tongue in cheek approach. Sulphur Aeon, however, are doing their damnedest to make their way into that list of mine. I first checked these guys out based solely on a positive review and the cover art to their previous album. They have a very blackened death metal approach. The album was solid if not anything else. I saw the announcement for their new album along with the cover art and again, the cover art is fucking tremendous. On this album they push all the previous song stylings. More intensity, more aggression, more melody. Sharper song writing and editing prove to be this bands strength on this album as with a lot of Lovecraft bands, the content gets played out really quickly. Awesome album, awesome artwork. Check this one out.

Clandestine Blaze – New Golgotha Rising
Much like his man project Deathspell Omega, the one man behind Clandestine Blaze releases music out of thin air without any fan fair or promotion. The new album is no different. Unlike Deathspell, Clandestine takes a more straight forward, old school approach to black metal. Simple blasphemy, crunchy fast guitars, and a little mid career Darkthrone in the mix. While his talent as a musician is not in question, and I enjoy this, it’s hard not to wish for more Deathspell Omega and resent him a little for working on this instead. It’s not essential, more for fans of Deathspell but there are some moments of genius on there. It’s a good listen.

The Rest of the List

Vargavinter – Frostfödd
Judicator – At the Expense of Humanity
Cardinal Sin – Spiteful Intents
Katavasia – Sacrilegious Testament
Sorhin – I Det Glimrande Mörkrets Djup
Sorhin – Skogsgriftens rike