Best Live Show:
JONATHAN BREE (New Zealand), at Rickshaw – an intimate experience to the most unique show I have ever seen outside of Skinny Puppy
ORANSSI PAZUZU (Finland), at Cornerstone – the Finnish are the only men that look good with man-buns
PINK TURNS BLUE (Berlin)/NEAR DARK FEST, at The Uptown – romantic dark wave festival introducing me to female-led The Ire (Detroit) and Yama Uba (Oakland)
SHE PAST AWAY (Turkey/UK), at Neck of the Woods – on my birthday no less! Sold out, the bay area showed UP; and I met some really nice people that night
STUMPFEST FESTIVAL, at Mississippi Studios – we got to see our friends Terry Gross and hang out in Portland
PETER MURPHY (UK), at The Chapel – he sang the entire Deep album and special songs from Love Hysteria and I was pretty much in tears the whole show
KRYPTOS (India), album – Afterburner
Song: Dead of Night (0:25-5:23)
— Nostalgic heavy metal that is catchy without being repetitive, with a fiery evil singer. Everything we want from a sword wielding witch.
Traveler (CAN), album - S/T
— Damn straight, guys fucking rock.
Spirit Adrift (AR), album - Divided by Darkness
— Nate Garrett’s vocals bring life to his lyrics. This is heart-wrenching heavy metal.
Crypt Sermon (Philly), album - The Ruins of Fading Light
— This album goes on for days; full on lyrical genius sung by a doom-master.
Horseburner (WV), album – Fathoms
— Similar to their brethren West Virginia band Brimstone Coven with southern charm and whiskey vocal, but with a unique harder edge.
Atmospheric/Melodic Black Metal
MISÞYRMING (Iceland), album - Algleymi
Song: Með Svipur á Lofti (6:51-13:52)
— Revels in the torment, vocalizing their surroundings in a haunting, frosty black metal with different styles and energy.
Belenos (France), album - Argoat
— Belenos vocals are rippling energy. He rolls over achingly melodic guitars, entrenching the sound with more soul. This is not black gaze, this is raw, thoughtful and immense with accompanying cathedral vocals.
The Great Old Ones (France), album: Cosmicism
— There is nothing like French brooding. The Great Old Ones use blast beat heavy lead-ups and French rasps that bleed into deep unexpected loveliness.
NECROPANTHER (Denver), album - The Doomed City
Song: Death at Hand (14:25-17:19)
— Necropanther’s vocalist is an insane alien beast lining riffs and groovy thrash and monster death.
Illyrian (Alberta), album – The Entity
— Canadian fists flying to speed, technically tempoed, and viciously vocalized.
High Command (MA), album - Beyond the Wall of Desolation
— Warm thick guitar that chomps, romps and punches.
Inculter (Norway), album – Fatal Visions
— Hammer precise drums and earth shattering riffs to keep it real.
— Technical thrash with disjointed proggy tempos.
INTER ARMA (VA), album - Sulphur English
Song: A Waxen Sea (17:50-25:12)
— Refined sludge in the form of dreamy and meditative that bleeds into filthy and proggy, and experimental becomes post-metal,
Terre (Belgium), album - S/T
— Creeping, deep into the earth is a writhing vocal. This is where the band starts, penetrating its filth with a down-tuned dirty thick bass.
Fange (France), album - Punir
— Fange has it all, including noise, industrial, hardcore, sludge, laid atop a slab of atmospheric black metal.
Rorcal (Switzerland), album - Muladona
— Thick pummeling drums in a vicious black and death metal and abrasive core.
Lord Mantis (Chicago), album - Universal Death Church
— Sludgy, dense, and textural, with melodic and groove in the mix.
WACHENFELDT (Sweden), album - The Interpreter
Song: Ut (26:02-33:30)
— Savage drums and riffs crushing each other into pinpoints of compressed blazing horror-filled thrashing and swelling sharp guitar solos and harmonies.
Tomb Mold (Toronto), album - Planetary Clairvoyance
— Pummeling drummer is also the blistering vocalist, both instruments their own beasts. Guitars follow on a wild ride breaking apart the ferocious death metal.
Light Dweller (AR), album – Incandescent Crucifix
— Holy shit this is a huge album; jagged, angular, sharp and complex.
Ceremony Of Silence (Slovakia), album – Oútis
— Psychedelic death metal now? Expand the brain and then pummel it into pieces, living the Slovakian dream.
Unaussprechlichen Kulten (Chile), album - Teufelsbücher
— Angular weird proggy death with refreshing piano.
Arallu (Israel), album – En Olam
— Middle eastern ethnicity fully integrated in explosive death metal. Infectious, unique and deeply headbang-worthy.
Modern Black Metal
SCHAMMASCH (Switzerland), album – Hearts of No Light
Song: Ego Sum Omega (34:21-42:09)
— Emotional and gruff baritone juxtaposed with shimmering instrumentals in a soaring, majestic black metal that drizzles into a goth mist, proggy interludes, and retro doom.
Deathspell Omega (France), album - The Furnaces of Palingenesia
— The vocalist is at the forefront, a grunting guttural menace, creating a horror-atmosphere where the plodding tempos and strange mesmerizing guitars follow.
Svartelder (Norway), album – Pits
— Being chased down a wind-swept black metal mountain by a rabid vampire in a hot folk outfit. Completely under the radar.
Mesarthim (Australia), album - Ghost Condensate
— Electronics within a shrieking black metal is just, surprising.
Guðveiki (12/18) (Iceland), album - Vængför
— Another explosive alien black metal offering from Iceland, raw and progressive and scary.
DIÄT (Berlin), album - Positive Disintegration
Song: We (42:49-46:38)
— Old school alternative alternating from poppy to ambient to gothy-dance to noise and punk.
Boy Harsher (MA), album – Careful
— Massachusetts duo with deeply emotional and stylistic dark and minimal wave supported by velvety female vocals.
TR/ST (Toronto) album – The Destroyer
— I cannot tell you how much I love this lead singer. Just, love.
Evil Male Vocals
LORD MANTIS (Chicago), album – Universal Death Church
Song: Fleshworld (47:25-55:30)
— Vocals scratch and rasp and screech and whisper horror.
Vortex of End (France), album – Ardens Fvror
Profanatica (CT), album - Rotting Incarnation of God
Vacivus (UK), album - Annihilism
Negator (Germany), album – Vnitas Pvritas Existentia
VENOM PRISON (UK), album – Samsara
Song: Sadistic Rituals (55:54-59:38)
— Beastly muscular vocals accompanied by brain-bashing, stunning, surprising, dense, REQUIRED death metal mixed with aggressive hardcore.
Vale (Oakland), album – Burden of Sight
Immortal Bird (Chicago), album – Thrive on Neglect
Bethlehem (Germany), album – Lebe Dich Leer
False (MN), album - Portent
Freedom of Fear (Adelaide), album – Nocturnal Gates
Best German Black Metal, #2 Album
KRATER (Germany), album – Venenare
Song: Atmet Asche (1:00:29-END!)
— The best albums are indirect, they are unexpected, they are filled with a million facets that are undiscoverable. My favorite black metal is this textured journey, and Krater all in a dystopian package.
Imperium Dekadenz (Germany), album – When We Are Forgotten
— 2 piece creating diverse and textured sound, a glossy, foggy, ethereal black metal, cascading desolation and sorrow.
Thormesis (Germany), album – The Sixth
— Desperation-lined vocals creates heartfelt melancholy not shying away from sweet melody and instrumentals; and organic drumming steering away from machine beats. The whole album is explosive in emotional energy.
Verheerer (Germany), album - Monolith
— Brooding and theatrical with glorious and vivid compositions, but still fucking rocks out.
Schattenfall GER), album - Melancholie des Seins
Chanting poetry from a new vocalist in this sophomore album.
Negator (Germany), album – Vnitas Pvritas Existentia
— Fantasy world of monsters and battles and horns that creates just a blast. Whimsical, if your brain was fucked.