Monthly Overview – the Best of February 2018

Oh my. There has been some very good stuff released this month. Let’s have a look…

Alterbeast

Okay, in no particular order, I’m going to start with the new Alterbeast album Feast, because it absolutely rips. Here’s an album that you should check out if you absolutely need to hear death metal with sharp, modern aggression. With a seemingly endless supply of brutal, murderous riffs, Feast delivers a meal worthy of the album name. Deliciously satisfying.

Harakiri for the Sky

The latest Harakiri for the Sky release – Arson – is the fourth album by this Austrian post-black metal band, and I’ll go out on a limb right now and say that I think it’s the best work that they’ve done that I’ve heard so far. Atmospheric and dark, Arson takes everything that was good about their last album and steers it into dark territories teeming with vibrant darkened life.

Ataraxy

Where All Hope Fades by Ataraxy is a monstrous album. Full of doom-infected death metal, this is a release that seems to pulsate with a dark life all of its own. Crushingly brutal while also being full of atmospheric misery and doom, Where All Hope Fades is an enjoyably apocalyptic listen.

Wake

Wake’s Misery Rites is a particular favourite, even in a list like this. Misery Rites contains 27 minutes of dirty, violent grindcore, with added punk intensity and backed up by the cavernous, pitch-black deathgrowls from the singer of Primitive Man/Vermin Womb. Relentless and harsh.

Living Altar

Living Altar’s Scythes Towards Psyche is a short, brutal blast of violent blackened hatred. The band’s brand of bestial black/death metal is infectious, and is sure to leave you riven with plague and injury. Brutal and ugly, this is music that hates you.

Vexes

Pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum to Living Altar, but no less enjoyable, (albeit in a different way), is Ancient Geometry, the modern/post-metal debut album by Vexes. Highly melodic and achingly emotive, this is an album that’s a gripping and compelling listen, satisfying some deep subconscious 90s/00s fixation in me that I didn’t even really know existed.

Apostle of Solitude

For some excellent, highly emotive doom metal, look no further than From Gold to Ash by Apostle of Solitude. It may have been 4 years between albums, but the wait has been more than worth it as From Gold to Ash is simply stunning.

Usurpress

Usurpress‘ latest offering Interregnum sees the band advancing and developing their style once again. Pushing the envelope of what death metal is capable of even further than previously, the band’s sludgy take on death metal is further enhanced by a firm progressive rock streak that sees this latest album of theirs be their best work to date.

Letters from the Colony

February also saw the release of the sterling debut album Vignette by Letters from the Colony. This is modern metal at its finest. Taking rhythmic complexity, technical know-how, emotive appeal, and atmospheric longevity into its multifaceted impressive sound, Vignette is an album to listen to over and over again as it smashes down your boundaries and firmly installs itself in your brain.

Eigenlicht

Atmospheric black metal’s latest notable new release is the sprawling debut album from Eigenlicht, Self-Annihilating Consciousness. This album contains four colossal tracks of occult, esoteric music, based in black metal, but not limited to it. This is a quite exceptional work, one that demands attention, while simultaneously giving multiple reasons why it should receive it.

Lowered

US band Lowered released their hugely impressive self-titled album this month. Here’s a band that have unleashed the type of dark, filthy blackened doom that I usually can’t get enough of when I encounter it. Layered in misanthropy and not restrained to any one brand of hateful malevolence, Lowered’s first album is grimly enjoyable.

Entropy Created Consciousness

It’s been a good month for Throne Records. Not only have they gifted us with the aforementioned Lowered album, but they’ve also unleashed the mysterious, esoteric black metal masterpiece that is Impressions of the Morning Star by Entropy Created Consciousness. This is a solo album from an unknown artist of unknown origin. What is known, however, is how important and essential this release is. If you’re into your individualistic underground black metal art then this is something to seek out at your earliest opportunity.

Ilsa

I like Ilsa a lot. They can always be relied on to kick out the sludgy, heavy jams, and their latest album Corpse Fortress is no exception. In fact, this is an album that’s full of them. Belligerent and riff-hungry, Corpse Fortress is heavy as a granite elephant and just as crushing if dropped on you.

Horizon Ablaze

I’ll end this month’s roundup with another strong black metal release – The Weight of a Thousand Suns by Horizon Ablaze. Like a frozen snapshot of the second wave black metal scene just when it was starting to explore wider vistas, The Weight of a Thousand Suns is an accomplished and textured work of blackened art that definitely achieves what it sets out to.

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