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…
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.
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.
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.
Welcome back to Genre Genesis. For newcomers, here’s a brief overview of how this works. Four of the other editors – Nick, Scott, Jonathan, and Eden – have partners who are, shall we say, not nearly as invested in heavier music as we tend to be, and so their knowledge…
One couldn’t be faulted for thinking Archspire would peak after 2014’s The Lucid Collective. The band’s sophomore album was nothing short of a tech death masterpiece. Taking the staccato style of riffing they introduced in their debut and honing it to razor sharp precision, it seemed like the record can’t be topped. The band’s style is quite singular, and it didn’t seem like there was much room for further improvement. As such, expecting something like a TLC 2.0 from their next release would have been pretty reasonable. Of course, Archspire have thrown the listeners a curve ball and found a way to progress regardless of expectations. Relentless Mutation is a lot more clever and creative of an album than anything they’ve done before, while staying surprisingly true to the formula previously established. And it’s also pretty great.
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.
In 2009, shredtastic metal was the name of the game in metal. Between the huge boom in technical death metal, the rising progressive deathcore bands, and the old prog guard releasing some of their best material, it was a great time for guitar wankery. Buried under the popularity of huge albums like Cosmogenesis, Oracles, and The Great Misdirect, was a little blackened tech death album by a band from Nashville: Our Cursed Rapture by Enfold Darkness. Finding a unique niche in their black metal influenced music, Enfold Darkness turned some serious heads with their debut. Unfortunately, their momentum was lost and they ended up not following up their minor underground success until this year with The Adversary Omnipotent.
No, there hasn’t been a glitch somewhere in the Heavy Blog matrix. This is a review of a Rings of Saturn album in the year of our egg, 2017. The sci-fi loving deathcore darlings (ahem) release another blast of widdly diddly death metal full of sweeps, synths and other worldly references too obscure for this writer to care about looking up. Look, if they are going to be lazy enough to record each note at a time then you won’t catch me doing the hard work either. In the few short years since Lugal Ki En was released, the world of technically leaning death metal has spawned some outrageously talented acts; Archspire and Inanimate Existence are the golden boys of tech-death, leaving breakdowns and breeing behind. Do Rings of Saturn still belong in a world that belongs to bands like this? Can they save the world from the alien invasion of tech-death newcomvers?
Each month, we always seem to come to the same conclusion when it comes to our Editors’ Picks column: Friday release days open the floodgates and unleash a seemingly endless stream of quality new music. But while some of our Editors and Contributors sit down gleefully each week to dive into this newly stocked treasure trove, others find themselves drawing a blank at the end of the month due to the breakneck pace needed to keep up to date with what’s been released. Which brings us to this Heavy Blog PSA: a weekly roundup of new albums which pares down the the day’s releases to only our highest recommendations. Here you’ll find full album/single streams, pre-order links and, most importantly, a collection of albums that could very well earn a spot on your year end list. Enjoy!