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We at Teeth of the Divine don’t want to just steamroll over 2023 like it never happened, because when you go back and really think about all the wild shit that went down, it certainly deserves some recognition – from our nation’s capital providing the most insane reality TV possible (we can’t wait for the George Santos/Lauren Boebert spinoff) to a handful of millionaires deciding to visit the Titanic in a glorified oil drum with unsurprisingly disastrous results, there was no shortage of explosive (er, implosive?) moments to reflect on.

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Much like how 2023 has sort of felt like a fucked up calm before what promises to be an absolute fucking rager of a storm in 2024, the world of metal sorta felt like it was just a weird continuation of the year before. Everyone’s still talking about Spiritbox and Slaughter to Prevail, the world of deathcore still seems to exist in direct comparison to Lorna Shore. Hell, it was a year where everything old was the big story – with gigantic returns from the likes of Metallica, In Flames, Suffocation, Cryptopsy, Cannibal Corpse, and Obituary proving the old dogs still have plenty of bite left to dole out. Also, Creed is coming back, so let’s all get ready for that!

So, a weird year? Sure, but still plenty of high-quality stuff to be found. We thank you all once again for continuing to let us show up every day and spew our nonsense without a whole lot of complaint, and we look forward to getting back on our bullshit in the coming year. So without further ado…


2023 was a good to great year for metal, Not a fantastic year mind you as this was one of the first years where I wasn’t whittling down 50 releases to 25, or scrambling with last-minute releases I discovered. And frankly, I was either still listening to Lorna Shore‘s Pain Remains from 2022, or listening to previously undiscovered symphonic and melodic black releases fromthe last few years (i.e Suffering Souls, In Synergy Obscene, Skylord’s, Frostcraft, Ensom‘s magnificent Civilizations, Panopticon’s …And Again Into The Light, Obscuris Romancia’s Bringer of Light and Tyrmfar‘s Dialectic of Ego and the Unconscious) more than 2023 releases.

What was great about 2023 was it felt like 1994-1998 with death metal veterans Obituary, Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Cannibal Corpse, Cryptopsy and Autopsy all releasing stout albums that proved the old horses could still run. All we were missing was an Immolation album or Deicide album (which I thought might come out before the end of 2023, but it looks like it’s a 2024 album now).

As with my 2022 list, even without the plethora of symphonic deathcore albums, a couple of things were consistent; a weird mix of melody, (especially the atmospheric black metal type) keyboards, and brutal slams.

And what a year for Sergio Catalán, owner of Tragedy Productions- three of his label’s bands ended up on my list and two of those bands are his solo projects.

As with my previous list, the order is pretty insignificant as depending on my mood, the order changed daily. And I’m still struggling with my # 1 between Mental Cruelty delivering a brilliant example of my favorite genre or the high nostalgia factor for Suffocation.

  1. Mental CrueltyZwielicht (Century Media Records). I was torn between Mental Cruelty‘s stunning blackened deathcore with an increased emphasis and the blackened or death metal legends Suffocation. My favorite song of the year “Symphony of a Dying Star” was the deciding factor.
  2. SuffocationHymns From the Apocrypha (Nuclear Blast Records). No Frank Mullen? No problem, as these vets dropped their best album since Pierced From Within.
  3. MajestiesVast Reaches Unclaimed (20 Buck Spin). A wondrously old-school, 90s melodic death/black metal with inherent Obsequiae melodies.
  4. Fires in the DistanceAir Not Meant For Us (Prosthetic Records). Increased keyboards made this sublime death/doom act even better.
  5. SühnopferNous sommes d’Hier (Debemur Morti). Classically inspired, one man, gregoroan chant laden, black metal bliss.
  6. PanopticonThe Rime of Memory (Bindrune). I lost interest in Panopticon for a while but Christ, is this an ambitious, introspective sprawling album tackling everything from aging to climate change.
  7. PasséismeAlternance (Antiq Records). Again, I’m amazed three Russian death metal dudes continue to deliver epically medieval melodies with album number 2.
  8. ÆolianEchoes of the Future (Black Lion Records). One of my favorite new discoveries of 2023, a superb, if not perfect melodic death metal record.
  9. Moonlight SorceryHorned Lord of the Thorned Castle (Avantgarde Music). Lauded Finnish saviors of symphonic black metal took a bit of a more traditional melo-death turn with fantastic results.
  10. Cattle DecapitationTerrasite (Metal Blade Records). Like a fine wine, Travis Ryan (and his goblin vocals) keep getting better, with their most ambitious and dare I say atmospheric record to date.
  11. Deathcode SocietyUnlightenment (Osmose Productions). A late year entry of truly blistering French symphonic black/death metal.
  12. The Project Hate MCMXCIXAbominations of the Ageless (Mouth of Belial Productions). Lord K and Co’s most melodic, layered album to date. They can do no wrong, even 15 albums in.
  13. AtavistiaCosmic Warfare (Self-Released). 2023’s most epic, sweeping and bombastic keyboards. I’m really excited for these young Canadians after 2 excellent albums.
  14. FélonieDe s​è​ve et de sang (AuralMusic/ code 666). Another solo artist with a brilliant atmospheric black metal debut that’s even better than his already excellent other band, Tyrmfar.
  15. Embrace Your Punishment Made of Stone (Lacerated Enemy Records). An absolute bruiser of a deathcore/slam/death metal record.
  16. Dying Fetus Make Them Beg For Death (Relapse Records). A model of brutal consistency that is still delivering death metal’s greatest slams and grooves.
  17. Cryptopsy As Gomorrah Burns (Nuclear Blast Records). No signs of letting up after an 11-year wait with an album as face-ripping as Whisper Supremacy was over 25 years ago.
  18. GorodThe Orb (Season of Mist). A model of consistency from one of Tech Death’s unquestioned top bands.
  19. Winds of TragedyHating Life (Tragedy Productions). A killer release of somber atmospheric black metal from Sergio Catalán, also the owner of Tragedy Productions.
  20. My Dearest WoundThe Burial  (Tragedy Productions). See above. Just a bit sadder.
  21. Mortem Obscuram The Wretched Divinity (Self-Released). Vastly improved orchestral melodic tech death from a band that should be on The Artisan Era already.
  22. Galundo TenvulanceLunar Eclipture (Spiritual Beast). Japanese craziness that mixes huge keyboards with 00s-styled metalcore and melodeath.
  23. When Plagues Collide An Unbiblical Paradigm (NeckTwister). Top-notch, confident blackened deathcore from this improving young Belgian act.
  24. NumeronRoad to Valhalla (Tragedy Productions). Another winner of atmospheric black metal from Tragedy Productions.
  25. AngerotThe Profound Recreant (Redefining Darkness Records). Of 2023s excellent Swede-death (The Plague, Come Sweet Death, Carnation, Wretched Fate, Endseeker, Gravestone, etc), this now seasoned US act added some well-done atmospherics and was my favorite album of the year in the genre.

Welcome Back: Keep of Kalessin (Katharsis)and US black metal act Woe (Legacies of Frailty) dropped excellent albums out of the blue after lengthy hiatuses.

Most promising new acts: Dragoncorpse, Face Yourself.

Biggest Disappointments: Ne ObliviscarisExul. After three almost classic releases, something was missing from Exul’s songwriting. MaladieFor We Are the Plague. These guys have driven me crazy for 4 albums now after three brilliant albums to start their career.  Some real, brilliance and some real head-scratching moments. PrimordialHow it Ends. If this is indeed how it ends- a once legendary act is going out with a whimper. The album starts strong, but like me in the sack, fades hard and fast….

Guilty Pleasure: KvelertakEnding. Metal’s new punching bags are even more commercial and less black metal now, but some real smile-inducing garage punk anthems here.

Release fucking album/CD Please: Assemble the Chariots, Face Yourself.

Best Label: Century Media. I know I only had 1 release from them on my list (my #1 though..) but if you look at the other great releases they dropped in 2023, many of which were on my list at one point, (Jesus Piece, Sanguisugabogg, Insomnium, Baest, Frozen Soul, Unearth, Marduk, Signs of the Swarm, Dark Funeral, Suicide Silence) they killed it. Note to Century Media- just fucking sign Face Yourself already….

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