Drouth (USA) – Knives, Labyrinths, Mirrors (Black/death metal, Independent)
Drouth is red-hot. They bring the kind of heat that US-based black metal bands like Uada and Void Omnia have been stoking recently, that black/death conflagration that you just to jump into and immolate yourself upon. The vocals are scathing, the drums unrelenting, and the guitars wind mesmeric riff-paths that manage to both balance and increase in complexity and intensity (a rare feat, indeed). Devote your aural attentions to this one. ~ Eric Seal
Graveslave (US) – Sick/Nasty (Death metal, Self Released)
Okay this one may or not have been released in September but hey let’s forget about that and focus on the album. Sound like a deal? Good,
Have you ever had flights of fancy about murder and general mayhem that would more than likely get you locked up? Haven’t we all ha-ha, so if that’s the case then this album is for you. I’m not in any way endorsing that sort of criminal behaviour, live and let live and all that tripe so if you go on a mass killing spree after hearing this then be it on your own head, or lack of after you get caught..
Get past the fact that the album cover may look like your twelve year old brother with an eighties fetish may have drawn it and you will find some seriously fucked up shit going on here. Basically the story of a murderous little bugger and the fun he has whilst self enabling. Not for the faint of heart.
Brutal death metal, probably not befitting this one very much, more like death metal well done, with a story to boot, and an ending that you can only find out about by listening to and/or reading the lyrics, which means you should probably buy the damn thing so I don’t have to explain it to you. Makes my day a little easier.
Disclaimer – In no way shape or form was I forced to write this review or am I being paid to do so, now if the band member behind my back would s l o w l y remove the knife from my spleen I would be very much appreciative. Fucking ouch mate ha-ha. ~ Andrew Cook
Necrophile (Japan) – Awakening Those Oppressed (Death metal, Unholy Prophecies)
Japan, land of the rising sun and all that, people with silly hair and far too many RPGs that involve getting it on with chicks, blokes or a Pidgeon, or a Pokémon. Admittedly they have produced a couple of metal bands over the years of note, not to mention Babymetal (insert groan here) but are we to take this one seriously..
Fuck yes. Necrophile hit all the right notes in an odd sort of circle pit inducing moshfest that is quite brilliant to behold, even if it does sound a little like Napalm Death. Why the bloody hell would you complain when all of your furniture has been ruined because you just couldn’t sit through the album without getting up and going Psycho like Mike Muir on an acid trip! I have no idea what they put in the water over there, but if you want a death grunting, head banging, mosh pit sort of atmosphere in your day, or even at your wedding, invite these blokes. They’ll make it FAR more interesting by far! Crossover, death metal, death by warm not well looked after sushi roll, call it what you may, just get on it mate, it’s good, and if you are feeling a little oppressed, this will WAKE YOU UP! ~ Andrew Cook
LYZZÄRD (Portugal) – Savage (Heavy Metal, Fighter Records)
“Hello LYZZÄRD? Yeah, the 80’s called. They want they’re music back.” I came of age during the 1980’s. My initial musical influences come from the 1980’s. My first concert shirts were purchased in the 1980’s. In short, this particular decade was formative in the development of my musical tastes. Though this band didn’t form until 2013, they are unabashedly stuck in said decade. There are certain bands, such as Dio or Judas Priest, that everybody knows from that decade. Then there was a second tier of bands, like say Angel Witch, that produced quality music on a consistent basis, but never reached the collective consciousness of the public in quite the same way. Savage feels like a record that could have come from one of those bands. They sound so familiar. You bang your head, pump your fist, swig your beer, and can almost sing along with the chorus. In short, this is a quality album by a quality band that fails to fully set itself apart from a long list of other quality bands and records doing essentially the same thing. A fine addition to your collection, but perhaps a more a ruby in the rough than a diamond in the rough. ~ Rick Jackson
Myrkur (Denmark) – Mareridt (Black Metal, Relapse Records)
It seems like everybody has an opinion on Myrkur these days (obviously including myself), but you know what they same about that. This latest release ‘Mareridt’ can best be described as ‘blackened Enya’ though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. First, a quick mention of current controversy. I would love to hear/read Myrkur explain her comments in a recent interview, but those comments are unclear to me. I will also say emphatically that I am vehemently opposed to xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments. Now, back to the music. There are two ways to view this album, and generally speaking, the collected works of Myrkur. First, if you are a trve cvlt purist, you will hate this. In know way shape or form is this a black metal record (even though that’s the easy, convenient tag). If you are open minded about music and enjoy beauty both soft and harsh, then you may truly enjoy this. She makes excellent use of her truly beautiful voice (disagree that she has a beautiful voice? Fight me!) and also some truly aggressive, vicious harsh singing. Mareridt leans way over towards the ‘Enya’ side of things, but is still her best proper album. The only thing better released under her name is Mausoleum, which is a near spiritual experience. ~ Rick Jackson
Summon (USA) – Dark Descent of Fallen Souls (Black Metal, Werewolf Records)
In celebration of the twentieth anniversary of its release, Dark Descent of Fallen Souls is finally (for the first time ever) receiving the vinyl treatment from Werewolf Records. Originally formed in 1991 and hailing from nearby (for me) Lansing, Michigan, Summon are one of the first American black metal bands. They take the raw style then in formation as the second wave and give it rust belt grit. This particular release, the band’s debut full length, first appeared in 1997 and features tremolo picking, raw distortion, chaotic blasting, and vocals so raw they make my throat hurt just listening. Production is lo-fi and raw, without being uselessly terrible. My one complaint is that percussion sounds a little thin. Don’t sleep on this opportunity to hear an early master of American black metal. Dark Descent of Fallen Souls is relevant today and holds up as superior to much of the glut of black metal currently out there. ~ Rick Jackson
Botanist (USA) – Collective: The Shape of He to Come (Experimental Black Metal, Avantgarde Music)
Botanist is a strange project, no doubt. It’s fair to say that Collective: The Shape of He to Come will appeal to only a select few. It is also fair to say that I am a part of that select few. I actually clued into this project EP 3: Green Metal/Deterministic Chaos. Bizarre black(ish) metal that focusses on ecological themes? Sign me up twice. Usually a one-man project featuring the work of Otrebor, this release takes a more collaborative approach, and includes the work of D. Neal, R. Chiang, Bezaelith, and A. Lindo (aka Golem). The result is a fuller, more cohesive sound to the chaos. Themes remain about the natural world. Music remains black metal at it’s foundation with a plethora of interesting side trips. My advice? Strap on your hiking boots. Allow yourself to be led on this particular journey. Pack out what you pack in. ~ Rick Jackson
The political situation in the Indian subcontinent has been volitial in the past few years. One of the upsides of it has been the influence that it has had on the metal and punk bands in the region. Nepali hardcore/crust band Neck deep in Filth featuring member from bands like Jugaa, Squirtguns & Asphyxiate have released an politically driven EP. The cover art for 6 track EP has a member of a minority community surrounded by bullets and the Nepali flag. Over multiple listens, the EP has become one of my favourite grindcore releases from the region. I can’t wait to hear new material from the band in the coming years. ~ Peter Kotikalapudi
Neck of the Woods (British Columbia) – The Passenger (Death Metal, Progressive Metal, Hardcore Punk, Independent)
Neck of the Woods are a modern progressive metal band with more than enough of a death metal influence in their sound to warrant being labelled progressive death metal, if it wasn’t for the fact that they hardly sound like a traditional death metal band at all. Although not unique, they’ve certainly succeeded in crafting a sound for themselves that’s more individual than not, and this, their debut album, capitalises on this quite nicely. With songs that are well-written and well-realised, they band gather together various different influences and use them to create songs that are modern, emotive, and shamelessly aggressive. Bold, powerful, and full of meaty content, this is an album that firmly demonstrates what Neck of the Woods are capable of. It’s very enjoyable and extremely satisfying. ~ Nigel Holloway
Helpless (UK) – Debt (Grind, Punk, Noise, Independent)
Prepare to get crushed, smashed, and mangled. Helpless are feral rage and grinding mayhem incarnate. If you’re unfamiliar with this UK grindcore band, then you’re really missing out; Debt is a 22 minute journey into abrasive insanity and savage chaos. The songs are short and brutally effective in the damage they cause. The band’s style is a hybrid one, taking elements of many harsh styles of music. Punk and powerviolence play out alongside a core of ferocious grindcore. The band also take dark and post-hardcore bands such as Norma Jean and Converge into their embrace too, as well as a bit of grinding dissonance, to add further flavour. Throw in some modern hardcore/grindcore the likes of which bands like Nails, Weekend Nachos, and Unyielding Love do so well, and you have Debt. Helpless have both style and substance, and with this album they have extremely impressed. Get this. ~ Nigel Holloway