One of the biggest "OK what the fuck" moments for me in 2023 was when I threw on Anti-God Hand's album Blight Year for the first time. Announced with redolent synths and an absolutely sick riff, the album continued to unfold into this hulking beast of boisterous, busy, and brilliant slab of unique black metal (god I love hiding alliterations in these posts, don't judge me). I kept going back to it again and again as the year went on, slowly unveiling the layers of heavy metal, thrash, noise, ambient, and virulent, furious black metal it was composed of.
Naturally then, I reached out to Will Ballantyne to get a guest list going on the blog and I was not disappointed. While I agree with Will that nothing on this list is too shocking, there are several extremely underrated albums (like Kaldeket) on it and a few that I wasn't aware of myself. This means that if you dive deep into this list, you'll for sure find one or maybe even two treasures you otherwise wouldn't have, and that makes it all worth it.
Oh and I also get to tell you again to listen to Blight Year. Listen to it! Over to you Will.
Nothing on this list will surprise anyone who knows me but I hope someone who hasn’t heard any of this stuff will find something to like here. Obviously goes without saying that there’s a million things I wish I could put on here but these are the things that completely knocked me flat and left a lasting impact. Technically there’s three EPs on here but I don’t bother differentiating.
7038634357 - Neo Seven
“Square Heart” is probably my most listened to song of the year, utterly gorgeous, the video is drop dead beautiful. I urge anyone unfamiliar with the extended 703 universe to drop in and embrace it.
Behold the Arctopus - Interstellar Overtrove
Been a BTA obsessive since I heard Skullgrid when I was 15. This one is jawdropping. My straight up favourite record of the year, I can listen to it nonstop. It is so harmonically beautiful it’s hard for me to put it into words. I love the e-drums and guitar solos. Prog Is Back (never left).
Horrendous - Ontological Mysterium
This would’ve made my list just for the ascending arpeggios in the first track alone but the whole thing is ridiculously good. Their arrangements are so unbelievably tight and sick and effortless sounding. I would love to see them play this live, I imagine it rules. For some reason I think of it as Blood Mountain for grownups. Like I said Prog Is Back.
Kaldeket - Déraciné
Kaldeket is simply unstoppable. Every melody gets stuck in my head and I love the relentless counterpoint and bright-eyed arrangements. Also when they play live they have like 6 people on stage with headlamps and computers. So sick.
King Vision Ultra - Shook World
Anybody interested in experimental music owes it to themselves to check this out. I’ve never heard a KVU project that didn’t leave me profoundly moved and this one is no different. Really special music to me.
Kostnatění - Úpal
Heard this one late in the year but the guitar playing is absolutely magnificent. Such incredible use of open strings and extended technique. Highly recommended, extremely inspiring compositionally and technically.
Krallice - Porous Resonance Abyss/Mass Cathexis 2
Perhaps cheating to use one space for two albums but literally anything Krallice could have released would have ended up on my favs of the year. The evil brutal vocoder in track 4 on MC2 just devastates me. I love everything they do perhaps not surprisingly.
ronja - For Annette
Staggeringly beautiful record, not much more to say. Delicate and confident and profound.
Tomb Mold - The Enduring Spirit
Don’t have anything to say about TM that hasn’t been said more thoughtfully by other people, but I’m just so glad they dropped this record this year. Total barnburner, I love it front to back, it makes me feel like running through a brick wall and also telling my friends how much I care about them. S Tier, A+, 10/10 (Prog Is Back).
Trhä - av◊ëlajnt◊ë£ hinnem nihre
I am a late joiner of the Trha cult but holy cow this record knocked me flat. Such sick guitar riffs. Very dextrous and beautiful. The galloping triplet breakdown at the end of track 2 especially I’ve listened to over and over again. Really inspiring stuff to me.