Hey! Listen to Blame!

Ukraine’s Blame might only be in their infancy, but that hasn’t stopped them from releasing one of the most impressive slabs of punishing, grove-driven technical death metal in recent memory. Almanac is the second of two EPs which constitute the band’s entire discography to date, although it comes off like…

Death’s Door 2017 // Death Metal’s Year in Review

Welcome to the final installment of Death’s Door in the Year of Our Nefarious Overlord 2017! Wipe your feet on the mat, remove that stupid holiday-induced smile from your face, and prepare yourself for ultimate year-end audio brutalization. Because, quite frankly, 2017 was one of the best years for death metal in decades. A bold statement indeed, and thankfully one with plenty of data in the form of amazing records to back it up. The overwhelming number of releases in this dirtiest of metal subgenres, coupled with the breadth of quality releases in each of the branches of the death metal tree, all accumulate to create one of the most impressive lists of death metal albums in a given year since the early 1990s. 2017 presented us with exceptional records at such an alarming clip that it was often a full-time task to keep track of them. Death metal this year was in equal measure mind-numbingly technical, socially forward-thinking, compositionally adventurous, and reverent of the past, generating albums that displayed with full clarity all that makes this music the metal behemoth that it is. What a time to be alive. In our final segment of Death’s Door for the year, we will be highlighting the trends and movements within death metal that we found to be the most significant, as well as our own personal top 15 death metal records on the year. Prepare yourself. Madness awaits.

Outliers // 2017

Welp. You’ve seen it. You’ve debated it. You’ve cried over it. But what’s done is done: Our list of the best albums of the year is behind us, and there is much rejoicing. But what about the albums we loved that didn’t make the cut? For those of you who…

Entheos – Dark Future

Progressive death metal outfit Entheos have had a productive three years, to say the least. 2015 saw their formation, shortly followed by the release of their debut EP Primal. 2016 saw the departure of founding guitarist Frank Costa and the introduction of their new guitarist, Malcolm Pugh. Frank had already recorded all of the rhythm guitars for the bands first full length album, so Malcolm came in and knocked out the lead guitars so that The Infinite Nothing could be unleashed upon the world. Only two months after the album’s release, the band announced the departure of Malcolm Pugh and in the same breath announced that former Scale the Summit guitarist Travis LeVrier would be taking his place in the band permanently. Now, in the latter half of 2017 we have received their second album, Dark Future, recorded in the early part of this year.

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.

Kardashev – The Almanac

Some artists/bands are known for being able to make music that sounds huge. “Huge” in this case referring to music that has an awe-inspiring presence, as if it is either being performed in perfect sync on stages surrounding you in every direction or as if you were in a sphere of sound that encases your whole body. Music like this has a way of giving your ears a sense of depth instead of it being as cut and dry as left, right and center channel. With their last album, Peripety, the self-proclaimed Deathgaze group Kardashev showed that they wanted entrance into this particular section of the musical lexicon. With the release of their new EP The Almanac, they prove that they not only deserve to be included in this group, but placed close to the front of those who lead it.

Ne Obliviscaris – Urn

Expectation can be a curious beast. From a band’s perspective it can drive the wheels of excitement accompanying the build-up to a new release, pushing them to new heights and allowing them to reach wider audiences. Yet, it can also hang over them like a pestilence, crippling them with fear…

Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis

While Akercocke aren’t necessarily what one would call a legendary band, they’re definitely a cult favorite, and very well-revered by those who know of them. As such, their disappearance was a big blow to fans of progressive death metal. Back in the day, Opeth and Akercocke were one of the…

Inanimate Existence – Underneath a Melting Sky

Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward. Counter intuitive, yes. But as I’ve progressed through life I’ve found this to be true. Perhaps related to a career, where one has to go back to the drawing board to re-learn concepts long forgotten from some slept-through college lecture. Or in one’s personal life, where sometimes rehashing old wounds is the only way to progress past them. Music often falls into this same trajectory. Sometimes the alteration of sound works against a band rather than for them. While I am an enormous proponent of progression and change in music, how a band decides to engage in new musical and thematic concepts matters. Some do it right (Artificial Brain, Ingurgitating Oblivion), while some do not (latter-day Metallica, Morbid Angel). Yes, the parenthetical suggestions used to prove my point here are infinitely debatable, but I would make the argument that not all of these bands’ forays into uncharted territory worked in their favor. So it’s nice to see a band keep to their progressive trajectory, but pull from their back catalog elements that make their sound more enjoyable. Inanimate Existence are one of those bands, and with Underneath a Melting Sky have further perfected their sound by staying adventurous while simultaneously plundering the most essential elements of their past records.