(Note: I’ve decided to update this list and make it a top 50! After I posted this list earlier this month, I started playing catch-up with what I missed and realized I jumped the gun and should have waited a bit longer. There were quite a few great albums that came out this month alone, that deserve a spot on this list and it even feels sacrilege for a couple of them to not be included. So fuck it, I’m including them. This is the same list I already posted, just updated and now a much stronger list. Enjoy!)
Another year has passed, at the pace of a fucking rocket. It seems like only yesterday it was January and I was still doing leftovers. Where the time goes, I have no fucking idea, but nonetheless, it’s time to round things up once again and showcase the cream of the crop that 2018 had to offer. First off, this has easily been the busiest and most eventful year yet for Thy Kingdom Scvm. I finally got my blog looking the way I wanted it to look, got a decent logo and everything has just fallen into place for it. I just want to say, to anyone who reads this blog and likes what I have to say, I appreciated it! It honestly means a lot and it shows me that I’m not just wasting my time doing this. I like doing this, I love talking about and discussing the music that I’m passionate about and it serves as my biggest platform to do so. So, thank you all. I’ve hit the 2-year mark and now have over 100 album reviews and over 200 posts altogether. Not bad for a one-man show! I’m just getting started. Onward to year 3!
Onto 2018, music-wise. First things first, It’s been an amazing year for Death Metal, specifically old school Death Metal. My love for the genre has been revitalized immensely, after a period of it being stagnant, because of all the great stuff we’ve been getting from late last year to now, from labels like Profound Lore, Dark Descent, Nuclear War Now! and the likes. I truly feel like we’re in another golden era of Death Metal and so many newer bands are keeping the raw, filthy old school spirit and style alive. Black Metal hasn’t done too bad either, also on the more raw and nastier side. Some absolute soul-shredding rippers were put out in the underground over the last 12 months. Even on the bigger scale too, we had some good ones, including some pleasant surprises and growers. You’ll see some of them here.
So, let’s not make this a manifesto and get right to it, 2018’s best releases, in the mind of ol’ Scvm:
50. Marduk: Viktoria
I initially disliked this one. Like, REALLY disliked it. After my first 2 listens, it just sounded very weak and no where near up to par with the aggression and darkness that Marduk usually brings, especially after the ripper that was Frontschwein. After a while, however, steadily and splendidly, it grew on me a great deal. Now I can’t help but give it a spin whenever I decide to ravage my headphones with some good ol’ Marduk. It’s nowhere near Marduk’s best work, but it does have enough aggression and tasty riffs to it to be as enjoyable as any other of their recent outings. It was a grower, but it’s not nearly as bad as I originally thought. So, it earned it’s spot here.
49. Witch King: Voice of the Ossuary
Another one that I mistakenly slept on, that blindsided me with a good sucker punch of dismal savagery, for being the fool that I am. Witch King offer up a heaping pile of sonic hell, in the form of pummeling Blackened Death Metal, with a good hint of War Metal added in. I wasn’t expecting the sheer force and chaos that flooded my ear canals once I pressed play on this one, but now I know not to ever sleep on this band again. Simple, effective and bloody fucking savage. Not much else you need to know, just get on it!
48. Knelt Rote: Alterity
Known for their style of Noise-infused Deathgrind, I had a certain expectation for this one going in. It turned out to be quite different, but still as furious and scratching as ever. Knelt Rote once again justify the attention they’ve been getting for the last couple years and hammer their point home with the chaotic fury that is this Alterity. Just ferocious, relentless Grindy Death Metal, with a good hint of dissonance to it that sets a chaotically cavernous atmosphere to it that serves as the backbone to the blasty, riffy assault that accompanies it. Dense, violent and unfriendly to the human eardrum, the way any good, noisy Deathgrind outing should be. Don’t sleep on it!
47. Moenen of Xesbeth: Ancient Spells of Darkness…
Nuclear War Now! has had a pretty killer year; this is one of many, from their roster, that you’ll see on this list. Moenen of Xesbeth is a budding, new entity that plays Black Metal of the most traditional and ancient form, similar to that of Perverted Ceremony (because the fellow behind this, is the same one behind PC. So no shit, Sherlock!). This is all around raw and filth-ridden, with a ton of great riffs present. No fancy bullshit, just pure murk and evil, spewing musings of the Occult and other forms of esoterica. Great stuff that should reach more ears, especially those who crave stuff that channels the essence of the 2nd wave.
46. Skinless: Savagery
The long-awaited new slab of filthy, slimy, face-smashing Brutal Death Metal, from one of the sub-genres head-honchos. Skinless have once again delivered the goods, in the form of thick, meaty riffs, murky, pounding drums and snarling growls of the grimiest ilk. This is just a short, sweet and to-the-point bashing of said riffs, drums and growls into your head, continuously, without a second to breathe. Pure barbarity in sonic form, like you would expect from these freaks by now. Definitely no Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead, but an exceptional effort in it’s own right.
45. Skeletal Remains: Devouring Mortality
Talk about channeling the filthy, stench-ridden spirit of the old school Death Metal gods and bringing it right the fuck into the current year! This is the third album by Skeletal Remains and it’s a continuation of their growth as a well-seasoned Death Metal band, with no shortage of thick, juicy riffs in their arsenal. This album is nothing short of a masterpiece of sheer brutality and ruthlessness, that’ll give you strong 90s Obituary vibes, and it couldn’t have been more worth the wait than it was. Great fucking stuff and one of the main contributions to 2018’s year of old school deathly goodness.
44. Ramuh: Glowing Civilization
The new side-project of Full of Hell frontman, Dylan Walker, also featuring members of Maruta and other acts, which is basically Full of Hell, had they not gone full Deathgrind. Ramuh takes the style of FoH’s more recent works and basically showcase what it would be like if they remained a grinding Chaotic Hardcore band, while taking on the Death Metal element that they possess now. It definitely reminds me of early FoH, while offering a glimpse of what could have been. This is Grindy Chaotic Hardcore, with a good seasoning of Death Metal, Black Metal, Noise and whatever else this crew has up it’s sleeve, that’ll stick to the wall, with a solid sense of technicality and precision to it. Not for the weak of heart or sound-sensitive. Spastic, dissonant, calculated and all-around neck-snapping chaos. Unfancy and effective.
43. Ride for Revenge: Sinking the Song
As trendy and saturated as War Metal seems to be becoming, these guys may absolutely be the most unique and interesting of the bunch. Ride for Revenge dropped their surprise 7th album in September and 3 months later, it still stands. Call it whatever you will; Blackened Death, War Metal or whatever, it has every bit of that early Beherit-like ferocity and hellishness and the Conqueror-esque savagery and delivery, but condensed into a slower, Doomier and groovier style, with a small integration of Noise for some flavor. It’s cavernous, dismal and piercingly dissonant all at once and it makes for a nasty, grimy sound that’s both unique for those looking for some decent War Metal and pleasing for those looking for some good, quality Beherit-worship. If you’re gonna give this one a shot, you damn sure better be Naked and Ready. It won’t go easy on you.
42. Convocation: Scars Across
One of the first major blasts of extreme Doom Metal that came this year, which hit it’s mark splendidly. Like I said in my review of this one, Everlasting Spew is a label to watch out for; this is one of the main reasons why. This is the album that drew my attention to said label, and it’s not a bad one to do so. Convocation plays Death Doom of massive and sweltering proportions. This is everything you’d expect from a Death Doom album of quality, but in a more atmospheric and staunch manner, which is used to it’s full potential and made even more dense and crushing than it would already be otherwise. Just pure Death Doom that’s epic, miserable and heavier than the heaviest elements on the periodic table combined. These guys are relatively new, but not to be slept on by any means, nor is the label they’re currently on!
41. Tomb Mold: Manor of Infinite Forms
One of the most hyped and praised Death Metal albums of the year and one of the most rotten and riffy! This was another highly anticipated one in my eyes, when it was announced and it pretty much delivered in every aspect. This is just meaty, intense, riff-filled old school Death Metal, that sonically reeks of rot and decay. If you’re into the more modern names that have been generating a ton of buzz the last few years, like Gatecreeper, Blood Incantation, Genocide Pact and so on, mixed with the filth, grime and hellish tone of classic names like Dismember and Entombed, then this is definitely up your alley and it’s worth all of the hype it’s gotten! No slouch in what it brings to the table and old school to the rotten, decaying bone.
40. Mournful Congregation: The Incubus of Karma
On to more sweltering misery in the form of thick, crushing Doom. One of my absolute favorites in the entire sub-genre of Funeral Doom, who’s last album, The Book of Kings, is one of my favorite albums in the entire Doom Metal genre, are finally back and have once again delivered. Chock full of wailing riffs, hammering chords, echoey growls, pounding drums and background ambiance that serves as well-blended audio scenery, this is another masterful composition of Death Metal-infused Doom, with a great amount of melody to it. Very well done and well crafted. Fuck what anyone says, these guys are one of the top heavyweights of the Funeral Doom genre, next to Evoken and no one can convince me otherwise.
39. Bloodbath: The Arrow of Satan is Drawn
Another one of my most highly anticipated albums that came out just a few months ago, the mighty Bloodbath (well, mighty as long as Akerfeldt isn’t involved) have once again acquired the snarling throat of Nick Holmes, to serve another slab of blasphemous and rotten Death Metal, of the blasphemous and rotten Swedish variety. While a spike in production is present on this one and it’s not as swampy and muddy as the last album was, this is still a dark and twisted serving of Akerfeldt-devoid Bloodbath-style Death Metal and it’s really fucking good. It’s not the MOST old school Death Metal album that this year offered, especially compared to the rest of them, but it’s definitely one of the better more clean and “commercial” ones of the year. It’s pretty unique in style and has a ton of intense riffs and some very catchy, intense grooves to it. Nick’s vocals are still unique and strangely vile, just like on Grand Morbid Funeral. Say what you will about this, but I’ll take this incarnation of Bloodbath over most of Death Metal’s more major names these days, like Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Suffocation and so on, any day of the goddamn week. Compared to what they’re doing nowadays, Bloodbath is far superior in comparison.
38. Sect Pig: Crooked Backs
One of the stranger and more mysterious entities lurking the underground nowadays, with it’s newest EP. Sect Pig is an act you’ll either get into or won’t. It’s style isn’t for everyone and it’s subject matter may not jive well with some. It’s plays a style of Blackened Death Metal, that explores the nastier and more vile side of things, including spitting and hacking noises as vocals, odd riffs and other strange nuances, while regurgitating musings about eugenics and societal elitism. Either way, as someone who does enjoy the weirder and more experimental side of Black Metal and realizes what a creative and complex genre it can be, I enjoy Sect Pig and this one is no exception. Esoteric, mysterious and disgusting all at once, I can’t help but be intrigued by it. The entire 16-minutes of this is quite a trip of a listen and it’s one of the weirder releases put out by Nuclear War Now! this year, alongside the new Oksennus. Not for everyone, but definitely something to be experienced.
37. Siege Column: Inferno Deathpassion
Continuing with the NWN! stuff, we have another Death Metal ripper, that might as well be the soundtrack to a nuclear explosion or bombing. Siege Column caught my attention the very second I heard the first track released on this album and I was clamoring to hear the whole things from that moment on. The album as a whole did not disappoint either. This is Death Metal of the old school ilk, that sounds like it was recorded in the middle of a power plant-explosion, inside of a smoke-fog, filled with radiation and sulfur. This just sounds like the Death Metal-equivalent of war wreckage and it’s damn brutal to hear. This is old school Death Metal, with a good hint of Thrash blended in, that treads into War Metal territory, ever so slightly, but noticeably. The style is very animalistic and unrelenting, all the way down to the riffs and blasting of the drums; even the vocals sound like they were done through a gas mask. This is to be heard first hand and explaining it can only go so far, so give this a shot and hear the sounds of war and unrest, through the monocle of old school Death Metal filth!
36. Heads for the Dead: Serpent’s Curse
On to one of the bigger surprises of this year. A collaboration between members of Wombbath, Vholdghast, Revel in Flesh and other acts, which clearly formed with a vision, that payed off big time. This is an album that came out of nowhere and pleasantly surprised me. Another serving of old school Death of significant quality, filled with riffs and downright ghoulish and evil. Themed mostly around the occult and spirits of the dead, their sound reflects that and protrudes through ghastly riffs, hammering chords, hellish growls and blah blah blah, you know the rest. Bottom line, quality Death Metal, that you should check out if you’re into names like Bloodbath, Wombbath, Grave and the likes.
35. Shining: X: Varg Utan Flock
Easily the biggest shocker of the year for me. Shining have always been an interesting band for me; I enjoy their early albums and their mid-era ones, when they first turned down the Progressive Black Metal route (The Eerie Cold and Halmstad). After that though, they just took a header downhill and went on to become, essentially, an Opeth clone. I lost interest in them at that point, but I would always be curious whenever a new album was released by them. Every single time from then on, I would give their new albums a small listen and just not care. This album, however, is a different story. I gave it a curious listen, just like I did the others and fuck me, was I shocked! This is the most aggressive and fierce that Shining has sounded in years. The Progressive and melodic element is still very much present, but the overall sound is sped up and more blasty and a bit Thrashy in some parts. I feel like this is where Shining should stick their flag and stay at. It seems like they finally found their footing with this album and this is what works best for them, instead of the wannabe Opeth thing. Best Shining album since Halmstad, without question!
34. Wayfarer: World’s Blood
Another unique one that caught me by surprise this year. I wasn’t familiar with Wayfarer prior to hearing this one, but I checked it out because it was under the Profound Lore banner and I trust them, and trust them, I can! This is a very well crafted mix of Post-Black, Folk Black and Atmospheric Black Metal, in the vein of Agalloch, Fen and the likes, but dealing with the old American frontier. Black Metal for cowboys? Maybe. However you see it, this is some very well done and unique stuff, and that’s coming from someone who normally scoffs at Folk Metal of any kind.
33. Cult Leader: A Patient Man
One of my favorite albums of 2015, was Lightless Walk, by these fellas. Cult Leader, formed from the remains of Gaza, play an insanely crushing brand of Chaotic Hardcore, Crust, Metalcore and even throw in a hint of Death Metal for good measure. Their sound is almost unfathomably thick and bludgeoning, almost like the audio equivalent of an 18-wheeler collision. Recently, however, they’ve even integrated a bit of Post-Punk into their sound, which adds even more depth to it. This is another fucking ripper by these dudes, without question. A bit different, but just as enjoyable as their last full-length and all their EPs.
32. Evoken: Hypnagogia
A bit of a late comer in the year, but well deserving to be on this list for damn sure. After six long years, the almighty Evoken have returned and put out another amazing slab of sweltering misery, in true Evoken form, but much more stylistically versatile and unpredictable. As hard to believe as that might be for some, you need to hear it yourself to get the full effect. The same thick, meaty guitars, wailing, baritone riffs and pounding drums are still present, but much more balanced and fleshed out than previously. It’s still very much a Doom album that’s as bleak and miserable as the day is long, but probably the most unique one yet out of Evoken’s catalog. It probably won’t be a favorite for many, which I totally get, but you’d be crazy not to acknowledge this one for how well done and masterfully executed it is. Six years in the making and well worth the wait, the masters of Funeral Doom have crushed my soul once again!
31. Hate Eternal: Upon Desolate Sands
Over 20 years in existence and still killing it! I’ve been a fan of Hate Eternal since I was a teenager, who discovered them at I, Monarch; since then, I can’t remember any other album they’ve put out that really disappointed me. They’ve always played straightforward, desolate, blasphemous and riffy Death Metal, that was always brutal and ripping and never really missed a beat in being such. This album is no exception, it’s just pummeling and filled with juicy riffs as the rest of them and just as well done. It’s Hate Eternal being Hate Eternal, which is all they need to be. Pure hatred and blasphemy personified.
30. Windhand: Eternal Return
It was inevitable that this one would be here, it was just a matter of, if it would be at the top or not. Obviously, the answer was no, but it’s worthy of being on this list anyway. Windhand is still one of the best names I can pick out of the Stoner Doom genre and have been since Grief’s Infernal Flower and that stance still remains 3 years later. Eternal Return is just as majestic and gripping and like I said, if it doesn’t make you want to go trip your balls off in the woods somewhere, then it isn’t for you. Great fucking album that belongs on the year-end list of anyone with a taste for Doom!
29. Druid Lord: Grotesque Offerings
I never got to give this one a full review, but this one was a lock for this list since around February, This is a pretty underrated gem of 2018, that I feel like should have gotten more praise than it did. Druid Lord play ghoulish Death Doom, with a heavy, crushing tone to it and some excellent riffs to boot. This is basically Hooded Menace and Acid Witch put into a blender and injected with steroids. I like both of them, but Druid Lord honestly takes the cake out of the three. Great stuff that you should all sing the praises of more often.
28. Ectoplasma: Cavern of Foul Unbeings
One of the first big blasts of filthy old school Death Metal this year and one of the best. Ectoplasma caught my attention with their last album and EP, and they sealed the deal on me being a fan with this one! This is early Autopsy levels of disgusting and rotten Death Metal from the deepest, darkest sewers of the genre, that the foulest of stenches protrudes from. Filthy, riffy, hard-hitting and not for weaklings with OCD who have to clean every 5 minutes. Great stuff that should have gotten more recognition than it did!
27. Byyrth: Echoes from the Seven Caves of Blood
One of the first bands born out of the Vampyric Black Metal sect and one of the finest examples of why I love Raw Black Metal so much. California’s Byyrth once again create a blood fog of sound, with sharp, piercing guitars, murky drums and blood-curdling shrieks that sound like howls from a desolate cave, under thick, foggy production. It’s nasty, vicious and sonically hellish and unsettling, with as minimal production value as possible, like any good Black Metal act of this nature should be. Simple, effective and evil as all hell, very much on par with the likes of Black Cilice and Orgy of Carrion. Top tier of the year for sure!
26. Sissy Spacek: Ways of Confusion
There’s been a lot of hits out of Nuclear War Now! this year, here’s another one. Easily the best release of the sound barrier-piercingly dissonant and ear-shreddingly noisy stuff, Sissy Spacek once again bring the noise-infused Grindcore and continue to push the boundaries of how much the human eardrum can take, with it’s hyper-fast and scratching sound, drenched in audio sandpaper. Nothing much to say here, besides this is short, sweet and only created to fuck your hearing up by 40 or younger. Good shit and definitely the release out of the Grind department that I enjoyed the most this year.
25. Chaos Echoes: Mouvement
Another lock or this list from the moment it was heard, the smoldering, dead flesh-reeking piece of sonic hell, in the form of Doom, Death, Black, Tribal and everything in between. Chaos Echoes have once again put out an entrancing piece of esoteric Extreme Metal art, that challenges you and controls your anxiety, tension, paranoia and any other deeply repressed emotion you possess and forces you to feel it, with the crawling, writhing, completely improvised passages of Blackened Death Doom, channeling the most obscure and forbidden spirits of the ancients. I can only describe this in so many ways, so you need to just give it a listen for yourself if you haven’t already. This really is a special breed of a band and they have yet to disappoint.
24. Mutilation Rites: Chasm
Brooklyn Blackened Death supremacy! The best way I can describe this slab of punishing filth. One of the best and most overlooked bands in the underground today have once again knocked it out of the park and delivered a monster of an album, that beats the living shit out you from start to finish in the riffiest and blastiest way imaginable. No bullshit, no frills, no fancy, experimental drivel, just pure, rotten filth from front to back, done the New YAWK way. Get this on your radars!
23. Faustcoven: In the Shadow of Doom
Another winner from Nuclear War Now!. Faustcoven have returned with another massive hammering of nasty, filthy Blackened Doom, complete with some gnarly riffs and a foggy and raw, but epic atmosphere to it. This is a well-structured and complex album, that brings as much creativity and nuance to Blackened Doom as possible and makes itself stand out from the herd. Just pure fucking evil and misanthropy from start to finish, as well as crushing and spellbinding. Great stuff, just like the rest of this band’s output. No disappointments to be found as of yet.
22. Dagger Lust: Siege Bondage Adverse to the Godhead
Vrasubatlat were the subject of my first ever Label Latests post for a reason. This is one of those reasons. The debut full-length by Oregon’s Dagger Lust takes the classic Blackened Death/War Metal style of Blasphemy and takes it to even darker and more abyss-like fringes. I wouldn’t call this total War Metal, but it treads into that territory very heavily and implements some noise into it’s sound as well. Very simple style-wise, but very effective in delivery. Portland may be the land of Hipsters, but this, as well as the rest of Vrasubatlat, definitely doesn’t fit in with it. A true gem in a city of gentrified shit. Great stuff here! Not the only one on this list, by the way.
21. Haunt: Grimoires of Undead Power
This album automatically earned it’s way onto my list, just for nearly making me deaf in one ear… and for being a filthy, swampy, unbearably dissonant Raw Black Metal album, of course! Haunt have done it again and have followed up on their self-titled debut album splendidly. Sharp, piercing guitars, muddy drums, dismal shrieks and an atmosphere that resembles a fog in a cemetery, is what makes up this audio nightmare and it really harkens back to Black Metal’s golden era; it’s roots and essence is channeled so well, all the way down to the visuals. Another fucking Black Metal ripper by an entity that knows what it’s doing and is 100% sincere in what it conveys.
20. Ævangelist: Heralds of Nightmare Descending
Talk about esoteric and challenging. The horrifying new album (one of them, at least) by Ævangelist might as well have made it’s way onto this list just for being Ævangelist. This album backs up why it deserves to be here in spades, by being the actual aural equivalent of my childhood night terrors. It’s Blackened Death Metal in the most disturbingly creative and spellbindingly punishing form possible, which has only grown in style since it’s beginning, especially with the addition of Matron Thorn. I can’t praise enough, the ability that these two have to channel their worst and most deviant of thoughts and convey them through the music they create, much like Gnaw Their Tongues or Reverorum ib Malacht. They truly have a darkness within themselves that not many have and it continues to channel itself through this project like water through an open vent. Just chaos and entropy in it’s purest aural form. You can expect a review of their other new one very soon!
19. Thou: Magus
Three EPs and an album, which resulted in one of my longest reviews, the almighty Thou have once again outdone themselves with this piece of crushing Extreme Doom Metal art. The growth of this band was well-referenced in my review and it still stands now. Just listen to those three new EPs and then this album and tell me they haven’t become a sort of jack-of-all-trades. Their versatility knows no bounds, implementing Post-Metal, Black Metal, Electronic, Alternative and all kinds of other tricks into their core Sludge Doom sound. This is easily their most complex and structured album to date, that combines all the elements of the three EPs that preceded it and it’s so well executed and well detailed. Considering where they came from, with albums like Peasant and Tyrant, it’s quite a growth in style and it’s pretty cool to see. Worthy of a spot here without question!
18. Serum Dreg: Lustful Vengeance
The other album from the Vrasubatlat crew that I referenced earlier. The debut full-length by Portland’s Serum Dreg is nothing but Raw Blackened filth at it’s absolute nastiest and most spiteful. Just full of blown out guitars, ripping chords, murky drums and dueling growls and shrieks, as dismal and harsh as the day is long. Nothing much else to cover here, just filth at it’s finest and purest. Every project in the Vrasubatlat circle is different in it’s own way and have all put out winners this year alone, but this and the new Dagger Lust were the best of this year’s bunch. Nothing but praise for this crew!
17. Clandestine Blaze: Tranquility of Death
One of the best Raw Black Metal acts in existence right now and one of Finland’s best exports, Clandestine Blaze is back with another flesh-ripping, anti-human, hatred-fuled Black Metal of the purest and harshest ilk. The rawness and filth that this act is known for, carries on into this album and has enough spite and malice to it, that makes Clandestine Blaze what it is. Not quite as scathing and harsh as the last album, but no less riddled with the same blown out guitars, muddy, blasting drums and howling shrieks and surrounded by an atmosphere of dirt, mud and smoke. Basically audio pollution for your mind. Another reason why I consider CB one of my current favorites of the more traditional Black Metal sect. Great stuff!
16. Nattsvargr: Night of the Crimson Thirst
Another one that snuck up on me and grabbed me by the throat and aurally shredded me to pieces, well known purveyor of true-to-the-core Black Metal, Nattsvargr has returned and unleashed one of the best and most overlooked releases this year, of the traditional Black Metal ilk, in my opinion. This got a mere Bandcamp Roundup review, but it was a standout of the list it was on. This is a cold, stark and desolate piece of scathing Black Metal, surrounded by the most foggy and grim of atmospheres and riddled in as much hatred and contempt as the eye can see or the ear can hear. Full of the usual, but well done tropes of tremolo picking, foggy, blasting drums and vicious, howling shrieks, it’s as raw and honest as you can ask for or get from a Black Metal album. A truly underappreciated gem from the coldest and darkest sect of the genre that should be heard and felt much more. More than worthy of a spot here!
15. Necrophobic: Mark of the Necrogram
These Swedish Blackened Death Metal legends have also surprised me with their latest outing, that I would have never expected to end up on this list, but alas. Necrophobic have outdone themselves with this one. Every so slightly on the melodic side, but very much a Swedish Death Metal album, with a Black Metal tinge to it, in the vein of Dissection or Watain. Chock full of solid riffs, well-harmonized guitars and bass, blasty drums and snarling shrieks to top it off, this is pretty much the total package of what Necrophobic have to offer at their best and I’ll even go as far as saying this is their best album since Darkside. Agree or disagree, I give no fucks. Necrophobic are still as able and competent as they have always been and Mark of the Necrogram is no exception. Swedish Blackened Death at it’s finest.
14. Akitsa: Credo
The Canadian Black Metal scene has been getting some well-deserved attention as of late and this is one of the acts responsible for it and this album is the reason why. Akitsa have always been one of the head-honchos of the scene, as far as I see it, as they’ve proven it time and time again with their style of raw, dissonant and old school-rooted Black Metal, with a good bit of Punk attitude injected into it. Credo may be their first time ever using non-black and white cover art, but that has absolutely no effect on their sound, as it follows the same formula they’ve come to be known for. As a result of this, we have, unquestionably, one of the Black Metal albums of the year! Just cold, harsh, spiteful and aurally unfriendly all around, without a single second of rest. This was worthy of a place on this list from the moment I layed eyes on the artwork, I just didn’t know how right I was. If this doesn’t make you want to explore Canada’s underground fringes (aside from the Ross Bay Cult), then I don’t know what will.
13. Autokrator: Hammer of the Heretics
If a war broke out in Hell, this would be the soundtrack. Autokrator are a pretty overlooked band in Blackened Death Metal, when they should be at the helm. The ferocity and force that’s put into this monster, is unlike any others that I’ve heard this year, even in the Death Metal realm. There’s been a lot of quality Death Metal this year, but out of all of them, this is the most punishing and dense one of the bunch and it stands out like a broken fucking thumb, after being smashed with a sledgehammer. Like I said in my brief review a few months back, the guitars sound like chainsaws, the drums sound like AK-47s and the vocals sound like they’re coming from an air-vent, full of demonic soldiers ready to show themselves and attack at any moment. You’re not given a single moment to breath during this horrific assault and it shows no remorse for you after it’s finished. Not for the weak of heart or anyone who prefers Death Metal that you’d see at Summer Slaughter or some bullshit like that. Great fucking stuff! This is sonic hell if it ever existed.
12. Watain: Trident Wolf Eclipse
The long-awaited follow-up to one of the weakest outings from one of the most polarizing bands in the Black Metal genre. Watain disappointed me in 2013 with The Wild Hunt and I was lead to believe that it was the beginning of their descent downhill (and to others, they were already downhill), but fuck me, if this isn’t a redeemer for them, I don’t know what is. Trident Wolf Eclipse brings back the aggression and force in Watain’s sound that I feel was missing in The Wild Hunt and it harkens back to the days of Casus Lucifiri and even Lawless Darkness. The production is also a bit dirtier than the previous couple albums, which is a nice touch. This is a huge step up that I didn’t see coming and I couldn’t have been more pleased with it. It’s aggressive, hard-hitting and full of those signature Swedish melodic but nasty riffs and nuances that, when done right, I fucking love. Great comeback! I know a lot of you don’t like Watain, but I do. In the immortal words of the African guy from Friday: kiss my ass, so what!
11. Funeral Winds: Sinister Creed
This one came out early in the year and I didn’t get to review it until June, in my mid-year-catch-up QAT, which I totally regret, because fuck, is this one a ripper! Funeral Winds have always been a gem in the more cruel and rotten side of Black Metal, but this may be the most prime example of it. Sinister Creed is of the more modern Black Metal ilk, but it brings a level of aggression and ferocity to the table, that most bands on that boat could only dream of creating. This is just filthy, rotten and downright evil all around and full of sinister riffs and snarling shrieks, topped off by muddy, blasting drums and murky production. Easily one of the best Black Metal albums of this year, that I feel went under a lot of radars and deserves to be on more year-end lists. Pure hatred in audio form.
10. Svartidauði: Revelations of the Red Sword
The main reason for me redoing this list. The looooooong-awaited new album by one of the bands who set the Icelandic Black Metal scene on the fast-track to the status it’s reaches over the last few years, are finally back with their second full-length, following up their debut, 2012’s Flesh Cathedral. Whetting our appetite with some good EPs along the wait, Svartidauði have made a name for themselves, taking the Deathspell Omega-esque style of hellishly weird and scathing Avant Garde Black Metal and taking it to deeper levels of dissonance and atmosphere. This album is a further progression of the creativity and prowess these guys possess, filled with masterful instrumentation and musicianship and taken to almost otherworldly levels of sonic potency and lucidity. Some may see them as a ripoff of Deathspell, but I think they go much deeper than that and add more dimensions to the style and are much more innovative. Bottom line, this album is an absolute crusher in sound and vibe and it’s what really drove me to re-make this list. Review definitely coming soon!
9. Archgoat: The Luciferian Crown
Barbaric, hellish and crushing. The almighty Archgoat have outdone themselves once again with this absolute fucking skull-shatterer of an album. The sheer brutality and ruthlessness that the band is known for is still very much present and shows no signs of slowing down on this one, in fact, it’s grown even stronger here. The same Blackened Death with meaty riffs, hammering chords, paced blast-beats and those dismal, dying pig-like growls is all that awaits you when you press play on this one and you will be given no breaks as it bludgeons you from front to back. Absolute fucking barbarity from start to finish, like any good Archgoat release. The current kings of War Metal not named Revenge, as far as I see it.
8. Our Place of Worship is Silence: With Inexorable Suffering
I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: anything with Jef Whitehead’s artwork attached to it, is worth checking out. Proof? This absolute beast. OPoWiS present a particularly disgusting and primitive form of Blackened Death Metal, full of gnarly-toned guitars, spastic pace-changes, the foulest and most ruthless of growls and an overall sense of tension protruding throughout it. It brings to mind classics like Cryptopsy’s Blasphemy Made Flesh and Suffocation’s Pierced from Within, but with a much darker twist to it, in style and in essence. Definitely a band making it’s presence felt in the underground and they’re only getting started. One of the finest in the vast wave of fine releases that graced the Death Metal genre in 2018 that was locked in for a spot high on this list from my first listen.
7. Black Magick SS: Spectral Ecstasy
If Deep Purple made a blood-pact with Satan. Riddled in hype and a tad bit of controversy surrounding it’s use of certain symbols and visuals, what I initially thought was another tired attempt at capturing the 70s psychedelic, Occult Rock sound, turned out to be one of the most shockingly excellent releases this year. The channeling of 70’s Psych Rock, in the vein of Deep Purple and Occult Rock, a la Coven, all the way down to the production, combined with the 2nd wave Black Metal atmosphere and style, is so fucking well done and carefully crafted, even down to the use of keyboards and Organs and all of the other extra nuances that I usually brush off. A lot of catchy tunes, like Black Hand, My Love and The Oath and great musicianship to boot, is what makes this the masterpiece that it is; it succeeds where a lot of bands who try this fail. Excellent stuff! Don’t let the obnoxiously bright colors fool you.
6. Slavehouse: Taste in Pain
Violence, filth and hatred personified. This is another one that came out of nowhere and made a hell of an impact in doing so. The debut full-length by Slavehouse is raw, hate-fuled Blackened Punk at it’s absolute most dissonant and scathing. Just a non-stop bludgeoning of ripping chords, furious, muddy drums and unfathomably harsh, dismal shrieks to top it off. It’s style is simple, but to say it’s effective would be an understatement. It gets it’s point across to you one way or a-fucking-nother, whether you want to hear it or not; it’s far too loud and violent to ignore. A lot of the tracks have a catchy, Punky groove to them, but it’s all played with the most vicious of force behind it, from the first second to last. Definitely a new favorite of mine in the Raw Black Metal department and a definite filler of the void that was left by Young and in the Way after their split. Great fucking stuff and I already writhe for more.
5. Akasha: Consuming the Soul
Speaking of Raw Black Metal, here’s another one that crept up on me and caught me off guard with how fucking killer it is. I briefly talked about Akasha a few months back and what I said still stands here. This is another one of the Vampyric Black Metal ilk and I honestly feel like this should serve as the example for what the Vampyric Black Metal sound should be and what sets it apart from the other forms of the genre. It’s raw, harsh and scathing, but soaked in melody, in the form of sharp and piercing riffs and tremolos, that give it an extra kick and make it even more hard-hitting. It’s almost as if the melody and riffage serves as the blood that soaks the teeth, which the vocals and other instruments serve as. The melodic side is just as raw and sharp as everything else and not sterilized by studio distortion. The overall sound, as a result, is that much more vicious and impactful. I rarely put EPs on my year-end lists, but this one just had to go here; it’s so goddamn good, as well as the split with Unrest. Akasha is a name to look out for in the foreseeable future. I look forward to the full-length that’s in the works!
4. Ritual Necromancy: Disinterred Horror
A name that has been put at the top of 2018’s Death Metal elite list by many and with very good reason. Ritual Necromancy has been around for a good bit now, but this is easily their best outing yet and it’s a fucking banger of epic proportions. This is foul, cavernous Death Metal that bares the rotting stench of names like Incantation and Impetuous Ritual and adds a new level of rotten, abyssal darkness to the style and they do it at just as much of an elite level as those names. Just no bullshit, all around hellish, dismal brutality of the most unforgiving form. Any cave-dwelling Death Metal freak is encouraged to hear this one.
3. Outer Heaven: Realms of Eternal Decay
Another one that was met with an abundance of hype, but fuck it, when the hype is real, it’s real. Outer Heaven were once a band who I dug, but sparingly listened to, when only their last EP existed, but this album has catapulted them to damn near God status in my eyes, because holy fucking shit, does this one fucking smoke. The overall sound on this album is massive and absolutely head-stomping, ranging from old-school-to-the-bone Death Metal, to Death Doom, to Sludge, to whatever the fuck else you can describe it as. The riffs are meaty as fuck, the drums are bludgeoningly thick and the growls are absolutely monstrous. I was actually taken aback by how heavy and massive it was; considering all they hype around it, I was expecting it to not live up (which it rarely does). Easily one of the best Death Metal releases of the year, that deserves to be at my number 3. Outer Heaven have more than proven themselves to me as a force that I didn’t see them as before and have made themselves a favorite of mine for a time to come!
2. Of Feather and Bone: Bestial Hymns of Perversion
The other Death Metal album that rose from the smoke and ash, to the top of the rotten, flesh, guts and blasphemy-drenched mountain. Of Feather and Bone have evolved from a decent Chaotic Hardcore band, to an unrelenting Death Metal band, who exhibits a plethora of different styles, like old school Death, War Metal, Brutal Death, Grind and so on. The uniqueness of this was what enamored me at first, but the sheer ruthlessness and ferocity of it’s sound is what solidified my love for it from my first listen. If you take the barbaric savagery of War Metal bands like Blasphemy, Conqueror and Archgoat, the cavernous old school sound of bands like Incantation and Blaspherian, the Deathgrind madness of Full of Hell and the rotten, ferocious Brutal Death sounds of Deeds of Flesh, blend it all together, genetically engineer it and put it in a cave somewhere, this is pretty much the result. These guys really went above and beyond to craft something that fans of all these different forms of Extreme Metal can really sink their teeth into and get something great out of it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a combination of styles like this and if I have, I certainly haven’t heard it done this good. it’s always interesting when a Hardcore band decides to try it’s hand at Extreme Metal, because it’ll either pay off for them big, or be a dismal failure; these guys took that risk and put out something truly head rattling and rotten, that will be remembered in the underground Death Metal scene for years to come. Great fucking album and a new favorite of mine, without question.
1. Immortal: Northern Chaos Gods
This is it. It had to be this one. There was no question about it. I never thought I’d enjoy an Immortal album again. I’ve never enjoyed their last 3 albums, between this one and At the Heart of Winter. I think those albums are just too clean and melodic for my liking and I felt like Abbath was just dragging them downhill; especially when it came to All Shall Fall. Hearing about all the fuckery that went down since that album and hearing that Abbath left the band, I really didn’t give a shit and just thought they were going to fade off into obscurity. Well, when I first heard about this album coming out, I merely shrugged it off and couldn’t bring myself to give the slightest hint of a shit about it. But like the curious little shit that I am, in a fit of boredom, I gave it a listen… and poof! Here we are now!
This album is fantastic. It’s Immortal the way they were meant to be. Abbath has fucked off and has brought his lame, boring, stale style to his own, self-titled band and can stay over there and rot away with that. Demonaz is the absolute antidote to the sterile drivel that Immortal was plagued with for the last damn near 20 years. The aggression is back, the epic riffs are back, the drive and passion is back and more alive than it’s ever been. Maybe I’m fucking crazy, but this is the best Immortal album that I’ve heard in over a decade, including my dumb, goofy teenage years. Just like Darkthrone did in 2016 with Arctic Thunder, Immortal have made a true comeback that I couldn’t have seen coming if it were across the street from me, calling my name. Say what you will if you’re more of an underground purest, but I enjoyed this fucking album, that I was not expecting to like and even dreaded listening to it, even despite my own curiosity. Immortal are back and I hope Demonaz stays for the long-haul, because he knows what the fuck he’s doing and clearly has no intention of dragging the band down for his own vision.
I couldn’t have been any more pleased with this album and I’m sorry if you were expecting something a little more obscure for the number one spot, but as great of a year as it’s been for underground Death and Black Metal, I just couldn’t think of an album that deserves my number one spot more than this one. I thought Immortal we’re done for and I never thought I’d enjoy them again, but thanks to the great Demonaz, they proved me the fuck wrong.
That wraps it up, folks. Another year in the can. As always, I’ll be taking a break for the time being and I’ll pick things back up in January, with the leftovers (plenty of those, by the way. Just too many releases this year, couldn’t get around to all of them). It’s been a pretty damn good year musically and I need a break. So, enjoy the cold, grim month of December and that time with family members you don’t like as best you can. See you back here real soon! God fucking speed, 2018, you will not be missed.