When I started doing this feature, this label was at the top of my list to include. Well, the year is winding down and with all the stellar releases they’ve put out in the last 10 months of it, the time is now. It goes without saying that Profound Lore Records is one of the top underground Extreme Metal labels, who’ve been around for well over a decade now and have put out a wealth of quality releases by a plethora of names in the underground Extreme Metal scene through the years, including Krieg, Leviathan, A.M.S.G., Altar of Plagues, Ash Borer, Impetuous Ritual, Full of Hell, Loss, Pallbearer, Disma and a shit-ton more, later expanding to other genres, like Post-Punk, Dungeon Synth and so on. They also gave a lot of notable bands of today their start and probably some notable ones of tomorrow. Some of those names are definitely on this list and their albums that are featured here, may very well be they’re launching pads. Some of these albums are the most unique and interesting that I’ve heard this year, which some would even agree with me on. These are some of 2018’s most elite releases and they deserve to reach and desecrate more ears. So, let’s get to it and give them their just due.
These are PL’s 9 highlights of 2018 (so far):
Wayfarer: World’s Blood
We all know there are tons of themes that Black Metal has covered, lyrically and aesthetically, but this is a first for me, in terms of where a Black Metal band has gone, thematically. Instead of Satanism, the Occult, the grim, frostbitten cold, the cosmos or ancient civilizations, Wayfarer take their sound and channel the essence of the old American Southwest, to create their style of Folky Atmospheric Black Metal. This is unique stuff for sure and it’s honestly pretty stellar; just think Agalloch if they sang about life in the wild frontier, instead of snow and nature and stuff. This is very interesting stuff and a very unique theme to cover in Black Metal. We’ve seen this kinda done before with Cobalt (who I fucking love). but these guys do it in a much more complex, intricate and captivating way. There are so many memorable riffs and melodies, that flow through each track like a steady, flowing stream, and continue to do so when things get harsh and heavy, as the echoey, howling shrieks and foggy, paced drums flow with them. The way the melodic passages are harmonized is very well done too! Some may write this off as Cascadian drivel, but it’s far more than that; this is very well-crafted and masterfully executed and honestly may be one of the more interesting Black Metal releases this year. So, don’t write it off, give it a shot and let it enchant you with it’s spur-wearing, horse-riding, Blackened Western drawl. It’s worth it, this is great stuff!
Chthe’ilist: Passage into the Xexanotth
Canada’s Chthe’ilist are back after their solid 2016 debut, with this new, equally solid EP. This is 2 tracks and 10 minutes of dismal, atmospheric old school Death Metal, that goes for the REALLY murky and swampy tone, similar to the likes of Blood Incantation and Spectral Voice, but also implements the riffy aggression of early Cannibal Corpse and Deicide, blending it in a good bit. This was a quick, easy listen of quick, uneasy Death Metal and if this is a sign of what’s to come from these dudes, then I’m ready. Not quite the most powerful DM release I’ve heard this year, but definitely no slouch in what they do, if you’ve heard their debut album. Good stuff nonetheless that will hopefully be followed up on well.
Infernal Coil: Within a World Forgotten
Next, we have the highly anticipated debut full-length by Boise, Idaho purveyors of foggy, cavernous and ferocious Deathgrind, Infernal Coil. Needless to say, as you can probably tell from it’s reception, this album was damn well worth the wait and then some. This is absolutely crushing, fast paced Death Metal of the muddiest and audibly harshest variety, that picks up right where their last EP left off. It’s a fucking blast-fest for the most part, but has some really crushing moments when things get a little paced. The guitars are super sharp and churn out head-bashing chords and foggy riffs, the drums are muddy and fast, but pounding and the vocals are bellowing growls that are as cavernous and harsh as the howls and screams of a cave-dwelling neanderthal. Excellent debut by one of the more promising newer Death Metal/Deathgrind acts of 2018. No disappointments here when it comes to this one.
Innumerable Forms: Punishment in Flesh
Next, we have an interesting one. Innumerable Forms have been around for about 8 years now and have only now released their debut full-length. They put out a really good EP back in 2010, titled Dark Worship, but that was really their most significant release, up until now. Punishment in Flesh is their big debut and it was damn well worth the wait. This is punishing Death Metal in it’s most cavernous and barbaric form; the sound on this one is so filthily heavy and pummeling, that it skates the line somewhere between Incantation-style frantic, cavernous Death and early Amorphis-style crushing Death Doom; filled with riffs, both fast and harsh and slow and wailing, toned as hellishly low as humanly possible, echoy bellowing growls and muddy frantic drumming that sounds like an avalanche of rocks and boulders, caving in on you and trapping you in the same cave these monstrous growls are coming from. Pretty fucking nasty stuff and just as good as their previous EP. Definitely another ripper in 2018’s Death Metal department. Great stuff that took far too long to finally see the light of day.
The 6th album by one of Montreal, Quebec’s leading underground Black Metal acts is here after a 3-year wait and it is fucking phenomenal! Akitsa have once again hit the nail on the head, when it comes to capturing the essence of true, old school Black Metal, akin to the likes of early Darkthrone and Hellhammer, but with a good hint of Punk attitude injected into it. They use that attitude and grit to slap you in the face with a piercing, vicious force, while keeping things foggy and atmospheric all at once. The guitars are loud and sharp, the drums are fast and muddy and the vocals are fucking ear-shreddingly powerful and forceful. This is another reason why Canadian Black Metal is so underrated and under-appreciated. Another excellent outing by one of it’s best names that exceeded my expectations, which were kinda iffy, given the cover art, not being black and white for the first time. Great fucking stuff!
Hissing: Permanent Destitution
Continuing down the paths of Death Metal’s dismal caverns, this is the debut full-length by Seattle, Washington cave dwellers, Hissing. This is cavernous Death Metal on the weirder side of things, filled with weird riffs, spastic blasts and harsh, bellowing growls. The style of riffs and their delivery reminds me a bit of Deathspell Omega, which is interesting and unique for something like this. The uneasy atmosphere and filth-ridden production really adds to it too. It sticks to this formula and stays interesting all the way through and keeps you on edge with each passing second of crawling harshness and brutality. Definitely another great DM release in the books for 2018 and not one to sleep on. Very nasty stuff by a band that’s relatively new, but sure to make some waves in the coming years.
Bliss Signal: S/T
Now for something a bit different… okay, VERY different, both for me and Profound Lore. London’s Bliss Signal play a very experimental and out-there form of Black Metal, blended with Post-Metal, Industrial, Electronic, Ambient, Shoegaze and the likes. As we all know, I’m usually not a fan of this stuff and would normally put this in the Hipster category, but it is on the Profound Lore roster, so I trusted it to be at least some semblance of good or decent. Well, overall, it’s pretty decent for what it is. It’s full of different nuances that blend together to create a sound that reminds me of something Netra would do. You can classify it as Black Metal, but that’s only one of the elements present here. It’s spacey Industrial Post-Black that would make good background music at a planetarium or something. It’s spacey atmosphere, combined with weird, techno-y beats, ambient passages, some tremolo picking and Blackened riffs here and there and overall trancy vibe, makes for an interesting experience of a listen, but again, nothing i’d ever be in a hurry to put on. Pretty interesting concept overall, but not my favorite on this list.
Gevurah: Sulphur Soul
More stellar Black Metal from Canada! Montreal, Quebec’s Gevurah bring forth anther serving of atmospheric Luciferian madness with their second EP, which is just as good as their previous outings. This is just dark and ominous Black Metal, filled to the brim with tremolo picking and snare-blasting, immersed in a dismal and black cloud-like atmosphere. It’s a pretty straightforward sound but it’s so riddled in ominousness and malevolence, that it keeps things interesting all throughout it’s short but sweet 30-minute length. Some may find this a bit generic, but if you’re looking for atmosphere and straight darkness in aural form, them you’ve come to the right place. Simple but effective in every way. Canada has yet to fail me when it comes to bringing the Kvltness!
Soft Kill: Savior
Last, but not least, we have the most unique of this bunch; time for some dark, dreary, depressive Post-Punk, via Portland, Oregon’s top purveyors of such. Post-Punk has kinda been in the doldrums this year and I haven’t seen too many good new releases from it, so this is pretty refreshing. This is just what you’d expect and it’s pretty good; it’s the audio equivalent to being in said doldrums. It’s moody, hazy Post-Punk, filled with melody and laced in melancholia. You can hear a lot of influence from The Cure’s early works in this too, particularly Pornography. Even the vocals hit notes from time to time, that could easily be Robert Smith if you close your eyes and picture it. You’ll get a ton of great riffs and a lot of dreary melody from this too. Some tracks, like the title track, Missing and Dancing on Glass will have you dancing like the Goth Kids from South Park, with their hauntingly catchy, foggy and trance-inducing melody and delivery. Pretty exceptional stuff overall! A few dull moments here and there, but very catchy and depressively exciting as a whole.
That does it for now. This is the creme of the crop as far as Profound Lore goes in 2018. The crazy thing is, it’s not even over yet, as the new fucking Evoken album is also on the horizon! Expect a full review on that one! There were a couple of release here that I wasn’t a fan of and left out, but all and all, The folks at PL have not disappointed in the least in 2018 and made some fine contributions to it’s endless supply of bangers. Still a true staple in the underground Metal realm and one of the driving forces of it, keeping nasty, murky, old school stuff alive. Not a bad year at all for these guys. A highlight post was inevitable and well-deserved.