Oh fuck it’s only February.
It’s been trying times here in the states (and it seems around the world too) because of President Cheeto. Every day seems like a new horrible nightmare and an exercise in unbelievability. It’s like satire has taken over but it’s not fucking funny, it’s deadly serious. But amidst the darkness there seems to be some light and that people are just not going to put up with this shit and I’ve been genuinely surprised, and spirited, that people are coming together to stand up to this fucker. So, in that light, music provides a similar spirit lifter and we all need that nowadays.
2017 finally kicked in to full on devastation mode this week and last and the albums started dropping like meteors. 2016 also managed to stick around a bit long with some truly amazing albums that went lost in the sea of metal. So let’s have at it…
NEW ALBUMS: (Click the titles, people)
Hour of Penance – Cast the First Stone
This fucking band. I’m always excited about what they’re putting out even though I don’t even think they’re that great of a band. I’m just addicted to their furiously blasting, blasphemous, tech death. They get in, get it done with some killer riffs and get out, usually in around 30 minutes. This one though… this one they slowed it down a bit and added in some symphonic elements. Still works. Still fun. Less aggressive than the albums that initially hooked me but this one will still make your head ring.
Emptiness – Not For Music
I was going to pass this one by until my buddy Ben said it was an interesting listen. And, like always, he was right. I’m not sure of the bands history though I believe they started as a death metal band but over the years have changed styles. This one being a post rock/metal goth sort of adventure. It’s heavy in a tonal way and it’s creative in an experimental avant-garde way which I enjoy. It’s a rather unique and original album, albeit a desolate and dreary one, even near the end where it gets all sorts of 80’s goth/pop inspired. Eclectic and engaging. I Dig it.
Ignis Gehenna – Baleful Scarlet Star
Fairly Scandinavian sounding for an Australian band. Furious black metal blasting though. Reminds me a bit of Mayhem. Solid construction over all and good musicianship. Good, not great.
Au Champ Des Morts – Dans la joie
Highly emotional and engaging black metal from France. Former members of Anorexia Nervosa, but don’t let that frighten you off. This is nothing like that. This is borderline depressive black metal but without all the cliches and traps of that style, preserving only the highly emotive, beautiful atmospherics to amplify the tragic and morose themes of the band. Black metal is the root to be sure but they dabble off into post aesthetics, not surprising at it was recorded by one of Alcest’s producers, but fucking hell, this album is all kinds of enjoyable.
The Ominous Circle – Appalling Ascension
Dark and twisted, experimental death metal from Portugal. Dissonant, plodding, with a heavy influence from Dead Congregation and Necros Christos. Still fairly enjoyable, though.
Iron Reagan – Crossover Ministry
Fairly typical crossover throwback sound that Iron Reagan is known for. There’s nothing new or different on this album as compared to the previous albums. It’s a little less speedy and kind of just generic. Not bad, not great, it just is. If you’re into the nostalgia heavy stylings of Iron Reagan you’ll probably like this. For me, I liked their previous album and that’s all I really need I think. Also I feel like the band missed an opportunity to skewer or current political climate, especially a band so steeped in political imagery. Reagan’s not much of a threat nowadays.
Power Trip – Nightmare Logic
And speaking of crossover, here’s a band that’s doing it right. Contemporary crossover that is fucking blazing, interesting, and not completely nostalgic for nostalgia’s sake. You can easily hear the band paying respect to the greats of old but also trying to blaze their own path. Also, this fucking rips.
Ashenspire – Speak Not of the Laudanum Quandary
This is a perfect example of one of the things I love about metal: the diversity of subject matter. I’m not steeped in other genres as much but do you think Beyonce would ever have an album about “a human odyssey through the absurdities and tragedies of British Imperialism” based around the use of a 19th century street drug? I doubt it. Ashenspire start there, add in some black metal, and mix it all up with some overly dramatic, theatrically spoken/yelled vocals, and put some violin on top of that. It’s highly eclectic, avant-garde, and experimental, which all adds up to it being just fucking awesome. I love when I find a band that’s truly unique and good, like Thy Worshiper, Dodheimsgard, or more recently, Cultes Des Ghoules. Check this one out for sure.
Vanha – Within the Mist of Sorrow
With an album title like Within the Mist of Sorrow you kind of know you’re not in for a cheery ride. However, if you find beauty in the morose and melancholy, in despair and darkness, Swedish band Vanha has you covered with some some seriously atmospheric doom/death metal, emphasis on the doom more than death. Fans of Shape of Despair, Skepticism, and My Dying Bride will feel right at home as it’s that same sort of slightly goth tinged doom, albeit more melodic than those three. For sure in that Finnish doom tradition but going their own way just enough to stick out from the crowd. Good album.
Pillorian – Obsidian Arc
This is the new band from Agalloch’s “visionary” John Haughm with members from other current black metal band UADA. As much as I didn’t like how John handled the breaking up of Agalloch I was curious to hear what was so pressing and important to him musically that he had to break up that band and be a dick to all of his collaborators. Well, the answer is Pillorian, which is pretty much fucking Agalloch if they were more straight forward black metal and less atmospheric. To be honest I kind of forgot I was listening to it while it was on. There were some moments that were good but yeah, it all just fell kind of Agalloch-y to me.
Griffon – Har HaKarmel
Highly melodic and addicting French black metal. I don’t equate the French with melodic black metal but god damn if this isn’t just so damn infectious.
Astrophobos – Enthroned in Flesh (EP)
Nasty, crazy melodic, Lovecraft worship, Swedish black metal. Nothing particularly new here but the bands devotion to blasting your face with melodic and furious black metal riffs is inspiring. This thing just fucking rips.
Frozen Ocean – The Prowess of Dormition EP
Russian, highly atmospheric and melodic black metal. Heavy use of synth/electronic elements to further that atmospheric quality and give it an airy, ethereal feeling. It’s like a darker version of Vallendusk but that same overall uplifting musical feeling. Dig it.
Gratzug – V: Meyster
I slightly recall this bands previous album but after hearing this album, I’m not sure I remember the other correctly. This one is melancholy black metal played with furious speed, nasty vocals and a high amount of synth. It’s got hooks for days and might even be slightly “epic.” Good work, German one man band. I’m going to have to revisit that previous album.
Trolldom – Av Gudablod Rod…
Yet another project from the main dude (whichever name he goes by you pick) of Beketh Nexehmu, Azelisassath, and Mystik, and like the others, this one is fucking awesome too. Trolldom is a synth heavy, rawer, style band. It reminds me a lot of summoning without all the majesty and grandiosity. I’m constantly impressed with how much quality this guy puts out considering how spread out he is. Amazing.
The Drip – The Haunting Fear of Inevitability
Kreator – Renewal
Lunar Aurora – Ars Moriendi
Shape of Despair – Alone in the Mist
Green Carnation – Light of Day, Day of Darkness
Horn – Feldpost
Kreator – Cause for Conflict
Lotus Thief – Gramarye
Sodom – In the Sign of Evil
Oathbreaker – Rheia
Dust Moth – Dragon Mouth
Kreator – Outcast
Hypnosia – Horror Infernal
Therion – Beyond Sanctorum
Kreator – Endorama
Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors
Beketh Nexehmu – Duapuz
Vader – The Empire
Coffins – Buried Death
Winter – Into Darkness
Power Trip – Manifest Decimation
Eructation – The Fumes of Putrefaction (1992-1995)
Dumal – The Lesser God
Backdoor Betty – Demo 2002
Red Throb – Bend Over, Here Comes Red Throb
Therion – Symphony Masses: Ho Drakon Ho Megas
Therion – Of Darkness…
Until next time… make mine metal.