Album of the Day: Batushka – Litourgiya

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Label: Witching Blade Productions / Metal Blade Records

For all its nihilistic, regressive tendencies, black metal also has a tendency to throw out some real oddball records. Litourgiya by Poland’s Batushka can be considered one such album, not because of the way the band draw inspiration from, and subvert, orthodox Russian Christianity – as impressive as their live show is, it’s keeping within the blasphemous traditions of black metal. What makes the band’s music so notable, though, is that for all its religious overtones and tremolo-picked leads, there are moments within Litourgiya that border upon the joyful, embracing the euphoria of death to sterling results.  Continue reading

Album of the Day: In Solitude – Sister

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Label: Metal Blade Records

It’s hard not to feel that In Solitude should have been way bigger than they were. From their early heavy metal records, the Swedish band recorded something incredibly special with final album Sister, released in 2013; an album that blended gothic post-punk darkness with heavy metal heroics to superb effect. Sister is an album filled with excellent song-writing, catchy, melodic, and heavy in equal measure, that absolutely begged to be stadium-filling. Such a fate was not to be, however, with the band splitting up in 2015. They left behind a superb swansong though, and one that I still return to regularly.

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Album of the Day: Cirith Ungol – King of the Dead

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Label: Enigma / Metal Blade Records (reissues)

For the longest time, Cirith Ungol were a band that didn’t so much do nothing for me, as actively pushed me away. The reason is simple: Tim Baker’s vocals are very much a “love them or hate them” proposition, and for years, I hated them. But recently, something clicked, and I now feel that they make total sense within the context of Cirith Ungol’s doomy heavy metal. The result is that I’ve spent most of the past week listening to almost nothing except King of the Dead, which is surely their best album.

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Album of the Day: Bolt Thrower – Those Once Loyal

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Label: Metal Blade Records

Too many bands carry on when their best days are behind them, releasing material that doesn’t compare at all with what they have already done. So whilst it’s sad that we will never have another album from Bolt Thrower – especially considering the circumstances around them disbanding, following the death of drummer Martin Kearns – all credit should be given to the band for not releasing material that they were unhappy with. It leaves Those Once Loyal standing as a fine monument to the band’s memory, being the equal of any of their earlier, classic albums, and leaving the memory of one of the best British death metal bands utterly untarnished.

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Album of the Day: Visigoth – Conqueror’s Oath

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Label: Metal Blade Records

In power metal, as in many areas of life, one rule reigns supreme: go big, or go home. And by Gandalf’s beard, do Visigoth go big on Conqueror’s Oath. This is power metal of the most triumphant kind, full of epic battle hymns, designed to have you approaching your day at the office as if you were striding in to battle, with a muscular confidence and real power. As reminiscent of old Iron Maiden and Dio as it is more modern bands like Grand Magus, Conqueror’s Oath is an album of such quality and talent that it’s sure to win over even the more cynical and grim of metal fans.

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Album of the Day: Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black

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Label: Metal Blade Records

Sometimes, after a bad day, you want music that takes you somewhere else – whether that be some calming ambient vibes, or psychedelic explorations of space, or atmospheric black metal that recalls forests you have never visited. And some days, you want music that sounds like a murderous rampage, and for days like that, it’s hard to do better than Cannibal Corpse. Their latest album, Red Before Black, was as strong as you’d expect from such a reliable band of veterans, and as time goes on, its place within their discography becomes clearer.

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2017 Favourites – Part I

It doesn’t feel like that long ago since I was writing my list for 2016… and yet, at the same time, it feels like a lifetime has passed. 2017 has been a very busy year, and very trying in parts. As a result, I’ve had less time and energy for The Sound Not That Word than at any time before, which has resulted in less reviews being posted. It’s something I’m still not entirely sure how to balance, and may well see my writing take on different forms in the coming year. We shall see.

Anyway. Enough of that for now. Everywhere else is doing lists, and so am I. Writing this is a good opportunity to go over releases from the year, to remember how good some were, and to give coverage to some I never got to write about. As always, these are my favourites – better records may have been released this year, but these are the ones I enjoyed most. The first twenty will be in alphabetical order, over two posts; with the top five given their own ranking. Enjoy!

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