Category: Monthly Best Of

Five Picks – June 2021

This might be the latest I’ve written one of these. I’ll be honest, June was a blur. I don’t remember what I was doing or what happened. What I do remember is listening to a lot of amazing music. This list was so hard to put together that I had to add four honourable mentions because picking only five records to talk about was too difficult for my willpower to cope.

The really cool thing about this job/project/life is that aside from one honourable mention, I’ve never heard of any of these bands before. But here they are, marked down for eternity (or as long as I pay for the hosting) as my favourite records from June 2021. Even cooler is that there are genres here I wouldn’t have even considered before 2020. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.


Five Picks – May 2021

Yautja – The Lurcher

Discordant and grotesque. With all of the rage of classic hardcore but sounding thick and heavy; visceral. Like The Red Chord did. Remind me of a sludgier Yashira. The art in this case is an outstanding match to the music.

I’m not going to say more than that. Go listen to this album right now if any of the above strikes a chord with your tastes.

Grey Aura – Zwart Vierkant

Experimental, radical or unorthodox. That’s what it means to be avant-garde. The way Grey Aura have used black metal as the canvas upon which to tell the story of a painter in the early 20th century who becomes obsessed with Suprematism is certainly all three.

The closest I can come to some kind of comparison, albeit flawed, is to Voices (we reviewed their latest single here). Approaching the creation of art with a complete detachment from convention and form in order to tell a story is something both bands are very comfortable doing. Both utilise discordant, angular, chaotic sections as well as the quiet, smooth, jazzy passages. Both have also employed voice acting to great effect.

Don’t let the fact this is all in Dutch put you off. No, I can’t pronounce most of the song titles either but the journey this music takes you on is sublime. (more…)

Five Picks – April 2021

This is being published far too late, and for that, I apologise. But I found it very hard to choose only five albums that I wanted to include here. April was embarrassingly rich in terms of albums that blew my mind. I could have written about 10-15 albums released in April, and I may yet do that. On top of that, working with more labels and PR agencies means there are more pre-releases to listen to and review, meaning more work essentially.

To help out with this I’ve brought in my friend Rob O’Hara to help. The Venn diagram of our tastes has considerable overlap, but I veer off into more brutal, extreme, and experimental material while Rob brings a passion for and knowledge of post-rock, (post-)punk, and metalcore to the table. He’s already covered Boss Keloid and Throat and is working on a few more right now. Hell, he’s even got the first of our five April picks in this here article!

I’m genuinely excited for the rest of 2021 and beyond, and for that, I refuse to apologise. (more…)

Five Picks – March 2021

It feels like I have to say this regularly but there are just so many albums and artists that have passed me by over the years that I have no idea why a certain band or artist is getting mad hype from the press.

Sometimes it’s because a lot of music journalism is lazy and certain people in a bubble circle jerk over key bands or artists that moved the needle once. Sometimes it’s because that band or artist has an impressive body of work that anyone who has been paying attention will have noticed.

Well, I have not been paying attention.

There were a couple of these in March. Different corners of the music journo world were shouting about Pupil Slicer, Mare Cognitum and Midnight Odyssey at seemingly the same time.

One released their debut album, another is a solo BM project singing about space and the stars and another released part 2 of a series of work, clocking in at close to two hours.

So which is which?

Which one is a bit shit but journos spaff on about regardless, and which are genuinely good enough for people to be raving and writing about them in their own time?

Trick question, turns out they are all fucking brilliant!

Read on for mini-reviews of each or just listen to them on the Spotify playlist here (more…)

Five picks – February 2021

February is a weird one.

The names for our months all come from the Romans. They really went to town initially with the names; literally just named numerically. When the time came to add a few more months, Janus was an obvious name for the first month, being the two-faced god of beginnings and endings. February however…

Spring is on the wind, and Romans prepared for this through rituals of purification (februa). One such ritual was the festival of Lupercalia, where young men would run around Rome naked save for a goat-skin cape and playfully whip women with strips of goat-skin on the 15th of February. Not only was this to cleanse the city, but also to stir the loins of the young and fertile and encourage fornication. The Empire needs babies!

Cleansing has always been ritualised but not many people know the Romans named a month after the process of gathering materials to prepare for a spring clean. A great time then for a snowstorm to cover the country in white, before shrinking back and disappearing as fast as it came.

I was essentially stuck in my house for a week with nothing to do but listen to music and play Kingdom Come: Deliverance when I wasn’t busy being Dad. It was far too cold on the 15th for any goat-skin capers. At least there was some good music.

You can find the full Spotify playlist of everything I enjoyed from February here. (more…)

Five picks – January 2021

Oh man, Brexit really kills any chance I have of buying a lot of the vinyl I want. The shipping costs are now eyewatering where you can find someone willing to ship. A number of places have simply suspended sales to the UK instead. Love Brexit. Glad I voted for it. Wait, I didn’t. My country voted massively against it. But it doesn’t matter what the Jocks think eh.
There should be way more Scottish black metal coming out, it’s pretty depressing up here at the best of times, never mind during the winter in the second lockdown of a global pandemic, and after being dragged out the European Union with little to no plan on how to proceed.
This time last year I wrote about how the year had got off to a dreadful start and here we are again. The ’20’s are gearing up to be mega shit, but look on the bright side, the music is straight fire!
I have been really impressed with January’s releases, I even bought a physical copy of the first album on this month’s top picks. I’ll have five as usual with a few notable mentions that I probably want to listen to a few more times but are definitely worth your time. Anyway, less dillydallying and on to the list.
If you want to hear all of the January 2021 albums I enjoyed, I put them in this Spotify playlist right here.

Eximperitus – Sahrartu

Eximperitus - Sahrartu
I’m not going to bore you with the band’s full name. I don’t mean that to be disrespectful to them but their name is very long and in multiple dead languages, and the band and track names are often the focus instead of the music. Eximperitus play the same kind of death metal as Nile. They don’t keep the same kind of blistering pace as Nile but the focus on Sumerian and Babylonian mythology and history give the music a similar colour. 
The Nile comparison might feel lazy but if someone said to me “I really like Nile, can you recommend any bands that sound similar?” I would instantly reach for Sahrartu. This is a step up from their debut – again with a name too long to bore you with. Not only is the production much more crisp, allowing you to actually hear each instrument in the mix, but the drumming feels cleaner and they turned the riff dial up to 11.
There are six tracks on Sahrartu, with two of those being instrumentals. The 37-minute running time actually feels perfect. If this was stretched out to 10 tracks I think it would start to blend together and lose a lot of its impact. The instrumentals at the start and end of the album sandwich the meat of the album nicely. The first track is like a taster to show you the kind of thing you’ll hear in the upcoming tracks while the last track is a necessary but dark ambient palette cleanser after the 10-minute track Inqirad.
Standout track: Utpada

Anna Pest – Dark Arms Reach Skywards With Bone White Fingers
Anna Pest - Dark Arms Reach Skywards With Bone White Fingers

This is down as tech-death and while I don’t disagree with that, Anna Pest throws in a number of other influences to give you more than just a bundle of fretboard wankery over inhuman blastbeats. We have some very clear grind here as well as D&B drum breaks and what I can only describe as nu metal, but the good kind. If you believe in such a thing… Sole member April has brought in some guests to break things up and add some flavour as well, with guitar slots and clean vocals featuring.
I can see why a lot of people have passed this release by. This is kind of hodgepodge in terms of composition sometimes, and it may have been a stronger, more cohesive release if some of the shorter tracks were dropped, or released separately. There are 8 tracks here that would stand on their own very strongly, and 7 that are not bad but just don’t quite feel like finished ideas.
That said, I love everything that’s on here, especially the incredible growls and screams. You can tell she’s had great fun putting this together, especially all of the Evangelion references. It’s probably not going to go on any year-end lists but it’s given me another name to look out for in future.
Standout track(s): Skyward, Of the Black Moon and the Red Earth
Gatecreeper - An Unexpected Reality
Don’t shoot me or anything, but I never really listened to Gatecreeper before An Unexpected Reality dropped. Not that I think there is anything wrong with them. I just listened to a few tracks and decided it wasn’t my kind of thing. The death metal Gatecreeper put out is a bit too pedestrian for my tastes. They can clearly play and know the genre well but it didn’t excite me or pull me in so I left it alone. There is a lot of music out there and you don’t owe it to anyone to “get into” any band, after all.
What attracted me to An Unexpected Reality was that they used this release to pay homage to the different genres they are collectively influenced by. The A side is their grind, crust and hardcore influences and the B side is a single funeral doom track. They absolutely kill both of these!
I would be massively into Gatecreeper if they were solely either of these bands. The seven grindy crusty hardcode tracks clock in at six minutes, true to the genres, so you can imagine what you’re going to hear. The 11-minute funeral doom homage to bands like Evoken and Bell Witch again is just a perfect example of the genre, proving that Gatecreeper are very capable of putting out music that I love. I imagine they will go back to their plodding death metal for the next release but after stretching their musical muscles, will they allow more of these influences to bleed through?
Standout track: Emptiness
Portrayal of Guilt - We Are Always Alone

Classic screamo and 2nd wave black metal have always been closer in sound than either fanbase would want to accept. Portrayal of Guilt has become absolute masters of fusing together the best of each. I think the best term for We Are Always Alone is blistering.
This is only slightly longer than their 2018 debut album, but they have upped the ante with the anger this time around. The guitar sometimes got a bit lost in the mix on Let Pain Be Your Guide, but everything is crystal clear with this new release. Even the bass is a lot clearer, providing a more rounded sound.
Right from the start, there is no doubt that We Are Always Along is an absolutely ferocious record. Each track balances melody, dissonance and just outright ferality with the end result being a familiar but unique take on the same kind of metallic hardcore that Converge popularised. This really is skramz for the black metal kids, or black metal for the skramz kids, whatever way round you want to look at it.
If you like angry music but can’t dig Portrayal of Guilt you are, as Nails would say, no friend of mine.
Standout track: They Want Us All to Suffer
Nomadic Rituals - Tides

I might have mentioned this before but I use doom metal to get to sleep. I do legitimately love a lot of the records I use for this – stuff by Ahab, Cathedral, Bell Witch, Pallbearer and Yob, for example. When I want to concentrate I’ll also stick on something that’s really heavy and slow-burning like Yob or the new Vile Creature. It gets me into a good mental space that is good for concentration and sleeping.
I tried this with Nomadic Rituals but I ended up lying there awake at the end of the new album, Tides, keen to stick it back to the start and listen again. For this kind of sludgy doom, the riffs themselves progress as you would expect them to, and you’ll find plenty to bang your head to. Riffs alone will not keep a man fed, however. What keeps me coming back to this is the interplay between each member’s contribution.
This feels very much like an album written by all members sitting in a rehearsal room for months. Each gradually tweaking their parts until it only sounds like Nomadic Rituals.
Standout track: Them
Notable mentions
Tar Hag – Bestial (doom)
Hulder – Godslastering: Hymns of a Forlorn Peasantry (black metal)
Transilvania – Of Sleep and Death (blackened thrash?)
Malakhim – Theion (black metal)
Divide And Dissolve – Gas Lit (bleak sludgy doom)
Werewolves – What a Time to Be Alive (death fuckin thrash)
Juan Bond – Womb (mathcore)
The new album from The Ruins of Beverast is absolutely astounding, and even though it dropped on digital platforms a week earlier than scheduled, I’m going to keep it down as a February release. If you have not heard it, go here, and I’ll talk more about it next month.
If you missed the link to this month’s playlist then here it is again.

Five picks from December

And so it ends.
You’ll have heard it all by now, surely. The neverending year. The longest year ever. Hell year. The worst year ever. And so on. You don’t need me to add any hyperbole.
For some it really was. Despite seemingly widespread denial, many people have become very ill or died due to the pandemic our government here in the UK are still failing to take the correct action on. As well as loved ones, people lost their businesses and jobs. Some lost their homes.
At the same time, a lot of people have reconnected with their families after being work-eat-sleep-repeat zombies for years. While our government has failed in a number of serious ways, they did provide furlough payments to people who couldn’t work, paying 80% of my wages as well as millions of others.
This allowed me to spend far more time with my family, as well as connect with hundreds of people through Twitter and discuss music and black metal chuds.
I acknowledge this has been a dreadful year for many people but it’s been an opportunity for me to count my blessings. And honest to god I’m not just saying this as a segue but all of the new music I’ve been able to listen to has been one of them.

You can listen to a Spotify playlist containing all the stuff I enjoyed here.

Cryptodira – The Angel of History

Cover art for Cryptodira - The Angel of History

There are a few bands who have done one style so well for so long that they become the archetype. Any hint of “math-core” and you’ll instantly be compared to The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Cryptodira plays a spasmodic, dissonant “-core” influenced by DEP, among others. A straight comparison would be a bit gross but the influence is clearly there. So how do they differ from all the other mathcore out there?
For one, the dual vocalist attack provides an additional layer of texture. There are not too many openly Marxists in this genre but that’s another plus in my eyes. Cryptodira’s post-mathcore is a far more mature approach to this sound than their contemporaries.
I appreciate what they do but I can’t consume a whole Callous Daoboys album, for example. It’s too frenetic and there’s little letup in each song and the album as a whole. Cryptodira sidesteps this issue by allowing their melodies to breathe and taking the time to vary compositions. The waltzy The Blame for Being Alive is a strong example of this.
I’ve listened to this album a few times now and each time I find something new in the layers of sound, a mark of excellence in my eyes.

Cover art for Rise to the Sky - A Cold Embrace from Life

We’re all human, and experience the same wide range of emotions. It’s something that brings us together as a species and allows art, and especially music, to stand above linguistic differences.
Rise to the Sky is a solo melancholic funeral doom project from Chile of all places, and is a testament to this. Yes, the lyrics are in English but you don’t need words to feel the hurt, sadness and saudade in Sergio’s music.
A Cold Embrace from Life deals with the relentless march of time and movement in life regardless of any individual’s readiness for it after sad moments, and the combination of soaring clean guitar passages with crushing funeral doom is the perfect way to encapsulate this feeling. A hauntingly beautiful release.

Cover art for Yashira - Fail to Be

I love this wave of bands who are clearly influenced by and playing metalcore but avoid the cliched elements the genre became known for. Fail to Be is a sludgy metalcore record that I can’t help but compare to a less-frenetic and lower tempo Converge.
From the very start, this goes in hard. But it’s not unrelenting. It does tail off towards the more atmospheric end of Yashira’s sound as you approach the last few songs, but I feel that the tracklisting has been well-paced.
Heavy and intense without being claustrophobic, Yashira has produced an outstanding tribute to their former drummer who sadly passed away.

Cover art for Akhlys - Melinoë

If there were a soundtrack to those dreams where you try to run but your legs don’t move, it would sound like Melinoë.
That’s the best way I can think to describe this masterfully crafted, epic black metal nightmare fuel.
As I have done with so many albums this year, I came into this latest album from Akhlys without listening to the previous albums. Completely blind. Deaf? Anyway, this is the third release and from what I can tell is their strongest work yet.
I’ve called it epic above because the composition of each track and the album as a whole has been purposefully written with a grand scope in mind. Instead of a collection of super fuzzy kvlt as fvck songs, each track on Melinoë is a jigsaw piece for the listener to slot in place through multiple listens.
Masterfully crafted was used not as hyperbole or an empty superlative but in reference to the absence of wasted moments across the 46 minutes it takes for the five tracks to play out. That’s a big deal.
And nightmare fuel? Founder and vocalist Naas Alcameth formed the band specifically to write about somnolence and the time between waking and dying. This is an oneiric exploration, using black metal as a canvas to investigate the powerlessness of the dream state and the mythology surrounding dreams… and nightmares.
I don’t give scores but this is as close to a 10 as I’m likely to see for a while.

Album art for Pillory - Scourge Upon Humanity

Everyone’s got a solo project these days but this one slaps them all down and stomps on their bodies. Probably in an odd meter. Scourge Upon Humanity is brilliant, unrelenting tech-death album from drummer, Darren Cesca.

Calling him just “a drummer” is disrespectful considering the level of playing across the board here though. Despite the obvious technical instrumentation requisite for inclusion in the genre, a good tech-death album needs real songwriting and compositional chops to avoid it falling in with all the other showoff fret wankfests out there.
Pillory balance this line well. Heavily dissonant and atypical melodies and chord progressions will keep the attention of genre diehards, but there is enough variety across the whole album to hook in more casual fans of all things fast and brutally technical.
If you missed it at the top, this month’s playlist is here.

Five picks from November

The night draws in earlier each day. Its dark encroaches on my time bit by bit, trying to wear me down. Each morning it stays later, holding back the sun longer each day. “You will not win, darkness. YOU WILL NOT WIN.” I yell into the twilight.

The rain and sleet and snow may fall. The wind may gale. The night will cover it all in darkness, but I will prevail!
Dramatic inspiration aside, November sucks. It’s dark, cold and the day runs away from you faster than a dog that just rolled in its own shit. But November’s releases have been straight fire.
All of the things I enjoyed listening to from November can be found on this Spotify playlist. The top five, in no order, are below.

Of Feather and Bone – Sulphuric Disintegration

I had no idea what to expect from this record. The art and logo are suitably death metal but the band name didn’t strike me as a death metal name. Silly me.
Of Feather and Bone are death metal, and a very angry one at that. There is no breathing room on any of the 6 tracks on Sulphuric Disintegration. With cleaner production guitar-wise it might not hit as hard as it does. But as it stands, this is 30 minutes of outstanding, relentless death.
I am a drummer first, and it’s always something I listen out for. The drummer here makes a lot of the same stylistic choices that I did when I played death metal, and for that reason, I was hooked all the way through.
To be clear, the drummer doesn’t do much that you won’t expect. Neither does anyone else in the band. This isn’t the most original death metal, but it is the best I’ve heard this month.

Master Boot Record – C:>Defrag

How can you explain Master Boot Record to someone who has never heard them? I’ve tried a few times and the best I can come up with is that they are a synth-metal project from Italy putting out what sounds like the most epic video game music you never got a chance to hear in the 90s.
One of the main advantages of machines is that they can do things many times faster than is possible for a human. MBR take advantage of this. I doubt this music could be transcribed for human-playable instruments and played by humans. Speed is used tastefully though, and it isn’t overdone.
A lot of MBR honestly sounds like the guys in Periphery having a lot of fun making music in a new genre. There are some strong prog-metal passages here, as well as some beautiful soaring moments. Well, as beautiful and soaring as you can get on a 16-bit gaming system.
If you’re feeling up to it, try solving the cryptographic puzzle that comes with the album.
Völur – Death Cult

Pantheons of gods from different civilizations have long been fodder for heavy metal. While there is sometimes a bit of caveat emptor with bands using Norse lore or symbolism, it is definitely the most popular. Ancient Rome and Egypt have both served as a muse for bands and artists, but Death Cult is the first record I’ve heard that specifically uses Germanic paganism as a source of inspiration.
Knowing what influences a band is always handy going into a new record, and for me, the thoughts and feelings are just as important as the musical influences. Here, the sacrifices made to the goddess Nerthus serve as a primary thematic influence. Humans killing each other trying to influence something they can’t even comprehend is timeless.
Musically, Völur combines their free jazz backgrounds with doom’s slow, heavy grooves. The atmosphere they conjure is intensified by replacing guitar with a violin. Previous work was a droney, folky approach to doom, but with Death Cult, there is appropriately a hint of black metal in Völur’s approach.
I’ve had to dip into the back catalogue after listening to this and I wasn’t disappointed. There have been hints dropped of new work coming in 2021 to allow the group to release some of the more experimental/avant-garde material. Fingers crossed they continue on this trajectory.
Mountain Caller – Chronicle I: The Truthseeker

I am just not into musicals. Which is weird because I seem to mention how much I love concept records ever month. Both use music to tell a story, but there’s something a bit “on the nose” about the songs in musicals.
I like to use my imagination, with the lyrics supplementing rather than dictating the experience. But typically we do require something other than just music – whether it is lyrics, dance, acting etc. So what to make of Mountain Caller?
The band have confirmed this is indeed a concept album and not just a wacky name for an album. The Truthseeker is exploring herself and a desert landscape, with the record an aural telling of her journey.
Mountain Caller cinematically weaves post-rock and doom influences over 40 minutes and 6 tracks. In terms of telling a story, you only need these basic details to set the scene and the music and your imagination can fill in the rest.
This is the perfect soundtrack to your own journey, be it on a bus, train, car or just in your own head.
Tombs – Under Sullen Skies

I’ve had Tombs’ 2017 release The Grand Annihilation saved on Spotify for a long time and I can’t remember why. I don’t even remember doing it. Maybe they were hyped on Reddit or were a passing reference in another review. I need a better way of keeping track of everything.
Tombs’ 6th release, Under Sullen Skies, is driven forward at a solid pace by the chug chug chug of blackened doom that Tombs have become known for. Or is it doomed black? Either way, it’s a slower bluesy take on black metal that will crush your head between your headphones. Better listen to this on speakers to be safe.
Tombs know how to play slow and heavy. And fast and heavy. But bands who can do both are not exactly rare. So why does this stick out above the rest?
For me, it’s the expert genre surfing they can ride while still making music compelling enough for me to come back multiple times. They not only cover the breadth of what I enjoy about black metal, they hit the crushing heaviness I love in doom and also throw in some hardcore style riffs in there just in case your neck wasn’t sore enough.
I might even have to go back and check out the material between this and The Grand Annihilation.
If you missed it at the top, this month’s Spotify playlist is here.

More picks from October!

My whole thing is doing a single article covering my five favourite records released each month. It’s easy for me to keep up with (he says, having never posted an article on time) and it’s theoretically of greater value than picking and choosing individual albums to review every week. This is concentrated curation.

That being said, most months there are albums I really feel bad missing out. October’s releases were so strong I can probably pull out another 10 albums that are genuinely worthy of your time. I’m going to give it a go now anyway, and you can let me know if I’m wrong. As always, these are in no order, and can all be found on my October playlist.

Amiensus – Abreaction

The fourth release from this American black-metal adjacent metal band. Atmospheric in places, symphonic elements used tastefully, brutally heavy when required. Really enjoyed this one.

Inferi – Of Sunless Realms

Malcolm Pugh is tech death’s Misha Mansoor. I’m sure you know who Inferi is. If not, Of Sunless Realms is as good a starting place as any.

Inferi is the new standard for technical death metal.

In Cauda Venenum – G.O.H.E.

A two-track album from this French post-black outfit, coming in at just shy of 44 minutes.

As many doom acts know, there’s a lot you can do in a song if you just make it 20 minutes BUT there are no wasted moments here. *kiss*

Dialogia – Nostrum

A prog metal debut this good from a three-piece?! Well, there are also nine guest musicians credited. But I’ll forgive them since it’s taken them 4 years to write and release it!

There’s been a lot of love put into this and it shows.

Arkheron Thodol – Rituals of the Sovereign Heart

This was so close to replacing Toadeater, but I simply listened to that more.

The 3rd release from this 5-piece who utilise a 12 string guitar to flesh out their fantastic atmospheric black metal.

Touché Amoré – Lament

I mean, obviously. This is a great record and it wasn’t on my list because I chose to highlight work that others may not have heard and everyone fuckin loves Touché Amoré anyway.

Sarcoptes – Plague Hymns

I felt Anaal Nathrakh’s release was stronger than this, and I didn’t want to put too much similar on my list.

Sarcoptes is not directly analogous to AN, however!

This is very sick atypical black thrash I will be buying.

Undeath – Lesions of a Different Kind

This wasn’t on my list because I didn’t listen to it enough.

It’s a bit good though, eh…

Plus, who the fuck else is opening death metal songs with a rototom fill?

Emma Ruth Rundle, Thou – May Our Chambers Be Full

This release was marked by a music journo wankfest. And rightly so, but I left it off my top five list simply because I didn’t put enough time into it to judge it realistically.

A spectacular release.

Wake – Confluence

Wake’s Devouring Ruin is one of my favourites of the year. It shows them expanding from death-grind and growing proggy and melodic arms and legs.

Confluence is a 3-track EP showcasing what I hope to be their future direction. Anything but generic.

Five picks from October

This has been a really worthwhile project.
As the months go on, I’ve developed a much deeper sense of how broad the spectrum of heavy music really is. Not that I wasn’t aware of both the slowest of slows and the extremely fast and technical, but I hadn’t fully explored my own tastes within the embarrassing riches of heavy music.
I have the entire history of music from the birth of blues onwards to delve into, so of course, I’m only scratching the surface but I’ve enjoyed expanding my musical horizons over the past few months. Hopefully there have been releases I’ve covered this year that have been new to you too. 
My five favourite releases from this month include at least three I wouldn’t have predicted I’d have listened to back in January. What’s the point in being alive if you don’t grow though, eh.
You can check out this month’s Spotify playlist here.
Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment

Next year marks the 20th year Anaal Nathrakh have been with us as a record-producing entity, and I’m ashamed to say this is the first album I’ve listened to.
It’s not from a lack of interest. People have played tracks, I’ve enjoyed them, then… something else entered my brain and I’ve gone off on another path. I hate a lot of decisions that past me made, including this one.
I chose this as my driving music all month because nothing gets you hyped up for a drive like Anaal Nathrakh riffs. Maybe you don’t need to get hyped up for driving I guarantee you’ll drive different when Dave Hill’s clean vocals hit in the title track, Endarkenment.
Fans of Nathrakh’s more industrial-heavy material may be left a little wanting but I think any fans of black, death or grind (I guess?) will be able to find something to love in this album.
Wild they still put out stuff like this 10 years in.

Yatra – All is Lost
Death doom is a relatively new to me. I’ve heard a few things I enjoyed enough for me to look for more: Solothus, Exgenesis and Funeral Leech. If I was paying attention earlier in the year, Yatra would have already been on that list since this is their second full-length of 2020.
With some of the doom I listen to, it can be easy to forget that it began as a close cousin of blues music. Yatra might have a death metal logo but their music has a mean blues streak running right down the middle.
Running just shy of 35 minutes and 9 tracks, this is a shorter release than their last two. But it is far better than anything I did during lockdown! Come to think of it, there might be few better ways to aurally capture covid lockdown year than the sludgy, fuzzy death-tinged doom of Yatra.
Venom Prison – Primeval
I discovered Venom Prison last year, with their outstanding album Samsara. I was hooked when I learned they covered Stampin’ Ground’s Officer Down – my second favourite song by SG. Everybody Owes A Death is an absolute beast!
I was surprised to hear they dropped another album already! But upon checking it out, you’ll learn this is a recording of their first two EPs, with two new songs as well. Let me say right now that this is not a bad thing. This is a great collection of songs beefed up and given a new lease of life.
If you have never heard Venom Prison before, they have taken influence from both death metal and hardcore and put out music that isn’t deathcore or slam. An achievement in itself for sure. The VP brand of death metal goes from brutally heavy, to groovy, to punky d-beats and all the way back to tight blast beats – all with Larissa’s absolutely savage trademark screams and growls over the top.
I absolutely love this shit.
Toadeater – Bit To Ewigen Daogen
Black metal is so weird. For a scene that came to existence from a dark heavy metal band from Newcastle, there is such a diversity of sound to be found. Not only that, but bands will sound vastly different depending on how they came into the scene and the influences they bring with them.
Toadeater, for example, are a Bakunin-influenced anarcho crust band who just so happens to make black metal music. Their lyrical themes and raspy, venomous vocals are straight from crust punk. The drumming and riffing are straight up black metal. The two meet in the middle with somewhat murky production.
If you wanted to be a weird genre snob you might say Toadeater are post-black, but that doesn’t feel like a real thing to me. But then again, they certainly don’t fit into any BM “wave”.
The main compositional tool Toadeater use is repetition. Each song (~8/9 mins) consists of one or two fairly catchy lead parts or riffs with atmospheric sections dancing around them – the so-called “post-” part of that post-black designation.
I’m sympathetic to the band’s politics and I felt the repetition, along with the relentless drumming was hypnotic. With only 4 songs and an intro I did feel this was a bit too short. At the same time, another 4 would probably mean I wouldn’t have put this on this list as it would have overstated its welcome.
I enjoyed this. I think it’s a good record with not too many of their contemporaries putting out anything that sounds similar. Others have not been so kind. The only way to make your mind up is to listen, I guess.
Wallfahrer – Lightbringer / Leidbringer
There’s no way I’d have expected to have two German back metal bands on this month’s list and for there to be absolutely no doubt that neither is NSBM. Although, while it’s clear to me that Toadeater is a socialist or anarchist project, Wallfahrer might be leaning into ecofascism.
My quick Google Translate effort with their lyrics have me leaning towards green anarchism, especially with the lyrics from the final track on the album:
You speak of honesty and bend the truth as you please
You speak of tolerance and reject the opinion of others as an attack
You speak of righteousness and you judge with many standards
You speak of responsibility and turn away from misery, need and danger

We wanted to explore the distance and build cultures
Rise us as lords
But in the end the person crawls
Overestimating false prophets who lie to themselves
And follow irrational illusions
Because in the end the human crawls

And you speak of freedom but obstruct your mind and gaze
And you speak of progress and you set back thoughts and values

The end of philanthropy!

We wanted to be rulers of science
But we forgot the greed for power
The addiction to authority

The bright golden future is a long way off
Man crawls in a circle
Away from reality
Vain and arrogant
At around an hour’s playtime and 6 tracks, you would be forgiven for thinking that there’s a lot of filler or atmospheric lead-in for each track but the album rattles along at a consistent pace, using some beautiful lead trem to link passages in the music instead.
The throaty vocals work really well over the almost positive feeling a lot of the music has, and even though it’s all in German you feel the hatred and misanthropy dripping from every word.
I have no idea how I found this record, but I’m glad I did. The human destruction of nature is something that deserves more attention, but unfortunately antithetical to Wallfahrer’s blacker than thou approach of shunning all promotion.
If you missed it up the top, you can check out everything except Wallfahrer on this month’s Spotify playlist here.