Tag Archives: Doom Metal

Underworld Zine’s 10 Best Metal Albums of 2018

2018 was yet another year filled with political division. From the Cavanaugh hearing, to Trump shutting down the government, to Adam Darski taking a photo with prominent Nazi larper/black metal legend Rob Darken, the drama just seems to get worse every year.

Despite all the commotion, more than a few bands released jaw dropping albums in 2018. Some prolific and legendary acts “retired” with a bang by releasing surprisingly crushing final efforts and some newer acts shocked us with insane debuts. Compiling this list was brutally difficult given the sheer volume of sick new releases and settling on an order was nearly impossible. Seriously, I’m still debating on the order, but for now, here are the top 10 best albums of 2018

10. Ennui- End of the Circle

Georgian funeral doom outfit Ennui’s fourth full length album “End of the Circle” was an unexpected gem for me this year. This is a band that opened my mind to the funeral doom genre. Previously, I had been too musically ADHD to truly grasp the beauty of funeral doom, but Ennui’s infusion of blackened ambiance into their otherwise traditional doom sound was able to hold my attention. That says something for a band who opens with a 30 minute epic.

I knew when I didn’t want to skip the opening track after 15 minutes, instead finding myself entirely immersed in Ennui’s melancholy microcosm, that “End of the Circle” was among the 10 best metal albums of the year.

9. Yob- Our Raw Heart

Oregon trio, Yob, is a band everyone has been talking about lately. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt cheated death by overcoming a near fatal intestinal disease but, while inspiring, “Our Raw Heart” is an LP worth noticing tragedy or not.

Scheidt’s brush with death was the inspiration for the sound and lyrical themes on “Our Raw Heart” and it shows through every impassioned wail and gloomy break on the album. In just 7 tracks, this release takes the listener on a dark journey of epic proportion that’s honest, heartfelt and raw.

8. The Spirit- Sounds From the Vortex

This album floored me the first time I heard it. With a sound plucked directly from early 90s Stockholm, The Spirit is truly a force to be reckoned with in the realm of melodic black metal.

Once more, the band understands the importance of memorable song writing. While the melodies on “Sounds From the Vortex” are tight overall, they maintain an anthemic quality that resonates well in live performances. Picked up by Nuclear Blast upon the release of their debut, this German foursome is one to watch in the coming years.

7. Mare- Ebony Tower

Despite being active since 2003 according to Metal Archives, Mare released their debut album “Ebony Tower” in August of 2018. In an era when Poland, Sweden and Russia are dominating black metal, Mare seeks to put Norway back on the map in a big way.

Ebony Tower” maintains a perfect balance between avant garde and conventional elements in their sound, which creates a truly enjoyable and memorable experience for the listener. What I love about this release is its flow. With its  contrast between melodic interludes and violent breaks, “Ebony Tower” is both kvlt and easily palatable. With a debut like this, I can’t wait to see what’s to come from Mare.

6. Immortal- Northern Chaos Gods

I think the entire metal community was both shocked and worried when Demonaz and Horgh decided to release an Immortal album sans Abbath. Little did we know we were in for a pleasant surprise when the album killed it.

Northern Chaos Gods” is a welcoming homage to the band’s best era. The album is eerily reminiscent of “At the Heart of Winter” in the best possible way. Honestly, I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m happy about the split because now we’re getting twice the good material from both Abbath as a solo act and Immortal. What can I say, I’m greedy.

5. Unanimated- Annihilated (EP)

I was honestly surprised by the lack of attention Unanimated’s comeback EP received this year. For their first release in over 9 years, these Swedish melodic black metal giants returned with a frostbitten bang.

Annihilation floored me, excited me and left me speechless. Listening to this EP gave me all those happy feelings that come from hearing perfectly executed metal. I couldn’t more stoked that these guys are back.

4. Monstrosity- The Passage of Existence

Like most people, my introduction to Monstrosity came from Mark English’s involvement with Deicide. I’m so glad I discovered Monstrosity and “The Passage of Existence” though because not only does album crush, Mark English has shreds for days.

Monstrosity is a palatable form of OSDM with thrashy interludes and killer solos. This album is truly memorable and easy to digest. Good death metal here.

3. Arkona- Khram

2018 saw another development in the world of metal; Arkona got dark as fuck. Seriously “Khram” surprised me with its range and versatility. The band is clearly taking risks with this album, writing longer songs and going in a heavier direction, and the risks are paying off big time.

Despite the band’s slight deviation in sound, Arkona has managed to stay true to their folky roots. What “Khram” showcases is the band’s ability to grow. This album hits in all the right places.

2. Judas Priest- Firepower

While compiling this list I felt it would be almost blasphemous to not include Judas Priest’s 18th full length release “Firepower” near the top. Judas Priest did what so many other classic metal bands fail to do every year; release an album that’s not only relevant in the modern day, but is an instant classic.

Many people are calling “Firepower” “Painkiller” part II and I have to agree with that assertion. When a classic band like Priest releases a new album, fans usually pray there are at least 1 or 2 good tracks on it, but every song on “Firepower” is an absolute banger.

1. Tomb Mold- Manor of Infinite Forms

As I said earlier, figuring out the order for this list was nearly impossible, but Canadian old school death metal outfit, Tomb Mold was an easy pick for the top spot. What makes “Manor of Infinite Forms” so absolutely crushing is its dedication to the true death metal style that defined the 90s.

This is a band that isn’t shying away from producing something absolutely disgusting, sickening and brutal to the core. All these elements make for a perfect death metal record and a top rank in Underworld’s best metal of the year list.

2018 gave us some great metal. Let’s hope 2019 delivers even better metal. Happy New Year! Hails!

Honorable Mentions:

Deicide- Overtures of Blasphemy

Bane- Esoteric Formulae

Nocturnal Graves- Titan

Satan- Cruel Magic

Uada- Cult of a Dying Sun

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Doom Heads Leave Your Caves, DESCENDANTS OF CROM is Raging in Pittsburgh this Weekend

Decendants of Crom Flyer

Steel City ragers and dedicated out of towners prepared for a road trip should head to Cattivo nightclub in Pittsburgh, PA this weekend for a doom fest unmatched since the last Doomed and Stoned Fest.” Featuring talent from a variety of genres encompassing the doom/stoner tier: including sludge, stoner and even psychedelic rock, Descendants of Crom is keeping it professional by booking only the best talent; young and old, for two hazy days of pure doom bliss.

Weed smoke and the acrid stench of patchouli and Mir will permeate the air as a sea of bearded doom heads sway to the reverberations of bands such as: Lo Pan, Doomstress, Come to Grief, Cavern, Toke, GeezerFreedom Hawk, The Generator, as well as so many more that are scheduled to hit the stage during this 2 day celebration of all things slow and heavy.

DoC Pre Show Flyer

Attendees should also be sure not to miss the pre-gala tonight at Howlers, featuring Mires, Rebreather and Destroyer of Light among others.

Tickets are first come first serve. You can pre-order tickets to the pre-gala here and tickets to the fest here.

Ennui Conjures a Sense of Mysticism with “End of the Circle”

Ennui- End of the Circle (Album Cover)

According to Webster’s online dictionary, the term ennui refers to “a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.” That definition is a perfect way to summarize the Georgia based funeral doom duo’s latest effort “End of the Circle.”

As is expected from any funeral doom release, Ennui’s latest LP, “End of the Circle” requires patience from its listeners. Each track is upwards of 20 minutes in length and contains several progressions throughout the mix. Still, for those with a stalwart attention span, the fruits of this listen are truly rewarding.

One element that stood out for me on this release were the infusions of ambiance generously sprinkled throughout each track. Where other funeral doom bands descend into gritty territory pretty quickly into the mix, Ennui’s style captured a more mystical atmosphere because of their liberal use of ambiance and even kvlt elements throughout each track. I say kvlt because I don’t get much of strictly black metal feel on this album per say, primarily because of the lack of Cartoonish aspects.

That said, I would be lying if I were to suggest this release didn’t emote the same expressions as Rundgang um die Transzendentale Säule der Singularität by Burzum. Ennui certainly employs a specific blackened style on this release that lies in tandem with some of the more emotional DSBM bands out there. I think this fusion of different genre elements is what caught my attention to this LP and will catch the ears of others who don’t typically listen to funeral doom.

Ennui is a band that takes themselves seriously by emanating a cerebral air in their sound that demands full attention from the listener. There is something truly magical about the entirety of the release. “End of the Circle” is intended to be digested as single unit; each track complementing the last. With that said, my favorite track was the self titled, first track. With progressions designed to lull the listener into a hypnotic, dream state, “End of the Circle” delivers a truly mind expanding experience, complete with ambiance that would move even the most staunch thrasher with musical ADD.

The unique experience that is “End of the Circle” continues in the proceeding tracks “The Withering Parts I-II,” as Ennui takes its fans on a 40 minute interstellar journey into the heart of a dying star. There is a sense of order in these tracks despite their length. Each element builds into the next seamlessly in order to create a mood. The vocals remain simplistic, low end growls that don’t detract from the music or the atmosphere; instead complementing it perfectly. You’ll be compelled to close your eyes while listening to this – it’s that affecting.

Overall, I really enjoyed this effort. I am not typically a fan of funeral doom, but Ennui’s latest release had enough momentum to keep me entertained for the long haul. “End of the Circle” is must have album for 2018.

https://non-serviam-records.bandcamp.com/album/end-of-the-circle

9/10

 

Decibel Tour 2016- Cleveland Edition

decibel tour

It seems to be a thing this year for popular, extreme metal editorials to put on tours.  Maybe it’s always been a thing but I’m only just noticing it.  First MetalSucks now Decibel.  The Decibel Tour offered a great variety of genres, a little something for almost everyone, but had a nocitably black metal bias.  Death metal wasn’t represented at all, but the lineup was diverse enough to attract all sorts of metal heads, from the laissez-faire fans to the die hards.  The turn out was pretty unbelievable.

The show was scheduled at the infamous Agora Theatre.  Ever since Peabody’s closed a few years back The Agora has been the go to place for extreme metal in Cleveland.  The club has that perfect balance between a kind of DIY, dark bar ambience and bathroom cleanliness to be versatile enough for all types of people.  The reasonable ticket and beer prices and cool staff create the perfect atmosphere for a good time.  Needless to say, I was happy about the choice of venue for this event.

I arrived a few minutes late and only caught the last half of Mythrias’ (the local opener) set.  Mythrias has been tearing up the Cleveland/Akron scene with their particular brand of DIY melodeath since the release of their debut, Absolving the Treacherous, last year.  The band is always professional onstage and definitely worth giving a listen.  I couldn’t be more excited for my buddies in this band for getting the opportunity to open for such a huge event.  They definitely deserve it.

Next up was Tribulation.  This band gets a lot of hype and I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why.  Sure, they take showmanship seriously, but I really wish they’d take their music more seriously.  You can’t just dress up like a bunch of girls and make rock star poses and call yourself a band.  You actually have to write good songs.  Tribulation is ultimately more gimmick than anything else.  Although I get what they are aiming for in their sound, they don’t have enough oomph to pull off that whole metalized Slade/New York Dolls atmosphere.  They best thing about their set was the light show and their outfits.  The music itself was lacking.  A total snooze fest.

tribulation
This is what happens when glam metal bands die and become zombies.

Next up was Skeletonwitch. A horde of flannel shirts surged to the stage.  Skeletonwitch has seen great success over the years amongst metal’s fence sitter fans, making them accessible to a larger audience.  I thought it was mere luck until I witnessed their set. Professionalism is an understatement for the band.  The band played crowd pleasers like and Beneath Dead Leaves and I am of Death.  Their sound was impeccable, almost identical to the quality of the album and their energy was high.  Did it make me a fan?  No but that’s just because there are other thrash bands that are more exciting than Skeletonwitch.  But at least now I get it.

High on Fire was up next.  They’re a band that many, more death metal oriented fans can’t really get into, but I have to say that Matt Pike is looking more like a middle-aged Lemmy every day and it’s fucking awesome. Riffage reigned supreme throughout the set and it’s really Matt Pike’s fault that my neck hurts.  They played mostly their higher energy songs and the set was lively and sounded great.  Though the majority of the bands took advantage of a high quality light show, High on Fire’s set was mostly dark which made for a really gritty atmosphere.  It was cool.  Snakes of the Divine and Luminiferous were particularly cool and memorable parts of the set but all in all Matt Pike put on a killer show as usual.

At last though, the moment everyone had been waiting for had arrived. Abbath was set to play. A true rock star, Abbath put on a killer show. It was like KISS if they were a black metal band. I couldn’t help but feel star struck. Abbath gave the fans what they wanted, playing five Immortal covers, including All Shall Fall, In My Kingdom Cold, and my favorite, Solarfall. It’s clear the man doesn’t take himself too seriously. He gave fans plenty of the crab walk and for that we were all grateful.

crab

His showmanship was truly professional and the light show was arena worthy. Also, there was a pretty smashing pit during his set, which doesn’t always happen at black metal shows. I couldn’t help but get into it. Overall, the entire show was incredible and it’s something I’ll remember for years to come. That means something coming from a person who ends up at a show about once every week. If the Decibel Tour is coming to your hometown anytime soon, be sure to catch it. It’s well worth the money.

New Cough Track Streaming on Youtube!!

cough

Virginia’s sludge/doom outfit, Cough are set to release their first full length album since 2010 in June of this year on Relapse Records.  Still They Pray is much anticipated since it’s the band’s first full length release since Ritual Abuse from 2010. Because modern metal fans are impatient fuckers, the band is streaming a teaser track, entitled The Wounding Hours.  The six minute long track is every bit as murky as Cough’s earlier material but exudes an emotional prettiness just beneath the surface which softens it a bit.  It’s melodic nature is spellbinding and the slight deviation in sound shows demonstrates the band’s growth.  If the remainder the new album is at all similar to the teaser track, Cough fans are in for a treat.  There seems to be a positive progression from the earlier, muddy, Eyehategod worship sound (which was great in its own right) to a more sophisticated and melancholy atmosphere.  For now, though, we wait.  Cough’s third full length album is due for release on June 3 of this year.  Be sure and snag yourself a copy!

Acid Witch/Nunslaughter -Spooky

spooky

Back in March of this year, Hell’s Headbangers unleashed yet another great addition to extensive, vinyl metal collections everywhere. An interesting mix of doom and classic death, the Nunslaughter and Acid Witch 7 inch split entitled “Spooky” is an off-color hymn to “stoners” everywhere.  The artwork hints at the tongue in cheek nature of the album.  Reminiscent of 1970’s Tales From the Crypt comic this album art is unique and eye catching.  The artwork, the sound, the feel of this split is definitively “gitchy” and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which makes it a great feel good listen, the kind of music perfect for blazing.

Acid Witch

acid witch

 Acid Witch capture the sounds of “spookiness” in the most befitting way on this 7 inch.  The opening track, Evil, begins with eerie sounding keyboards and has a sort of muted melodiousness that continues throughout the track, only to be broken up with Shagrat’s gloriously repugnant vocals and Mike Tuff’s classic riffing.  Listening to Evil is like hearing a whisper in a haunted house.  The keyboards continue throughout the track, organically giving Evil that sort of fun creepiness Rob Zombie’s is always trying to achieve.

Fiends of Old, Acid Witch’s second contribution to Spooky, veers in a different direction.  Resurrecting, the classic sounds of Acid Bath and Eyehategod, Acid Witch has managed to make Fiends of Old sound unique by adding their signature keyboard sounds to this heavier doom track.  It is perhaps, Slasher Dave’s vocals that make this track most unique with his snotty, tongue in cheek tone.  Acid Witch would do well to make their tracks a bit longer.  Doom-heads intuitively crave 15 minute long songs. Acid Witch’s three minute long tracks are a bit of a disappointment.  I must hand it to Acid Witch though, their sound is original.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcwidhyzTt4

Nunslaughter

nunslaughter logo

 Nunslaughter’s addition to “Spooky” doesn’t veer far from the brutal, irreverent death metal Nunslaughter fans have grown accustomed to.  “A Sordid Past” and “Spooky Tales” sound very similar to pretty much every song on their classic 2003 release “Goat”.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed by this.  Nunslaughter gives their fans what they’re expecting, without alienating them with heavy experimentation.  This is one band that will never “go soft” or sell out.  You get what you get with Nunslaughter.  Simple, three minute, satirically satanic death metal.  Their contribution to “Spooky” is no exception.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AKcl_9e9Kw

You can order this awesome 7 inch directly from Hell Headbangers.  Fucking do it and support underground metal!  For now though, smoke up and enjoy some killer death and doom.  Happy Listening.  Hails!

Reflection of the Negative: Cough/Windhand

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While everyone was busy disseminating the new Ghost record and beating off to the glitzy and gimmicky, so-called “originality” of the Swedish sextet, Sludge/Doom outfit Cough was quietly emerging from the quicksand of the Virginia wetlands with their crippling addition to the split with Windhand, Reflection of the Negative, entitled Athame.   The track invites the listener in an opium den of torture and leaves them lame with a slow and echoing drumbeat, a crunchy and hypnotic riff and raspy, sludge vocals.  Staying in doom tradition, the track is obnoxiously long, 18 and a half minutes to be exact, yet never bores with repetitive riffs, instead bridging in proper spots and evoking painful passion in the vocals, drawing the listener further in.  “Crack! Altar! Ritual of Suicide! The time has come…the time has come for sacrifice”, are lyrics you will surely find yourself singing as Cough slowly put’s you under their spell.  Clearly the standout track on the split, Athame is an unadulterated celebration of pain. Fans of Eyehategod, The Melvins and Sourvein take note.  Cough is a worthy addition on the altar of sludge deities.

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Fellow Virginian’s, Windhand’s contributions to Reflection of the Negative, Amaranth and Shepard’s Crook, may not be as memorable as the Cough track, but still hypnotize the listener, inviting them into a world of pain.  Clean and ambient, soulful vocals, traditional doom repetitive riffing and a slow, seductive drumbeat, characterize Windhand’s unique sound.  Reminiscent of doom pioneers, Electric Wizard, yet with more atmosphere, Windhand is most definitely a band worth taking note of.  The band has one full length album to date, boasting rave reviews and does not disappoint on this split.  I am confident we will be seeing more of this band in the future.

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Reflection of the Negative was released on Relapse Records on April 16 of this year and is available for free streaming on Bandcamp.  I’ve posted a link below.  Happy Listening.  Hails!

http://coughwindhand.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.myspace.com/cough666
http://www.myspace.com/windhand/music