Release Day Roundup: 11/3/23

Rounding up new releases from Suffocation, Bad Wolves, Green Lung, Xoth, Sugar Horse, Spiritbox, Dying Wish, Silent Planet, As the Palaces Burn, Yatsu, Nord, Merciful Fate and more.

a month ago

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Suffocation – Hymns From The Apocrypha (brutal tech death)

I don't know if you're aware of this, but Suffocation are a really good death metal band. A great one, in fact. They don't have the broadest discography out there, but of the nine albums they've released over the last thirty years, they don't have a single dud, and I'd even wager that some of the more overlooked albums from their middle period (i.e. Souls to Deny (2004) through Blood Oath (2009)) are among their best. Having said that, their last two records, Pinnacle of Bedlam (2013) and ...Of the Dark Light (2017), have seen an ever so slight drop off in quality, which – coupled with retirement of iconic vocalist Frank Mullen from touring in 2013 before fully stepping back in 2018, which left guitarist Terrance Hobbs as the only long-standing member of the band – suggested Suffocation might finally be on the wane. Never ones to be easily put down though, the death metal pioneers seem to have taken stock of this trajectory and returned with an album that not only addresses these concerns head on, but which might even be their crowning achievement.

Hymns From The Apocrypha sees Suffocation operating at full capacity. Disgorge vocalist Ricky Myers, who's been touring with the band, in Mullen's place, since 2013, slips easily into the shoes of his predecessor, with his lower and notably gruffer register also bringing an increased menace to this latest offering. The album itself draws from all aspects of their career, basking in the enhanced technicality and tonal darkness that characterised their mid-period output and also leaning into the more melodic experiments of the last two albums on tracks like the instantly arresting "Dim Veil of Obscurity". Where Hymns From The Apocrypha stands apart from those recent releases, and even the mid-period offerings is in also throwing back (and down) to the unrelenting brutality of their earlier definitive releases as well. Where it excels is in not only being reminiscent of Effigy of the Forgotten (1991) and Pierced from Within (1995) but also easily going toe to toe with them, and often coming out on top as well.

Xoth – Exogalactic (Carcass Space!)

That Carcass are an even better death metal band than Suffocation is something Xoth are obviously aware. Something else they are also aware of is that (much like the best entry in any horror franchise) good things are even better when you pit them in space! Which is why, even though a lot of Exogalactic – the third full-length from the much touted Seattle tech-deathers – sounds like a direct continuation of later period Carcass, it also comes off as fresh and inventive, rather than derivative, due to its accentuated and often progressive-leaning extra terrestrial setting. There's also a lot of mid-period Death and tech-thrash, á la Revocation, Voivod, Vektor and the like, and even some harder hitting moments that bring Suffocation and Meyers efforts (mentioned above) into play. They say there's no school like the old school, but (much like Edward Bellamy before them) Xoth have proven that one of the best ways of looking backward, is to also look ahead to the future.

Merciful Fate – Melissa (Remastered) (spooky speed metal)

Keeping the old-school, retro vibes rolling, I wanted to give a quick shout out to the remastered version of Merciful Fate's Melissa (1983) that hit streaming services earlier this week.* The album itself should need no introduction, being one of the most influential and important underground metal albums of all time. Yet, while I have always held a genuine respect and reverence for Melissa, I've also always found its muddy, 1980s budget mix to make it borderline unlistenable (or at least unappealing to the point that I've very rarely gone back to it). The remastering job on this new digital release is therefore not only a welcome update, but an essential one (and arguably a far more impressive feat than the instantly forgettable "new" Beatles song that also dropped today). It really is night and day between the two versions, in terms of clarity, and while purists may begrudge the cleaner sound of this new version, I imagine I'm not the only one out it will allow to actually enjoy the experience of listening to the album, in addition to giving it its proper due. The updated art means I can also finally understand what's going on on the cover as well, so that's nice too.

*Apparently this version's been available in physical form since 2005, but I didn't know that, and I imagine that for many modern music listeners, like myself, a 2005 physical remaster may as well not exist anyway.**

**Also, I've had bloody good time listening to it these last couple of days and I thought you might too, and it's my column and I'll damn well do what I want.

Release Roundup

Abandoned by Light – Dreams of a Cosmic Death – Part I (brutal blackened death metal)

Acid Force – World Targets In Megadeaths (thrash)

Aeonian Sorrow – Katara (goth doom)

Agony Voices – We Don’t Know What We Have Become (rockin’ melodeath-doom?)

Amalekim – Avodah Zarah (black metal)

Ancient Days – Devil’s Night (psych/stoner doom)

Angra – Cycles Of Pain (power metal)

As the Palaces Burn – Drowning Into Shadows (proggish groove thrash)

Asteroid Witch/Greenseeker – Split (synth doom)

Axioma – Primal Descent (black metal)

Bad Wolves – Die About It (nu butt-core)

Baffald – Fuck Off 2020 (belated thrash)

Below A Silent Sky – Walls of Light (Instrumental Post-Metal]

Bihargam – Executioner Star (thrashy black metal)

Black Daggers – Phantasmagoria (stonerish rock)

Black Knife – Baby Eater Witch (black thrash)

Black Wasteland – Time Devours All (doom metal)

Blazoner – Escape To Electric Land (alt rock/metal)

Boiled Tongue/Kageneko – Split (brutal deathgrind)

Briqueville – IIII (instrumental post metal)

Bunsen – Burner (post industrial?)

Carnal Tomb – Embalmed In Decay (death metal)

Carnation – Cursed Mortality (doomy death metal)

Cauldron – Suicide In The City (metalcore)

Cavalcade – Evergreens (weird sludge)

Cetragore – Plagued By Birth (blackish groove death)

Ch’ahom – Knots Of Abhorrence (blackened death doom)

Chaines – Les Litanies des Chaînes (black metal)

Cirkeln – The Primitive Covenant (black doom)

Closet Witch – Chiaroscuro (grindcore)

The Convalescence – Harvesters Of Flesh And Bone (melodeath)

Cosmitorium – Broken Archetypes (prog death)

Crimson Caliber – Destined For Delusion (melodeath thrash)

Crystal Coffin – The Curse Of Immortality (thrashy black metal)

Cult Burial – Reverie Of The Malignant (dissonant blackened death metal)

Darkness Ablaze – It All Shall Burn (melodeath)

Degrave – Volume (crossoverish thrash)

Devil’s Night – II (trad metal/rock)

Dying Wish – Symptoms Of Survival (metalcore)

Ego Planet – Ego Planet (stoner metal/rock)

Escape From Wonderland – Pieces (melodic deathcore?)

Exiled Hope – Altar Of Moloch (symphonic black doom)

Faidra – Militant – Pentitent – Triumphant (doomy black metal)

Farani – Conjure The Beast (death doom with pretty parts)

Frakasm – And So the Blood Was Shed (occasionally melodic death metal)

Frogtician – Domain of Frog (slam)

Fuming Mouth – Last Day of Sun (crossover death doom)

Gong – Unending Ascending (prog rock)

Gozer – The Path Always Leads To The End (instrumental post metal)

Graven Image – Gods Who Decree (blackened death metal)

Green Lung – This Heathen Land (heavy metal, stoner doom)

Gutter Creek – Fangs to the Face (heavy metal)

Guyođ – Heart of Thy Abyss (doomy blackened death metal)

Gypsy Pistoleros – Duende A Go Go Loco! (glam rock)

Hebephrenique – Non Compos Mentis (blackened dissodeath)

Horrorwish – Tales From Death (spooky doom)

I Crawled – A Lifeless Husk at the Doorway to the Abyss (doomy black metal, dsbm)

ILD – Kvern (postish black metal)

Insomnium – Songs Of The Dusk (sad melodeath)

Jord – Tundra (post black metal, epic melodeath)

Kaldeket – Vitiate / Déraciné (melodic black metal)

Katholik – Entropic Evolution (tech death)

Kill the King – Kill the King (thrash)

Killsorrow – Wasteland Chronicles (melodic melodeath?)

Kontrust – madworld (weird electro prog)

Kraanium – Scriptures Of Vicennial Defilement (brutal death metal, slam)

Krypta – Outo Laakso (occult rock, trad prog?)

Le Morte – Midnight in the Garden of Tragedy (blackened death doom)

Lord Sithis – Oath of Bloodshed (noisy black metal)

Magdalene – The Dying Process (blackened post metal)

The Magus – Βυσσοδομώντας (weird blackened death metal)

Manipulator – Drawing Secret Circles (deathgrind)

Massive Scar Era – Metal Goes Egyptian (symphonic folk metal)

Master Dy – Ghost (gothic power metal)

Melancholia – Book Of Ruination (disso-sludge)

Meridian Sun – The Curse (instrumental post metal)

Morne – Engraved With Pain (sludge doom)

Morthymer – Pedagog (instrumental prog/tech death)

Mortuary Drape – Black Mirror (weird prog metal)

Mugshot – Cold Will (beatdown hardcore/metalcore)

Nahasheol – Seerpens Abyssi (progressive blackened death doom)

Nāv – Trpte (gothy black metal)

NecroticGoreBeast – Repugnant (brutal death metal, slam)

NORD – The Implosion of Everything that Matters (noisey prog rock/metal)

Organic Brain Disorder – Gruesome Acts Of A Deranged Mind (slamming goregrind)

Paint It Black – Famine (punk, hardcore)

Palantír – Nightmare Opus (power metal)

Penitence Onirique – Nature Morte (post black metal)

Précipices – Devant les affres de la mort (post black metal)

Psionic Madness – Warhead Crucifix (brutal dissodeath)

Putrid Evil – Exhumed... From The Unhallowed Ground (deathgrind)

Ravenoir – Cultus Inferi (death metal)

Requiem of Malediction – Satanas Triumphans (doomis black metal)

Reveal – Still Alive (shitty power metal)

Rosa Faenskap – Jeg Blir Til Deg (blackgaze, backened post-hardcore)

Sarlic Bliss – Brægn Hæft (goth doom)

Satan’s Fall – Destination Destruction (heavy metal, thrash)

Scab Hag – Wading Through Mephitic Filth (brutal death)

Sea Mosquito – Igitur (weird dissonant balck metal)

Serenity – Nemesis AD (symphonic power metal)

Seventh Crystal – Infinity (melodic rock/metal)

Sex Virgin Killer – Devil (crusty metal?)

Shadowmare – While Trapped Inside (instrumental metal)

She The Throne – Nuntis (weird noise)

Sigir – Rainmaker (melodeath)

Silent Planet – Superbloom (progressive metalcore)

Skull Servant – Traditional Black Magicks II (psych doom)

Sleepbomb – The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (post black, goth doom)

Spiritbox – The Fear Of Fear (alt djent)

Stenched – Gorging On Mephitic Rot (brutal groove death)

Strigoi – Bathed In A Black Sun (crusty doom)

Suffocating Empathy – Subconscious Tides (black metal)

Sugar Horse – Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico (gothy post rock, doomgaze)

Svartanatt – Last Days On Earth (retro rock)

Tel – Widower (post-doom]

Tetragrammacide – ypho-Tantric Aphorisms From The Arachneophidian Qur’an (brutal death metal)

Teufelsberg – Pakt Mit Dem Teufel (black metal)

Thragedium – Lisboa Depois de Morta (folky doom)

Thronehammer – Kingslayer (melodoom)

Totenmesse – Fiktionlust (blackened death metal?)

Udûn – Lanza de Longinos (black metal)

UFOMAMMUT – Crookhead (psychedelic sludge doom)

Veruta – Forked Tongue Of Fire (black metal)

Vesperian Sorrow – A Dire Flight for the Black Fragment (melodeath)

Vlk – Solastaglia I (post black metal)

Vulnificus – Inextricable (brutal death metal)

WARCRAB – The Howling Silence (death metal, melodeath)

Wurgilnõ – Angst (black metal)

Yatsu – It Can't Happen Here (noisy hardcore)

Yawning Balch – Volume Two (post rock)

Joshua Bulleid

Published a month ago