What are you doing with your life if not listening to new metal music? There was a report published recently stating people stop trying to find new music after the age of 30. Don’t be a statistic.

Gruesome – Twisted Prayers
Alright, I’ll jump on the hype train and see where it takes me. Oh, look, it took me right to Death, one of the greatest bands ever, though, it’s not really Death. Sure it sounds like Death, looks like Death, but something’s not right. Oh, yeah, It’s because it’s Gruesome, a formation of musicians from other Death metal bands doing their best Death impersonation. And it’s a good one, mind you. They have the “sound” of Death down, and based on the cover art (which they got the original Death cover artist to do) they’re mimicking Spiritual Healing, one of the best metal albums of ever. So they reproduced the production sound, the guitar sound, and the vocalist sounds almost identical to Chuck. You know you aren’t listening to Death, but somehow it sounds just like them, but you know that can’t be and then you realize “I’d just rather listen to Death.” It’s a good gimmick, I’ll grant them that, but this being their second album and 4th release, it seems like a cash grab gimmick to me and wreaks of all the nostalgia cash grabs that have erupted with all encompassing coverage over the past decade or so. Good players, good job on the imitation, but it’s not for me.

Spectral Wound – Infernal Decadence
Incredibly intense and emotional black metal from Quebec. It does fit in with that Quebec style of black metal as it’s lingering on atmospheric elements but it’s not folk influenced or all that nature oriented. Again, it’s more of an emotional blast with some the regions influence and full on intensity. By the way, why so many “Spectral” bands? Spectral Voices, Spectral Lore, Spectral Tower…

Ghostbound – All is Phantom
There hasn’t been a whole lot in the way of over the top, artsy-fartsy metal this year. I have a very fine line of patience for stuff like that but Ghostbound just jumps in full-hearted and is accutely aware of just how over the top they can get.

It’s like goth era The Damned, meets Nick Cave, meets While Heaven Wept, Anathema, but with some post-punk, and some nods to metal. Particularly black metal, or post whatever metal. There’s a lot going on here. “Cinematic” is a pretty good summation. One review I read described it as “Opeth meets David Bowie.” Maybe so when Opeth was good. Again, it speaks to the eclectic nature of the album. I think it’s fucking amazing. I love the “everything and the kitchen sink” approach and how well they pull it off without sounding a fucking mess, and how eccentric they get. It has it’s own uniqueness to it and that’s mostly what I’m looking for nowadays. Stuff that has it’s own identity.

Violator – The Hidden Faces of Death EP
Somehow I missed this new Violator EP from last year. Probably because it came out sometime in December so fuck it, I’m counting it for 2018 because Violator fuck rule. This is a two song EP full of all the things that make Violator rad: crushing thrash riffs, unrelenting intensity, insane solos, politically charged, and fucking awesome. If wish this band could decide if they were still a band or not because they crush almost all modern thrash in this vein.

Zeal & Ardor – Strange Fruit
There was a lot of hype surrounding Zeal & Ardor a couple years ago with their first EP release and I too was swept up in their original sound. While they were getting a lot of attention in the metal scene I didn’t really consider them a metal band as the metal moments were few. While amazing, Zeal used metal on their first release to inform their sound more than as a style. Now with their second release and first full-length, it doesn’t really matter what you call this band as long as you fucking hear them. It’s hard to imagine mixing soul, blues, chain-gang songs, black metal, and electronic music into something cohesive and functional but Zeal does so with such gusto and creative panache. It’s amazing to hear all of the influences weave themselves together, and on this album the metal elements are more abundant and play heavier into the sound but still, it’s more informed then the base. It’s truly a unique work, both artistic and catchy and one of the best albums of the year.

Tsjuder – Throne of the Goat
Kind of new as this is a re-recording of their first EP from 1997. Sounds like Tsjuder and I love this bands hyper black metal aggression and stripped down approach so this was a win for me. I like that the band also included the original mix from 1997 as well in all it’s raw and poorly recorded glory. The new take just sounds like a remastered version as they’re very similar but whatever, this is more a curiosity than anything else. Tsjuder rules.

Yob – Our Raw Heart
Yob, for me, has made some of the most important music in my life. I think they have albums that aren’t just personal favorites but could be held up as some of the best albums of ever. So clearly I can’t impartially review their new effort, suffice to say, it’s an emotional powerhouse of an album full of amazing Yob moments, utter devastatingly beautiful music, and massive heaviness. It’s Yob just being better than all other bands and never faltering. What a tremendous band and tremendous release.