bestof18Audio

Which genre do I prefer?… I Plead the Fifth

for there’s a plentiful amount on display here.

(Discloser; I listen to music on headphones for a more dynamic, cozy and downright intimate experience. That and the wife has drastically differing tastes in audio)

Athanasia – The Order of the Silver Compass

(USA)

Release – March/15/2019

Seeing Red Records, Rock of Angels Records

ATHANASIA_THEORDEROFTHESILVERCOMPASS

https://seeingredrecords.bandcamp.com/album/athanasia-the-order-of-the-silver-compass

Artwork – 7.5

Reminiscent of artwork seen on Daath and Behemoth releases, why? Probably cus it’s done by the same talented bloke.

First Track – 7

Heavy metal meets thrash with an element of darkness, and melody aplenty. Puts me in mind of Soilwork and later Dark Tranquility, in part also Queensreich ‘Operation Mindcrime’ era.

Initial Listen – 7.5

This isn’t what one might expect from a talented collective from varied hard rock/metal backgrounds (Sebastian Back, Five Finger Death Punch, Wednesday 13 and Murderdolls). It is, however, an exciting mixture of thrash bordering on traditional metal and a style that borders perilously close to melodic black metal ala’ Dimmu Borgir and Behemoth. A release which boasts plenty of atmosphere and a varied approach which is sure to appeal to fans of dark melodic metal in a similar vein to Soilwork and other dominant European acts in the melodic thrash/death genre.

Favorite Tracks; The Order of the Silver Compass, The Bohemian, Mechanized Assault.

Destroyers of All – The Vile Manifesto

(Portugal)

Release – February/2/2019

Mosher Records

destroyers of all

https://destroyersofall.bandcamp.com/album/the-vile-manifesto

Artwork – 8.5

Black and white (ok, green!) skulls in some kind of questionable scenario. Sure, I’d run from that fellow who has nails in his eye sockets too. I’m curious.

Carry on…

First Track – 8.5

I’m quickly reminded why it was that I placed their last release, ‘Bleak Fragments’, dominantly on a best of year list.  I’m distracted. I can’t concentrate in the slightest, these riffs, the sheer amount of them, the vocals and the combination. Outstanding!

That… about covers it!

Initial Listen – 9

Exciting from start to finish showcasing varied tempo, mood, atmosphere and stunning presence. With flashes of unpredictability tossed in to keep the listener on their toes and plenty of melody to keep those limbs active. Thrash that borders on melodic death without the usual predictability that tags along for the ride. This is a great place to park the ears if the usual arena just isn’t cutting it for the ‘mood of the moment’.

Favorite tracks; Tohu Wa-Bohu, False Idols, Break the Chains, Destination Unknown, Elephants Foot, Ashmedai, Kill the Preacher (bonus).

Unendlich – Thanatophobia

(USA)

Release – February/1/2019

Horror, Pain, Gore, Death Productions

unendlich

https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/thanatophobia

Artwork – 8.5

Is Death plucking his next unsuspecting victim from a filing cabinet or is there something entirely more sinister taking place?

First Track – 8.5

What a start! Blast beats, inciteful rhythms, atmosphere and venomous vocals dripping with menace.

This is ‘melodic black’ I can subscribe to!

Initial Listen – 9

A refreshing ‘take’ on the genre which incorporates symphonic elements as well touches of progressive nature and rhythms plucked from both the heavy and death metal arenas. Excellent drum tattoos, and unexpected rhythms, complement the style and add to the album’s overall enjoyment. The more traditional vocal approach blankets the whole affair in darkness to intrigue that which might frequent the genre more often than others but also those who don’t so often (like myself).

An early contender for BotY and to be blunt I’m not usually a fan of anything even remotely black in feel.

Favorite Tracks; Oblivion of Time, Already Dead, Becoming Fire, The Final Error, UC3.

Frenzy – Blind Justice

(Spain)

Release – February/4/2019

Underground Power Records

FRenzy

https://frenzymetal.bandcamp.com/album/blind-justice

Artwork – 7

Fusing metal and comic book imagery this certainly isn’t ‘more of the same’. Note the replacing of ‘Marvel’ with ‘Metal’. The character itself appears somewhat of a Daredevil/Ironfist combination. Intriguing…

First Track – 8.5

Epic, energetic and melodic are words that don’t even come close. A stunning opener which puts me in mind of Wolfsbanes first album. Riffs, riffs, riffs and gymnastic vocals. Miles from the extreme end of the spectrum though equally as addictive and infectious.

Initial Listen – 8.5

As with their earlier blazing EP ‘Lethal Protector’ there are riffs and excitement aplenty here too. Balanced somewhere between Dokken, Van Halen and Wolfsbane ‘Blind Justice’ offers audio which fans of guitar virtuosity will eagerly lap up as well a few arena anthem themes. If it weren’t for the occasional descent into falsetto-ville and uber vocal gymnastics territory I’d gladly give this a higher score, with that being said however, as I continue to listen, I’m beginning to appreciate this more and more. It’s honestly difficult not to.

Reccd for fans of epic heavy/power metal who yearn for riff spontaneity though still want their tunage this side of wild guitar experimentalism.

Favorite Tracks; Blind Justice, Velocity, Annihilated by my Sound, Shred or Die.

Fange – Punir

(France)

Release –

Throatruiner Records

fange

https://music.throatruinerrecords.com/album/punir

Artwork – 8

I’m always up for a bit of medieval medical text book grotesquery. This hints at possible black metal leanings, just me?

First Track – 7

Sludge, death metal, dirge and angst. Think an earlier Bolt Thrower tone/vibe colliding with Converge then add a little Noise and you’ll be close. This is intriguing audio.

Initial Listen – 7

Bludgeoning, often suffocating, sprinkled with groove, doused with bursts of harsh noise yet miles from traditional… anything. A twisted, winding, tapestry of diverse, unpredictable, extreme audio warranting exploration as it offers something fresh with each and every listen. Keep an open mind when you set your ears upon this one folks!

Favorite Tracks; Ceinturon, Les Boyaux de la Princesse, Il Recconaitra Les Siens.

Traveler – s/t

(Canada)

Release – February/22/2019

Gates of Hell Records

traveler

https://travelermetal.bandcamp.com/album/traveler

Artwork – 7

A Sci-fi octopus type creature decked out in studs, laughing, with the world in his (?!) grasp. It looks hungry. Should I be worried? Does it know something we don’t?

First Track – 8.5

Screaming with NWOBHM and traditional heavy metal values as well rhythms which are criminally addictive. A great opener!

I’m only part way through the first track but I’m plummeting through reminiscent ville with a grin on my face and a twitch in my neck (what!?)

Initial Listen – 8.5

This release somehow throws the listener back to the glory days of metal whilst still keeping them rooted in the present. An amazing feat in, and of, itself. Traveler have somehow created a collection of tunes which sounds ageless though strangely modern, coupled with crystal clear production this will incite renewed interest into that which spurned many a genre and that which, thanks to Traveler, has suddenly found a second wind. Expect to hear this bands name a great deal in the coming months. The impact will be huge!

Obviously, fans of vintage Iron Maiden, Diamond Head and the like should suddenly become very excited, for this delivers in every way.

Favorite Tracks; Up to You, Behind the Iron, Konamized.

Musket Hawk – Upside of Sick

(USA)

Release – March/29/2019

Unholy Anarchy Records

upside of sick

https://muskethawk.bandcamp.com/album/upside-of-sick

Artwork – 7.5

With ‘Hawk’ in the title one would immediately assume doom of some kind, I am. But the cover suggests something else. A rot of color, a vivid unmistakable putrescent smorgasbord of tone, one that which doesn’t bode well.

First Track – 7

Plodding huge riffs, distortion, sludge and an abrupt, unexpected, pace transformation. Vocals befitting the grindcore arena and an aura that’s slathered in both angst and hope. An interesting mixture of styles which leaves me intrigued.

Initial Listen – 7.5

Combining the lazy groove distorted nature of sludge, the angst of grindcore, the incendiary nature of punk and an undefinable ingredient that binds them all Musket Hawk have created a collection of tunes which takes many a direction, is miles from stagnant and should appeal to those with their feet in both extreme and slightly experimental waters.

Recommended for fans of Acid Bath, Jucifer and other acts who prefer to carve their own path between, across and through those already laid.

Favorite Tracks; Hexagon, Bad Times, Uncouth.

Iron Fire – Beyond the Void

(Denmark)

Release – March/8/2019

Crime Records

iron-fire-beyond-the-void-2019-700x700-1

https://ironfire.bandcamp.com/

Artwork – 8

Ominous and menacing. Naturally, I believe the innocent child in the image to be anything but, rather an overlord in disguise out for leisurely stroll, perhaps looking for a balloon, a grate and a ‘Clown’ to converse with?

First Track – 7.5

Fist pumpin’ melodies and a vocal style that’s thankfully far from falsetto. As someone who rarely frequents this genre, I’ll admit I’m enjoying this introduction and the combination of speed, power and traditional heavy metal this audio sports.

Initial Listen – 7

Bursting with melodies and commanding vocals sure to fill an arena alongside rhythms which’ll incite deafening choruses in a live setting this is a collective of tunes which is sure to please those residing in the power/epic/heavy metal fanbase. Fans of later Judas Priest material will devour this (it’s a tad ‘mellow’ for my tastes however).

Favorite Tracks; Beyond the Void, Final Warning, To Hell and Back.

Death Kommander – Summer Offensive 18′ (demo)

(Scotland)

Release – June/13/2018

Independent

deathKommander

https://deathkommander.bandcamp.com/album/summer-offensive-18

Artwork – 8

Muted tones showcase skulls and the aftermath of obliteration. There’s no doubt what the listener is in for as if the war-themed metal and Bolt Thrower tribute stated in the description isn’t enough.

First Track – 8

Obviously, this is tribute themed and the influence is unmistakable and thus I can’t rate based effectively on its similarity/tribute basis. But this is damn impressive, and I can detect sparks of ingenuity below the surface.

Color me camouflaged in curious.

Initial Listen – 8.5

Solid throughout. Homage is undeniable with riffs and melodies one can literally pinpoint. Thankfully they’re fleeting though neon-bold and plentiful (this’ll make sense once you lay your ears upon this). Influences range from ‘War Master’ to Bolt Throwers last release (and some Asphyx also) to spur one to dive through their collection in order that they might rediscover an act whose impact is like a monstrous, towering ever-present shadow.

Amazing demo quality. The unrelenting tank, steamroller rhythms are front and foremost and the vocals fit the tone perfectly. I’m interested as to where this will lead, will the sound develop into realms Bolt Thrower had yet to traipse?

I’m eager for more, four tracks just aren’t enough!

Favorite Tracks; All of them!

BoozeControl – Forgotten Lands

(Germany)

Release -February/22/2019

Gates of Hell Records

boozecontrol

https://boozecontrol.bandcamp.com/album/forgotten-lands

Artwork – 7.5

Huge insects and a fearless heroine. I’m all in!

First Track – 7.5

Speed metal with a rhythm that’s dangerously infectious, epic fantasy narrative lyrics and traditional vocals (think Halloween).

Against my nature, and usual genre interests, I’m finding I’m liking this.

Initial Listen – 7

Somewhere between speed, power and heavy metal this finds its niche. Soothing, melodic and lyrical heavy tunage which plentiful nods to metal of yore. Nothing brutal in the slightest heard here, which makes for a great palette cleanser (for the likes of audio interests such as mine) which I can well imagine will garner a huge fanbase with a preference for old school sensibilities; rhythm, melody and heart.

Reccd for fans of Iron Maiden and Helloween.

Favorite Tracks; Forgotten Lands, Attack of the Axemen, Doom of Sargoth.

Cripple Bastards – La Fine Cresce de Dentro

(Italy)

Release – November/9/2018

Relapse Records

cripplebastards-cover-500x500

https://cripplebastards.bandcamp.com/album/la-fine-cresce-da-dentro

Artwork – 8

Effective and Haunting. This about says it all, without me going into a meandering diatribe of psychological BS nonsense I seriously know bugger all about.

First Track – 7

Blast-beat chaos and angst. A seventeen second assault that’s succeeded in grabbing my attention!!

Initial Listen – 8.5

My first experience with a band that’s been kicking it for thirty years and I’m glad to report this shows a damn sight more energy than I ever expected. Tracks range from a few seconds in length (early Napalm Death, anyone) to a whopping five minutes (a mammoth length for the grindcore genre). It doesn’t matter that this is entirely in Italian, for the aural onslaught is enough to make one want to go ballistic, take note and, if the mood fits, connect to babel fish (or something similar) for a lyrical translation. If the typhon/whirlwind-esque audio doesn’t whet your fancy and the vocals don’t do it perhaps the ridiculous technical, inhuman, drum salvo will. A stunningly diverse concoction/combination to yank any non-believer into the cult of grindcore. (Now, where’s did I put the Kool aid?)

How is it I’ve never heard of these guys until now? Recommended for fans of Disrupt, Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Brujeria and Brutal Truth.

Favorite Tracks; Non Coinvolto, Chiusura Forzata, Crimine Contro L’immagine, Narcolessia emotiva, Recidive, Crociati del mare interno.

Negative Wall – Gammagelu (EP)

(USA)

Release – February/9/2019

Black Doomba Records

negative wall

https://negativewall.bandcamp.com/album/gammagelu

Artwork – 8

Ominous, menacing and comic book-esque in feel (not the kid kind either!) draped in science fiction/fantasy tones. The colors here are outstanding making this an image I would gladly adorn across my meager chest or on a wall in my den.

First Track – 7.5

Gothic tones (keyboards), striking melodies, sonic fantastical landscapes and traditional, emotion laden, doom vocals combine to invoke a ‘golden era’ heavy metal aura. One however, that’s basted in a modern finish making for a track that’s bursting with depth and grandiose nature. Hardly what I normally dip my senses into though this leaves me intrigued as to what the remainder of the album will offer.

Initial Listen – 7.5

A sound attributed to Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, The Obssessed and Alice in Chains combine to form an album that’s varied in scope, depth and feel. A style that’s often-traditional heavy metal in tone while in others it drips with atmosphere, an epic cinematic effect aided by more a psychedelic doom aura. Rhythms, arrangements and a varied vocal style and cadence conspire to conjure a narrative that whispers through the speakers. Not at all traditional but this is an album you can fall into if just the right “mood” demands. Might I suggest a little something, something to assist?

Favorite tracks; Hybrid Genus Serpentis, Matar Saeva Kp22.

 Ossuarium – Living Tomb

(USA)

Release – February/2/2019

20 Buck Spin

ossuarium

https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/living-tomb

Artwork –

First Track – 8.5

Cavernous, archaic yet seething with undeniable rhythm. A death and doom collision that bodes extremely well for the remainder of this release and one that strays appreciatively from, what most might consider, traditional output in the same arena. A great start!

Initial Listen – 9

A rich release steeped in surprising depth and a grandiose nature with plentiful nods to the greats of the scene of yesteryear. Drenched in an excellent foreboding atmosphere and marinated in spectacular menace this is an album I expect to see in a multitude of lists come years end.

Death doom which boasts everything a fan of the scene demands and then some!

Favorite Tracks; End of Life’s Dreams and Visions Pt. 2, Vomiting Black Death, Writhing in Emptiness.

Wolf Counsel – Destination Void

(Switzerland)

Release – February/22/2019

Endless Winter

wolf counsel

https://wolfcounsel.bandcamp.com/

Artwork – 7.5

There’s definitely something going on here. Did these cultists just happen to stumble upon a portal offering inter-dimensional travel or something more exciting still? A back door into Candyville perhaps? Yumm!

First Track – 7

Not what I’d expect based upon the cover’s art, Nevertheless, this is impressive traditional doom in a similar style to Candlemass.

Initial Listen – 7.5

As mentioned earlier the album has a familiar sound, a style that spans the entire album. One that sports melody, huge riffs and an overall vibe which often hints at sludge leanings.

Obvious and undeniable is the vocalist’s similarity to Messiah Marcolin, although in instances the style sounds closer to Wino (from The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan). With the entire collective bearing a well-balanced grand, traditional doom motif the albums appeal is difficult to ignore. ‘Staring into Oblivion’ ends the album on a high note.

Favorite Tracks; Nova, Destination Void, Staring into Oblivion.

Superbeast – Dead World

(Japan)

Release – December/6/2018

Brutal Bear Records

superbeast

https://superbeastmetal.bandcamp.com/album/dead-world-24-bit-master

Artwork – 7

Classic in tone, the earth appears to have opened to swallow those dripping in sin without a sense of balance (?)

First Track – 6

A pummeling attack, that’s part Deicide in tone accompanied with abrupt melodic passages.

The vocals are a tad strange a times, an old school Terrorizer approach coupled with other styles, though I’m off the mind, fingers crossed, that this varied assault grows on me as the album progresses.

Initial Listen – 6.5

Incorporating Slayer and Cannibal Corpse riffs and often the diabolical nature associated with Morbid Angel, Dead World sports plenty of groove and melodies one can lose themselves within, albeit not of the variety that’s going to carve any new avenues in the scene. However, in instances the vocals and lyrics leave a little to be desired (I wonder if the language barrier is to blame?) oftentimes resulting in certain tracks degrading from highly enjoyable to just good.

This has its moments. I’m interested as to where the band go from here.

Favorite Tracks; All are Smashed, Dead World.

Onirophagus – Endarkenment

(Spain)

Release – February/19/2019

Xtreem Music

oniropphagus#2

https://xtreemmusic.bandcamp.com/album/endarkenment

Artwork – 8

I’m not entirely sure what’s going down here but the palette the artist utilized is downright captivating. Blacks, reds, oranges and a pale tan fleshed figure who’s obviously up to no good.

First Track – 7.5

Epic, death doom with enough movement, transformation, emotion and energy to keep the interest. A whopping thirteen-minute opener is effective in leaving the listener eager for more.

Initial Listen – 8

Grandiose, cinematic, and seething with emotion and rhythm. This album boasts a great deal to appreciate as it twists and turns through doom waters, across desolate valleys and high above lands saturated with grief, loss and frustration. Classical elements frolic with excitable, frenetic, melodies drenched in groove and darkness. The last quarter of the twenty-three-minute (yes, it’s that long!) title track is stunning! A fantastic opus with my only qualm being that the vocals display a range that leaves a little to be desired.

Recommended for those who desire their doom on the darker edge of the spectrum bursting with movement.

Favorite Tracks; Dark River, Endarkenment.

Reccd by Void
WTF BEAn

Seriously…

Question – Question (EP, limited edition cassette)

(Mexico)

Release – March/15/2018

Caligari Records

https://caligarirecords.bandcamp.com/album/question

Artwork

Infinity in the form of a skull and adjoined spine eating itself, Raw yet vivid.

Initial Thoughts

question EP

Yet again, Void sends me down the lesser-traveled path of obscurity. Though this time around the audio is strangely, instantly, gratifying.

Question deliver a multiple array of pulverizing riffs which seem to twist around themselves as they evolve constantly offering a listen that’s exciting and far from meat and potatoes style death. Add to that the occasional slower passage saturated in menace, nods to the odd school and an overall raw production aura which drips with archaic nature and you have a release that’s unpredictable and a pleasure to lay the ears upon.

Favorite Tracks; Universal Path of Disgrace, Holders of Nothing.

Final Verdict

Though probably not for those with a liking for the more melodic side of the death spectrum (Arch Enemy, Soilwork, et al) this will appeal to those with a more discerning yearning for the more technical arena, one that’s rife with old school sensibilities/influence yet seething with ingenuity and promise. Even with this short segment of their audio between my ears I can tell Question have a great deal to offer and are set to become (not a household name by any stretch of the imagination based on trends and the fact that extreme metal remains thought of as a soundtrack to the Devils deeds) but a force to be reckoned with. Their second full length is set to hit retailers in the near future, keep an eye out for it and support talent in the underground!

Keep those ears to the ground, for metal is a fickle mistress who knows not her own mood at the best of times!

Cult

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