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.

Ulcerate – Shrines of Paralysis

The genre of death metal has defied all odds, aging gracefully as acts continue to push the boundaries of extremity, technicality, and the genre’s sonic palette into many different subsets. Starting with the almighty Death, you could trace the evolutionary branches into any of the myriad of styles that exist today in any direction. For instance, one of the more interesting fringe developments is atmospheric death metal; in direct lineage of Death’s technical and progressive style, Gorguts incorporated a nuanced intensity with avant garde musicianship and a muddy Lovecraftian atmosphere that paved the way for the likes of Mitochondrion, Portal, and New Zealand’s rising stars Ulcerate.

Heavy Blog’s Editors’ Picks: May 2016

So, April has come and gone and now spring is here in earnest. While there was definitely a slow down in the SHEER VOLUME of releases from April, there definitely wasn’t a decline in quality. May brought us some of our favorite albums from 2016 so far and some which are certain to feature on high spots in our end of year lists. Speaking of which, next month we won’t be doing an Editors’ Picks or rather, we will but it will be a special, Worth Your Time in 2016 so far edition. In the meantime, let’s dig in to this month’s selection, featuring some heavy, some sad and, mainly, a whole lot of excellent.

Oh Shit, Mitochondrion Got Even Heavier

Well, it finally happened. I’ve ‘liked’ so many Facebook pages that I keep missing important news, for instance I actually had no idea that the darkest, dankest, most twisted band to ever rise from Canada were even working on new material. Thank God/Satan/Cthulhu/Jim Jones then for No Clean Singing who,…

GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE! New Gorguts Is Great!

Yesterday, the seminal tech death group Gorguts revealed some new information regarding their highly anticipated new album Colored Sands. Just a day later, the group has unveiled their first new song in 12 years, ‘Forgotten Arrows.’ After a band breaks up and then creates a new album over a decade…

Immolation – Kingdom of Conspiracy

If a “Big Four” of death metal were ever to be determined, there would be a very strong argument for the legendary Immolation to make the cut. A band with a history that spans over 25 years and nine studio albums, Immolation’s twisted, dissonant, and darkly groovy brand of death metal has had a bigger impact on death metal than they seem to be given credit for, and traces of their influence can be found in many of the prevalent death metal bands on the scene today, as well as in the avant-garde compositions of bands such as Ulcerate, Mitochondrion and Portal. Such an extensive career leaves ample room for some duds, especially since the band currently exists amidst a scene in which many younger acts are leading the charge for the future of the beloved genre, but Immolation, like a fine wine, seem to have only gotten better with age, and their latest offering, Kingdom of Conspiracy, should lay all the naysayers’ doubts to rest.