The Ruins of Beverast - Exuvia
Label: Ván Records
I first heard Exuvia while sitting on my front porch, headphones in, as a storm front started moving in. The setting could not have been better. The dark clouds rolling in, the cool winds picking up, the drop in air pressure all fit the experience of the album so perfectly. Alexander von Meilenwald approaches each Ruins of Beverast album differently and, in my opinion, always with stellar results. Yet something about this album is truely special. Meilenwald is a master of his craft, using every instrument he feels necessary to create haunting soundscapes that build on each other to epic climaxes. Not only does he create tension, but he manages to succeed where so many other artists struggle: he delivers. Every crescendo is done with purpose and leaves the listener satisfied. Exuvia may be but another display of his sheer brilliance, but he's so far ahead of his contempraries that they pale in comparison.
Perverted Ceremony - Sabbat of Behezaël
Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions
I will admit, I am always a sucker for Beherit-worship, especially from the Drawing Down the Moon
era. And while Perverted Ceremony definitely evoke a similar sound, going for a dark, ritualistic form of black metal complete with whispered vocals, they stand out amongst the clones. Excellently produced while retaining their filth, Perverted Ceremony accomplish preciesly what they set out to achieve with Sabbat of Behezaël: worship of a mysterious and dark force through primitive, bestial black metal.
**Note: The band has recently announced a new EP, out Dec 25th on Nuclear War Now! Productions
Temple of Void - Lords of Death
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
Death/doom with a sense of drive. The record never loses it's momentum, and the production issues
that (minorly) plagued the first release have been cleaned up. The vocal delivery is some of the best
death vocals I've heard in a while, deep and resounding, yet completely decypherable without the help of a lyric sheet. The band even toys with clean vocals on "Graven Desires", which pays off in spades (my favorite track on an album full of excellence). Lords of Death is to be commended as a crowning achievement in the already fertile Detroit metal scene.
Vesicant - Shadows of Cleansing Iron
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Country: New Zealand
Vesicant may not be war metal proper, but their blend of black/death calls to mind the horrors of one
of the most savage conflicts of our time: WWI. My full review of Shadows of Cleansing Iron can be found
Label: Fallen Empire Records/I, Voidhanger Records
A devisive record, from what I've noticed. I'm firmly in the camp that it is a monolith of inspired
extreme metal. Full of surprises across it's four massive tracks, Tchornobog is brilliantly layered
masterwork, with each layer adding another coat to create a suffocating sense of dread.
Hellripper - Coagulating Darkness
Label: Independent/Barbarian Wrath/Diabolic Might/Granite Factory
Speaking of fun records, just try to listen to this while driving without hitting the gas. A blasphemous
ripper from front to back that moves Hellripper out of his earlier blackened-Motörhead worship (though those roots are still most definietly present) and into his own brand of blackened speed metal. Check out my interview with Hellripper mastermind James McBain
Malokarpatan - Nordkarpatanland
Label: Invictus Productions
One of the most fun records of the year for me, Malokarpatan's sophmore effort calls upon Master's
Hammer, Bathory, and a healthy dose of Mercyful Fate riffing set to Slovakian folklore and drunkenness. A very bizarre yet entertaining listen, this record could have gone off the rails quickly, but Malokarpatan have the chops (and the balls) to pull it off with seeming ease.
Black Cilice - Banished From Time
Genre: Raw Black
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Black Cilice's fourth full-length, and possibly the most "accessible" one to date. Beautifully produced
raw black metal that I find myself lost in on every listen. The vocal performance is outstanding,
contrasting well against the melodic chord progressions, and truely sounding like the desperate cries of a soul lost amonst the cosmos.
Tomb Mold - Primordial Malignity
Label: Blood Harvest
Quite possibly the hardest working death metal band today, certainly the hardest of 2017. On the toes
of their debut album the band also released a new demo, a compilation of their two 2016 demos, and
promised an album in spring of 2018, all while touring. The music is reminescent of the classic Finnish death scene while managing to feel fresh and inspired. Drenched in decay and reverb, the guitars coat the solid rhythm section in a feeling of frantic and overwhelming dread.
Ascended Dead - Abhorrent Manifestation
Label: Dark Descent Records/Invictus Productions
Riffs on top of riffs on top of riffs. Death metal delivered at breakneck speed and a furociousness
unmatched by their peers. Bestial, yet technical, the band manages to keep their brand of death metal
interesting and enganging thoughout the record. The stellar debut from the San Diego natives leaves mewanting more every time.