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.

Review of Genesis XIX by Sodom

Band: Sodom
Album: Genesis XIX
Release Date: 27 November 2020
Record Label: eOne
Buy on CD, vinyl or digital: here

Cover of Genesis XIX by Joe Petagno

Cover of Genesis XIX by Joe Petagno

Usually on DCHM we review albums by local bands or those with ties to the area. However COVID has made 2020 a pretty downer year for everyone, including metal album reviewers. When DCHM contributor Vivek’s favorite thrash band, Sodom, was looking for reviewers for the band’s upcoming album I knew he’d be excited at the opportunity to write a review. Several ALL CAPS text messages later he had accepted and the result is this lengthy, in-depth review of Genesis XIX, named after the chapter of the Bible that tells the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you don’t feel like you’re a Sodom expert now, you will by the time you finish reading Vivek’s review below.

In many ways, 2020 will go down as one of the worst years of recent memory. From all of the overwhelming news regarding COVID-19 and elections around the world, there has not been much to look forward to. By now, most people know some of the ways this has affected the music industry from cancelled tours to full-on venue closings. It also has forced bands back into writing mode for records that will be released whenever this pandemic is over. However, some bands have made the decision to release music during the pandemic. Many albums released during the pandemic have brought a much-needed boost of happiness and have provided some bright rays of light to shine through the darkness of 2020. The band whose album will bring the most dazzling and vibrant rays of light to metalheads and thrashers all around the world is none other than the all-mighty Sodom.

Genesis XIX is the album’s title and its only motive is to provide intense, varied, and overwhelming thrash metal. This album shows Sodom are still among the best thrash metal bands active today. The main reason for that stems from how Genesis XIX continues to build on the sounds that made Sodom thrash metal legends. This release also marks Sodom recording a full-length album as a four-piece, the first in their almost 40-year career. The new record will satisfy fans who are anxious about how Genesis XIX holds up to the classic Sodom albums.

Sodom was founded in 1982 in the coal-mining town of Gelsenkirchen, Germany by Aggressor, the first guitar player of the band, and frontman and bassist Tom Angelripper, who is the sole constant member. Sodom began their career playing a primitive and sinister form of speed metal that would go on to influence black metal all around the world. In 1987, Frank Blackfire joined the band and helped them evolve into a thrash metal powerhouse. With Blackfire joining Sodom, the band would reach the peaks of thrash metal and solidify their title as thrash metal legends with the seminal releases of Persecution Mania, Expurse of Sodomy, and Agent Orange during a short timeframe from 1987 to 1989. Once Blackfire left Sodom in 1989, the band experimented with traditional heavy metal, speed metal, death metal, hardcore punk, and punk rock for most of the 90s. In the late 90s and into the early 2000s, Sodom flew the flag of thrash metal higher than everyone else by returning to pure thrash metal with the other seminal releases of Code Red and M-16. During the 2000s and into the 2010s, Sodom began incorporating more melodic and modern elements into their sound. Tom Angelripper still fronts Sodom but Genesis XIX is the first album with lead guitarist Frank Blackfire returning to the band. Toni Merkel and Yorck Segatz are the young newcomers who round out the lineup on drums and rhythm guitars, respectively.

Sodom

Genesis XIX clocks in at just under an hour which may raise some eyebrows considering that it is a thrash metal album. However, every riff on the album is important to each song and is a kick to the jaw. There are no filler riffs to be found on Genesis XIX. It contains all of the hallmarks that made the Blackfire-era albums so legendary and groundbreaking. The rapid fire-riffage, quick guitar turn-arounds, heavy breakdowns, and old-school mid-paced chug riffs all make a triumphant return on Genesis XIX. The cherry on the top is Frank Blackfire’s exhilarating guitar solos. Genesis XIX also draws from other eras of Sodom and even takes elements from punk and black metal. The album begins with a one-two punch from “Blind Superstition” and “Sodom and Gomorrah.” “Blind Superstition” is a great instrumental track that accustoms the listener to all of the heaviness present on the album, but it also does not give too many details away. The instrumental track also does a great job of maintaining a groove to catch the listener and builds up tension in the best way possible. It’s an old-school trademark, but Sodom utilizes this in the most effective way possible. Sodom also keeps it unique enough that it does not sound like something rehashed from a previous album. “Sodom and Gomorrah,” provides a kick in the face after “Blind Superstition” locks the listener in. This track is a speedy and whipping start to the rest of Genesis XIX. “Sodom and Gomorrah” has a ton of punk elements present in the track, which makes the song feel like something off of Get What You Deserve and ’Til Death do us Unite era Sodom. The punk attitude shows off a factor of diversity while still maintaining the overall vision of thrash metal. The punk riffs get the intense and high-speed aspect of thrash metal off of the ground while keeping the listener anticipating when Sodom will go full on thrash. This is a brilliant way to build tension and keep the listener engaged so that when Sodom switches back to playing pure thrash metal, the listener will go ballistic. “Sodom and Gomorrah” also has some twists as well. The track features a breakdown that is similar to a wall of sound. In that, Blackfire and Segatz build layers of guitar noises while the other plays the riff, Angelripper harmonizes and travels up the bass guitar fretboard, and Merkel keeps the wall of sound grounded with pulverizing double bass drumming. This breakdown is a refreshing change and it is also unique. It enhances the song through the use of the second guitar to add depth to the band’s older sound. While that is something new it does not feel like something modern or brand new. It is a different approach to the sounds that made Sodom famous.

Sodom & Gomorrah lyric video

After this track, Sodom then showcases why they are thrash metal juggernauts. “Euthanasia” is riff-filled thrashing madness. This is one of the shorter tracks on the album, and that works to its benefit. “Euthanasia” is a straight-ahead thrash metal beatdown. It features nothing but mean and pure thrash metal riffage. Each riff on this track contains all of the traits that made the riffs on Persecution Mania and Agent Orange so ferocious. The song has a mean down picked intro that transforms into a classic sounding Sodom riff festival for the rest of the song. “Euthanasia” is fantastic because the riffs in this track have a similar structure to those found in the Blackfire-era albums but have a modern edge to them. This modern take of the classic era of Sodom makes all of the riffs in the song a refreshing listen. For those anticipating an excellent Frank Blackfire guitar solo, the wait is worth it! The way the solo slams into the listener recalls great memories of Persecution Mania. Blackfire shows no signs of age in his soloing and it has perfect flow as well. This guitar solo does a lot terrific traveling throughout the fretboard. The solo for “Euthanasia” reaffirms Frank Blackfire’s ability for fretboard wizardry. It’s a perfect return to form for Frank Blackfire and will crush any qualms that people might have about his return to Sodom. It’s a wonderful resolve for the first tracks and has a good transition into the title track, “Genesis XIX.”

The track “Genesis XIX” was released on the Out on the Frontline Trench EP in 2019 as a teaser for the album. On that version I was not too impressed. I felt the track needed to be faster and I also thought the track was monotonous at times. I was a little worried about how “Genesis XIX” would come out based on this track. However, the album version of “Genesis XIX” improves on every aspect of the previous version. All the riffs and structures on this version are more menacing and the guitar and bass tones are much sharper and heavier. In that, the main riffs that are on the Genesis XIX version are faster and heavier. In addition to that, there are additional bridge riffs that add so much more savagery to the track. If you want to get into specifics, the Genesis XIX version of the title track is 7 minutes and 10 seconds, while the Out of the Frontline Trench EP version is 6 minutes and 42 seconds. The bridge riffs added make a huge difference and that was for the best. The drums are a lot more pounding and aggressive. I love how the main riffs on this track turned out. They have a magnificent flow to them. They don’t feel clunky on Genesis XIX when compared to the Out of the Frontline Trench EP. The riffs combined with the vocals have a call and response feel to them. Again, it takes the traits that made the late 80’s Sodom records so great and gives them a modern update. The riff works with several power chords scattered throughout plenty of tremolo picking and then a several note turn-around. I have always loved this structure because it can be manipulated for any purpose. The solo is great as well, it hits at the moment where you would least expect it and it’s a fretboard whirlwind. Blackfire keeps the solo chaotic but concise enough that the listener can absorb the solo without confusion. The breakdown in “Genesis XIX” is unique when compared to the rest of the album, it has an anthemic groove to it and has all of the elements of traditional heavy metal. This breakdown is an epic resolve for all of the intensity that preceded it. The breakdown also has a dark melody to it which in many ways keeps the listener hypnotized and prepares them for the speedy thrash metal right after. The flow that Angelripper has while the riff plays is fluid and concise, so when the several note turn-around hits, Tom can get some breathing room before providing more brutal vocals. Tom Angelripper’s vocals on this track are much better than the Out on the Frontline Trench version, he sounds more vicious on this version and has a much harsher bark to his voice. His vocals have the raspy teutonic growl to them, but Angelripper does not mind using some guttural vocals as well. It enhances the track overall and provides more depth to the song. Toni Merkel’s drumming makes him the unsung hero of this album. Throughout the album, Merkel provides the drumming to make the riffs have a stronger attack to them. His drum work pushes the whole band forward and makes every aspect of Sodom much heavier, thrashier, more brutal, and more vicious. Merkel shows the best of his abilities on the title track. His ability to jump into a pulverizing double bass drum section from a simple thrash beat is refreshing and something I have not heard in much recent thrash metal. One highlight of this can be found around the two minute and six second mark where the next riff is all chords. His simple, yet so effective, double bass drums underneath the chords pushes the riff and Angelripper’s vocals to their absolute limit. It will stomp out the listener in the best way possible and still keeps them engaged in the song. “Genesis XIX” is among Sodom’s best title tracks.

Friendly Fire music video

The next song on the album, “Nicht Mehr Mein Land,” shows Sodom diversifying their sound from other genres of metal they helped influence. The outro of “Genesis XIX” fades into “Nicht Mehr Mein Land,” however “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” begins with a blasting intro, it catches the listener off guard in the best situation imaginable. This intro is a wonderful surprise and shows Sodom returning to black metal in a thrash metal context. In a lot of ways, the black metal elements in this track are a continuation of the music presented in In the Sign of Evil and Obsessed by Cruelty eras of Sodom. The black metal elements in “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” show an alternate direction the band could have taken if Blackfire had not joined the band in the 80s. The slight return to black metal on this track does a great job of Sodom recognizing the black metal they influenced and using that knowledge to their advantage. The majority of “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” is all mid-paced crunchy riffs that recall classic old-school heavy metal sounds. They have a similar feel to “Remember the Fallen” and “Napalm in the Morning” off of Agent Orange and M-16, respectively. “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” will also go back to some black metal, which is cool because of the contrast it presents to the classic traditional heavy metal riffage that came before it. The song’s ending is somewhat similar to the intro of the song, it has dark elements of the intro, but it does not go full on black metal like the intro does. It’s a wonderful and harrowing ending for a song that catches the listener off guard. This ending is the perfect resolve for “Nicht Mehr Mein Land” as a whole.

“Glock’n’Roll” continues the thrash metal attack, however some of the riffs on this song have a dark tinge to them. It still contains that thrash metal straightforwardness but also sounds evil and malicious. The verse riffs have that same Persecution Mania and Agent Orange feel to them, but they are contrasted by some melodic verse riffs and bridge riffs. The bridge riff in this song is very old school but it works as a transition to the slower and dark melodic riff in one of the verses. This bridge has Blackfire performing a slight lead over a thrashy rhythm section provided by Yorck Segatz. This is a fantastic example of how the addition of a second guitar player has added more depth to the sound of Sodom. It then transitions to the melodic verse. This riff in the chorus is as gloomy as a fog covering a cemetery. Segatz plays the chords, while Blackfire plays a dark melody underneath the chords, and Merkel keeps a somewhat slow to mid-paced groove underneath the guitars to sustain and drive the verse. This verse riff also gives Angelripper an anthemic element to his voice, the listener can’t help but shout along with Angelripper’s delivery of the lyrics,

“You can’t disguise
You can’t escape
Wherever you will hide”

To all of our surprise, this verse riff is a throwback to the Bernemann era of Sodom, the 22 years preceding Blackfire’s return to the band. I was taken aback in the best way possible. Sodom realized the best parts of the previous era and manipulated it for a classic-sounding context. The solo in “Glock’n’Roll” also has the feel of the Bernemann era. Blackfire plays plenty of melodies over Segatz’s backing riff. This is brilliant songwriting from the band that wanted to include diverse elements on Genesis XIX.

Indoctrination lyric video

The rest of Genesis XIX continues the ideas and aggression that were presented in the first six songs of the album. Some of the tracks have varying degrees of punk, thrash, and black metal to them. Overall though, it is still thrash metal to its core. For example, “Dehumanized” has mean thrash metal written all over it, but it does contain several black metal sections too. This similar structure is also found in the final track, “Friendly Fire.” A criticism of that song would be it is too predictable, but throughout the album Sodom have shown mastery of the art of contrast. Whenever Sodom wants to bring in outside elements and different eras of Sodom into Genesis XIX, they bring those elements to enhance the thrash metal riffage and atmosphere in the album. Sodom knows how to utilize these elements without venturing into full on crossover thrash or black metal. They know when there are too many outside elements as well as when there are enough portions from the previous eras of Sodom. Even realizing that there is some repetitiveness and predictability on Genesis XIX, it does not detract from the album overall. It is something that is minor at worst and at best something to keep consistency within the record. Each riff and the amount of times it is played is important for each song as a whole so removing them to reduce the album’s overall length would have been a mistake. The straight-ahead thrashers are found in “The Harpooner,” “Waldo and Pigpen,” and “Occult Perpetrator.” These tracks are all no-nonsense songs that will get a crowd in a non-stop circle pit within seconds. It’s Sodom showing off that they can still write thrash metal better than bands less than half their age. The punk influences peak on the track “Indoctrination.” I’ll be honest when I say: on this track Sodom almost goes full on crossover thrash and even crust punk. “Indoctrination” sounds like an unreleased song from Get What You Deserve. From the intro bassline alone, that appreciation for 80s hardcore is on full display and for some reason it just works. The verse riff has a crust punk sound to it; however, it has a thrash metal structure and delivery. This is something that few thrash bands will do or even approach, so to hear Sodom play thrash with a crust sound to it is refreshing and reassuring to say the least. The breakdown is crossover-like, with Angelripper having a hardcore bark to his voice. The whole track has Tom Angelripper incorporating crossover/hardcore elements to his voice. This track in particular highlights Angelrippers range, I just love how he can do thrash and black metal vocals, but then sound like he sang in a German hardcore band from 80s. It’s a great change of pace and still keeps the listener engaged deep into the album.

Genesis XIX is Sodom’s answer to the abysmal year that is 2020. For a band that has nothing to prove, Sodom have again shown why they are thrash metal legends. Genesis XIX shows Sodom incorporating outside elements, while realizing and understanding the best parts of their past that lead them to the success that they’ve had. Genesis XIX is by far their best album since M-16 in 2001. The return of Frank Blackfire has given the band a rejuvenated energy that has caused Sodom to exceed their high standard of thrash metal. His riff writing and soloing is just as fresh now as it was more than 30 years ago. Blackfire returned at the best time, and this album is proof of that. Sodom have reinvented themselves for the old school and the new school fans in such a unique way. The addition of Yorck Segatz on second guitar and Toni Merkel on drums has provided so much more depth to the band than what was heard in previous incarnations of Sodom. When the pandemic ends and life returns to some semblance of what it was before, the tour for this album will be legendary. I can see people going nuts the entire time for the Genesis XIX songs, right along with the classic material. Genesis XIX is THE thrash metal album of 2020 and will bring much needed happiness to Sodom fans, thrashers, and metalheads worldwide.

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.