Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained

After finally listening to Kingdoms Disdained, its clear that guitarist Trey Azagthoth’s deterioration as a songwriter has been a key, unaddressed factor that’s affected Morbid Angel’s recent output. While he may have written some of death metal’s greatest riffs during the band’s heyday, Kingdoms Disdained is the best case study thus far in terms of demonstrating Azagthoth’s slipping capability as the driving force of Morbid Angel’s sound. It was easy to overlook Heretic given how generally forgettable it was, and the predominant critiques of Illud Divinum Insanus revolved more around the band’s decision making than anything else. But now that Morbid Angel have entered into the perfect setup for a successful comeback, it’s difficult to overlook how complacent Azagthoth’s songwriting is across the entirety of Kingdoms Disdained. There’s no denying the album is an incomparable improvement over their industrial metal excursions, but it’s also difficult to avoid comparing the album’s aggressively average delivery with the milestone records that have preceded it in the band’s discography

Desolate Shrine – Deliverance from the Godless Void

There is often a mystique surrounding bands that take several years in between projects. Whether they deserve it or not, bands and artists who most often fall into this camp (the Tools and Sufjan Stevenses of the world) tend to be surrounded by hype simply for the fact that they have not released new material in a significant period of time. This isn’t to say that the material released cannot be quality, because it most certainly can be, but rather that there seems to be a strange thread in musical fandom that connects time elapsed between records to expected quality/increased hype. Finnish death metal maestros Desolate Shrine represent the exact opposite of this phenomenon. Having released four albums in just over six years, the band’s fans barely have enough time to absorb their last album before the release of their next project. This pace of material creation also comes with its own potential downsides, but none of them seem to apply to Desolate Shrine, who have topped their previous efforts with each new record, culminating in the crown jewel of their discography, this year’s Deliverance from the Godless Void. In the war of quality over quantity, Desolate Shrine seems to ask: why not both? What a novel proposition.

DSKNT – PhSPHR Entropy

The concept of space in album production is an interesting and record-defining one. The way in which an album is constructed, coupled with the emphasis placed in the production room on each instrument, noise, and tone, can have a drastic impact on the way an album sounds and the manner…

Impureza – La Caída De Tonatiuh

There have been previous attempts at integrating flamenco elements into metal. There have even been successful, good attempts at doing so. However, there are few that have been successful at blending them seamlessly. This applies not just to flamenco, but any influence outside of metal. It’s either the case where a regular metal song suddenly erupts into an irrelevant genre break, or it’s barely a metal album. The latter case usually happens, for example, when jazz musicians get together and write an album that’s mostly in their own wheelhouse, with some minor metal elements. Even further, the most extreme of metal subgenres are usually spared these excesses. Enter Impureza, a band that skirts the line between progressive and technical death metal, and perfectly fits flamenco into that picture. The end result is just delightful.

Death’s Door // October 2017

Welcome to Death’s Door, nerds. We’re freshly past Our Lord and Infernal Master’s designated holiday, and I’m so hopped up on candy and the blood of the non-believers that I can’t even function. Despite my shot adrenal glands and ever-expanding waistline, there’s a whole lot of premium death metal to cover, as has been the custom in this most nefarious year of 2017. Praise be. October is typically a fantastic month for premier releases, especially in the world of metal. In that regard, this October did not disappoint. Melodic death metal in particular saw a glut of fantastic releases, while death-doom and progressive death metal both unleashed releases that are poised to transform the way we think about death metal as a whole. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, 2017 is one of the finest years for death metal of nearly every shape and type in recent memory. This is legitimately the second golden age of death metal, and I hope and pray it continues in perpetuity. Regardless, let’s celebrate the health of the music we love while it continues to fester and rot in new and unexpected ways. Our picks this month pull from many different sectors of the death metal world. Post your picks in the comments and let us know what you loved/what we missed. Let’s do this.

Hey! Listen to Daeva!

20 Buck Spin is on a roll in 2017. With a bevy of fantastic releases from the likes of Acephalix, Spirit Adrift, Witch Vomit, Weaponizer, Extremity, The Ominous Circle, and a slew of other talented bands, the label continues to make some serious waves in the metal world. We can…

Kvlt Kolvmn // October 2017

Happy Halloween, 2017, from your nefarious friends at Kvlt Kolvmn! Hard to imagine a better day for this column to land near, what with all the ghouls, spirits, demogorgons and Eleven’s traipsing around with their sugar receptacles and real world terror encroaching from every corner of this planet. God, what a miserable year in so many ways. Thankfully, that misery has not extended into the world of black metal, which continues to drop sensational releases month after month. October is no exception. This month saw the release of several exceptional albums that not only continued to solidify the importance of black metal’s existence as one of the premier subgenres within the metal universe, but also its ability to offer complex, fierce statement of countercultural urgency. That last component is important for one particular album that screams thoroughly against some of the prevailing philosophical dogma that runs rampant in the darkest corners of the subgenre. Despite the most truly reprehensible portions of its collective ranks, black metal can indeed speak the language of justice. But enough talk. Let’s metal.

Altarage – Endinghent

Portal, Mitochondrion, Antediluvian, Grave Miasma, Adversarial, The Ominous Circle, and Impetuous Ritual. The mere mention of these bands automatically conjures thoughts of a particular sound, a sonic aesthetic, within the death metal community. Jagged riffs, overwhelmingly heavy and murky production values, vocals that leap slowly and maniacally from the deepest pits of hell itself. Though this strain of death metal isn’t without its detractors and controversial elements, these above bands and a host of others have constructed successful careers upon the foundation laid by Finnish gods Demilich, and in my mind death metal is all the better for it. Spain’s Altarage also belongs in this group, cementing their reputation among the most punishing of death dealers with their monumental debut release Nihl. It was as relentless, pounding, and utterly suffocating as anything yet released in the band’s chosen subgenre, and ended up being one of my favorite releases of last year. With Endinghent, the band’s much-anticipated sophomore record, Altarage continue to expand upon the sound that brought them such positive attention, but with a twist: Endinghent is without question an evolutionary leap for the band in both song-craft and sound that serves as a sonic departure from their previous work. Whether these changes are good or bad depends on your view of what makes Altarage special, and in my book the band have begun a gallant voyage into a more refined and sharp sound that not only serves to highlight their songwriting ability, but also flesh out elements of their sound that were somewhat drowned out in their last album. It’s a bold move that pays dividends with repeated listening.