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SPECIAL FEATURE: Best of 2015 – Wouter Roemers (TO Staff) – second chapter

Continued from page 1. On this page you’ll find the runner-ups (the honorable mentions) and the Most Promising Newcomers.

Jump to the next page for all the 2015 Hard/Fast/Grindcore Highlights.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Endlesshade – Wolf Will Swallow the Sun

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One of Ukraine’s most promising new units isn’t a black metal band, but a gloomy doom collective. Fronted by the wiccan Natalia Androsova and draped in the gloom of the better Scandinavian bands of the genre ‘Wolf Will Swallow the Sun’, misleading album title aside, was one of the highlights of the doom metal genre this year. The record not only sounded dark and desolate, but actively conveyed a sense of bitter cold. Helped tremendously by the unobtrusive synthesizer lines of Olga Bedash, Endlesshade is the antidote to the pervasive occult rock/1970s doom rock revivalist movement. Not so much concerned with heaviness as with enswathing the listener in cold mists of depression, and frigidness, ‘Wolf Will Swallow the Sun’ was a resounding artistic victory. Read our full review.

Hate Eternal – Infernus

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The sixth (and third of the “fire” trilogy) Hate Eternal record is a rejuvenation of sorts. After the tremendously savage ‘Fury & Flames’ (an album marred by a nearly unlistenable production) and ‘Phoenix Among the Ashes’, ‘Infernus’ has Hate Eternal at its most blood-curdling intense. Featuring the sole contribution of drummer Chason Westmoreland and the considerable talents of bass guitarist J.J. Hrubovcak ‘Infernus’ combines elements of ‘King Of All Kings’ with the more diversified songwriting approach of ‘I, Monarch’. Blessed with a crystal-clear production, and impressive artwork by Eliran Kantor ‘Infernus’ conclusively proves that Erik Rutan is on the level of Trey Azagthoth as far as guitar pyrotechnics is concerned. At this point Hate Eternal has surpassed Morbid Angel in relevance, consistency, as in artistic superiority. Read our full review.

Hypoxia – Despondent Death

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Produced by Suffocation live sound engineer Joe Cincotta, and featuring the vocal talents of Mike Hrubovcak the debut of Queens, New York-based Hypoxia is one of potential and promise. Propelled by the percussive dexterity of Carolina Perez ‘Despondent Death’ sounds anything like the average NYDM band. In fact this sounds more Californian when it comes right down to it. Criminally overlooked upon release Hypoxia shows that death metal can be traditional in approach but contemporary in execution. More structured and deliberately paced than the debut of Embodied Torment but spiritually similar ‘Despondent Death’ is what death metal should sound like these days. Unafraid  of venturing into traditional tropes with superb soloing and tasteful drumming Hypoxia is one of the great promises of the NYDM scene. Read our full review.

Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus – The Child Must Die

While its roots lie in Finland, Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus is located in the Northeastern state of Pennsylvania. ‘The Child Must Die’ is based on the 19th century epic poem the Kalevala. The poem itself was based on Karelian and Finnish folklore and mythology. Befitting for a symfo black metal band ‘The Child Must Die’ was enhanced by the drama and theatricality of its source material. Composed in its entirety by central member Mika Mage, and assembled with the help of studio musicians Mage’ band retains enough of the vintage Scandinavian second wave black metal tropes, but enhances it with minor technical flourishes, and hypnotic riff tapestries. Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus refuses to conform to the genre’s imagery, and its nonconformist mindset is what sets it apart from the virtually interchangeable hordes hailing from the permafrost Nordic European outfits of the genre.

Ogotay – Dead God’s Prophet

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After the demise of Yattering it seemed that Marcin Świerczyński was destined for anonymity. The second Ogotay offering installs Świerczyński in the frontman position, and it is a welcome return. Drawing from death -, thrash – and groove metal ‘Dead God’s Prophet’ is exactly what you’d expect of decade-plus experienced men like this. Its target of choice, as the album title implies, is the hypocrisy of the various manifestations of organized religion, and its adherents. Controlled, technical, and aggressive in equal measure Ogotay knows the strengths of Polish extreme metal. Hopefully Świerczyński will finally get his due after years of toiling away in the margin with the underestimated Yattering. ‘Dead God’s Prophet’, the band’s debut for Selfmade God Records, should set Ogotay on the path to greatness.

Sathanas – Worship the Devil

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Paul Tucker and his cohorts have been at it for nearly thirty years now. 9 albums, a variety of label partners, but not an inch of integrity lost. Sathanas is, was, and always will be the embodiment of the underground ethic. They might not be as brutal as your current favorite death metal band, nor as evil as your current favorite black metal band – but their music is truly timeless. Unbound by trends or changing popular tastes ‘Worship the Devil’ could have been released twenty years ago and be called ‘Armies Of Charon’. Sathanas never seems to get its due. These three guys are pillars of the US death metal scene. Read our full review.

MOST PROMISING NEWCOMERS (in alphabetical order)

Abominatio

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South America has always been a hotbed for the extremest of the extreme. Chile, home of underground force Thornafire, comes Abominatio (formerly known as Legion). ‘Made Of Flesh… and Evil’ is Incantation worship of the purest blood. Drenched in a suffocating atmosphere of purulence and decay Abominatio does a lot with surprisingly little. Stripped down, crude and minimal the two track demo holds the middle ground between early Incantation, and its latter doom-oriented era. The production recalls the forgotten Asphyx album ‘Embrace the Death’ rather than its more polished successors. Frontwoman Luisa Silva more often than not combines the grit and guttural power of Mike Saez with the pained, rasped inflection of John McEntee. Abominatio makes absolutely no pretense about what it is, and prefers its death metal prefixless, as it should be.

Abyssal Ascendant

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While technically not a newcomer (they released a demo/EP prior) French death metal trio Abyssal Ascendant debuted spectacularly this year with its ‘Chronicles Of the Doomed Worlds’ album. Heavily inspired by the likes of prime era Morbid Angel, Tom Wilkinson-era Immolation, and Mithras the album is an impressive exercise in darkness and technicality. The resurgence of the French underground has given the world many promising new bands over the last couple of years. From the looks of it Abyssal Ascendant is another strong addition to said scene. Read our full review.

In-Defilade

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Valiant underground warrior/multi-instrumentalist Jon Vesano cut his teeth in Demonic Christ and his own Darkmoon. After his all too short tenure with South Carolina Egyptologists Nile he is now back with his own band. Named after a military tactic, and armed with an ambitious lyrical concept ‘Rulers Of Famine’ is a strong, if flawed, debut. Militaristic, war-like but also traditionally influenced In-Defilade is nearly schizophrenic in the influences it mixes. At its most compact and streamlined it could beat Nile in efficiency and expertise. The record’s somewhat uneven production, and a few stylistic blunders, aside there’s a great possible future for In-Defilade. If anything, it’s great having one of the fallen ‘In Their Darkened Shrines’ members resurface in a spectacular way like this. Read our full review.

Ravenia

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The ‘Wingless’ demo was blatantly ignored by most of the metal press, mainstream and underground alike. She has lent her voice to a number of established Suomi bands, yet never seems to get her due. Who is she, you wonder? Finnish one-woman industry Armi Päivinen, headmistress of the now-defunct In Silentio Noctis. Ravenia is her most ambitious project yet. Nearly a full year of recording and producing at some of Finland’s most prestigious studios has gone into the upcoming ‘Beyond the Walls Of Death’. No expenses were spared in making Ravenia‘s debut the most comprehensive symfo metal album you’ll ever hear. Armi’s perfectionism is the stuff of legend, and her voice is that of an angel. Ravenia will establish her as the penultimate symfo metal royalty she is. Spread your wings and fly, Armi!

Recon By Fire

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Not quite as extreme as some of its counterparts (Corpus is much heavier) the girls in Recon By Fire presented a very brief but promising glimpse of what thrash metal could be. Boasting a powerful production, and a pumping bass guitar sound ‘Into the Fire’ has the band still searching its identity and sound. It wasn’t quite as developed artistically as South American power trio Nervosa, but Recon By Fire at least hinted at something altogether heavier. According to statements made by the girls after the release of the demo they have since been busy writing “darker, heavier, faster” material. Poland has a long and storied history in the thrash metal genre, and these girls are no different. Hopefully we’ll hear of them sooner rather than later, and they’ll allow Corpus frontwoman Marth Kadlin to roar along. Read the full review.

Xerod

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Arriving late in the year was ‘Infinite Cycle’ by French death metal combo Xerod. Sporting an maritime concept, and boasting a female drummer Xerod was both thoroughly modern while remaining traditional in its influences. Funky bass licks, refined drumming and incredible soloing were about on the band’s formidable debut. Technical without being excessive, and melodic without becoming sugary – it aren’t qualities that a great many modern bands are able to juggle. Xerod makes it all sound so effortless, and natural. The versatility of the musicians in question is evidenced by the fact that drummer Audrey Gardenat also plays in post-hardcore band Lessen. Read our full review.

Feature concludes on the next page

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