Dead Empires – Designed to Disappear

The passion that drives progressive metal, especially extreme progressive metal, has to be a multicolored and multilayered thing. Otherwise, progressive metal just falls into the trap of “more variation = more good” and that’s easily disprovable; just because you’ve approach a single theme from several different directions that doesn’t necessarily mean that your album will be interesting. Instead, great progressive metal bands focus on getting across several different atmospheres and vibes on one album, changing both the destination and delivery point to create interest. Consider Opeth’s blend of anger and sadness on My Arms, Your Hearse or Howling Sycamore’s excellent and recent foray into both hallucination and internal power. These kind of varied intonations is what Dead Empires went for with Designed to Disappear and they mostly pull it off.

Bhleg – Solarmegin

This is a frustrating album. When Bhleg is good, they’re good. Solarmegin has so, so many beautiful sounds artfully woven into its fabric. Throat singing, bagpipes, snapping, choirs, a Viking war horn, samples of bird sounds (especially the birds) all find their rightful place in Solarmegin, living comfortably among the standard black metal Bhleg produces. It’s rare for an album to have so many disparate sounds living under one roof, and rarer still for those sounds to work together beautifully. But that’s the catch — those bits of auditory garnish are often the best part of Solarmegin. Solarmegin’s fatal flaw…

Heavy Delinquency – The Clearing Path

The Clearing Path are more than able and willing to rise to the challenge of esoteric black metal. This one man project, spearheaded by one Gabriele Gramaglia, hails from Italy and makes the type of black metal which straddles the line with death via sheer technicality and tone. The project’s second full length release, Watershed Between Firmament And The Realm of Hyperborea (a name which instantly refer back to the intro paragraph of this article and the ideas of radical esoteric-ism), is a twisting exploration of these ideas, constantly offering up something new. Where-ever it goes, it’s coated in this impenetrable sheen of bewildering musical composition and a vast, cavernous approach to production. This creates an album that’s abrasive in ways far beyond the fact that the vocals are growls/shrieks.

Kaoteon – Damnatio Memoriae

Metal is often intrinsically tied to story and band narrative. Especially in its most extreme forms, bands are often imbued with an aura of mystique and toil through the auspices of the stories they choose to tell about themselves, whether through marketing, interviews, or their music. Lebanon’s blackened death metal maestros Kaoteon have an interesting backstory as well. But rather than the standard metaphors of their music being forged in the fires Mount Doom or birthed by a witch deep in the conifer forests of Norway, Kaoteon’s deals in actual horror. Originally formed as Chaotaeon (a mixture of the words…