Metal of the Month: November’s 15 Finest Releases (2018)

Here I present a grip of the most essential metal-related releases from the month of November in the year 2018. I’ve chosen them entirely based on my opinions, meaning I’m primarily taking into account the hours of immersion, personal connection and the lasting value of each album before moving on to other things. There are several albums that I will have to leave out of this list, but they’ll all still be considered for end of the year lists. So, for this monthly feature I’m focusing on records I either reviewed or spent the most time with, as well as a few releases where the review is still in the draft stage. I’ll get to all of the promos I’ve received throughout the year but it’ll take time. I am eternally grateful to have so much to choose from! Here’s a glimpse of stuff I’m still planning on reviewing that released in December, this month’s to-do list is still daunting.

November reviews still in progress: Bane, Blade Killer, Vouna, Arsis, Inoculated Life, Voodus, Valkyrija, Master, Necroholocaust, Golden Lampreys, Myopic, Profanatica, Graven, Temtris, Owl Maker, Noise Trail Immersion, Blood of the Sun, Vulturic Eye, Goddess, Begravningsentreprenorerna, Black Earth, Crawling for Carrion, Convent Guilt, Zealot Cult, Vuohi, Lucifer’s Child, Realm of Wolves, Buckshot Facelift, Sichgart, Karg, Disrule, The Crawling, Lutharo, King Nine, Perpetual, Bast, Flying Disk, New Light Choir, Nag, Bergrizen, Shadow’s Mortuary, Calvaire, Kryptamok, Morgal, Necroart, Ayyur, Degredo, Lividity and a few split releases. Most all of these band’s current releases will still be reviewed post-November in some form, first priority goes to (current drafts of) Baneful Storm, Fordomth, Chapel of Disease, Totenmesse, and Convent Guilt coming in the next week.

December will be lighter on releases compared to the previous two months thus I will continue to catch up on November releases and publish at least one list per week in addition to Ten From the Tomb or any video game blog I had been planning. There will be limited video game coverage (BACKLOG or otherwise) until I finish my ‘Best of 2018’ list for Video Games and Music. Likewise the ‘best of December’ will be published before the ‘Best of 2018’. If you don’t see your favorite album from this month message me and let me know what I missed, or check the Honorable Mention list at the end.

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Artist Obliteration
Title [Type] Cenotaph Obscure [Full-length]
 Rating [5.0/5.0] CLICK HERE to read my REVIEW

Heads up folks, three of my favorite bands of the last two decades released albums in November 2018 and the first is Kolbotn, Norway’s Obliteration. What began as an Eastern US (New York, Florida) old school death metal influenced project soon took more and more notes from classic atmospheric death metal as their sound began to quickly embody the spirit of Autopsy‘s ‘Retribution for the Dead’ and Darkthrone‘s ‘Soulside Journey’ with additionally psychedelic black/thrash affectation. They have come a long way since ‘Nekropsalms’ first blew my mind around 2010 and ‘Cenotaph Obscure’ is perhaps their best record to date and a very worthy follow-up to ‘Black Death Horizon’. Obliteration offer a new world of rotten, thumping death metal to get lost inside of and retain their status as a primal favorite after a long five year hiatus.


Artist Evoken
Title [Type] Hypnagogia [Full-length]
Rating [5.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Like so many other dipshits who’d barely heard of Thergothon by 2001 despite my own death/doom addiction running deep, it would be Evoken‘s second full-length that convinced me to branch out hard into the world of funeral doom metal. Of course, that combination of Disembowelment and Esoteric was not only palatable but just so much of an influence upon my taste in extreme doom that I became a fanatic for the style because of it. Though I’d lost some faith in the band surrounding ‘Atra Mors’ and the long wait afterwards it is restored with ‘Hypnagogia’. Not only one of the best funeral doom albums of the year but also not hardly a funeral doom record by today’s standards, instead ‘Hypnagogia’ emits the sweet scent of carrion associated with melodic death/doom metal. Nearly as romantically achieved as early Mournful Congregation and Morgion, this new beginning for Evoken is wholly more interesting than an coldly atmospheric death/doom album might have been. I am beyond pleased that this project still persists in good form.


Artist Pale Divine
Title [Type] Pale Divine [Full-length]
 Rating [4.75/5.0] Click HERE to Read my REVIEW

Traditional doom metal hasn’t been a rarity for decades but most of the bands that could lay claim to an underground legacy are inactive for various reasons be it tragedy, legal issues, or general disinterest. Pale Divine represent my favorite sort of ‘modernization’ of traditional doom metal style as they continue to focus on classic rock influence songwriting that doesn’t overlook the innovations that stoner rock/metal brought throughout the 1990’s. Beyond his talents for songcraft and Greg Diener has one of my favorite narrative voices in this style of music next to classic Bobby Liebling, not to mention his guitar work is entirely his own style. Pale Divine are one of the greats and certainly underrated in their time so far. Sure, it took about a decade to get a follow up to ‘Cemetery Earth’ that I really dug but even beyond my review for ‘Pale Divine’ I’ve eased up on my harshness towards ‘Painted Windows Black’. Though it has some equally impressive work from King Witch and a few others this year, it’ll likely be my favorite doom record of 2018.


Artist Tomb Mold
Title [Type] Cerulean Salvation [Demo/EP]
 Rating [4.75/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Though ‘Cerulean Salvation’ is only a couple of songs cranked out from post-‘Manor of Infinite Forms’ songwriting sessions there is no doubt that Tomb Mold are capable of basically shitting death metal gold at this point. These tracks are brutally punched and they groove so fast and hard that you’ll come back for more quickly but once the mind calms down a bit there are tons of atmospheric details, intricate riffs, and satisfying transitions to needle over. Sure, I favor intricate things (art) that develop in the mind with reflection but at the same time this type of songwriting allows for that instant gratification as well, placing these Canadian folks in the upper echelon of death metal pretty quickly. The fact that I’ve compared them to both Necrony and Wicked Innocence in the same review should say enough, at least if you’re one of like a hundred people who’ve heard both.


Artist Chapel of Disease
Title [Type] .​.​.​And As We Have Seen The Storm, We Have Embraced The Eye [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

In three records since 2015 this German death metal band went from 80’s death/thrash influenced heavy metal to progressive death metal a la The Chasm and now their sound continues to aim high towards a mixture of 70’s rock and death metal. Consider the hard rock twang of Kvelertak fused with the brief-but-brilliant ‘The Formulas of Death’ era of Tribulation. It is absolutely death n’ roll despite nobody, fan or otherwise, making that connection very openly. It is less ‘Wolverine Blues’ and more ‘Reflections’ (Convulse, btw) and even then there are modern atmospheric black metal guitar techniques sort of building a bridge between 80’s death metal and 70’s proto-metal. It works better than you’d think and amounts to an ‘epic heavy death metal’ album. More to say once the review is finished, since I bought this on release and didn’t receive a promo.


Artist Wulkanaz
Title [Type] Wulkanaz [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

Although I had checked this band out after Serpent Column‘s Theophilos had mentioned them in an interview their material really hadn’t touched me until ‘Wulkanaz’. Where ‘Paralys’ brought a roller coaster of styles between punk, raw black metal, and melodic folk rock that was mishandled by too many atmospheric black metal references this latest album focuses even more on combining all three elements more successfully and losing the atmoblack nonsense. I felt like I was listening to a raw black metal band cover RAC and European hardcore punk from the 80’s at first; Over time ‘Wulkanaz’ formed as a sort of medium between the raw black metal movements beyond the early 90’s and Kumulonimbus‘ string sense of melody. His songwriting is quick witted, effective, and a measure of both clever gimmickry and meaningful works. I rated this record fairly high because it is both esoteric and primally violent but also beautiful and inspiring.


Artist Blackrat
Title [Type] Dread Reverence [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Though I have no particular love for the sloppy, drano-chugging blackened speed-crust that Blackrat generally focused on during their formative years ‘Dread Reverence’ appears as an evolved blackened thrash metal record that manages to nearly outdo Black Magic‘s ‘Wizard’s Spell’ EP from a few years back. As fiercely delivered as Nifelheim‘s debut but with Destruction‘s thoughtful riffing and some huge stylistic shifts between pure speed metal and blackened heavy/doom metal the entirety of this third full-length from a band that aren’t necessarily recognizable as their former selves on this great leap forward in quality. This release builds the band up to the level of groups like Deathhammer (and the Norwegian black/thrash scene in general) in terms of sharp songwriting and severely effective nods to Bulldozer and Bathory‘s original visions.


Artist Ulthar
Title [Type] Cosmovore [Full-length]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

The last full-length in an incredible run of truly high quality releases from 20 Buck Spin this year comes from three talented musicians who blend together remarkably well in creating this blackened death metal album. ‘Cosmovore’ features Justin Ennis (ex-Mutilation Rites), Steve Peacock (Mastery, Pandiscordian Necrogenesis) and Shelby Lermo (Vastum, Extremity) and you’ll get the sense that each of them tosses in their own ideas and musical personalities in Ulthar‘s collective grinding, thrashing, and old school technical mutations. The trio work well together for obvious reasons if you’re familiar with their better known pursuits which all share a sort of blurred vision of extreme metal. Lovecraftian blackened death metal that I compared to early Atrocity (Germany)? Yeah, it is well worth grabbing and easily one of the best things released in November.


Artist Third Storm
Title [Type] The Grand Manifestation [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

Although Third Storm were a part of Sweden’s teenaged extreme metal scene back in the mid-80’s founder and vocalist Heval Bozarslan would admit defeat around 1988 and start legendary melodic black/death metal band Sarcasm a few years later. Though Third Storm would revive first in 2013, soon Sarcasm would return in grand form and take their turn at a full-length first. Thirty years after their original split we have Third Storm‘s debut full-length, a blend of melodic black metal with some death/doom influenced moments. The spirit of old school Swedish black metal is entirely alight within this tempestuous concept album that comes with its own literature and world building. I am so inspired by this style of classic non-symphonic melodic black metal and that it resembles the best of Dawn and Sorhin is electrifying to my senses. My gripes with the track arrangement aren’t as big of a deal as my review might’ve made it seem and you can be sure this will make it into my top releases of the year.


Artist Fordomth
Title [Type] I​.​N​.​D​.​N​.​S​.​L​.​E. [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

Yet another fantastic funeral doom metal album from 2018 but this one is very different in that Fordomth focus on some of the melodic (‘gothic’) side of things without compromising a very dry and filthy black metal influenced style. Based out of Sicily, this project completely nails the lost and damned ‘homemade’ feeling of classic funeral doom; The ‘broken winged’ sort of sound you’d get out of Poland in the early 90’s or from the psychedelic doom metal scenes from Italy around the same time but they have additionally taken from depressive black metal for a sound that is between Esoteric and Oranssi Pazuzu adds to the overal trip of the album. More to say once the full review is finished.


Artist Abyssous
Title [Type] Mesa [12″ EP]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW

Note that one of the first death metal albums I ever heard was ‘Altars of Madness’ and my obsession with it has not wavered in over 25 years. As such, I am predispositioned to love the sort of orthodox death metal coming from Germany over this last decade or so from early Chapel of Disease, Alchemyst, to Beyond. Abyssous offer that same appeal but with some additional influence from atmospheric death metal. The material on ‘Mesa’ feels more related to their previous/other project Heretic in some ways and brings in some of the late 90’s Morbid Angel ideas as well.


Artist Spearhead
Title [Type] Pacifism is Cowardice [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] Click HERE to read my REVIEW!

Often compared to Bolt Thrower simply because of their name, southern England blackened death metal band Spearhead began as a furious and brutal war metal/death metal hybrid that would soon chase after a ‘De Profundis’ era Vader sound. As their staff changed so did their production values and brutality, eventually landing upon a Centurian-esque style on ‘Theomachia’ (2011). A long hiatus since now gives way to a more reasonable production sound (particularly tossing out that cranked Hertz Studio drum production) and their crossover between Angelcorpse and Vader is now more noticeable. I know folks scoff when I say ‘this band stands in for the lack of that band’ and I understand it, but the loss of Centurian (and Nox) left a void that only Spearhead are capable of filling. It isn’t a hugely memorable album but it is incredible effective in terms of having a brutal storm of riffs to enjoy.


Artist Suffering Quota
Title [Type] Life in Disgust [Full-length]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] REVIEW coming SOON!

Between new albums from Terrorizer, Mule Skinner, and Cripple Bastards there has been a wealth of old school grindcore in my inbox lately and the addition of Groningen, Netherlands based grinders Suffering Quota offers equal quality and savagery. I absolutely hear plenty of Assuck and early Brutal Truth in their sound but not a ton of death metal so much as hardcore fury. So much of this style of grindcore comes from the right type of brutal drumming that creates songs rather than simply blasts through them mindlessly; Suffering Quota understand this and shape songs around tight drum patterns and aggressive blasts, it is somewhere betweeen Terrorizer and powerviolence (Benumb?) and I have really enjoyed it this month.


Artist Totenmesse
Title [Type] To [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] REVIEW coming SOON!

This Polish black/death metal band out of Cracow play an incredible mix of dissonant black metal and atmospheric death metal with shades of Doombringer and  Bölzer pulling its brutal style in several different directions. Song structures are unpredictable but when everything pulls together and channels darkness in unison, this ends up being one of the best black metal related records of the year. Of course a lot of the Polish black metal that is visible seems to take from Mgła or Furia, I would say that this falls closer to Deathspell Omega circa 2010 or so in terms of scope and approach but they do not reach that far into darkness with their music. This is a definite up-and-coming project with members who appear to bring a fair amount of professional experience, so I’d definitely watch out for this band in the future. Here’s hoping they keep thier shit murky and unpredictable going forward, and avoid doing anymore King Crimson covers.


Artist Convent Guilt
Title [Type] Diamond Cut Diamond [Full-length]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] REVIEW coming SOON!

For all of the great bands getting labeled as the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal most of them are sadly weird approximations of either Dokken or Overkill but this Australian heavy metal band go their own way towards the late 70’s hard rock influenced first wave of NWOBHM style. No, Convent Guilt aren’t necessarily on the level of early Iron Maiden or Satan when British heavy metal had hit mainstream but, rather the bands that propped them up. The band’s second album ‘Diamond Cut Diamond’ is catchy, punchy, and a little ‘off’ in the tradition of groups like Quartz, White Spirit, and any band you could think of that was on those early Neat Records compilations that focused on melodic pub rock rather than dual leads and high fantasy lyrics. Throw in some ’77 punk kicks here and there and you’ve got a damn good listen.

Honorable mentions [Click/Tap to Read Reviews]

Did I miss your favorite metal/rock/whatever album released in November? Tell me about it, I know I missed a lot! This list is representative of my opinions and personal favorites taking into consideration influence, innovation, replay value, arrangement, cover art, production style, nostalgia, and quality of experience. There are hundreds more releases from the month and I might have overlooked something amazing, let me know. Don’t worry, no piece of music is ever too old to review! Again I want to thank the bands, labels, hardworking PR folks, and my Patreon Patrons for their support and contributions! This is a dream for a lifelong fan and collector like me.

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