Khazaddum – Plagues Upon Arda

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Label: Self-released

I’m sure that there will be those who balk at Plagues Upon Arda, simply because of its lyrical content. Khazaddum are hardly the first band to take inspiration from The Lord Of The Rings, but most bands who do so handle the matter in ways that is, frankly, cheesy and immature. This album avoids any such pitfalls though, comprised as it is of relentless, pummeling death metal that takes inspiration from the likes of Behemoth and Nile. Far from being a novelty record, Plagues Upon Arda is an album of real strength and talent that would surely stand out even without its atypical lyrical themes.

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Carnivorous Forest – Frozen Rivers

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Label: Blackened Death Records 

Some things are worth waiting for. After a collection of demos, splits, and EP releases, the full-length from neofolk/death metal act Carnivorous Forest is finally here, and it does not disappoint. Frozen Rivers is a powerful, atmospheric record, varied in scope and tone, yet with a consistent character that ties everything together. Listeners who have enjoyed previous Carnivorous Forest releases will not be disappointed. Sole member Amarok is in fine form throughout, and of all the different releases he has put out over the past few years in many guises on Blackened Death Records, this is undoubtedly one of the best.

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Shiteater / Clit Eastwood – Shit Clit Split

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Label: Blackened Death Records

You’ll probably be unsurprised to learn that Shit Clit Split isn’t the most sophisticated of listens. Featuring one-man act Shiteater from the UK, who play old-school, disgusting death metal, and US grind/crust/powerviolence band Clit Eastwood, this is a split for those who don’t take their lyrics too seriously, but still want to hear killer riffs. The contrasting styles of the two bands play off well against each other, and there’s a lot of energy and fun to be found here, but its inherently OTT lyrical nature is both its greatest strength and biggest weakness.

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January 2017 Blasts

Funny to think how much has changed in this past year. Comparing where the world is now with where it was when I posted my first set of short reviews a year ago is sobering. Let’s try not to dwell on that though, and have some music instead. This month there’s words on the new single from melo-death band EshtadurCornered At The Earth; artful post-punk by Russians  Mirrored Lips on чичичи; hyperspeed fastcore on the split between Beartrap and Hummingbird Of Death; soul-crushing black/death on Breeding Ruin by Dawn Of Tyrants; grindcore as love by The Brood on The Truth Behind; and psychedelic doom/stoner from Heavy Temple on new record Chasit. Enjoy!

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Palace Of Worms / Ecferus – Split

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Label: Crown And Throne Ltd

This is exactly how splits should work; the presence of one band you’re familiar with draws you in, leading to you checking the other side out, which results in you finding a new, awesome band to follow. That’s the case for me with this split. Palace Of Worms have, on the back of last year’s The Ladder (not to mention previous albums and splits), become one of my favourite modern metal acts, so I was very excited to receive this split. The good news is that Ecferus, who were previously unknown to me, have also offered up some excellent music that, combined with the three songs from Palace Of Worms, make this split an early highlight of 2017.

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2016 Favourites – And The Rest

2016 has been the year that saw me listen to, and review, more music than ever before. For every release that gets reviewed, there’s several that I don’t have the time to write something on; or that I listen to, but simply don’t get excited over. It’s also worth bearing in mind the purposes of this blog – exploring the underground. With the odd exception (such as the new Darkthrone), I have no interest in writing in the “big” releases; I want to help give some exposure and coverage to the small and underground, not go chasing whatever review or feature will get me the most hits. I’d also point out that it’s easy to lose sense of what actually is mainstream and underground when you spend so much time immersed in music. Sure, everyone may have access to Bandcamp and Youtube and a legion of Spotify recommendations, but  it’s easy to overestimate just how big our favourite bands are.

That said, there’s still some mainstream releases I’ve really enjoyed this year and want to share some thoughts on in another post. But here, I want to take the time to give shout-outs to those more underground releases which didn’t quite make the cut for my list of 25 favourites of the year.

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2016 Favourites – Part II

Following on from Part I, which can be read here, here is the second installment of my favourite releases from this year; still in alphabetical order, and still full of awesome, wonderfully diverse music. The top five will follow soon, along with a few other reflections on the past year. But in the meantime, enjoy!

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