Label: Dullest Records
Matt Finney has, through sheer hard work and determination, become something of a genre unto himself. His spoken word style is distinctive, both in its delivery – straight-forward, matter-of-fact, recounted almost without emotion at times – and also its subject matter which is, invariably, dealing with the bleaker parts of life. Such is the case with Clawing, which also features Austin Gaines and Jeff McLeod, and their debut release Spectral Estate. Over the course of forty minutes, the trio craft a record that is never anything less than unsettling, with its industrial/dark ambient soundscapes shifting and morphing in disturbing fashion, as if they were an expression of broken lives trying to piece themselves back together without success, all topped off with Matt’s spoken words. It’s horrific in its bleakness, but also deeply impressive and hard to look away from.
Label: Season of Mist
One of the most bizarre metal-related news stories of recent weeks is that Rotting Christ have been arrested in Georgia, on terrorism charges relating to the band’s name. They have since been released, but it’s a bizarre, and worrying, turn of events. Rather than dwell on the negatives though, let’s take a moment to appreciate just how superb a band they are, and that they’re still releasing albums of the quality of Rituals even 30 years after they formed.
Label: Century Media Records
It’s a little over six months since Grave Pleasures unleashed Motherblood on the world, and in that time my love for the album has only grown. No record in recent times has combined pop hooks and melodies to dark, post-punk energy with such wonderful effect. Everything about the album (save the brooding ‘Atomic Christ’) feels streamlined, these songs honed down to within an inch of their live in a quest for perfection – and it’s a quest that Grave Pleasures pretty much succeed in. Few albums are so darkly cathartic and apocalyptically blissful, embracing the surety of death to have us dancing to the grave.
Label: BDHW Records
Thronetorcher do not fuck around. The five-piece unleash utter devastation with their beatdown hardcore on debut EP Eden’s Poison, that’s made even more vicious than the norm through the addition of more metallic elements than is the norm, giving the EP a sound that doesn’t stray too far from the beatdown template, but still manages to do enough to distinguish itself. If you’re looking for something angry and heavy, then this has got you covered.
Clocking in at a short six minutes, the debut demo by Leeds-based band Deus Vermin is a whirlwind of blackened death metal, full of destructive urges given license to run free and wreak havoc. The two tracks on MMXVII are incredibly well-realised for a demo, with a compositional strength that many bands writing full-lengths would kill for; and they’re all wrapped up in an atmosphere that is both murky and strong, allowing every bone-crushing drum hit and skin-shredding guitar line to come through clearly, whilst keeping enough obscured to still feel dark and ominous. It’s a very impressive start for this band, and well worth your time.
Label: Dark Descent Records (CD) / Me Saco un Ojo Records (vinyl)
Do you like old-school death metal? Because Undergang love old-school death metal. Misantropologi is an exemplar of dirty, dirt-dwelling death metal, the kind where the guitars sound like they’re coated in layers of filth and tar; the drums sound like the oncoming tread of titans; and the vocals are so low and stomach-churningly disgusting as to be barely human. There’s nothing sophisticated here, just death metal torn from some ancient, demonic womb during the grip of winter, that’s so very crude, and so very impressive.
Label: Aural Music
Long ago, back in the mists of time, a little band called Candlemass released an album called Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. It went on to be pretty influential, and there’s a lot of doom bands out there who sound a bit like Candlemass. Now, King Goat don’t sound like Candlemass; their brand of doom is more expansive and progressive, with open vistas and sights that will sear themselves upon your soul. But what Debt of Aeons has in common with Epicus Doomicus Metallicus is that first word – epic. Debt of Aeons is an album that sounds and feels absolutely massive, as if it were the chronicle of some profound, deeply personal journey. It is heart-wrenching in a way few doom albums are, and is within touching distance of greatness.