Bandcamp event recommendations

On Friday, May 1st, Bandcamp has decided to not take their cut from all sales of music and merch on their platform in an effort to help support the many bands that are struggling right now due to coronavirus shut downs. Bands can’t tour nor can’t properly record so there’s been a big financial slow down for them, and many of them bought lots of merch to sell on tours and at festivals that just aren’t happening now. Anything you buy on Bandcamp will go straight to the artists without Bandcamp’s usual cut so if you’ve been meaning to buy something from a band, go ahead and do it May 1st. I’ve put together this lengthy list of suggestions completely made up of new material from around the world, country and even locals too, for those of you looking for some great new tunes to buy on Friday (or whenever really).

UlcerateStare Into Death And Be Still
Tech death from New Zealand

GlooshTimewheel
Atmospheric black metal from Siberia

Yuri GagarinThe Outskirts of Reality
Instrumental stoner metal from Sweden

Creative WasteCondemned
Grindcore from Saudi Arabia

Oranssi PazuzuMestarin kynsi
Psychedelic black metal from Finland

Black CurseEndless Wound
Death metal from Denver featuring members of Spectral Voice, Khemmis and Blood Incantation

Borracho with Jake Starr EP
Stoner metal from DC

Seasick GladiatorThe Hanged Man
Instrumental stoner/doom from Washington DC

dirt eaterStorm King Mountain
Stoner/sludge metal from Northern Virginia

ImmiserationAlienation of Humanity
Death metal from Baltimore

Ripped To ShredsLuan
Death metal from San Jose

Reeking AuraBeneath the Canopy of Compost
Death metal from NY/NJ

Live BurialUnending Futility (Name Your Price)
Death/thrash from England

UltharProvidence Pre-Order
Black/death metal from the Bay Area

WakeDevouring Ruin
Crusty black/death from Calgary

Internal RotGrieving Birth
Grindcore from Australia

WvrmColony Collapse
Grindcore from South Carolina

CalligramThe Eye Is The First Circle
Crusty black metal from London

Spectral Lore & Mare Cognitum split Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine
Black metal from Greece & Oregon, respectively

Путь (Pathway) – Холодная весна (Cold Spring) (Name Your Price)
Black metal with an accordian from Russia
This song was written about, and recorded during, COVID quarantine

VelniasScion of Aether
Cascadian style black metal from Colorado

erranterrant
Black/post metal solo debut from Rae Amitay, vocalist of Immortal Bird

Behold The ArctopusHapeleptic Overtrove Pre-Order
Instrumental tech/prog from New York City

Rotting KingdomA Deeper Shade Of Sorrow
Death/doom from Kentucky

Paradise LostObsidian Pre-Order
Gothic doom metal from Halifax, England

KhemmisDoomed Heavy Metal
2 covers, 1 original and 3 live tracks recorded Dec 28/29 of 2018 at Larimer Lounge in Denver
Doom metal from Denver

Inter ArmaLive at Club Congress (Name Your Price)
Recorded on 8/24/17 in Tuscon, Arizona
Post metal from Richmond

Orange GoblinRough & Ready, Live & Loud
Captured live at various shows between 2016 and 2019
Stoner doom metal from London

PelicanLive at the Grog Shop
Recorded 9/15/19 in Cleveland
Instrumental post-metal from Chicago

PanopticonLive Migration Pre-Order
Recorded 7/29/18 at Migration Fest in Pittsburgh
Appalachian black metal from Minnesota

Last but not least DC’s own No/Más is re-posting their debut EP for this one day only, then they’re taking it back down so if you want it get it on Friday! Details from the band here.

Heavy Metal Zoom Backgrounds

I’ve struggled with things to write about on DCHM lately. The concert calendar is basically a big page of NO right now, and things I had planned on doing, like upcoming ticket give aways and interviews, have all been put on hold indefinitely. I’m still working full time though, and in my spare time I, like I’m sure many of you, have been joining some Zoom calls to talk with friends, have virtual happy hours and just stay in contact with people I can’t be around. I like how you can set your own custom virtual backgrounds in Zoom. I made a few “metal” backgrounds that you can right click and save and then set as your background in Zoom if you’d like. Hopefully you enjoy using some of them and if you’ve got other suggestions let me know and I’ll see what I can do (obviously rectangular backgrounds look better than things like square album covers). I plan on posting more here so check back in the future for new backgrounds!

Black Sabbath s/t album cover by Marcus Keef

Morbid Angel – Altars of Madness album cover detail by Dan Seagrave

Helvete basement black metal graffiti

Sleep – Dopesmoker album cover Southern Lord reissue by Arik Roper

Pig Destroyer – Book Burner album cover by Chris Taylor

Bolt Thrower – War Master album cover by Pete Knifton

Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper album cover by Mariusz Lewandowski

Mayhem graffiti bench

Obituary – Cause of Death album cover by Michael Whelan

Demolition Hammer – Epidemic of Violence album cover by Michael Whelan

Candlemass – Nightfall album cover by Thomas Cole

Generic fire background This is fine.

Megadeth – Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? album cover by Ed Repka

Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album cover by Derek Riggs

Blood Incantation – Interdimensional Extinction album cover by Bruce Pennington

Minor Threat – Salad Days cover Not really metal but I thought it would be fun.

Dragged Into Sunlight – Hatred For Mankind album cover by Justin Bartlett

Kyuss – Welcome To Sky Valley album cover by Alex Solca

Opeth – Morningrise album cover by Tuija Lindström

Black Sabbath Heaven And Hell album cover by Lynn Curlee

Death – Scream Bloody Gore album cover by Ed Repka

Cancellations due to COVID-19

I figured I’d put a post together with updates on all the postponements, cancellations, and non-cancellations, in our area due to concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus. I’ll try to keep this as up to date as possible as I get more info about various metal shows in the area.

On March 11th DC’s Mayor Bowser declared a state of emergency and advised that “mass gatherings” (events with more than 1,000 people in attendance) be cancelled by organizers, but it is not mandatory. You can get more info on that here.

Later the same day IMP posted (here) that they will be closing all of the venues they operate through April 1st. This includes the 9:30 Club, The Anthem, U Street Music Hall and the Lincoln Theatre.

Also on the 11th, Italian symphonic death metal band Fleshgod Apocalypse postponed their entire US tour, including their date at Baltimore Soundstage on 3/20. You can read their statement here.

On March 12th Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan said in a press conference (here) all events with more than 250 people in attendance must be postponed or cancelled. This presumably cancels the upcoming metal shows at the Fillmore Silver Spring, including Overkill on 3/13 and Killswitch Engage on 3/14. I’m still waiting on an official statement my the Fillmore Silver Spring but I’ll update this post with that here when I see it. This also presumably cancels upcoming shows at Baltimore Soundstage, including Thy Art Is Murder on 3/13, and again I’m waiting for a statement from the venue to confirm status. UPDATE: My contact at the Fillmore Silver Spring emailed me to let me know that all shows there through March 31st are postponed. This includes the metal shows Overkill on 3/13, Killswitch Engage on 3/14 and In This Moment on 3/31. UPDATE 2: Baltimore Soundstage has posted that they will not be open for their shows this weekend, which includes the Thy Art Is Murder show. Read their statement here.

Rams Head Live was supposed to host Devin Townsend on 3/16 but Heavy Devy had already canceled his tour (statement here) before Larry Hogan’s order.

The St Thrashrick’s Fest, headlined by Lich King, was supposed to be at Angel’s Rock Bar in Powerplant in Baltimore, but it was moved to the Depot and now finally it has been cancelled. You can read the promoter’s statement about the cancellation here.

On March 13th we started seeing many tours get cancelled, especially those with foreign bands. Devastation On The Nation tour with Rotting Christ and Borknagar, scheduled to be at the Ottobar on 4/5, has been postponed. That tour is planning to reschedule for 2021 at the same venues with the same bands and you can read the statement about that by the tour promoters here.

Sepultura and Sacred Reich have postponed their tour, including their date on 4/8 at Baltimore Soundstage. You can read the statement from Sepultura about it here.

Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum cancelled their tour, despite already being in the US, and this includes their date at Fish Head Cantina on 4/18. The bands seem to be hit quite hard financially because of this and you can read their statement here.

The Rotting Kingdom show at Metro Gallery on 3/29 has been cancelled, however at the time of this writing the tour still seems to be happening, including their date at Atlas Brew Works on 4/1. You can read the statement by the promoter of the Baltimore show here.

Deafheaven has postponed their entire tour, including their 4/6 show at the 9:30 Club. You can read Deafheaven’s statement here.

After the DC Department of Health updated their recommendation to Mayor Bowser, she has now banned all events with 250 or more people in the District (more info here). This falls in line with similar bans in the states of Virginia and Maryland. So basically, the DMV will have no concerts or other events with more than 250 people in attendance in any kind of foreseeable future.

Due to the new ban the Black Cat has announced they will be closed until March 31st and you can read that statement here.

On March 14th Kayo Dot cancelled the remainder of their tour, including their show at VFW Post 9274 in Falls Church on 3/18. You can read the band’s statement here.

On March 15th Ripping Headaches Promotions cancelled their three area DIY shows in March, which are High Command at Atlas Brewery on 3/20, Midnight at Metro Gallery at 3/24 and Morpheus Descends at Atlas Brewery on 3/27. You can read their statement about these shows here.

Perdition Booking cancelled the upcoming Rippikoulu and Chthe’ilist show at the Metro Gallery on 4/9. You can read Metro Gallery’s statement about that here.

DC’s Mayor Bowser has closed all nightclubs and put restrictions on all restaurants and bars in the District. Details on that here.

On May 22nd Rams Head Live in Baltimore posted (here) that all their upcoming events through the end of May will be postponed. This presumably includes Maryland Deathfest, which is scheduled to take place May 21st thru May 24th at both Rams Head Live and Baltimore Soundstage. However, at this time I have yet to see anything official by either MDF nor BSS claiming the entire fest has been postponed.

I’m doing my best to keep up with all the cancellations and postponements but if you hear about one that I haven’t updated on the calendar or here yet, feel free to email me at DCHeavyMetal@Gmail.com

Napalm Death ticket give away

Napalm Death at the Black Cat

Napalm Death are one of the fathers of grindcore and they’ll be returning to Washington DC when they play the Black Cat on Sunday, May 3rd, 2020! We’re so excited for this show that we’re going to give away a free pair of tickets to one of our lucky readers. To enter: just leave a comment on this post telling me which of Napalm Death’s 15 albums is your favorite (if you need help remembering them all you can see their discography here). The contest will close at 5pm Eastern this Friday, February 7th. At that time the winner will be selected from all valid entries using Random.org to receive the pair of tickets to the Napalm Death show at the Black Cat. Be sure to use a valid email you check regularly when you enter so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any spam lists or sell your info or anything sleazy like that. If the selected winner hasn’t written me back within 24 hours another winner will be selected. If you can’t wait to see if you win or the contest is already over when you read this, then you can get tickets from Eventbrite here.

Napalm Death formed in the early 80’s in Birmingham, England, and helped create the genre of grindcore with their 1987 debut album Scum. Usually older bands in extreme metal have trouble keeping up as they age but not Napalm Death. They still defy expectations by releasing solid studio albums and putting on killer high energy live shows as well. Also playing will be the Belgian death metal band Aborted and Brooklyn based hardcore infused post-metal band Tombs. Do not sleep on South Carolina based death/grind band Wvrm, these guys shred and will be opening the show. Now check out these tunes below by all of the bands on the bill and leave a comment telling me which is your favorite Napalm Death album!

Napalm Death – Smash A Single Digit

Aborted – Deep Red

Tombs – The Dark Rift

Wvrm – My Fucking Dixie (The New South)

Metal Chris’ Favorite Doom and Stoner Albums of 2019

I already made lists of my favorite black metal albums (here) and death metal albums (here) of 2019 but with this post we’re going to slow it down with my favorite doom and stoner releases of the year. I use the genre labels pretty loosely here so don’t get too nitpicky and just chill with some of the best slower jams metal had to offer in 2019. They’re not ranked so I just put them in the order of release date. I hope you enjoy my picks and find some new favorites.

Waste Of Space OrchestraSyntheosis
Released April 5, 2019 by Svart Records
Waste Of Space Orchestra is a band made up of the members of two bands from Finland, Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising. Not just a few members, it’s the full roster of both bands combined, including both drummers. The resulting album is something quite unique featuring elements of both bands, Oranssi Pazuzu leans toward black metal while Dark Buddha Rising is rooted more in doom metal, with everything wrapped up in heavy amounts of that spacey vibe they both incorporate.

Sunn O)))Life Metal
Released April 26, 2019 by Southern Lord Recordings
The band Earth created the drone genre but Sunn O))) took it to another level. The duo released two albums in 2019 after 3 years without a studio release, but Life Metal is the better of the two. This extremely slow music that is meant to be played at very high volumes is not for everyone. If you’re looking for riffs there are none. There’s no drums either. The music is more about tone, textures and moods and on this release Sunn O))) shows they’re still the best drone band around.

DuelValley of Shadows
Self-released May 17, 2019
The Sword may have gone on indefinite hiatus but fellow Austin, Texas, natives Duel are clearly trying to fill that void. Valley of Shadows is packed with infectious riffs and catchy vocal lines making it quite hard to pick a single song as a favorite, it’s really that good. This album was self released and digital only, but should be on any stoner metal fan’s radar.

PelicanNighttime Stories
Released June 7, 2019 by Southern Lord Recordings
Chicago based instrumental band Pelican is a bit of an odd ball on this list, they’re not really stoner nor doom but their first release in 6 years is so strong I had to find a way to include it. Sometimes labeled post-metal, I’m not sold on that take either. Regardless, the band has returned with some of the best songwriting of their career, really tightening up their sound. I just hope the next full length isn’t another six years away.

BeastwarsIV
Self-released June 28, 2019
Recorded in 10 days starting just a week after Beastwars vocalist Matt Hyde finished chemotherapy treatment, this album has a pain and darkness to it that you just can’t fake. The song “Storms of Mars” is a powerful example of the New Zealand based band’s dark sludgey sound as you hear a powerless man begging for just ten more years so he can watch his child grow up. This was obviously a therapeutic album for a band that was recording in the middle of a healing process, as part of that very process, and it makes IV something really special.

LowFlyingHawksAnxious Ghosts
Released June 28, 2019 by Magnetic Eye Records
This short release covers a lot of ground in just 5 songs. There are slow spacey stoner soundscapes that give way to more straight forward sludge grooves. LowFlyingHawk’s rhythm section includes Dale Crover of the Melvins behind the kit and Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle on bass but it’s the seamless transitions of styles that have kept my attention on this release.

Plague Of CarcosaOcean Is More Ancient Than The Mountains
Released July 19, 2019 by Sludgelord Records
Plague of Carcosa is another instrumental band from Chicago on this list but their sound is more akin to heavyweights like Bongripper and Conan but with an added Lovecraftian spookiness underneath it all. This release is short but the two songs are long, haunting and crushingly heavy.

WaingroIII
Self-released August 16, 2019
Vancouver based Waingro have put out something fun with their third full length. They play a high energy style of crunchy stoner metal but with a singer that does a hardcore style shouted vocal delivery. I know that isn’t something everyone is going to love but it actually fits the band’s sound well.

MonolordNo Comfort
Released September 20, 2019 by Relapse Records
From Gothenburg, Sweden, Monolord play nothing akin to the melodic death metal the city is famous for. Pallbearer changed the game with their debut release Sorrow and Extinction in 2012 and a wave of doom metal bands with clean vocals popped up around the world, including Monolord. Where Pallbearer has moved further away from doom with every release Monolord has stayed the course and instead of rehashing they have evolved the sound even further. They have managed to make an incredible album here with memorable riffs (that riff at about 3 minutes into “Last Leaf” may be the best on this entire list) but are also able to slow it way down into the doldrums that modern doom is known for.

Holy SerpentEndless
Released October 18, 2019 by RidingEasy Records
Australian band Holy Serpent put out a really solid slab of stoner/doom metal with Endless. The catchy, thundering riffs on these jams make the release very accessible to any fan of the genre. Dissonant vocals contrast well with the guitar tone creating a sound that is both fun and quite chill at the same time.

EsotericA Pyrrhic Existence
Released November 8, 2019 by Season of Mist
Esoteric has long been my favorite funeral doom metal band and their first release in 8 years did not change that opinion. The Birmingham, England, based band has put out an impressive amount of beautiful yet grindingly slow and heavy material since the mid-90s with no concern for commercial appeal. Case in point, A Pyrrhic Existence starts off with a 27+ minute long dirge that, while not particularly marketable on the radio, shows the band building up tension to a crescendo masterfully.

SpaceslugReign of the Orion
Released December 6, 2019 by BSFD Records
I’ve really been diving into the world of Eastern European stoner bands the past couple years and Polish band Spaceslug, along with contemporaries like The Re-Stoned, Somali Yacht Club, Bantha Rider and Stoned Jesus, have been proving the area has some of the best bands in the genre today. As you might expect from the title, Reign of the Orion is full of spaced out tunes to help you float away to distant nebulae in your mind’s eye.

Metal Chris’ Favorite Death Metal Albums of 2019

I made a list of my favorite black metal albums of 2019 (here) and a doom/stoner list (here) but right now I’m focused on the brutal, gory and morbid world of death metal in 2019! The albums are not ranked so they’re in order of release date. They’re not meant to be “the best albums of the year” but they are my personal favorites of the year, the ones I kept coming back to listen to again and again.

MusmahhuReign of the Odious
Released January 11, 2019 by Iron Bonehead Productions
Musmahhu is a Swedish death metal band but don’t think they’re some throwback using an HM-2 pedal to no end. Musmahhu uses many elements of black metal but they aren’t a typical blackened death metal band like Behemoth either. Their aggression is so high that despite the black metal elements this is still firmly a death metal album. Fans of Deicide and Belphegor will like the evil sounding death metal on Reign of the Odious.

EquipoiseDemiurgus
Released March 8, 2019 by The Artisan Era
Pittsburgh based Equipoise is the proggy/tech death entry on this list. The band been called a “super group” for including members of bands like Hate Eternal and Beyond Creation but pedigree aside this is some pretty solid tech death. Songs are composed in a way that is complex yet fairly easy to follow, making this release more palatable than similar bands with great technical skill but no ability to compose a proper song. The flamenco elements are unexpected but somehow work as well!

Venom PrisonSamsara
Released March 15, 2019 by Prosthetic Records
The Welsh band Venom Prison has been making waves in the world of death metal, a genre often focused on gory depictions of violence toward women, by taking a feminist approach to it without losing the anger. Vocalist Larissa Stupar’s lyrics in the song “Implementing the Metaphysics of Morals” are perfect example, full of spite for infamous rapist Brock Turner and his light sentence, showing again that the rage of death metal can be used for more than just slasher film style shock.

NucleusEntity
Released April 13, 2019 by Unspeakable Axe Records
Nucleus is a death metal band from Chicago that takes the sci-fi vibe from thrash bands like Vektor and Voivod and severely ups the brutality. This isn’t death/thrash, this is straight up death metal but with that eerie vibe of being lost in the outer reaches of space. Nucleus has good amount of technical skill and dynamic songwriting to keep it interesting throughout Entity.

Immortal BirdThrive On Neglect
Released July 5, 2019 by 20 Buck Spin
The second band on this list from Chicago, and second with a female vocalist, Immortal Bird released their best album yet this year in Thrive On Neglect. There’s a lot of aggression coupled with an underlying tension throughout the album while the band also blends elements of genres far outside of death metal. They aren’t following any trends, they’re just making unique, solid death metal songs with so much variation you will keep discovering new details upon repeat listens.

Tomb MoldPlanetary Clairvoyance
Released July 19, 2019 by 20 Buck Spin
This is the third Tomb Mold full length in 3 years and you may be getting tired of seeing the Toronto based cavernous death metal band appearing on year end lists but their incredible streak of releasing top notch material shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. This time around it’s basically Tomb Mold In Space and while the sci-fi theme has definitely become a major trend in death metal lately, these songs are still full of all that raw aggression, nasty guitar tone and memorable riffage Tomb Mold is known for.

SanguisugaboggPornographic Seizures
Released July 26, 2019 by Maggot Stomp
Maggot Stomp has certainly become a trendy record label in the world of ugly, underground death metal and this 4 song demo that is only about 11 minutes long was their best release of 2019. There’s not a lot of build up on a release this short, it’s very straight to the point and full of some of the most ignorant caveman death metal riffs you’ve ever heard, combined with a psychedelic haze you’d expect of a band more like Electric Wizard. This release is fun as hell to listen to and even more fun to mosh to.

01101111011101100110111001101001SDSS J0333​+​0651
Released August 9, 2019 by Amputated Vein Records
01101111011101100110111001101001, also known as Ovni, (which is Spanish for UFO and what their name means when converted from binary code to ASCII) is obsessed with two things, aliens and brutal slam riffs. The album SDSS J0333​+​0651 is named for a distant galaxy cluster and the songs are all technical name designations for various stars, galaxies and other objects in outer space. The Argentinian band is known to dress up as aliens on stage too. The songs are sick and the album is only 23 minutes long, short enough that your interest doesn’t wane before it closes with a quote from Stephen Hawking.

Cerebral RotOdious Descent Into Decay
Released August 16, 2019 by 20 Buck Spin
Slimy, festering and rancid are all good descriptions of this surprise instant classic by Seattle based Cerebral Rot. This is death metal from the sewer in its purist form but what makes it special is just how many hooks they crammed into this release. The riffs are catchy and distinct from each other, yet keeping that beautifully repulsive sound constant throughout. This album is as fun as a splash fight in a septic tank!

MortiferumDisgorged from Psychotic Depths
Released October 11, 2019 by Profound Lore Records
Fans of that creeping death/doom pioneered by Incantation are going to absolutely love this debut album by Olympia, Washington, based Mortiferum. They have faster blasting segments that are contrasted perfectly with the almost funeral doom slow segments that will leave you feeling completely crushed under their weight. There’s a lot of bands attempting this style of death metal these days but nobody did it better in 2019 than Mortiferum.

Unfathomable RuinationEnraged & Unbound
Released November 22, 2019 by Willowtip Records
The London, England based Unfathomable Ruination put out one hell of an album this year in Enraged & Unbound. Relentless pacing and brutal intensity lay the foundation that the abrasive time changes and killer riffs that are built on. Fans of Psycroptic, Origin and old school Cryptopsy are going to love peeling the layers back with repeated listens of this album.

Blood IncantationHidden History of the Human Race
Released November 22, 2019 by Dark Descent Records
This was certainly the most hyped death metal release this year, it was even given Decibel magazine’s top spot on their list of 2019’s best albums. I’m not sure I’d go that far but it really is a great album, though I think I like their debut a bit better still. Regardless, the Denver based band has put out another album weaving crushingly heavy riffs with complex songwriting and this is in no way a sophomore slump release. Plus we got some cute Baby Yoda memes from that album cover art.

Metal Chris’ Favorite Black Metal Albums of 2019

It’s the week after Christmas but before New Year’s and everyone has been posting their year end lists. I figured I’d join in the fun this year with a few of my own. This is my black metal list but I also have a death metal list (here) and a doom/stoner (here). I definitely listened to these genres disproportionately the most in 2019. The albums are not ranked so they’re in order of release date. They’re not meant to be “the best albums of the year” but they are my personal favorites of the year, the ones I kept coming back to listen to again and again.

VeldesFlameless
Self released January 4, 2019
Veldes is from Slovenia and their sound is perfect to put on the headphones for a solo walk through the woods. They blend the epicness of bands like Saor with the attachment to nature akin to the Cascadian black metal bands and somehow make it all really catchy and moving at the same time.

Rotting ChristThe Heretics
Released February 15, 2019 by Season Of Mist
One of the earliest and most famous of the Greek black metal bands, Rotting Christ has changed their sound several times over their 30+ year history. These days they blend elements of that classic Hellenic black metal epic sound with gothic and melo black metal elements. Sometimes their albums are far off the mark but The Heretics hit the bullseye with unique and diverse songs. Their local tie in is their rendition of Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem “The Raven” which you can hear on the player below.

EllendeLebensnehmer
Released March 29, 2019 by Art of Propaganda
Lukas Gosch is the mastermind and sole member of Ellende, everyone else in this Austrian band is a hired hand. There have been a lot of bands playing the post-black metal sound since Alcest started blending shoegaze with black metal over a decade ago, but while some of these bands have veered far into hipster territory Ellende has managed to keep enough brutality and mournful sorrow in with the atmospheric elements to keep the band firmly in the more black metal than gaze side of the spectrum.

MisþyrmingAlgleymi
Released May 24, 2019 by Norma Evangelium Diaboli
The black metal scene in Iceland is very strong right now and 2019 saw a slew of great releases by bands like Sinmara, Andavald and even a Wormlust / Skáphe collab album, however Algleymi by Misþyrming rises above them all as the island nation’s stand out release in 2019. This album is aggressive and melodic and the songs are diverse and creative so that it warrants multiple playthroughs without becoming boring. Misþyrming translates to “mistreatment” but this album is anything but.

Батюшка (Krzysztof Drabikowski)Панихида
Self-released May 26, 2019
A public schism and ensuing legal battle over the name Batushka have resulted in multiple versions of the Polish band after their debut album, Litourgiya, was released in 2015. Both versions of the band released albums this year but Krysztof Drabikowski showed that while the other version may have better marketing and production, you can’t beat or imitate the feel of his songwriting. Continuing the band’s sound of combining Gregorian monk style chanting with black metal, Панихида is the rightful sophomore album from one of the most unique sounding bands in black metal right now.

Yellow EyesRare Field Ceiling
Released June 28, 2019 by Gilead Media
The only fully American band on this list, Yellow Eyes have a very distinct sound drenched in distortion but with a foundation in melody that is somehow both off putting and infectious at once. The band is from New York City and Rare Field Ceiling‘s sound is perfect listening while wandering a bleak urban landscape. I also have some personal attachments to this album that I won’t get into here, but this is a release that I’m sure I will be enjoying for years to come.

VoidsphereTo Exist | To Breathe
Released July 25, 2019 by Amor Fati Productions
Black metal fans have always loved the genre’s underground collectives such as the Norwegian Inner Circle, Les Légions Noires and the Black Twilight Circle. Voidsphere is my favorite of the ПРАВА КОЛЛЕКТИВ (Prava Kollektiv), a group of bands that have been putting out releases that are dissonant and dark, even by black metal standards. Voidsphere is distinct in that their songs are all lo-fi, very long (around 20 minutes plus), and basically sounds like you’re endlessly falling into a black hole over an eternity.

AsagraumDawn of Infinite Fire
Released September 13, 2019 by Edged Circle Productions
Asagraum is an all female black metal band but don’t let stereotypes fool you, this release is the most aggressive on the list. It isn’t all fury akin to Medea though as there are breaks where the band shows their ability to slow down a bit to build up tension. This adds a needed dynamic contrast to the blasting. Solid riffs and raspy vocals are the standard of this Dutch band.

Blut Aus NordHallucinogen
Released September 20, 2019 by Debemur Morti Productions
The French band Blut Aus Nord is almost like the Neurosis of black metal in that they have a long history of changing their sound over the years yet continue to put out top notch material. With a title like Hallucinogen you might expect something closer to Oranssi Pazuzu’s psychedelic black metal but the album is not that spacey and has more progressive and melodic influences. They are definitely experimenting with some new things here too, for example the song “Mahagma” sounds like Blut Aus Nord’s take on the Batushka chanting sound.

VástígrAura Aeternitatis
Released September 27, 2019 by Avantgarde Music
The second Austrian band on this list, Vástígr has a modern take on melodic black metal without the campy cheese the sub genre is sometimes guilty of. This is Vástígr’s first release but it is quite impressive. The album cover art perfectly captures the cold and isolated sound of Aura Aeternitatis, reminiscent of trodding through the snow on the side of a mountain with the grim reaper hot on your heels. The catchyness and beauty of these songs have kept me coming back.

Dawn Ray’dBehold Sedition Plainsong
Released October 25, 2019 by Prosthetic Records
Dawn Ray’d is a UK based anarchist band with a solid anti-fascism and anti-bigotry stance, something that is unfortunately not common enough in black metal. This is the band’s sophomore release and they’ve taken leaps forward with their songwriting. Their sound blends black metal with folk elements and has a certain primitive rawness to it that ties it all together perfectly.

SchammaschHearts Of No Light
Released November 8, 2019 by Prosthetic Records
This was a late comer this year but wow what a release by Swiss band Schammasch. These songs weave pure darkness in a very dramatic and gripping way. It is never about any specific riff or drum beat but the overall feel of these songs. No matter the tempo they are dripping in tension, apprehension and utter darkness. The dark vibe they have captured here is distinctly black metal in nature and one I will be relistening to well into the next decade.