Welcome to the final installment of Death’s Door, 2018. Wipe your feet on the mat and pull up a bone throne if you can find one. This entire place has been absolutely decimated by this year’s fresh crop of fantastic death metal. Our final analysis on the year’s best releases complete, I considered skipping this month to focus on finding the riches in store for us in January. But when contemplating the month, I decided that there was enough quality material to justify one last episode before 2019 consumes all of our attention. This will be a more truncated version of the column, but these releases deserve all the listening time you can give them.
While we here at Heavy Blog consistently bemoan the ever-swifter advent of end-of-year lists in the music industry, one reason we love writing this column is exactly because of situations like this. December is a month mostly forgotten by the music industry, and in most cases that’s patently unfair. Two of the best releases of the year dropped last month, and only one of them had time to make it onto my year-end list due to time constraints. Here, regardless of the typhoon that is list month, we can celebrate some of the best music that wasn’t fortunate enough to hit the completely arbitrary mark of year-end consideration. I hope you enjoy these records as much as I do, and that this column continues to make your hunting for quality death metal just a bit easier.
Into a new year. Death metal forever.
Cream of the Crop
Sulphur Aeon – The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos
Sulphur Aeon is an amazing band, and The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos is their most overall amazing record. Which is saying something, because the band haven’t released a mediocre release yet. Filled to the brim with dark, Lovecraftian themes and enough atmosphere to drown even the most seasoned of death metal listeners in waves of dread, there’s little about this record that doesn’t work perfectly. “The Summoning of Nyarlathotep” may be the best death metal song of the year, but at least two or three tracks here could vie for that title. It’s everything I hoped it would be and then some.
Best of the Rest
Cerebrum – Iridium
Transcending Obscurity Records had an amazing 2018, and records like Cerebrum’s Iridium are a perfect example as to why. This is well-produced, expertly performed technical/progressive death metal that is challenging enough to entertain tech heads, and accessible enough to serve as a launch pad for those intimidated or confused by these subgenres. Opening track “Time Reversal” is as good an introduction as any to the band’s dynamic sound, and exemplifies all the traits that make this record an infinitely enjoyable repeat listen. Here’s to more from this band soon.
Feral – Flesh for Funerals Eternal
TOR strikes again, this time in the Swedish death metal world. Feral is an absolutely ferocious band, and Flesh for Funerals Eternal their most destructive statement of intent yet. In similar fashion to their label mates Crawl, Feral couple chugadelic riffage and Slayer-esque solos In the HM-2 tradition with thrash-centric drum work that serves to make this music sound as gnarly and fast as one could hope for in quality Swedeath. But rather than fully overwhelm the listener withconstant audio beratement, The production on this record leaves plenty of avenues to be explored with a focus on balance in the mix. That doesn’t mean that this record isn’t out to punish, but rather that it wants you to enjoy the dismemberment. If you dig Swedish death metal, you won’t find a better late-year iteration than Flesh for Funerals Eternal.
Zealotry – At the Nexus of All Stillborn Worlds
One of my favorite records of the year in any genre, and rightfully so. At least a dozen full listens haven’t diminished its stature in my eyes in the slightest. Zealotry here channel Chthe’ilist without the constant murk, providing listeners with old school death metal with technical tinges that is as clear as it is complicated. There’s really no best starting point with this record. Every single track is a banger and fits into the whole perfectly, which honestly recommends this record best as a sequential, front-to-back listening experience. Let the riffs of Phil Tougas take you away on a nightmarish trio of guitar-heavy cosmic slaughter and you won’t be disappointed. Essential listening.