In the right hands, music is a life-sustaining force. On their second album, Thrawsunblat have channeled the pain of real-life tragedy and death into a work of staggering might. Featuring the remaining members of Woods of Ypres, Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings is informed by that band’s unique sound, but it is by no means derivative. Folk elements are married to blastbeats, black metal belligerence, stark melodies, and riff upon ripping riff. Echoes of early Woods of Ypres albums coalesce around the rousing sound of Amon Amarth, the finest bits of Borknagar’s catalog, and deep draughts of perseverance. (more…)
By the turn of the century, Enslaved had produced a quartet of compelling albums, establishing themselves as reliable and unique purveyors of the blackened arts. Following Quorthon’s late-career lead, Enslaved eschewed Satan as sole subject to focus on Scandinavian folklore and mythology. For this, the band would earn the ubiquitous genre tag of “Viking metal.” Enslaved were, in actuality, quickly transcending the boundaries of black metal’s second wave. Mardraum is the Enslaved album that truly crushed all categorization, smashing minds and sailing off the edge of the known universe with aplomb.
Suffocation are, for all intents and purposes, my death metal home base. I was weaned on the mid-90s death metal scene in New York City, and Suffocation were royalty. Pierced from Within is an all-time favorite and my personal benchmark for heaviness in metal. Despite my youthful devotion, I haven’t been an early adopter of the band’s post-reunion material. Each album has wormed its way into my heart and music collection, but the process has been deliberate. Pinnacle of Bedlam, however, is another beast altogether; a threshold of instant gratification has been crossed. (more…)
Overtly sinister sonic imagery requires some suspension of disbelief on my part. Either I’ll buy into a band’s bombast and bluster, or their attempts to evoke evil will fall hilariously flat, obscuring the music below. On their third full-length, Lightning Swords of Death deftly thread the needle of depravity, creating an immersive and convincingly blasphemous atmosphere. Baphometic Chaosium rides the raging black on the edge of death, pleading its case with massive riffs and songwriting prowess; I’ll buy in.
I prefer some mystery in my metal; music is always more compelling when its lineage is not immediately obvious. On their sophomore release, Vex inject strands of traditional metal minutiae into the desolation of extremity, constructing an enigma of limitless vision. Memorious traverses planes of phantasmagorical death, pulling pieces of Primordial’s puzzle and adjoining them to the boundless reverie of bands like Fen, Stargazer, or Misery’s Omen. A commanding and charismatic vocal performance ensures total triumph; Vex never once live up to their name.
Imbroglio know that modern life is not harmonious; there is no balance, there is no such thing as solace. The band craft music that’s in perfect tune with life’s painful dissonance and anti-rhythm. Declared Self Hatred wields a detuned vorpal blade through sludge and mathematically anomalous hardcore, beckoning a listener into a world of cacophonous beauty and inextricable self-destruction. (more…)
And so it begins, all this week (and perhaps some of next week), we will be recapping the best of the year, with year-end lists of albums, shows and other various lists from all Metal Injection contributors. As always, we want to hear your top albums as well. Make your voice heard here.
My metal proclivities took a decided turn for the morose this year, descending into a delightful morass of doom. There’s plenty of death lurking in these depths, but black metal in its purer forms seems to have failed me in 2012 (blasphemy, I know). And where did I hide the grind? There's a bit baked into my list, but as usual, I won't know what I really missed until I lay eyes on the Grind and Punishment year-end list.
The following albums were key to my own survival in 2012: (more…)
I’m a devotee of My Dying Bride in principle, if not always in practice. The band have been indulging us in beautiful misery for 20 years, but I’ve never been a blind buyer of their albums. After releasing a string of modern classics, my incredulity was rewarded in For Lies I Sire, which thoroughly missed the mark. The dubious The Barghest o' Whitby EP sounded the alarm of decline. A Map of All Our Failures, however, sees My Dying Bride relaxing into their essence and returning to the enthralling, despondent symmetry that marks their greatest works. (more…)
Ostensibly borne of black metal, Krallice suffer from the simplicity of that label. Summoning a protean confluence of speed, intricacy, melody, and rhythmic ardor, Krallice constitute a genre unto themselves. Years Past Matter sees the band traveling into the future, progressing past evolution into amalgamate mutancy. On Diotima, Krallice forged a purposeful consonance, crossing the streams to present a grandiose vision. In contrast to that album’s orchestrated ethos, Years Past Matter feels effortless, as if the band have submitted to their own manic energy. That delirious acquiescence has yielded extraordinary results. (more…)
There’s plenty to say about the sonic gulfs that separate Yellow & Green from Baroness’ past work, but the primary difference here is in attitude. Blue Record was a concentrated draught of snarling triumph; this (double) album brings the actual blues. Yellow & Green unwinds an arresting array of rock and roll algorithms, each stamped with the hallmarks of Baizley/Adams era Baroness. Every minute of its execution, however, is drenched in dysphoric longing. Stepping back and evaluating the album is difficult; Yellow & Green’s heavy-hearted undertow drags you down without asking permission. (more…)
Mutilation Rites’ discography is a bit confounding, traversing multiple line-ups, demos, splits, and EPs. The band’s rapid gestation has been very public, but every minute of their music to-date is worthwhile. Empyrean is the band’s first full-length, and the album’s breakneck plummet through black metal, thrash, death, and doom hits the spot with a vengeance. Mutilation Rites have arrived at their own birth fully grown and bristling with hatred. (more…)
I often associate death/doom with waiting, persevering for that perfect riff, enduring the dirge for that most heart-rending of melodies. My ears don't deal well with filler. Anhedonist's Netherwards, however, is 40 minutes of payoff. When the band does the doom, bleak melodies approach sonic perfection, unfurling in radiant, saturnine stereo. Anhedonist challenge My Dying Bride’s greatest moments, taking that forlorn majesty and straining it judiciously through cheesecloth. (more…)
Acephalix breathe life into fetid, sepulchral death with crust punk beats and chest-bursting rage. Deathless Master is a subtle refinement of the ripping, rupturous sound the band unleashed last year with Interminable Night. Rhythmic and vocal vehemence are still the band’s raison d'être, but the heaving riffage is elevated in both quality and clarity on Deathless Master. (more…)
Woods 4 was a resplendent, sprawling and morose masterpiece. Its protagonist, ultimately, was victorious in his travails, leaving the listener in a state of transcendent triumph. Woods 5 cannot enjoy the same benefit; this album is inseparable in tone and spirit from its creator’s untimely passing. More pithy and focused than its predecessor, Woods 5 delves deep into the dealings of death. Many of these songs are concerned with life’s sudden cessation; that their content should be prophetic is really, truly and almost unbearably sad. (more…)
My interest in old school death’s rebirth has wandered; more and more bands are making less and less interesting music. On Voidbound, Manipulator stanch that flow of banality. The band faithfully fling the filth, but they also douse their songs in notably sinister sauce. Throw in a “Cromlech” cover from Darkthrone’s Soulside Journey, along with Manipultor’s entire Unearthed demo album for free, and I’ll bite.
Manipulator supply torrents of viscous riffs, delivered with the wet putrescence that marked Autopsy’s early efforts. These songs are much more than incoherent flippy floppy; curiously hypnotic hooks and stupendous rhythmic feats are sewn into the subsonic gurgle. The drums and bass are expertly executed; the sound of Chris Reifert’s organic skin beating is faithfully emulated. (more…)