Label: F H E D / Callous Records / Grandad Records
The metal scene in Nottingham is in rude health as of recent years, with new, exciting bands forming, gigging, and releasing records. There’s especially been a growth in the size and quality of the local black metal scene recently, with bands such as Underdark and Antre at the front of this. The new split between the two acts is a furious ten minutes of searing black metal, and demonstrates just why both bands have something of a buzz around them at present in the underground.
Label: Relapse Records
At what point do you realise that a band aren’t just a good band, but one that, in years to come, will be talked about as a great band; the kind who transcend genre, who practically everyone in to metal agrees that, yes, that band are awesome. For High on Fire, I think that point came with Death is this Communion, even if maybe we didn’t all realise it at the time. This is the point that proved – if there was any doubt – that High on Fire were in it for the long-haul, and deserve to be talked about in terms of the masters of the riff.
The Liar and The Saint, the debut album of grind three-piece Let It Die, does not fuck around. Sure, they might have a few moments of slower, feedback-drenched build-up in amongst the hardcore/grind fury, but even then, The Liar and The Saint is a full-throttle, teeth-bared onslaught of an album. The slower moments help provide that all-important contrast, making the fast bits hit all the harder; and there’s some killer riffs and breakdowns thrown in to the mix, too. All of this makes The Liar and The Saint one of the hardest hitting records from the UK underground in recent years.
Label: Vertigo Records
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is Black Sabbath‘s best album.
Label: Dying Victims Productions
It can be a pleasant surprise when a record lives up to your expectations. Just look at that artwork and title! Even if you’re unfamiliar with the band’s back catalogue, everything about the latest EP from Power from Hell suggests blasphemous black-thrash, and Blood ‘n’ Spikes does not disappoint. The record sees the band maintain their record of releasing solid black-thrash, equal parts early Bathory and Sarcofago, howling for sex, drinks and metal whilst drawing pentagrams in blood upon basement walls. And then they top it all off with a Judas Priest cover. Killer!
Label: Diwphalanx Records / Southern Lord Records (reissue)
Anyone even vaguely familiar with Boris know that the Japanese band have a vast, hugely varied discography, ranging from drone to psychedelic metal to J-pop – sometimes in the space of a single album. Akuma no Uta is the album that introduced me to the band, and remains my favourite – which is why I’m slightly apprehensive about getting to see them on their UK tour with Amenra. Their most recent album, Dear, is a different beast to Akuma no Uta, being based upon drone, rather than the psychedelic heavy metal of Akuma… – and, as good as I expect them to be, part of me will be disappointed if nothing from Akuma… is played.
Label: Gizeh Records
Modern times are feeling increasingly fractured, with public life becoming split in to ever-more divisive categories. Whether it’s in politics or the media, recent years have been defined in large part by division – just look at the politics of Trump, or Brexit, and the rise in authoritarianism in countries like Hungary. It’s as if the world is, after a period of closer unity, moving apart in hostile ways. It’s difficult not to place The Shadows, the second album from Tomorrow We Sail, in this context. Their music blends post-rock with indie and folk sounds, creating something that feels as if it is longing for people to come together, to recognise all the things that unite us, and stop the slow descent in to war and disharmony that we all seem to be moving toward.