DIRGE – Lost Empyrean

For fans of post-anything metal, there was a turning point where we came to dismiss instant gratification. The point where we came to fall in love with the longform sonic journey, the gradual and subtle expanse of musical ideas, or the entrancing (and at times physical) nature of cascading, droning riffing and phantasmal leadwork. Bigger than that, it’s where we abandoned immediacy in exchange for the ambient, the psychedelic, the densely layered, or the ruminating.

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Author & Punisher – Beastland

Tristan Shone’s industrial doom project Author & Punisher is easily one of the most unique acts on the current landscape of extreme music; while many acts proudly identify as a “one-man band,” Shone’s array of handmade instruments and impeccable limb independence allows him to weave songs together by himself without relying on backtracks to get the job done, borrowing musical cues from the likes of Neurosis, Godflesh, and Helmet in the process. Leaning heavily into drone and doom on initial releases, Shone’s musical palette and production know-how have broadened the dynamic considerably.

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