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Shit. Another year of turmoil and the world seems more divisive than ever. The good news is that metal was as strong as ever and kept us united with top notch releases from every genre and every type of band from new and unsigned to perennial heavyweights. One glance at the staff lists below show the quality and quantity of metal released, as you’d be hard pressed to find a common top album amid the bunch.

Here’s to 2020 (where the fuck are the flying cars and shit??) , and you can look forward to more reviews, and maybe even a fresh coat of paint on the site. Skol!!!!!!

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Mars Budziszewski

Disappointingly to readers, in no particular order

 

GorebonesProcession of Maggots (Rectal Purulence)

12 minutes and 34 seconds of ludicrous speed, drum programmed gore grind.  Because you positively don’t need any more than that in a single sitting.  The drum sounds are smartly chosen.  Not distorted, overbearing, or brain drilling in an obnoxious way.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they directly sampled from a Last Days Of Humanity record.  The vocals modulate between a solid predator style, and thick, rancid, flowing sewage churn.  The two men in Gorebones are from the east coast of Russia where I figure existence there is a relentless hardship that reflects in their brand of gore grind.  You thought you knew what sick was.

AteiggarUs der Holl chunnt nume Zyt (Eisenton)

Everybody knows that much of black metal is an attempt to conjure the past to benefit from it’s strength and cache in the present.  Ateiggar, comprised of two fellows from Ungfell, do exactly this.  However, it goes beyond simply being convincing.  By some feat, it’s as if the band travelled back to 1996, recorded the music, and brought the tapes to 2019 for a modern mix and mastering that truly ‘sharpens the sword’, if you will, in a way it couldn’t quite have been otherwise.  The guitars have a razor sharp fleetness, but are balanced with tasteful keyboard colorings.  The production overall is a gift of clarity yet evokes a wonderful atmosphere; a cool, damp night in the Black Forest where an ancient stone ruin glows uncannily while small hooded creatures dance ‘round.  Musically It’s a bit Setherial Nord, early Satyricon, and Dawn.  That should get you there.  It’s billed as an EP but at 27 minutes that’s about as long as any LP should be.  I’ve seen some chatter about this record from a few metal deep divers online but it deserves all the attention bestowed on Vargrav and other such resurrection-ist cult acts.  Ateiggar perfectly balance between enchanting and dangerous.

Departure ChandelierAntichrist Rise To Power (Nuclear War Now)

To nobody’s surprise this record makes another year end list.  Departure Chandelier is somewhat of an underground super group success this year.  Interesting considering their debut release quietly hung around in distro’s for years and this record had apparently been completed years ago.  It includes scene figures like the Monarch of noise himself, Dominick Fernow, and members of Akitsa.  Thus it’s no surprise Antichrist Rise To Power is kind of a sneaky goth’d up post punk record in its own variation of corpse paint.  The Dark Shadows rerun synths.  Guitars like a moss covered, knurled oak tree older than the decaying Victorian house behind it.  It’s a black metal record that, while lo-fi and musty, isn’t a fatiguing exercise in extremity.  Even being mostly mid-paced, the songs are written with a simmering anticipation.  Like a brigade of Napoleons horse mounted army arranging upon a hill before the choreographed charge down.   The album delivers a real vibe giving it a repeatable, listenable quality that is not so commonly found in this cold and grim realm.

Gestapo 666Satanic Shariah (Drakkar Productions)

The cover: two black clad maniacs, one in a ski mask brandishing a rifle.  Both imposed upon a background stock photo of what I assume to be a prison camp year book photo.  In my constant search for bands to fill the void left by Genocide Kommando album covers like this beg to be at the end of my laser sight.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Looks pretty sketchy dude.  Might have to report you”.  You might be right but I didn’t look into the radicals of Gestapo 666 further than track one title “A Rape in the Name of Peace”.  This is hate mongering, dreadful black metal.  The kind you listen to while purposely watching grainy film compilations of 3rd world suffering on YouTube.  It’s a sickly symphony of vaguely atonal, shrill guitars and strangled golem vocals like that of an enemy officer bitterly dying in a fog of mustard gas.

 

 

EncoffinizedChambers Of Deprivation (Maggot Stomp)

The loosest, crudest death metal band in the Southwest oozes up from the sun radiated asphalt of liquor store parking lots of the inland empire.  If you aren’t aware that band is self-proclaimed ‘parking lot death metal.  Vocals like a creature that breathes tar.  Drums that sound like the skins are made of drywall instead of mylar.  Guitars that sound like heat stroke amplified through a hundred watt head.  Anybody can do lo-fi old school death metal but all of those other bands definitely recorded indoors.  The strange, open, pummel of Encoffinized legitimately sounds like it was recorded outside of an evil bowling alley.

Gaahls WYRDGastiR – Ghosts Invited (Season Of Mist)

I suppose had Christianity not swept clean the Norse religions of old this would be the equivalent to their gospel music, performed with gravitas through monumental great halls.  The legendary Gaahl of legendary 2nd wave black metal kings Gorgoroth released GastiR – Ghosts Invited after a decade of musical silence in pursuit of other interests.  Smart listeners should not be terribly surprised at this progression.  Gaahl put on a jet black suit and goes part Nick Cave, part son of Odin possessed.  The music isn’t as wild and unpredictable as the vocals might immediately convince you but they are still aggressive and compelling.  I’m reminded of Enslaved’s high point Below The Lights.  The production has a quality more akin to a classical chamber record, giving it an air of marble columned grandiosity.

SijjinAngel Of The Eastern Gate – (Sepulchural Voice)

Malte Gericke of Necros Christos doing vocals (and bass) in a new balls out death thrash project.  Nobody should need more reasons to listen.  This would have flown under my radar had I not the privilege of mining the Teeth Of The Divine promo thread.  Gericke has some of the most unique vocals in death metal.  A perfect blend of a natural low death croak, and signature thin reverb effect.  It’s an EP on a list most people expect to find full length albums, but it’s hard enough to build up a list of 10 truly exceptional LPs any given year let alone a whole separate list of short form releases.  And aren’t hyperactive forms of music best left to short form bursts like this 18 minute ripper?  Angel Of The Eastern Gate is a speedball of Megadeth guitar tone, unhinged wanking harmonic solos, and crisp high strung drumming.  It’s simply a blast to listen through.

VastumOrificial Purge (20 Buck Spin)

Vastum play old school death metal but…it’s more.  No wait, I know.  Who didn’t play it in 2019. Compared to 2015’s Hole Below the band pulled off the feat of cleaning up their sound to greatly define the consuming heaviness.  There’s also something more cerebral about Vastum’s themes and tone.  They don’t embellish concepts of bronze era human barbarism, or drone on about what weird shit is going on at the local morgue, but explores the complex inner drives of humanity’s base motivations.  OSDM you can study to.

FetidSteeping Corporeal Mess – (20 Buck Spin)

Fetid had themselves a year, in terms of underground metal.  Maybe just behind Blood Incantation and Tomb Mold.  They largely came out of nowhere and received fast attention.  I was very much persuaded to care when I saw them on the tour with Cerebral Rot.  The miniature Trey Azagthoth look-a-like on bass had a few solo breaks in songs.  The tone is fucking insane.  Really, If you’re reading this you’ve at least checked it out or already jam it regularly.

DisentombThe Decaying Light (Unique Leader)

Pretty damn mature for Brutal Death Metal.  In genre that has technically skilled players lined up down the block but puts brutality first rarely do bands transcend it.  The Decaying Light puts Disentomb up there closer to colleagues Defeated SanityDisentomb don’t go progressive, they focus on delivering an ambiance that most triggered, compressed BDM records likely don’t even consider but kill any chance of with production choices.  The vocals might be bigger than the guitars.  Switching between intimidating command, and reverb intensified wraths of power.  The writing is a detailed, and balanced orchestra. Heavy but dry.  There is enough blasting intensity but also parts that are more Neurosis gone death metal.  I haven’t returned to it much but when I have listened it sounds more important that I remembered.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    Man, nobody liked the new Devil Master?


  2. Commented by: M Budziszewski

    Surprised to see Planetary Clairvoyance on just a few lists. I really thought I’d be the only list without it. Same for Blood Incantation. In a way It’s nice to see.


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