Label: Dying Victims Productions / Me Saco un Ojo Records
The trouble with modern records that so clearly recall the glory days of old is that it can be hard for them to stand on their own; to succeed on merits other than reminding you of whichever records or bands you consider to be classics. By whatever metric you care to judge though, the debut record from London’s Dungeon is a victory, with Purifying Fire being an electrifying onslaught of old-school speed metal, with a few dashes of heavy and death metal thrown in to keep things interesting. But more than anything else, throughout its duration, Purifying Fire excites because it sounds so vital, energetic, and untamed, with Dungeon standing out amongst the masses simply because of the quality of their material.
Label: Eternal Death
A live recording, Plays with Madness captures Lustrum at their most savage and unhinged. The band’s brand of black metal is crude, raw, and drenched in “fuck you!” spirit. This is as if your favourite first-wave black metal record was recorded in an alcoholic haze, powered by the spirits of the most blasphemous metal, determined not so much to get heads banging but instead to split skulls and consume the grey matter within. And yet, for all its roughness, Plays with Madness demonstrates a band who know how to really play, and to write some killer tunes that blend black-thrash violence with something even more primitive.
Label: Morbid Skull Records
The third EP from Corpsehammer sounds like it could have been unearthed from some decaying tomb, buried in a nuclear wasteland at some point in the 80’s and only recently discovered. Perversión is a celebration of the days when black and death metal were one and the same, with more than a hint of old-school South American madness to it. This is extreme metal for those who like their music to be utterly uncompromising in its blasphemous ways, drenched in bloodsoaked riffs and possessed of demonic spirit.
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
That The Crowning Quietus didn’t make my 2017 top five can only be explained by how late in the year I came to the album. Since encountering it towards the end of last year, the latest album from Inconcessus Lux Lucis has been one of my most listened-to albums, with its fearlessly creative take on black-thrash being a constant delight. The initial rush of energy has never worn off, and the progressive aspects of the album find new ways to impress me. It’s one of the best black metal albums of recent times, and deserves to be huge.
Label: Indie Recordings
What do you want from an Aura Noir album? Trick question. You shouldn’t go in to an album by this band wanting anything – you go in expecting something, and being confident that you’re gonna get it. Specifically, what you expect to get is ugly, gnarled black-thrash that plays with reckless abandon and no fucks given – and that’s exactly what you’ll get from Aura Noire. The latest album is as solid as the band (one of the best of the genre) have ever been, an unadventurous – yet still thrilling – blast of eight songs (and an outro) that put the metal in to black metal, horns raised to the sky and heads banging without restraint.
Label: Austenized Records
Look at that cover. Look at it! A black horned goat! The non-more-80’s font of the album title! A dude in a leather jacket and gasmask, holding a scythe and a machine gun! If the cover to Machine Gun Reaper isn’t the best/worst cover you’ve ever seen, well, I want to know what is. Even better, the third album by Ophicvs sounds exactly how you’d hope from the cover; blackened heavy metal that’s stuck somewhere in the late 80’s, full of trashy heavy metal tropes that somehow, in the hands of the sole member of Ophicvs, come to sound so very vital and thrilling.
Label: Dark Descent Records
You can probably have a good guess at what The Unchaste, the Wicked, and the Profane by Gravehill sounds like just from the artwork. Black-thrash riffs and lightning-fast leads? Check. Pummeling drums that offer no respite? Check. Rough and raw vocals bellowed from ravaged throats? Check. It sounds just like an album with artwork featuring naked nuns, demons, and a conquering Baphomet should do. Ugly and violent, but also with undeniable appeal for those so inclined, The Unchaste… is a perfect example of how to combine death, black, and thrash metal into primal, demonic, and hugely enjoyable forms.