Third episode of Metal Embassy podcast is live

On the third episode Metal Chris interviews Matt Hyde, vocalist of the New Zealand based band Beastwars, and talks about how his bout with cancer brought the broken up band back together resulting in Beastwars recording a new album just a few weeks after his final chemotherapy treatment. Sorry if you hear a bit of clanking during the interview, he was wearing bracelets that made noise when he moved his hands and I should have asked him to remove them but I guess I’ll know for next time.

Metal Embassy is now on Bandcamp (here) and Pandora (here) along with plenty of other podcast apps (see the full list here). You can also just click play below to listen to the episode.

Metal Embassy – 003 – Beastwars (New Zealand)

The second episode of the Metal Embassy podcast is now live

The second episode of the Metal Embassy podcast is now live! On this episode I speak with Fawaz Al-Shawaf of the Saudi Arabian grind band Creative Waste. He organized the first above ground metal show in Saudi Arabia and he talks about the entire history of live metal concerts in the country and what it’s like being a metal head there. After the interview you can listen to a song off Creative Waste’s latest album, Condemned.

You can listen by clicking the play button below or you can find it (and subscribe to future episodes) on most podcast apps including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and more by opening the app and searching for “Metal Embassy” or you can just go here for the full list of links.

Metal Embassy – 002 – Creative Waste (Saudi Arabia)

DCHM gets a podcast: Metal Embassy

With the shutdown of concerts it has been pretty quiet here on DCHM. So with my spare time I’ve decided to try making a podcast for DCHM since there just aren’t enough of those right now. I’m calling the podcast Metal Embassy since I’m still based out of DC but will be changing things up a bit on the podcast and focusing on metal bands from around the world. Each episode will feature an interview with a member from a metal band but unlike the regular interviews here on DCHM I won’t be transcribing them. I’ll play a tune by the band and hopefully expose people to some new music out there as well as explore some of the stories that aren’t being covered very much in the metal press here in the US. I’m still working on getting Metal Embassy registered with all the podcast apps like Apple, Google, Spotify and such, and I’ve got three episodes ready to go but for now you can stream the first episode from the podcast at the end of this post or go to the Metal Embassy page on Podbean (here) where it is being hosted. You can also download it and all future episodes from the Podbean link.

Anyways, this first episode features an interview with Kris Lesiński, the guitarist and cover artist for the Star Wars themed instrumental stoner/doom band Bantha Rider. They’re based in Poland and we have a nice little convo about Star Wars, metal, and the metal scene in Poland. Give it a listen and feel free to give me some feedback as I’m still figuring it all out.

Metal Embassy – 001 – Bantha Rider (Poland)

Metal Chris’ favorite death metal albums of 2020

It’s the end of the year so it’s time for my end of year album lists! I’m posting several lists, each for a different subgenre/category, and ordered by release date instead of ranking them. 2020 has been a unique year with unique challenges, to say the least, and I fully expect that to be reflected in my lists. This death metal list is my third of these lists and you can find my black metal list here and my stoner and doom list here.

Black CurseEndless Wound
Released on 2 April 2020 by Sepulchral Voice Records
I guess you could call Black Curse a Denver based “super group” since the band members are from bands like Blood Incantation, Khemmis, Primitive Man and Spectral Voice, but honestly they don’t sound like any of those bands. This blackened death is brutality combined with some great songwriting that keeps it from getting monotonous and boring.

Funeral LeechDeath Meditation
Released 17 April 2020 by Carbonized Records
This debut full length from New York City based Funeral Leech takes that creeping cavernous death metal sound of bands like Blood Incantation, Tomb Mold and many others but slows it way down creating a death/doom sound with a big emphasis on the doom. Perfect music to listen to while relaxing after a long day of digging graves.

Ripped to Shreds – 亂 (Luan)
Released 17 April 2020 by Pulverised Records
Ripped to Shreds is based out of both California and Taiwan as band leader Andrew Lee has different line ups in each location. They play a death metal that has a strong Bay Area thrash element to it that keeps things both fun and brutal as Lee shreds away.

UlcerateStare into Death and Be Still
Released on 24 April 2020 by Debemur Morti Productions
The new Ulcerate has appeared on many year end lists and while I debated adding the newest Cytotoxin album as the tech-death entry on this year’s list, I simply couldn’t ignore just how killer this new direction for Ulcerate is. They have streamlined their sound to keep the heaviness intact while still giving (arguably the best drummer in metal) Jamie Saint Merat plenty of room to show off. Despite being an hour long Stare into Death and Be Still somehow manages to always end too soon.

DehumanautDust in the Giant’s Hand
Self-released on 21 May 2020
This is probably the most fun album on this list. Guitarist Katy Montgomerie has packed this album full of catchy riffs that are held together by an underlying groove that never comes across cheesy. I really can’t wait to see what this three piece from England does next after this killer debut.

BattlemasterGhastly, Graven & Grimoireless
Released on 26 June 2020 by Forcefield Records
Richmond’s Battlemaster is obsessed with the most brutal parts of combat in Dungeons & Dragons and their first release in five years is no different. The riffs are as catchy as ever but what is different is the production on this album is a lot better than their previous. This is a perfect album to play your favorite RPG to.

UndeathLesions of a Different Kind
Released 23 October 2020 by Prosthetic Records
Undeath from Rochester, New York, released one hell of a slamming death metal album here. Undeath’s debut full length blends elements of modern cavernous death metal with old school NYDM style grooves and perfectly balances those sounds.

Of Feather and BoneSulfuric Disintegration
Released 13 November 2020 by Profound Lore Records
This is the most brutal release on this list! High energy, intense and almost relentless pummeling best describe this third release by this Denver band. They’ve stepped up their game on Sulfuric Disintegration so if you’re into death metal (and why else would you be reading this post if you aren’t?) then don’t sleep on this one!

Glorious DepravityAgeless Violence
Released 27 November 2020 by Translation Loss Records
Based out of Brooklyn and featuring members of bands like Mutilation Rites, Woe and Pyrrhon, you knew Glorious Depravity was going to get some attention. Ageless Violence lives up to expectations and I’d dare say even exceeds them. The album is packed with sick riffs and some of the most mental lyrics on this entire list.

UndergangAldrig i livet
Released 4 December 2020 by Dark Descent Records
Danish death metal band Undergang returns with another filthy album of down tuned riffs and those infectious rhythms they have made a name for themselves doing. There’s nothing too unusual about this release compared to their earlier albums, but they’re perfecting that death metal from the sewer sound more and more with each release.

Metal Chris’ favorite doom and stoner albums of 2020

It’s the end of the year so it’s time for my end of year album lists! I’m posting several lists, each for a different subgenre/category, and ordered by release date instead of ranking them. 2020 has been a unique year with unique challenges, to say the least, and I fully expect that to be reflected in my lists. This stoner and doom list is my second of these lists and you can find my black metal list here.

OcclithGates, Doorways, and Endings
Released 1 May 2020 on Transylvanian Tapes
California based Occlith plays a style of blackened funeral doom metal that is slow and drenched in hopelessness but also has a mystical vibe of dark rituals being read from dusty ancient tomes. Each of the five tracks are over 10 minutes long but there’s enough variation here to keep them from getting boring.

Paradise LostObsidian
Released 15 May 2020 on Nuclear Blast Records
I’m not sure what Paradise Lost’s secret is but a band this old has no business putting out material this high quality this late in their career. They coined the term “gothic metal” almost 30 years ago but now they’re writing modern gothic doom songs using elements of that entire career, shedding what didn’t work and perfecting what did. The songs on Obsidian are varied yet consistent in their dark beauty.

GoatsnakeBreakfast with the King b​/​w Deathwish
Self-released 5 June 2020
The two songs on this EP were originally recorded for the Los Angeles based band’s 2015 album Black Age Blues but weren’t released until this year. They’re both total bangers and the only “new” material we’ve gotten from Goatsnake since 2015. George Floyd was murdered 11 days before this release and the band is donating all of the proceeds from purchases of these songs to the Color Of Change charity.

ValkyrieFear
Released 24 July 2020 by Relapse Records
Virginia’s Valkyrie returned in 2020 with the follow up to their 2015 Relapse debut Shadows. The albums are quite different though, despite both being excellent. Former Baroness guitarist Pete Adams and his brother Jake exchanged dueling solos relentlessly on Shadows whereas Fear has a much more laid back attitude, letting the songs build up and focus on their Appalachian twang. Don’t worry there’s still some great dueling solos, but the band has grown a lot in the five years between releases and they’re only getting better.

AtramentusStygian
Released 21 August 2020 on 20 Buck Spin
Phil Tougas of death metal Chthe’ilist wrote the Stygian album back in 2012 though he didn’t get around to forming a band and recording it until 2018. Finally released in 2020, the plodding funeral doom found here still has that cavernous aspect Chthe’ilist is known for, though this time at a much slower pace. I really hope it doesn’t take the Montreal based Atramentus another 8 years for us to get a follow up album.

Sergeant ThunderhoofDelicate Sound of Thunderhoof
Released 4 September 2020 by Pale Wizard Records
This is an odd album for this list because it’s all acoustic versions of earlier Sergeant Thunderhoof songs. Somehow this transformation, which doesn’t come across nearly as moneygrabby as those old MTV Unplugged albums did, worked wonders here as Dan Flitcroft’s vocals really take center stage. The English band wasn’t the only stoner/doom group to release an acoustic album this year with genre heavyweights like Tony Reed of Mos Generator and Wino also doing so, but against all odds Sergeant Thunderhoof’s was the one I kept coming back to.

various artistsVol. 4 [Redux]
Released 30 October 2020 by Magnetic Eye Records
I don’t usually include things like covers albums on these lists but this one is so good it had to be included. This “redux” version of the entire 1972 released Volume 4 album by Black Sabbath sees a different band covering each song, and the fact that they even made the songs “Changes” and “FX” fun to listen to just solidifies their place on this list. Top talent like Spirit Adrift, Thou, Matt Pike, Wino and even Zakk Wylde make this one of the best Sabbath cover albums of all time.

Mountain CallerThe Truthseeker
Released 6 November 2020 by New Heavy Sounds
This London based trio’s debut is almost entirely instrumental doom with a bit of a proggy edge. Despite the lack of lyrics, the album plays like the soundtrack to some coming of age tale of epic adventure with all the ups and downs that entails. I’ve never really heard a concept album executed like this before but they pull it off quite well and I can’t wait for the sequel.

The Re-StonedThunders of the Deep
Released 19 November 2020 on Clostridium Records
The Re-Stoned are Moscow’s answer to Earthless. They’re an instrumental trio with a Russian spin on psychedelic stoner jams. Guitarist Ilya Lipkin is the mastermind of The Re-Stoned and on Thunders of the Deep, their 9th full length album since 2010, he has added some blues elements and slowed things down in parts while managing to keep the songs interesting throughout.

Bantha RiderBinary Sunset Massacre
Self-released 4 December 2020
Another instrumental stoner band from Eastern Europe, Bantha Rider blends desert rock vibes with the sand dunes of the desert planet Tatooine from the Star Wars universe. It might sound like a funny gimmick but there’s some serious riffs to be found on this Polish band’s debut full length.

Metal Chris’ favorite black metal albums of 2020

It’s the end of the year so it’s time for my end of year album lists! I’m posting several lists, each for a different subgenre/category, and ordered by release date instead of ranking them. 2020 has been a unique year with unique challenges, to say the least, and I fully expect that to be reflected in my lists. This black metal list is my first of these lists but the doom/stoner list is now live here and you can also find my death metal list here.

ErancnoirBerglicht
Self-released February 7 2020
This Iranian one man band put out a gem of longform atmospheric black metal in early 2020. I found myself getting lost in this album’s four tracks, totaling about 70 minutes of music, many times this year. Other Iranian metal bands From The Vastland and Arsames are more well known but Berglicht proves Erancnoir is worthy of attention too.

Cult of FireMoksha / Nirvana
Released 20 February 2020 by Beyond Eyes
The Czech band Cult of Fire released these two companion albums in February and while double albums can drag on they’ve done a good job of making each one listenable on its own, though I’d argue they do complete each other. A unique band unlike any other out there right now, they use black metal to explore the philosophy and spiritual concepts of Buddhism and Vedic Hinduism (subjects I do not claim to be an expert on) while simultaneously playing totally jamming riffs.

GlooshTimewheel
Self-released 29 February 2020
Gloosh is a one man band based in the city of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. This debut album offers a Russian take on the Cascadian black metal sound of bands from the Pacific Northwest like Wolves In The Throne Room, Ash Borer, Fauna and others with a heavy focus not on coldness and evil but on nature and solitude. This is a great album to plug some headphones into while taking a walk somewhere outdoors.

Spectral Lore / Mare Cognitum split Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine
Released 13 March 2020 by Entropic Recordings
The Hellenic black metal of Spectral Lore met with the Cascadian black metal of Mare Cognitum to bring us this Astrological themed split from these two excellent one man bands. Each planet in the Solar System is given its own song by one of the two bands and then they both combine on the two songs about Pluto that close out this almost 2 hour long release that somehow goes by too quickly every time I play it.

FeminazgûlNo Dawn For Men
Self-released 17 March 2020
Their debut EP from 2018 was solid but the women of North Carolina based Feminazgûl really stepped it up this year on their first full length, No Dawn For Men. Better songwriting combined with better production have made this band with a novelty name something to be taken seriously.

KaatayraSó Quem Viu o Relâmpago à Sua Direita Sabe
Self-released 1 April 2020
Kaatayra is a one man Brazilian black metal band that uses many folk elements and even instruments to create a sound that seemingly comes straight out of the rainforest. As an acoustic black metal album it certainly isn’t the most brutal release on this list but there’s simply nothing else out there that sounds like this album. Kaatayra released another album in August, Toda História pela Frente, that features electric instruments if you want a little more bite added to that sound.

UnreqvitedEmpathica
Released 22 May 2020 by Northern Silence Productions
Metal Archives doesn’t even consider Unreqvited a metal band but I’m a firm believer that this calming style of atmospheric black metal is another splinter of this diverse subgenre. I’m not sure this album would have appeared on my year end list in any other year but I cannot count the nights that I’ve listened to this album to help me wind down after long stressful days during this pandemic. There’s no lyrics, just vocalized screams, that are somehow perfectly relatable in 2020.

Paysage d’HiverIm Wald
Released 26 June 2020 by Kunsthall Produktionen
Paysage d’Hiver is a Swiss band with a French name that translates to “Winter Landscape” and the name is quite fitting. Their sound is cold, brittle and perfect to listen to while tromping through nature in the middle of a snowstorm, even if only in the mind’s eye. It’s a long album at about 2 hours in length, but the songs here are simply too good to easily get tired of. As a side note, many have noticed the new Taylor Swift album, Folklore, has a strikingly similar cover.

Lamp of MurmuurHeir of Ecliptical Romanticism
Released 2 October 2020 by Death Kvlt Productions
For the trve kvlt purists the debut full length by Olympia, Washington, based Lamp of Murmuur does not disappoint. This album has all the hallmarks of traditional black metal harking back to the Norwegian second wave, but manages to keep the sound fresh and exciting with creative song writing that, while familiar, isn’t derivative enough to make it seem like a direct rip off of anything in particular.

Путь (Pathway) – Юдоль скорби (The Vale of Sorrow)
Released 23 October 2020 by Depths of Void
Путь, pronounced “put,” released this EP in October. Instead of a keyboard, the Russian band features an accordion playing slow, sad melodies that add a somber tone to their songs. Black metal’s Scandinavian roots often give a wintery feel but this release feels like the waning days of October as plant life withers and dies heading into the dark winter months. The track “Cold Spring” was actually written in the early days of the pandemic and is about the isolation felt in locked down “empty cities” across the world.