(In this post Dan Barkasi inaugurates a monthly series recommending music from the month just ended.)
Welcome, welcome, to the first edition of my monthly column, oh so cleverly titled Essential Entries. Classy and functional, right?
In a nutshell, the premise is to feature what particularly tickled my fancy every month. The plan is to get this out a little after each month is completed. Hopefully you’ll find something you’ll like, or simply have fantastic taste and know the stuff already! Either way, enjoy, and I encourage you to make a comment on what you particularly dug, or if there’s something you think yours truly missed.
Without further ado, here’s January, which was a pretty damn good way to kick off 2015.
A Swarm of the Sun – The Rifts
Coming in at the very end of the month, and thankfully, this was caught in time to be included. Atmospheric and complex post-metal meets some doom, and it’s daunting in the best way. The vocals are especially fitting, the piano sections are mesmerizing, and the whole vibe needs to be felt.
Abysmal Darkening – Sub Terra
Doom with a lot of black stirred in, and some kicking riffs to boot. These Dutchies’ second full-length has variety and the chops to make a serious impact. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Armageddon – Captivity & Devourment
Talk about a comeback! Armageddon started out as the hard-hitting side project of Christopher Amott, playing blazing melodic death metal, and then transitioning to power/heavy metal. The latter was fine, but the earlier, heavier stuff was more to my tastes. They came back to those roots here, and it very well might be the best thing the band has done yet.
Chalice of Blood – Helig, Helig, Helig (EP)
Nothing fancy, and that’s just how it should be. Simply ripping and uber-catchy Swedish black metal without flaw. It also leaves the listener wanting more, so hopefully a full-length will be on the horizon. Until then, however, crank this.
Chapel of Disease – The Mysterious Ways of Repetitive Art
Rough and tumble German death metal. It’s raw, it’s crunchy, and it’ll rip your face off. This stuff is straight and to the point, with gobs of old school goodness flowing through this band’s influences. So. Heavy.
Defaced – Forging the Sanctuary
Pretty standard pulsating death metal here, but with some black and thrash twists in places. It’s well done, though, so any sort of typicality fades away as the album blasts away. Nothing neutral from these Swiss dudes!
Desolate Shrine – The Heart of the Netherworld
This was my most anticipated album for this month, and it ends up being my favorite. Residing at the very top of the heap in Finnish death metal (a breeding ground for quality), and they keep on getting better. Dark as dark can be, and it’s a Dark Descent release, so no shock that this is great. Lot of darkness going on, and it’s blissful. Listen, listen now, and repeat.
Doomraiser – Reverse (Passaggio Inverso)
Think 90% classic doom with the occasional growl, and a thick, punchy sound. This is Italy’s Doomraiser (silly name, but they get a pass), and it’s a really good time! More of this sort of doom metal has been coming down the pipeline, and that’s definitely a good thing.
Finsterforst – Mach Dich Frei
You’re not looking at much of a folk metal guy by any means. However, on the rare occasion when the style is done right, it’s damn potent. Finsterforst channel their inner Moonsorrow/Thyrfing and deliver with an epic feel that isn’t overdone, with a thick black metal underbelly that provides the needed kick.
Marduk – Frontschwein
The most consistent of the more well-known black metal bands, these Swedes keep it up with Frontschwein. Mid-paced in parts, speedier in the rest, and all undeniably Marduk. The old reliable in their genre, and that’s a tough thing to keep up after 25 years. Here’s to many more!
Obscure Infinity – Perpetual Descending into Nothingness
More classic-styled death metal from Germany. The mid-paced passages that pop up here and there give the album depth to go along with the punishment. Solid as a really solid thing.
The Crown – Death is Not Dead
Original vocalist Johan Lindstrand is back – again – and The Crown are firing on all cylinders as if he never left. Again. Deathrace King, this is not (what is?), but this is one of the original purveyors of death/thrash writing kick-ass songs that will stick with the listener, and frankly, are freaking fun! Crank this to 11, and thank me in the morning.
Thulcandra – Ascension Lost
Dissection/Darkthrone worship (they got their name from a Darkthrone song, after all) is abundant on Thulcandra’s entire catalogue, but that’s their charm. They take the two sounds, mix them almost flawlessly, and execute frostbitten melodic black metal of the highest caliber. Perfect music for the way-too frigid winter months.
Volition – Wreck Among Ruin
As a detractor of most sludge, I will say that Volition is the example of how it can be done right. In reality, just as much parts funeral doom as they are the sludgy variety, what these guys manage to do is create undeniably heavy music that’ll crush like The Incredible Hulk when he’s in a mood. Play this really loud.
Agos – Irkalla Transcendence (EP)
Last, and definitely not least, is a three-song EP that came straight out of nowhere. A two-man project with Virus of Koch’s Van Gimot handling all the instruments/vocals, and Aenaon’s Astrous supplying the lyrics, overall concept, and visual side. In short, two of the best musicians in Greece combining for something that is utterly dominant. What’s not to love?
Think death/black metal with a HUGE sound, gloomy atmosphere, and enough grime to make the listener feel it. Yet that only scratches the surface on how good this is. The only downside is that this is only just under 20 minutes and three songs. More is needed, and this guy is salivating at the prospect of a full-length.
That’s it for this month! That’s a lot to take in for what ultimately was a fantastic start to the musical year. Keep an eye out for February, as there’s some gems I can’t wait to share with you all. Until then!