(Here’s the last of KevinP’s monthly selections for 2015, naming his Top 5 favorite albums released or scheduled for release during December.)
Since I’ve had plenty of time with this month’s releases to formulate my list, along with the fact that things start to get slow once Xmas week arrives, you’re getting this a little earlier than normal. Also, my Top 25 Albums and Top 5 EP’s of the Year will be posted the first week of January. Nothing else profound to say, so let’s get on with it.
5. Kvltist – Catechesis
It takes a certain amount of testicular fortitude to be a new band (formed in 2013) and refer to yourself as ‘kvlt’. One could almost think the band was trying to be tongue in cheek, but alas they are not. I mean, when you are signed to W.T.C. Productions (my Record Label of the Year winner), you know it’s gonna be dead serious and they mean business. This is straight-up cold and harsh black metal. I’d say they are spewing fire and brimstone, but I already said it was cold and harsh, so let’s say they shoot dry ice from their veins.
4. Spectral Lore – Gnosis
Hey look, a 50-minute EP. Ayloss gives us the second in a series of experimental ventures while we await the follow-up full-length to last years III. Don’t get scared by the experimental tagline, as it’s pretty close to what you would expect from him, albeit with some oriental instrumentation, acoustics, and extra guitar “noodling”.
3. Nar Mattaru – Ancient Atomic Warfare
“I’LL GET YOU GADGET!!!!!!” I gotta admit, any vocalist that sounds like Dr. Claw is gonna score some brownie points with me. Plus I’m so freaking tired of all the noisey, sloppy South American war metal rubbish, it’s nice to have a solid death metal output from this region of the world.
2. Batushka – Litourgiya
Even when I proclaimed Poland to be the Metal Country of the year in my previous column, I hadn’t even heard of this album or known of its existence. So if you had any doubts, add this one to the list of remarkable releases from the land of kielbasa. Band members are unknown, but supposedly from well-known bands. Sorta a black/death thing with shrieking vocals and liturgical chants, throw in a smidgeon of clean vocals and some keyboard flourishes, for an overall very impressive package/debut.
1. Akhenaten – Incantations Through the Gates of Irkalla
It’s very much a double-edged sword when a band decides to use folk and/or ethnic sounds in their music. The idea is to inject a freshness, and help it stand out from the crowd. On one hand it’s sometimes used so sparingly that ,it has little to no effect and leaves you wanting more. On the other it comes across as complete overkill, and by halfway through an album you are so sick of hearing the sitar, harp, flutes, etc.
So that brings us to Manitou Springs, Colorado’s Akhenaten. Brothers Wyatt and Jerred Houseman (Helleborus, ex-Execration) somehow strike the perfect chord with their sophomore album of black/death metal with Middle Eastern folk influences. Strangely enough, this album makes heavy use of such aforementioned sounds, yet it never wears thin, nor does it detract from the overall heaviness of their assault. This is by no means an easy feat to accomplish, and frankly my initial impressions of the album were going to be what I usually think — “enough already”. Most impressive (yes, I’m channeling my inner Darth Vader for Star Wars Month) for a young band to expertly craft such a professional-sounding opus this early in their career.