Feb 152019
 

 

(DGR reviews the new album by the now-larger-than-life Greek black metal band Rotting Christ, which is being released today by Season of Mist.)

If at this point in their career Rotting Christ have decided to be the AC/DC of anti-religious heavy metal then I am all for it, even if it just boils down to me having an easier time explaining why I enjoy the songcraft that the band have been up to for so many years now.

To say that they’ve found a sound would be putting it politely; Rotting Christ not only found a sound, but they also basically defined it and then later let it define them. Especially in more recent years they have basically shifted from being a fire-fueled black metal nightmare into an almost Hollywood-esque war-drums-and-all hybrid of martial rhythms, ’70s prog guitar influences, and the straightforward guitar stomp and lead work that has made them so insanely catchy over the years. The group’s latest disc, The Heretics, is a giant block of that specific sound. Continue reading »

Jan 042019
 

(At last, we reach the fifth and final installment of DGR’s 5-part year-end effort to sink our site beneath an avalanche of words and a deluge of music. It includes his Top 10 albums, plus a list of EPs, and one final non-metal entry.)

Here we go into the final installment. One last grouping of albums and one last collection of thudding riffs, heavy guitars, and enough drumwork to leave one’s head spinning by the time it wraps up.

This final ten is all over the place, in terms of both genre and location. My lists tend to be pretty international always, but the consistent bouncing back and forth that is happening in this part has proven to be entertaining in its own right.

This group also reveals just how much of 2018 turned out to be the year of cathartic release for me. Alongside all the genre-bending, all the experimentation, and all of the well-executed groove, I found that every once in a while this year a disc would hit that would just boil down to a half-hour-plus of yelling, and I would relish every single second of it. I’m sure we could credit that to the wider situation of the world these days but I’ve also always been a sucker for turning music into an instrument of release, and for some reason that approach won me over hard this year.

So let’s begin with the final ten, and then a grouping of EPs I enjoyed this year, my final non-metal (ish) release recommendation, and a small (ish) closing paragraph… because why would I ever stop typing after just finishing the final ten?

That’s for crazy people. Continue reading »

Jan 032019
 

 

(Here’s the fourth installment of DGR’s 5-part year-end effort to sink our site beneath an avalanche of words and a deluge of music. The concluding Top 10 will appear tomorrow.)

A confession: For a long time the only words in this whole writeup prior to me breaking the whole thing into five parts and actually listing the bands was just a whole bunch of swear words. Even though I’ve been doing this for nine years now I still will occasionally try things I learned in writing classes over the years or even some things I’ve read about since then. Stream-of-consciousness writing is one of those, but the only thing I’ve learned from doing that in the context of talking about albums of the year is that I’ve assembled a pretty neat collection of permutations of the word ‘fuck’ that I’ve gathered from popular culture over the years.

It was at this point that I began going back through our review archives so that I could even remember what came out this year. Metal-Archives is also a tremendous help in that regard, since I often can’t remember what I talked about in January unless I’ve listened to it since then. It’s also one of my favorite things to do because I get to have a laugh at how far back I have to go in the segment tagged ‘Reviews’ on the site. I know that we’ve missed more than a few albums, but as it stands now,  our first review of something from 2018 is about forty pages back. And there can be anywhere between five to fifteen albums per page of results — depending on how we grouped them for each article.

I know that’s just reflective of the ‘relentless march of hashtag content’ that the internet has become, but it still makes me smile. If I ever need a reminder that heavy metal is — somehow, despite all the odds and all the editorials about rock music dying — a lively as all hell genre, that’s enough for me. I guess there will always be room for cathartic release via loud instruments, or the various experimentations outside of the tradional music sphere to which this genre loans itself. Continue reading »

Jan 022019
 

 

(Here’s the third installment of DGR’s 5-part year-end effort to sink our site beneath an avalanche of words and a deluge of music.)

Now that I’ve broken it out from the tremendous bulk of the rest of my year-end collective, I’m amused by how much world traveling this specific subset of the list does. It spends a surprising amount of time in France (which has done very well for itself these past few years), some time in the States, some time in Australia, and even manages to touch base with both Canada and Sweden for a few. It is also probably the most varied intsallment so far — the tech-death crews make a strong play here, but you’ll also start seeing some of the prefix-core resurgence that happened recently, as well as some ugly-as-fuck grind (on two fronts). And then there’s however in the hell Author & Punisher might be described.

Oh, did I spoil that Author & Punisher is making an appearance here? Whoops. Well too bad, Beastland is fucking killer but if you want to know why you’ll have to read on and see just where the San Diego noise-engineer found himself. There’s still a lot of list left to go, and knowing me, at least two-thousand more words of intro paragraph left to be written somewhere so let’s get the third chunk of this motherfucker going. Continue reading »

Jan 012019
 

 

(Here’s the second installment of DGR’s 5-part year-end effort to sink our site beneath an avalanche of words and a deluge of music.)

This segment has some interesting patterns in it. The grindcore power hour makes its appearance here, as I’m a sucker for a whole lot of high-speed songwriting over blasting drums, and there’s still some spill-over from the veterans who remained fairly consistent (which you’ll note, defined a lot of part one). As we reach the bottom of the list you’ll start to see some new faces, stunning debuts and incredible full-lengths, and from here the list only gets more and more wild.

As of this writing I’m not sure how to describe the next few segments, but you’ll note that the albums tend to get a little bit more heartfelt, vicious, and a whole lot more passionate as we get further and further into this list. If anything I’d say the immediate thing I’m noting is that the high-twenties of this affair fully sell me out as having had a giant tech-death party. But right now, let us enjoy this current batch of madness as we bounce around from the worlds of grind, to high speed death metal, to a pleasant prog-death and sludge metal break, only to finally close things out with a tremendous crushing of skulls. Continue reading »

Dec 312018
 

 

(DGR is actually turning NCS into a coffee table book, but slowly, one day at a time, from now through Friday.)

About halfway through the year I actually thought I was going to make it through the year-end with a solid Top 30 list and nothing more. For a good chunk of the year, 2018 seemed to move in fits and starts — there would be large batches of album releases and then a couple of quiet weeks, then another small collection, and so on. A lot of the more consistent older guard were on something of an “off year” too, so at first I wasn’t expecting to see a large cast of repeats from two years ago making themselves known. I’ve gotten used to a two-to-three year album cycle, so I half-expected stuff to start pointing towards a real loaded front-half of 2019.

But alas, instead the back-half of 2018 turned out to a be a flood. Not just in bands that I’ve consistently enjoyed either, but a whole bunch of new faces that have either been hammering it out over the years and put out some genuine surprises, or people with some absolutely stunning first-time exposures on my end. Not only that, but who would’ve expected an actually pretty solid -core resurgence, with a lot of groups that had thought to hang it up deciding 2018 would be a good year to resurface and put out some stunningly good releases (at least in some cases).

As a result, 2018 proved to be an absolutely massive year. In some ways I think people’s year-end lists are reflecting just how vibrant the year was for our specific subsection of the musical sphere. While people lament that rock ‘n’ roll is dying or has become lame, heavy metal seems perfectly content to just be the constantly angry and forever roiling collective of music — as if it has found a sort of equilibrium in comparison to the mainstream world outside. Which is how you wind up with stupid shit like this, where I once again have FIFTY (warning ahead of time: if you think this introduction is getting verbose, do I have a surprise for you) albums to talk about in wrapping up this tire fire of a year. Continue reading »

Dec 142018
 

 

(Our Sacramento-based colleague DGR concludes a week-long effort to catch up on reviews before immersing himself in year-end LISTMANIA, with one last write-up today.)

Hey, have you heard of this place called Sacramento?

This one won’t be as much a review as previous pieces as it is a simple heads-up and a chance to reminisce a bit. If you had told me that in 2018 I’d be talking about Sacramento “too metal for the core kids, too core for the metal kids” band Conducting From The Grave‘s first album When Legends Become Dust without having to invent some sort of opportunity to do so, I would’ve laughed. But here we are. Continue reading »

Dec 132018
 

 

(DGR continues a week-long effort to catch up on reviews before immersing himself in year-end LISTMANIA, with two more write-ups today. Additional installments of this collection will be added throughout what’s left of this week.)

 

Dysmorphic – An Illusive Progress

It honestly looked a little shaky for French tech-death band Dysmorphic. Some may remember way back in ye olden days of 2013 I actually reviewed the group’s first release via Unique Leader, A Notion of Causality, at this here very web site. In the five years since, the band have gone through periods of relative radio silence and some serious lineup changes, with a new drummer and guitarist, and also including the return of a vocalist who had left the band prior to that first release.

Late November would finally see the realization of all that effort, when five years after A Notion Of Causality, Dysmorphic were able to put out their sophomore followup in the form of An Illusive Progress, a more focused, vicious, and blue-and-green-hued album than their previous release and one that sees them bringing themselves very much in-line with many of their fellow tech-death compatriots with ten tracks of head-spinning tech-death…and one intro. Continue reading »

Dec 122018
 


Coffin Birth

 

(DGR continues a week-long effort to catch up on reviews before immersing himself in year-end LISTMANIA, with two more write-ups today. Additional installments of this collection will be added throughout what’s left of this week.)

 

Coffin Birth – The Serpent Insignia

It’s easy to imagine that Coffin Birth initially grabbed a lot of headlines based on the almost jaw-dropping resumes of the musicians involved: The band are constructed out of a large chunk of the current Hour Of Penance lineup, a foundational pillar of Fleshgod Apocalypse (and a former Hour Of Penance member), and a vocalist whose credits are vast amongst the death metal scene, including Beheaded as well as being credited on Metal-Archives with having appeared on a Hydrocephalic release, which is something I haven’t thought about since that initial 2010 demo hit with Matti Way of Pathology handling vocals. Continue reading »

Dec 112018
 


Sadist

 

(DGR resumes an effort he began last month to catch up on reviews before immersing himself in year-end LISTMANIA. Additional installments of this collection will be added throughout what’s left of this week.)

I think I’ve done it. I think I’m finally free. I think I’ve finally managed to — not really — clear my review slate and can actually start working on the ridiculous exercise that is my year-end list extravaganza.

What follows, in this part and a few more to follow it this week, may prove to be my final collection of reviews, but you never know what we’ll stumble upon after this and find ourselves going, “Wait, we really didn’t cover that?”. Hell, there’s a few of those in this one, but there’s also a group of more recent November releases that were pretty much slammed onto my review desk with such force that they’re currently on the floor below and I have to research how to get a new desk… and replace a hole in my floor.

I guess that’s what happens when your tastes are made brutally apparent over the time spent writing for a site.

As before, this assembly has a whole lot of world traveling in it, but it also lets me return to my own home state for quite a few of them as well. So, if you’re looking for one final collective of death metal across all spectrums, or a few musical digs into a group’s history, then this final wrap-up should have you covered. Continue reading »