Last year we ran a 5-part series listing 25 of our favorite albums from the first half of 2014 with the premise that 2014 was simply such an amazing year

9 years ago

Last year we ran a 5-part series listing 25 of our favorite albums from the first half of 2014 with the premise that 2014 was simply such an amazing year musically that we just had to talk about some of our favorites at the year’s mid-point and whittle down all the great releases to an impossible list of 25.

What fools were we.

2015, across the board, is truly turning out to be a banner year for music as a whole, but in particular the kind of music we cover here at Heavy Blog. Between old favorites putting out expected blockbuster releases, smaller bands making huge leaps to stake a claim for our attention, and new or obscure bands putting out releases out of left field that have completely caught us off-guard in the best way, it’s been nearly impossible to keep up with the output of superb music that 2015 has offered us thus far. We are now at the end of the sixth month of the year, and thus have decided to give this another try, albeit in a slightly different format.

Like last year, the following 25 albums are left unranked (because if you’re seriously concerned about ranking this time of year you need to chilllllllllll), but they are all together within one post over 5 pages rather than 5 posts. We also have left out listing the many worthy albums who were in contention but just missed the cut, of which there were many. Also important to note is that we didn’t include any albums released past the middle of this month (when we did our original internal polling), so a couple of albums we’ve already reviewed (such as Coma Ecliptic) will not appear on this list. However, all of these albums though are absolutely ones you should give a listen to even if it’s not a style you normally listen to. Trust us, we’re music scientists.


Time has shown again and again that “supergroups” are not always what they’re cut out to be. More often than not, having several highly distinct musical personalities in a room together leads to an awkward resultant sound, with the disparate parts of the music clearly cobbled together from the various unpleasant compromises that come with collaborating as individual big-name musicians. With The Malkuth Grimoire, however, Alkaloid chose to fully embrace their musical differences and let them pull things into another dimension entirely.

The final product is something unprecedented in progressive death metal and tech death alike — the album never spreads itself too thin, yet manages to cover more ground in its 70-odd minutes (with abundant flair and personality, to boot) than bands have done in decade-long careers. The carefully constructed 15-minute album centrepiece “Dyson Sphere” is brilliant both musically and conceptually in ways previously unheard of in the genre, and every other song on the record brings with it a completely unique sound and feel to the overarching science fiction-inspired theme. Indeed, The Malkuth Grimoire is the type of album that other bands will take years and years down the road to catch up to, and considering that Alkaloid has now become the main project for several of its members following the album’s resounding success, these other bands are likely in for a lot of legwork in trying to keep up.

-Ahmed Hasan


Do you like fun? Good. You like this album. And So I watch You From Afar have mastered the art of delivering tracks that are bouncing with boundless energy, careening from an off-tempo groove into a choral gang shout that ends up going back to a passionate, enthusiastic melody. Their 2015 offering, Heirs, is the perfect example of this: the music flows and glows throughout the 45 minutes, blending electronic math-rock with groovy post-rock influences. Never overly technical or dull, it’s the perfect follow-up to their last album, 2013’s All Hail Bright Futures, further expanding outwards in diversity while solidifying their unique sound.

Every song offers something different. From the short and sweet fuzzy vibes of “Fucking Lifer” to the climactic 6-minute buildup of “A Beacon, A Compass, An Anchor”, the sheer amount of ground the band covers is unbelievable. At once emotional, fun, and musically diverse, Heirs is a lighthearted romp through a musical world of luminescent wonder.

-Simon Handmaker


Welcome to the next level. Arcturus are one of the most unique bands out there, and not in music alone: in a time where once-great acts are forcing upon our ears tired album after tired album, it is refreshing to see a band that simply stops making music until it has something to say. It’s been ten years since Arcturus’s last album and boy was it worth the wait. Arcturian is nothing short of fantastic; it’s dubbed as avant-garde black metal because of the musicians behind it but it’s so much more than that. It blends a masterful command of theatrics, never too cheesy or epic, industrial tendencies in the form of weird and gripping synths and one of the best vocal performances of the year.

To those familiar with ICS Vortex, that should come as no surprise. However, the amazing cleans on this album are not only impressive in a performative sense: they are also creative in composition. They draw on oriental, black metal and operatic influences to create the crowning moments of this album. The instruments lend the album its flesh but the vocals are the mind and soul of this creation, elevating it all to the degree of masterpiece. It is without a doubt when we say that this album is one of the most inventive and yet most infectious albums of 2015 so far. No album comes close to the perfect blend between approachability and bizarreness, of experimentation and cohesion.

-Eden Kupermintz


Blue Swan Records have been a force to be reckoned with for a while. Containing such bands as Stolas and Secret Band, it’s one of the leading names in melodic hardcore. Once in the backdrop of this scene, Eidola have now burst onto center stage with their virtuous, sophomore effort, Degeneraterra. What’s this album like? Try mixing the angrier parts of Stolas with gates’s approach to melody, sprinkle in a groove section that draws from Red Hot Chilli Peppers and The Mars Volta while finally introducing the larger than life sound of Thrice and there you have Eidola.

Think that’s a tall order? You’re right. This album goes so many places during its considerable run time. Admittedly, this creates an initial listening experience which can be hard to focus on. However, once you spin it a few times and start picking up on its overall structure and hooks, it’s transformed into a wild ride, a rollercoaster of approaches and sounds within the melodic harcore millieu. One last point: the lyrics are also brilliant. Being a concept album but one which is not too aggressive with its themes, Degeneraterra offers a lush lyrical field to analyze and come to terms with. Do you need to drive somewhere fast? Is your heart in need of an emotional spike? Do you really miss Thrice? Spin this.

-Eden Kupermintz


These are high times (hue hue) for bands who ascribe to the “stoner” brand of metal, but few, if any, are more at the top of their game right now than Boston natives Elder. After releasing two full-lengths and a handful of EPs and splits that were all well more than solid, the band seemingly reached way down and kicked their songwriting up a notch or two to create something truly great. Lore is as grand and epic as the title implies. At nearly an hour spread over 5 tracks, vocalist/guitarist Nick DiSalvo conjures up mammoth riffs, blistering solos, and howling melodies that swell gradually to form towering images matching the sun-kissed peaks that adorn the album’s cover. Taking cues from everything from classically epic stompers like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to modern doom and sludge titans Electric Wizard and Windhand, Elder manage to forge their own unique path that lures the listener on a powerful and emotional journey. Do yourself a favor and go for a ride or two (or twenty) with this album.

-Nick Cusworth


Thirteen is supposedly an unlucky number, but for famed second-wave-turned-progressive black metal wonders Enslaved, it’s anything but. Their thirteenth studio album, In Times, is a masterpiece of mingling textures and moving melodies, deftly melding atmosphere and proggy riffing into a joyous combination. Six tracks long, all of which are eight minutes or more, this album is not to be trifled with: Enslaved’s combination of folk-tinged progressive metal combined with the ghostly melodies of black metal is as strong as ever here, making it a thoroughly enjoyable 50-minutes-and-change listen. The typical harsh screams pierce through hauntingly beautiful chord progressions, creating a driving dynamic, and the clever use of background synths adds a powerful sense of atmosphere. A magnificent album by a magnificent band, In Times is one of the most grandiose and soaring releases of the year so far.

-Simon Handmaker


Perhaps one of the “trve” critiques of blackgaze is its democratization of scenery and origin: a great deal of traditional black metal was intrinsically linked with Scandinavia’s frigid landscape and the folklore present within those cultures. But with Alcest’s mystical fairy world, Deafheaven’s urban dream house and Woods of Desolation’s down under paradise, it is somewhat difficult to imagine these groups posing in chainmail underneath an evergreen tree adorned with snow. But as with a band like Ghost Bath, hailing from China or North Dakota matters less than understanding the central theme of blackgaze: tortured bliss; a desire to acknowledge misery and simultaneously find not only peace, but joy. And from the bleeding intro of “Golden Number” to the triumphant finale of “Death and the Maiden,” Moonlover reiterates the blackgaze mission statement of speaking to the universal frailty of human imperfection. In that sense, it does not matter whether Ghost Bath emits their music from the the most populated country in the world or one of the least populated states in America, but rather that their music touches upon an emotional chord felt by a global populace.

-Scott Murphy


First and foremost, the glass of god’s pee resting before us must be examined: Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress is not the greatest installment in Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s catalogue. With the album’s terse runtime, emphasis on drone and lack of field recordings, GY!BE explored territory somewhat foreign to post rock classics like F♯ A♯ ∞, Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada and Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven!. Yet, what constitutes a weak GY!BE offering still entails excellent post rock, and Asunder is no exception. Album opener “Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!'” bears a striking resemblance to Earth circa Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method and The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, albeit with GY!BE’s signature punchy sneer speckled into the mix. The album’s mid-section drone of “Lamb’s Breath” and “Asunder, Sweet” provides and alluring interlude that gradually melts into a sea of strings that becomes “Piss Crowns Are Trebled,” a truer presentation of GY!BE’s past with a more direct focus and approach. While Asunder may not be be the best GY!BE album with which to enter their discography, it will surely entice the senses of fans of both the band and their genre.



There’s nothing like a change in scenery when it comes to keeping things fresh. When Norwegian jazz collective Jaga Jazzist decided they wanted to trade in the modest beauty of their native Oslo for the massive urban sprawl of Los Angeles, their music decidedly followed suit. Like the city that inspired it, Starfire is a colossal achievement by all accounts, featuring gorgeous soundscapes interspersed with one enormous climax after another, the labyrinthine songwriting carried through as usual by ringleader Lars Horntveth’s boundless ability to conjure mind-blowing motifs and progressions seemingly out of thin air.

Yet the album’s biggest strength lies in its pacing and subtlety; the 14-minute “Big City Music,” Jaga’s longest track to date, spends most of its duration quietly building towards something greater, as acoustic guitars intermingle with dazzling electronic flourishes while an assortment of disparate sounds slowly but surely meld together. While these little things are indeed what makes Jaga’s latest offering so great, it speaks to Starfire’s lasting quality that the last few notes of final track “Prungen” always leave the listener feeling as if they’ve experienced something much, much greater than the sum of the album’s myriad parts.



Keep of Kalessin are possibly one of the most underrated bands under the vast umbrella of black metal. Fusing the core of the genre’s sound with the epic flair of power metal and satisfying, well-constructed lengthy suites of progressive metal, their sound is extremely empowering and memorable. After their five-year-long hiatus including the disappearance of their vocalist in a jungle, they’ve come back, with guitar virtuoso Arnt “Obsidian Claw” now also handling vocals, and they’re better than ever. Epistemology is a culmination of the band’s career so far, with songs grander and and better than ever before. Blazing fast riffing, blast beats, powerful vocal lines to chant along to — it’s just a delight to listen to and get lost in. They’ve included more clean vocals than ever, as Arnt is apparently very talented at them, and this new focus of their sound, coupled (often simultaneously) with some of their most extreme and developed songwriting, elevates the band to a new level. The strong opener, “The Spiritual Relief” is both so catchy and so heavy, and it’s just the beginning, as subsequent songs are faster, more melodic, just more of everything. Augmented by Obsidian Claw’s trademark creative playing, his ephemeral vocals, Keep of Kalessin are winning the progressive metal game by playing on a level no one else is, and making a killing as well.

 -Noyan Tokgozoglu


Where do we begin with Leprous? The band has been a staple in modern progressive music since their inception in the early part of the millennium, and ever since then it seems that they only get better over time. The Congregation is Leprous’ biggest achievement since their critically acclaimed album Tall Poppy Syndrome. It not only explores every territory they’ve chose to since the beginning, but it does so in a way that feels honest and real. They album is not simply a mashup of songs resembling their biggest hits over the years, and in fact is quite the opposite: it’s a message to music fans that the band show no signs of slowing down, and are not afraid to make whatever kind of record they deem fit. Songs like “The Flood” are an example of how the band could take their prog rock leanings and turn it into something that almost resembles a radio-friendly rock single, albeit substantially better. The subtlety of some songs is also a huge part of what makes the album stand apart from its contemporaries.

From the second the record starts, you’re interested, and by the time it ends, you’re going back for more. “The Flood”, “Triumphant”, and the closer “Lower” will surely become iconic parts of the band’s live show, and songs like “Rewind” and “Third Law” will definitely go down as some of their best tracks. From start to finish, you’re getting the best the band has ever been able to give, and the best part is that they still have plenty more to give us in the future.

-Spencer Snitil


I imagine guest appearances used to be a bigger deal. Nowadays, if a young band wants to pay enough money, they can get a reputable musician or vocalist to appear on their record. This is normally the centerpiece of these young bands records. S’not the case here though. Appearances by the vocalists of Pig Destroyer and At The Gates are awesome, undeniably, they just nowhere near the most impressive thing about this record. Maruta returned from a split/hiatus to completely crush their comeback record, Remain Dystopian. 17 tracks in less than half an hour and not a minute is wasted. A remarkable feat of sonic engineering.

Every track on this record has ferocity to spare and a cold, almost vindictive message to share. This album (along with several others we have raved about this year) is a great example of where modern grind is advancing to. Gone are the ratty, lo-fi recordings, instead there is a guitar tone so sharp it could cut the already broken air of the room where the percussion was recorded so perfectly. Maruta are clear and considerate in the aural assault that blasts, shrieks and shreds from beginning to end of Remain Dystopian. 2015 will be the year of protogrind. Just wait and see.

-Matt MacLennan


VALIS, the 2015 release from avant-garde black metal band Mastery, sounds like Alvin, of his eponymous chipmunk bunch, dealing with the effects of unstoppable roid-rage, played through a crappy radio one channel away from where it should be. It’s fast, furious, uncompromisingly harsh, and filled with bursts of energy that will make your head spin. Combining mach-5 blast beats, screams overflowing with punishing anger, and guitarwork that outdoes just about anything else released this year in terms of its general insanity, bizarreness, and speed, the name of the game here is inaccessibility. VALIS is an incredibly hard album to pick up and listen to, and it’s practically guaranteed that it’ll all be lost on the listener the first couple times. After that, though, like an evil forest from some particularly grim fantasy novel, the record begins to untangle the many blackened, necrotized limbs of its trees, and the listener is privy to some of the most wondrous music of the year. It’s an adventure of dark roads through murky backwoods and swamps teeming with death, and it’s absolutely incredible.



With nearly six years of speculation, anticipation and a short-lived hiatus surrounding the band, The Crash and the Draw sees Chicago’s Minsk triumphantly return to the post-metal world. With a tally of eleven tracks registering in at seventy five minutes, this behemoth of a record is not to be taken lightly. It is a remarkable representation of Minsk’s strengths at creating massive walls of sound with elephant marching riffs and elevating them with some tribal drumming, deep chugging bass lines and terrific vocals. The four-part ‘Onward Procession‘ saga is probably one of the strongest highlights on this record as it slowly unfolds over twenty minutes with a character of its own. This could have easily been a separate EP yet it somehow forms an integral part of the album.

The Way is Through,” “To the Garish Remembrance of Failure,” and “When the Walls Fell” are also major highlights but this really isn’t an album to be picked apart; it is a well executed cohesive, slow-burner-type musical experience that has to be taken as a whole. Arguments can go on without end whether this record tops the band’s 2007 epic The Ritual Fires of Abandonment, but there is no doubt amongst the Heavy Blog board room that The Crash and the Draw is a much awaited beast of an album that has totally lived up to the billing and is definitely worthy of a place on this list.

-Aly Hassab El Naby


It’s a pretty rare occasion that a band drops one of their most inspired and vicious releases 30 years into their career, but then again, Napalm Death haven’t ever been the most predictable band. Apex Predator – Easy Meat is the band’s fifteenth LP and shows the Birgmingham grindcore legends at their most consistent in decades while still pushing their experimental side to previously unexplored territories. Right off the bat, the listener is bludgeoned half to death with the title track’s claustrophobic synthesis of noise-rock and industrial music, creating a truly haunting atmosphere unlike any other you’ll hear in 2015. After that, it’s off to the races. Whether it’s the band’s classic blast-beat assault, clever and creative nods to hardcore punk or worship of bands like Swans and Throbbing Gristle, Napalm are in complete control of their aural surroundings. Things may occasionally seem like they’re slipping into complete and utter chaos, but there’s enough memorable hooks and incredible vocal work to keep things in line. The band hasn’t lost any of its political edge either, and this time tackles the ever-present problems with unfair labor practices, massive consumption, and corporate greed. Don’t think for a second though that this album is as disposable as the disgusting pile of packaged meat that adorns the cover; this is completely essential.

-Kit Brown


Native Construct have delivered one of the best progressive metal albums of the year without a doubt. Quiet World has brilliance in spades and it isn’t afraid to show it in liberal amounts. Whether you’re listening to the charismatic vocal performance, enjoying the varied instrumentals or just appreciating the tightness of the compositions, there’s something on this album for everyone to love. The best part about it, however, is the fact that it’s actually progressive! It does not simply claim the tag only to present you with chugs and ambient backgrounds, but rather it pushes itself continuously throughout its duration and keeps you intrigued until you’re met with sinister silence at the end of the record.

The centerpiece of the album is the twelve and a half minute closer “Chromatic Aberration.” Even after going through thrilling track after thrilling track, this song still manages to smash through expectations and conventions without seeming ham-fisted or lacking meaning. It really is something the band has every right to be incredibly proud of. All of the tracks on the album are worth your time and attention, though. If you care about progressive music and the direction it’s heading in the least, you will listen to this record. Native Construct have raised the bar into space and I find it hard to believe that anyone else will be able to reach it.

 -Ryan Castrati


There are very few select cuts of thrash, grind or hardcore on these types of lists because it is difficult to pick a lot of acts in these genres apart. Noisem play the perfect mix of thrash, grind and hardcore. They do. Argue about their definitive subgenre all you want but what is undeniable is this band’s unnerving energy and approach. Blossoming Decay is a veritable barnstormer, from it’s opening serene moments to the final smashed cymbal it is balls out, stapled to the wall angry; the kind of angry that teenage heshers from generations past would be revelling in.

“Cascade Of Scars” is a Slayer classic in a new shell, with a prolonged introduction smashing into the kind of grind goodness that Napalm Death have made famous. “Another Night In The Cold” is most definitely the quintessential Noisem track. If I had just one and a half minutes to showcase this band to someone, that is the track I would show them. Bursting with abrasive riffs, vocals and percussion, the hostility delivered is carefully constrained and pointed at an exact target – me and you. Blossoming Decay is the one stop shop for those craving an urgent fix of fuck off.



Periphery told us in our interview with them a few months ago that the Juggernaut double album was originally supposed to be the band’s first release but has been on the backburner for over seven years. Now that it’s out, that statement makes complete sense. The 80-minute Alpha/Omega assault is freakin’ massive and shows the band pushing their progressive metal sound to previously unexplored avenues, all while perfecting their groove-centric riffs that got them to the top of the heap in the first place. Spencer Sotelo unquestionably delivers his best vocal performance to date and no longer feels like a late addition to the band’s style; instead, he’s calling the shots now. Songs can range from the radio-friendly choruses of “Heavy Heart,” the classic Periphery bounce of “The Bad Thing,” the progressive soundscapes of “Omega,” or “Hell Below’s” uncomfortably crushing collapse.

Everything sounds crystal clear throughout thanks to bassist Nolly Getgood’s impeccable production and helps showcase the band’s complete vision and control over the project as well. At this point, labelling this band as “djent” just seems like a disservice to what Periphery is really bringing to the table. This is the progressive metal album to get your hands on this year. Now if only the band would finally come forward and reveal what the story behind the lyrics truly is all about!



Few bands are truly pushing extreme metal to its absolute limit right now, and Brooklyn’s Pyrrhon are doing just that. Growth Without End is a perfect litmus test for new listeners, as its five songs lay waste to the listener’s unsuspecting ears with a barrage of unrelenting technicality, swirling dissonance and more time signatures than even the geekiest group in just under 15 minutes. Caught somewhere between death metal, grindcore, and even at times avant-garde, it’s a claustrophobic sound that begins to unfold with repeated listens (to those even willing to attempt it a second time). And even with all this in mind, things never collapse into complete chaos; everything here is incredibly well thought out and nuanced. “Cancer Mantra” shows Pyrrhon even introducing hooks to their sound, albeit in their own twisted and terrifying way. There’s still a great sense of musicianship and songwriting prowess throughout all the clutter, which is certainly something to be commended. Fans of metal who are really looking to see how intense and insane the genre can get in 2015 needn’t look any further than right here.



Who says instrumental metal is boring? Clearly they have not given the sophomore album from Brooklyn experimenters Sannhet a listen. Revisionist has all the ferocity and dynamism of the best that many forms of extreme metal have to offer but boiled down to their most essential instrumental elements. The trio manage to take the mastery of other post-metal bands like Russian Circles and ISIS and turn the intensity dial all the damn way up. So much of that has to do with the sheer wall of percussive noise that is drummer Christopher Todd, who doesn’t so much keep a beat as play one fill after another.

The true success of Revisionist doesn’t come from their ability to just be louder than your standard post-metal band though. It’s in their unique infusion of the language of post-metal with elements of black metal and other lighter and emotionally-tinged influences. The band largely discards the oft-treaded tropes of post-rock in their gradual crescendos and false climaxes by stripping their compositions down to their barest and primal elements. Also, their live shows, usually accompanied by intricately-designed and triggered projections, are just unbelievably tight and thrilling (we have the video to prove it). Revisionist is easily one of the best instrumental metal records in recent memory, and it should easily attract fans both of the genre as well as its skeptics.



Despite seeing the name pop up in circles associated with music I listen to on the regular, it wasn’t until this year’s monumental Pathway that I truly discovered Secrets of the Sky. The band are fluid in their array of influences in such a way to defy immediate characterization. Progressive metal, sure. Post-metal? Why not. But to put this 4D peg into a 2D hole would be a disservice. Perhaps the closest point of reference for the purpose of introduction to Secrets of the Sky would be to imagine a darker timeline where Alcest never completely turned their back on black metal of if Anathema were still gripping onto melancholic doom, but retained the ethereal hooks and embraced the aesthetic of ‘the call of the void’ instead of a fantastical sense of nostalgia or longing. Pathway is a cinematic doom record without the obscuring haze or overwhelming nihilism. Songs wonder but never meander to the point where the band are diluting all their good ideas. How Secrets of the Sky can even approach capturing a sense of “hopeless optimism” (for the lack of a better term) is beyond me, but it works.

-Jimmy Rowe


Considering the exceptional body of work that ISIS released before their 2010 demise, Aaron Turner could have easily latched his guitar cases shut and retired from an immeasurably influential career. Of course, as with any musician passionate about their artform, Turner’s guitars will only be laid to rest with him when they latch his coffin shut. Turner’s dozen or so side-projects have clearly indicated that he brings out the best in his collaborators and that Wavering Radiant was far from the last statement that he wishes to make. While Sumac was not the first of these projects, nor even Turner’s first supergroup, the initial announcement elicited a great deal of intrigue and excitement. With a guest roster including drummer Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists), session bassist Brian Cook (ex-Botch, Russian Circles) and production team Mell Dettmer (Earth, Kayo Dot, Sunn O))), Wolves In the Throne Room) and Kurt Ballou (far too many to list), the anticipation among fans awaiting The Deal was lethal.

And to the surprise of absolutely no one, The Deal holds up its end of the agreement, producing six tracks of sprawling, cavernous sludge metal with such an inseparable bond of crushing filth, stirring melodies and experimental playing that each listen provides the listener with a different array of unexplored emotions. The Deal epitomizes Turner’s mantra of composing “thinking man’s metal,” arguably more so than any of his post-ISIS work. Turner has alluded that he is currently working on new material to be released under the Sumac name, implying that The Deal is not a one-of and that the band may very well become the next great post metal band of this decade. And while an ISIS reunion may rank atop every post metal fan’s wish list, The Deal’s follow up should come in at a very close second.



Down, down below the surface of the ocean, there are places where no light has touched forever. Underneath the surmounting pressure of the waters, a whole world exists: varied lights, forms of bodies and life swim in the murky depths. This is where Tangled Thoughts of Leaving preside over their unique sound. We throw the word “destructive” around a lot when covering music; this, however, is the real deal. This album will leave you emotionally drained, socially inept and mentally unstable. Its approach to post metal mixes heartbreaking piano, crushing static and momentous guitars to create a sonic blanket as thick as a squid’s ink.

Where do you begin to compare this album? Perhaps the seminal ISIS, mixed with the bleak landscapes of Pelican. But one must also mention Sunn O))), their cloak shrouded spectres hovering over this vitriolic and crushing mix. Finally, don’t forget contemporaries a Swarm of the Sun, whose album The Rifts lives somewhere in this list as well. They almost sound like sister albums; partners in sorrow and decay. Long story short, turn off all the lights, turn the A/C to maximum and make sure someone is around to drag you back from the pelagial depths that Yield to Despair is conniving to consign you to.



Judging by the response that New Hampshire’s Vattnet Viskar have been getting since Settler dropped, the group are fast becoming top dogs in US black metal. People are loving Settler, and for good reason; the songwriting is on point and captures the feeling of expansive wonder without meandering through sparse shoegaze and over-long tracks despite what the album art would lead one to assume. Post-black metal, while loved dearly around these parts, has potential to be a bit samey — the idea of trem-picking major-key chord progressions against blastbeats is starting to sound less bizarre — and you can thank the genre’s marriage with sludge and its affair with crust throughout Settler for its unlikely grandiosity. Vattnet Viskar’s exercise in the idea that big things can come in small packages yields some interesting results; these three-to-five minute songs are filled with hooks, riffs, and subtle nuances that beg repeated spins. It might not make sense, but Settler takes all the things that made post-black metal such a burgeoning institution, and then avoids them altogether — no clean vocals, no optimism, and no pretty instrumental breaks. And yet, Settler is infectious in a way that few records in the genre manage to be, and that’s why it is one of the best records you’ll hear this year, whether you’re into black metal or not.



Modern tech-death has one element that seems to set it apart, and that’s its speed. However, California band WRVTH doesn’t necessarily care about it all too much. Their name change marked a musical change as well. WRVTH is one of the best tech-death-prog albums to ever come out this year. Its driving force is made up largely of stellar songwriting, focusing on creating good songs rather than overly technical parts. The album also sounds very organic, with the songs retaining a human feel to them that so many modern bands forget to leave in their music, whether it simply be because they’re concerned with having a super polished record or worrisome about not fitting in with their contemporaries. WRVTH turn the idea of tech-death on its head, including some sax solos (yes, sax solos), crazy clean and ambient parts, as well as some of the best vocals in the genre. A very young band, these Cali natives still show signs of tech death all over the place, with intricate guitars and bass intertwined with complex drum patterns, but they do so in a way that’s incredibly unique.

Songs like “Harrowing Winds”, “Lured By Knaves”, and the album’s closer “Cease To Exist” are all examples of why this band is going to become one of the most important and biggest in the genre within the coming years. It’s no surprise if you’ve heard the record, but if you have not, simply put it on, because it’s a guaranteed solid listen from start to finish, and you’d be hard pressed to find one that matches it from the last couple of years.


Heavy Blog

Published 9 years ago