2020 continues to be a strong year, though I’m not so sure there were any album of the year contenders here. Solid outings all though, with some encouraging returns to form and pleasant surprises from bands first coming across the radar, so all in all a very engaging batch. Let’s get to it:
1. Tombs–Monarchy of Shadows
I loved Path of Totality, liked Savage Gold, and was lukewarm on the Grand Annihilation, so the prospect of some new Tombs music did not inspire the level of excitement it once did. That is, until about 30 seconds into the first song and title track, when it becomes apparent that Tombs decided to stop fucking around and just rip out some throats. The cavernous horror of Paths of Totality and goth leanings from the last two are not gone, but they are de-emphasized in the name of playing METAL. Monarchy is relentless in this pursuit. The frostiness of Once Falls the Guillotine and Man Behind the Sun pair well with a mid-section in Necro Alchemy that invokes of Satisfaction-era Hatebreed (not complaining). Even the re-recorded track has a new vitality. Tombs is back.
2. Slaughter Messiah–Cursed to the Pyre
Terrible Certainty-era Kreator doing coke with Aura Noir. Pyre is a front-runner for song of the year, with a turbocharged back half that seems like it can’t possibly keep kicking this much ass until it starts kicking more.
This record puts into full focus what was missing from the last two. This band is about having fun in true Norwegian punk fashion, man. Pure Euroboy-Scandanavian-Leather-King-of-the-Rodeo shit. Mix in elements of extreme metal, and you are on to something. Kvelertak back to roots and sounding like the…wait for it…PARTY ANIMALS we know they are.
I was late to the brit-style doomdeath party, and I still don’t really give a shit about Anathema. Paradise Lost, on the other hand, grabbed me, and by extension so does Godthrymm. Katatonia and Paradise Lost, in different ways, each incorporate hooks and rock enough that there’s a propulsive spirit amongst the mope. I’m not sure Godthrymm pulls that off. This record is heavy and mournful and exhausting, which means (a) they executed their vision well, but (b) it is not something you will return with great frequency. If this is your genre, though, it’s a can’t-miss.
5. Blaze of Perdition–A Harrowing of Hearts
This was an interesting one. The atmosphere was reminiscent of Tribulation or In Solitude, more towards the gothic side of the black metal asthetic than the frightening side. The songwriting is strong here as well, but similar to Godthrymm, this is just not the type of music that is going to hold my attention for too long.
6. Oath of Cruelty–Summary Execution at Dawn
Angelcorpse-worship war metal. There isn’t too much else going on here, but if you get the itch, this one will satisfy. So will Exterminate or The Inexorable though, so prob just listen to those.