Label: Camo Pants Records
If you’re going to play old-school death metal, and you want to have a hope of standing out in the increasingly crowded scene, you need to be good. It’s not enough to just have a selection of decent riffs and a production torn straight from the 90’s; there needs to be that spark and fire that will make your band stand out. Russians Cist have that spark, and debut EP The Frozen Casket is twenty minutes of decayed, bone-gnawed death metal that could have been spawned during the early days of the genre.
Label: Def Jam Recordings
I assume you’ve heard the news by now; but if not, word is that Slayer will be announcing their final, goodbye world tour soon. For all their highs and lows over the years, there’s sure to be a lot of people who will be sad if they can’t make these shows – assuming, of course, that final actually means final (and given the actions of bands like Black Sabbath, announcing farewell after farewell after farewell tour, no one will hold any cynicism against you). There’s no doubting that a lot of this is down to their 80’s output, and whilst many will argue for Reign in Blood being Slayer’s best album, my pick is always South of Heaven.
Label: Debemur Mori Productions
When it comes to bestial black metal, few bands exemplify the sub-genre better than Archgoat. The Finnish veterans are arguably second only to Blasphemy in setting down the template for all-consuming, heretical black metal, undercut with a hugely sexual (yet far from sexy) urge. Third album The Apocalyptic Triumphator is one of the most notable albums released in the sub-genre over the past few years, in that it demonstrated how to remain utterly true to the sound, without ever risking feeling generic or uninspired.
Label: Avantgarde Music
There’s some albums which you can always turn to, and no matter what your mood or state of mind, you can easily sink in to them, letting them play for hours at a time, with the music losing none of its impact or power as the years go by. The first album by Darkspace is one such record for me, with the atmospherics of Dark Space I capturing a the cold, dark emptiness of space in a way that no one else has – at least, musically.
Symphonic black metal has been seeing a quiet renaissance, with Cradle of Filth re-establishing themselves as a dominating force in black metal once again, and Emperor’s live appearances helping remind everyone why their mixture of symphonic and progressive black metal became so revered. Meanwhile, in the underground, bands such as Necronautical and Ethereal have released records that have made people sit up and take notice. US one-man act Son ov Leviathan are a new entry on to the scene, with Vi Veri Vniversum Visus Vici demonstrating a more ferocious take on the genre than might typically be expected, with devastating results.
Label: Profound Lore Records
There are few bands whose reputation precedes them like it does for Portal. The Australian act may be renowned for crafting other-worldly, mind-consuming death metal that is the musical spawn of every Lovecraftian horror ever dreamed of; and their early works certainly upped the ante for how twisting and difficultly chaotic death metal can be, following in the footsteps of Gorguts and Immolation. Yet Vexovoid is, by their own standards, a fairly accessible release, and it’s no surprise that it found their biggest audience yet – at least, until the release of ION next week.
Label: Sludgelord Records
It’s great to see The Sludgelord branch out from writing about music in to releasing it via their newly formed label, Sludgelord Records. What’s even better is that they’ve picked such a great record to start off the label, with Dismal Planet from doom/sludge bruisers Coffin Torture. Dirty, loud, and oh-so heavy, Dismal Planet is the essence of what sludge should be. This is an album that, by the time it has finished, will leave the listener feeling somehow soiled, with the music seeping out of the speakers like an infection, contaminating all it touches with the most gruesome, glorious results.