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.
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: 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.
Label: Death Kvlt Productions
Fangs is an aptly named EP. The debut release from one-man band Husk is the sound of teeth and claws; of watchful eyes in the night; of terror come to life, unleashing violence upon innocent flesh. The three tracks of raw black metal on Fangs are minimalist in approach, with a commitment to atmosphere; but whilst that word usually implies something meditative and hypnotic, in this instance it is an aura of tension and dread, and the promise of death.
Label: Cursed Records
2017 was a great year for death metal, with a lot of the old stalwarts releasing killer albums – Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Autopsy… they all absolutely nailed it. Judging by Disequilibrium, the debut full-length from Fallen Utopia, the new generation of death metal acts are determined not to have the elder statesmen of the genre hog all the accolades though, as this is a storming piece of modern death. Full of crushing riffs, moments of technical prowess, and moving with a self-confidence that is utterly infectious, Disequilibrium is a very strong debut indeed.
Label: Carnal Records
A howling gale comes from the north, with razor-sharp winds that cut to the icy bone and chill to the core. Such is the sound of Grafvitnir, and the Swedish veterans demonstrate all their experience on fifth album Keys to the Mysteries Beyond. Built upon a foundation of Satanism, this album is black metal to the core, recalling the likes of Watain, Marduk, and hints of Dissection in its vicious attack, with just the right amount of dark melodies in the mix.
Label: Halo of Flies (North America) / Dry Cough (UK, EU)
Before we go too far in to this review, let’s make one thing clear: Vile Creature are one of the best, most vital doom bands active today. Their music is filled with a sense of pain and emotion that is deeply personal, which lends it an importance and that raw, cathartic edge that is to be found in practically all the best doom. Latest album Cast of Static and Smoke builds upon the foundations laid by debut A Steady Descent into the Soil and 2016 EP A Pessimistic Doomsayer to construct a world of apocalyptic, dystopian fiction that is only one button-press away from our own, its tale told through some of the most searing, emotionally charged metal you are likely to hear this year.