Label: Eternal Death / Red River Family Records
Regular readers will know that I hold Eternal Death Records in high regard, considering them to be one of the most consistent and discerning bastions of underground extreme metal in the US. You’ll also know that I consider Eternal Death regulars One Master to be one of the most under-rated bands in modern USBM, with their ferocious brand of black metal being consistently devastating. Following hot on the heels of their excellent full-length, Lycanthropic Burrowing, comes a new split release with Ninhursag, a co-release with Red River Family Records, that sees One Master unleash some of their most ferocious music yet; whilst Ninhursag’s take on black metal is more other-worldly and cold, yet no less effective for it.
Label: Arachnophobia Records
The best black metal isn’t always the most immediate. It’s a genre where there is much to be explored in the shadows, with subtle changes, repetition, and a general disregard for convention often holding the most potential. Yet there’s also a good number of bands playing black metal who can take you by the throat, and it only takes a single play of their album for you to understand just how good they are. The new album from Poland’s In Twilight’s Embrace, Vanitas, is one such example. This is black metal with all superfluous elements removed, streamlined in to its most deadly form, unleashing an all-out assault right from the start with great results.
Label: Vetala Productions
London-based Vetala Productions have been (not-so) quietly putting out some of the better records to be found in the underground in recent times, with releases from the like of Unyielding Love, Dark Mother, and Art Of Burning Water. The latest addition to their roster is two-piece powerviolence band BOYED, whose self-titled EP is a no-nonsense, ten minute slice of viciousness, with a few slowed-down, sludgey moments to add extra dimensions to the record. But the focus really is on playing loud, fast, and violently, and BOYED absolutely nail it.
Label: Cold Spring Records
Of all the records to have come my way recently, Governance by Birmingham band khost is probably the most punishing. Combining harsh noise with an industrial stomp and muscularity, Governance is far from an easy listen; but at the same time, it’s one that’s relatively easy to sink in to. Whilst khost may excel at creating an atmosphere of utter darkness, filled with horrific malevolence, they do so in a way that includes just enough shades of light to make the darkness all the more effective, whilst also stopping it becoming overwhelming. This sense of contrast is vitally important, and helps make Governance be such a success.
Label: 783 Punx
There’s a lot of shit to get depressed about these days. Each morning seems to bring some new disaster on the news, and the world is turning in to an ever-more hostile place for those who are minority groups. As such, it’s heartening to hear bands taking an active stand against all the racism, sexism, and prejudice that is becoming more prevalent. On their new split, hardcore/crust ragers Herida Profunda and London-based powerviolence group Hello Bastards deliver a short, sharp blast against hate, and against those who stand idly by when cries for help are met only by silence.
Label: Blackened Death Records
Pope Richard seems like the kind of guy who’s never satisfied unless he’s creating something. As well as running Blackened Death Records, he’s also the creative force behind over a dozen different bands, the latest release from which is the self-titled album as Takhisis. The album serves up 40 minutes of crushing occult doom, full of catchy hooks and powerful riffs, but more than that, it’s possessed of a dark, subtly seductive atmosphere, full of clandestine sorcery and secret gatherings. It also feels like one of the most confident, assured records that Pope Richard has put his name to, and considering the consistent quality of his records, that’s quite something.
Label: Sentient Ruin Productions
It can be nice when a record lives up to your expectations. With a band name like Petrification, and a title like Summon Horrendous Destruction, and artwork like that, you’d no doubt be hoping for this 7″ to contain some dirty, old-school death metal. And you’d be exactly right. Summon Horrendous Destruction was originally released (and quickly sold out) on cassette earlier in the year, but is now being released on vinyl by Sentient Ruin, giving this slice of fetid metal another chance to inflict its pestilence upon the world. It’s a good thing, too, as this is no-nonsense death metal done right, sounding like it was dragged out of some moldy cavern, and as crushing as any other purveyor of old-school death you would care to name.