Label: Metal Blade Records
Too many bands carry on when their best days are behind them, releasing material that doesn’t compare at all with what they have already done. So whilst it’s sad that we will never have another album from Bolt Thrower – especially considering the circumstances around them disbanding, following the death of drummer Martin Kearns – all credit should be given to the band for not releasing material that they were unhappy with. It leaves Those Once Loyal standing as a fine monument to the band’s memory, being the equal of any of their earlier, classic albums, and leaving the memory of one of the best British death metal bands utterly untarnished.
Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records
Despite being “only” 55 minutes long, Iris feels much, much longer. The second album from Altars of Grief is a leviathan of blackened, gothic doom, filled with a spirit that is equal parts mournful and furious. Telling the tale of a father who abandons his sick daughter, only to die and be condemned to watch her slowly succumb to illness, it is every bit as bright as the subject matter implies. And yet, there is something curiously addictive about the album, leaving listeners coming back for more, despite the heart-breaks they know will follow. Continue reading
Label: Negate Everything
Rough, raw, and with everything pushed in to the red, the demo tape from Feral Nun is a 10 minute riot of gothic post-punk. Crude in the best possible way, this is the what Bauhaus or Joy Division would have sounded like were they even more strung-out on anxiety and desperation than was already true, spitting out shorts bursts of violence and catharsis. In short, it’s bloody great.
Label: The Flenser
The concept of creating music as self-care is hardly a new one, but sometimes, an album can strike you with just how powerful and important a concept that is. Such is the case with Cold Air, the new album from Drowse. Written during a spell of anxiety and depression, Cold Air is an album of interesting contradictions. At times, its hazy shoegaze is filled with warmth, and possesses a real power of emotional healing; and then at others, there is the feeling that something is desperately scratching at the walls, trying to get out with a life-threatening desperation. It makes Cold Air an intense listen, despite its often soothing sounds; and one that is filled with a unique sense of personality and intensity.
Label: Nuclear Blast
Consisting of Venom’s Prime Evil line-up, the pedigree of Venom Inc. should be beyond dispute – after all, two-thirds of this line-up are responsible for such classics as Welcome To Hell and a little album called Black Metal. And yet, the release of Avé initially felt under-whelming, due in large part to initial single ‘Avé Satanas’ being over eight minutes long and, well, kinda underwhelming with its mid-tempo stomp. Yet look past this song, and Avé features some really strong songs, that capture a beastly hell-raising spirit, full of a love of metal and blasphemy.
Label: Holy Roar Records
There’s been quite a lot of hype around Conjurer recently, and it’s easy to hear why. The new album from the UK band, Mire, is a fearsome mix of forward-thinking, progressive song-writing and supremely heavy music. Sitting somewhere between early Opeth, early Mastodon, and Gojira, Mire is as devastatingly heavy as it is heart-achingly beautiful as it is emotionally cathartic. It’s a hell of a gut-punch of a record, made all the more impressive by the fact that this is only their debut album.
Label: Willowtip Records
‘Slug-themed death metal’ may sound like a joke, but anyone who has encountered Slugdge will know that it’s a joke that is both funny, and conveyed by surprisingly good death metal. Latest album, Esoteric Malacology, is the fourth album from the band, and is as amusing and impressive as ever. There’s something about song titles like ‘Salt Thrower’ and ‘Transilvanian Fungus’ that can’t help but raise a smile; whilst their sludgey death metal also has a surprisingly progressive edge. This is probably the best death metal album released thus far in 2018; and one of the most enjoyable I’ve come across this year from any genre.