June felt like a productive month. I got through a decent amount of albums while making sure everyone got their fair due in terms of attention. Pretty happy about how it all came together.
Some impressive stuff passed through my ears, but the best of the best is Craft’s latest, White Noise and Black Metal. It’s a perfect example of what modern black metal should sound like.
July will hopefully be as good. I’m keen for Deafheaven and Obscura’s new albums.
Hit me up on Facebook if you want. Always up for a chat.
Album of the Month
Craft – White Noise and Black Metal
(Black Metal – Sweden)
Season of Mist – 2018/06/22
Not a lot of noise going on here, but there are eight tracks of blackened gelid malevolence. It’s a veritable soundtrack for a frolic through the joyless expanse of Cocytus. Too often black metal finds itself trapped within its own tropes, but Craft have taken these tropes and unleashed them in a storm so furious that everything seems new after the destruction wrought.
The Rest in Alphabetical Order
Abstracter – Cinereous Incarnate
(Blackened Sludge – United States of America)
Sentient Ruin Laboratories – 2018/06/08
When I was a young boy, someone once told me that there was no greater sin, even surpassing the seven deadly sins, than despair, as it meant you believed God was powerless. Abstracter capture this notion of blasphemous misery and turn it loose in an almost weaponised display of sonic might. It’s cacophonous, tumultuous, and savage.
At the Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
(Melodic Death Metal – Sweden)
Century Media – 2018/05/18
A slower, more brooding At the Gates is on display here. The anger that has driven their sound to this point has manifested here as smouldering bitterness. It’s not bitter in the sense of hating what their doing. The band still clearly loves performing. It’s bitter about pretty well everything else though. It’s a new plateau of jaded misanthropy.
The Body – I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer
(Avant-garde Metal – United States of America)
Thrill Jockey – 2018/05/11
Albums like this really highlight the divide between amateur writers, such as myself, and proper music journalists. I just don’t have the vocabulary to do this album justice. It’s ominous. It’s oppressive. It’s sinister as all hell. And bleak doesn’t even begin to describe its emotional darkness. And even with all that laid out, you need to know it goes further and weirder than I can explain.
Funeral Mist – Hekatomb
(Black Metal – Sweden)
Norma Evangelium Diaboli – 2018/06/15
Not sure if any of you have spent an extended period of time with a crazy street preacher. I have and this reminds me a lot of that experience. An almost overwhelming raging of fevered mania is peppered with moments of terrifying lucidity. It’s the sort of unhinged blasphemous rite that so many black metal acts aspire to, but taken to an extreme beyond expectation.
Genghis Crack – Genghis Crack
(Grindcore – Chile)
House Gore Records – 2018/04/07
I’m finding South America to fertile ground for excellent grind. From Lxs Jugadxs in Argentina to Kharma in Venezuela, there is a strong trend towards pissed off blasting violence. Feel free to add Genghis Crack to this. I don’t understand all the samples used, but I know anger when I hear it. This is wire garrotte taut and as pummelling as 80s heyday Mike Tyson.
Ghost – Prequelle
(Heavy Metal – Sweden)
Loma Vista Recordings – 2018/06/01
“Surely the gimmick has worn thin by now?” I hear you asking. And the answer remains no. To be honest, the people in silly masks thing will always be easy to ignore so long as they keep on delivering on quality like they have here. It leans hard into rock territory, making it just as much Bon Jovi as Black Sabbath and that swagger makes it an utter joy to listen to.
Grave Upheaval – —
(Death Doom – Australia)
Nuclear War Now! – 2018/04/15
I don’t normally enjoy death doom and really only bought this to flex my critical skills. But then it completely kicked my arse. I mean this floored me. It’s so damn heavy that it creates its own atmosphere. It could shatter a diamond. And the vocals sound like a cthonic god slowly tearing into our reality. It’s got me completely turned around on the genre.
Marduk – Viktoria
(Black Metal – Sweden)
Century Media – 2018/06/22
Marduk is really starting to feel like a spent force. None of their post-Wormwood albums have aged well and Viktoria starts off feeling worse than that. Even when they lean into the controversy surrounding their politics, it feels hollow; it feels like they’re trying to cash in on scandal because it’s all they have left. I know they’re capable of so much more.
Mournful Congregation – The Incubus of Karma
(Funeral Doom – Australia)
20 Buck Spin/Osmose Productions – 2018/03/23
It might be the clinical depression talking, but I found this to be profoundly soothing. I’m sure that’s not what they were aiming for, but at the same time, it’s not me being critical. It hits that nadir of despair where all of life’s iniquities become a warm blanket, as they allow you to feel something. Anything. It embraces misery in its utter totality.
Necros Christos – Domedon Doxomedon
(Death Metal – Germany)
Sepulchral Voice – 2018/05/18
I hope everyone is up on their Qabbalistic rituals; pre-Nicean Christian mysticism; and Abrahamic gnosticism, because Necros Christos just assumes you are. For their (alas) swansong they have crafted a complex three disc spiritual meditation that both hyper intelligent and crushingly heavy. I doubt they could have crafted a more fitting farewell. Safe travels, noble initiates; may you find the apotheosis you seek.
Nervosa – Downfall of Mankind
(Thrash – Brazil)
Napalm Records – 2018/06/01
What you have here is a straight forward thrash album and that needs to be celebrated. It’s not blackened; it’s not crossover; it’s that dying breed of true, fast as hell, angry as a swarm of hornets thrash. It’s a real conflagration of an album too; starts off a bit slow but builds to an intensity that will level whole city blocks and leave a satisfyingly smouldering ruin.
Ritual Necromancy – Disinterred Horror
(Death Metal – United States of America)
Dark Descent – 2018/05/25
This album earns the critical praise I have seen said of it. And so long as as I’m wearing my critic hat, I’ll recommend it. But as a listener, there’s something not quite to my personal taste here. I think it’s because underneath the blistered exterior of fire and savagery, there’s an unbeating heart of cold, almost alien sterility. It’s uncomfortable to be honest.
Wayfarer – World’s Blood
(Atmospheric Black Metal – United States of America)
Profound Lore – 2018/05/25
I’m a firm believer that USBM is at its best when it wholeheartedly embraces its American-ness. The gonzo nihilism of Cobalt. Panopticon’s bluegrass/black metal hybrid. And, now, Wayfarer and their desolate, tenebrific distortion of country. There’s no high plains sing-along here. This is all grim paranoia and foreboding cynicism.
Yob – Our Raw Heart
(Doom Metal – United States of America)
Relapse – 2018/06/08
Despite there being no evidence to back it up, I like to think there’s a competition between Pallbearer and Yob for the USA’s best doom act. And Our Raw Heart puts Yob into the lead. Sure, it’s heavy as a Jovian hell, but it’s the raw emotional heft that makes it such a stunning album. It’s heartfelt, almost touching in places, and bleak without being despairing.