Bring Out Your Dead: Honorable Mentions – Part I / January ’til June (2018)

BRING OUT YOUR DEAD… is a collection of releases from 2018 that deserve honorable mention and short review. This is simply a collection of albums I wanted to cover in full, but couldn’t find the time or the words. There is no particular theme, no focus on sub-genre (or genre at all), and I’ve still left out all split releases and reissues, remasters, and compilations. This first part focuses on releases that came out in the first six months of 2018: January through June. Part II will cover July through December. I will not research these releases as per usual, nor will I guarantee several thoughtful listens. These are first and second impressions, severe final thoughts on things that couldn’t fit into the scope of 2018 coverage. This is not, however, the final word on 2018 releases. There are many full reviews to come in the first few months of 2019. If music ceases to interest you after the first month (or year) of release, consider the comfort of knowing history rather than obsessing over a meaningless future. 

JANUARY


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Artist Neter
Title [Type/Year] Infernus [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Spanish death metal band Neter play a style of death metal that is heavily influenced by late 90’s Behemoth and early 00’s Decapitated minus some of the purely technical sentiment. Although they are not wizards with riff they do offer a unique and powerful take on the explosive forms of death metal that reached a certain peak in the mid 2000’s. If you liked the early Sulphur Aeon releases as well as bands like Kronos and Lost Soul, ‘Infernus’ should be worthwhile.


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Artist Devildom
Title [Type/Year] Curse of Flesh [Full-length/2018]
Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Ukranian black/death metal hybrid Devildom are off to an interesting start with their debut release ‘Curse of Flesh’. They are keen to experiment with odd timing, off-rhythm, and the drummer uses blasts in an entertaining way. The vocalist is nowhere near mastering their craft and this ends up holding back some of the potential intensity of these tracks. Dissonance, atmosphere, and fairly understated progressions make this a very ‘modern’ record but not yet on the level of Totenmesse and perhaps with more traditional influences guiding their primarily black metal sound. Definitely worth a listen as I hear some great potential in these compositions and guitar work.


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Artist Under Siege
Title [Type/Year] Under Siege [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Roman melodic death/folk metal band Under Siege bring broad strokes of medieval fantasy warfare and some generally palatable punkish melody to their take on Amon Amarth and Ensiferum. The rhythms are not always catchy and instead often veer towards the more bland spectrum of early 00’s power metal in terms of guitar work, but I generally enjoy the listen. It leaves no meaningful impression upon me, though I ten to prefer blackened folk metal of the mid-to-late 90’s and early 2000’s more, there is a bit of later Thyrfing style (when the keyboards had died off…) but not enough to be fully satisfying.


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Artist Neverending Winter
Title [Type/Year]

Сеногной [EP/2018]

Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Since I had missed this Tomsk, Siberia based “Progressive black, folk and punk” band in 2017 for their ‘Хиус’ EP I figured it’d be worthwhile to grab this and say a few words about it. Of course, I didn’t even listen until April and then wouldn’t write this until December but hey, that is how music discovery works for most of us. This EP was released to coincide with their tour of Scandinavia and the Teutonic regions and it represents the sound of the band well, a winter storm surrounding a snarling beast. “Frost Leash” really makes this EP and has me hoping to hear more from the band.

FEBRUARY


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Artist Atra Vetosus
Title [Type/Year] Apricity [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Hailing from Launceston, Tasmania this melodic black metal band take an overly ambitious path in creating a fusion of modern meloblack and atmospheric black metal performances. Sometimes it really works (see: “Oceans Of Light, Rainfall Of Stars”, “Where the Lost Spirits Roam”) but more often than not they get too hung up on the wandering sort of Wolves in the Throne Room style of guitar work that clashes with their more directly melodic focus. There is much to be said for how this type of album can grow with closer listening, so I won’t rule it out as a fantastic record… ‘Apricity’ does however make a somewhat rote and flat first impression.


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Artist Woes
Title [Type/Year] The Coldest Place is Within Myself [EP/2018]
Rating [2.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

As with all Godbox Records promos I received this year each track was cut to either 30-60 seconds and as such I ended up not covering many of them. I do not think it is the fault of the artist or the label, perhaps the PR accidentally releasing a bad rip of the record and not realizing it. I don’t personally have time day-to-day to double check those mistakes when I’m not big on the record to begin with, nor would I hunt down and then tag mp3 files correctly most of the time. Nonetheless Copenhagen, Denmark blackened hardcore band Woes find a very interesting mixture of neocrust and blackened hardcore. There is an atmospheric/symphonic element to the music that is fairly fleeting but this will largely appeal to the blackened hardcore crowd who enjoy the melodic side of things as well.


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Artist Tamerlan Empire
Title [Type/Year] Age of Ascendency [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Sydney, Australian symphonic black metal band Tamerlan Empire offer beautifully realized middle eastern rhythms and folkish melodies on their debut full-length ‘Age of Ascendency’. The band claim to balance Turkic/Uzbek melodic influences with western metal music’s performative sense and I would agree that they’ve done a nice job of taming the ranting jazz of middle eastern music of worship and celebration and made frothy, epic black metal from it. I was particularly reminded of Darkestrah for some obvious reasons but also some bits of Ancient Rites and Dordeduh.


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Artist Living Altar
Title [Type/Year] Scythes Towards Psyche [EP/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Raw old school death metal ethos meets blackened psychotic precision on this slashing and stomping black/death metal EP from Lithuanian mind-benders Living Altar. Hammered out drumming, wailing leads, cacophonous production, all lead me down roads of occult blackened death misery and I generally loved my time with this record. It sat on my ‘to do’ list for reviews and then feature inclusion for months before getting pushed out for newer things. It is a shame that I didn’t get around to mentioning it until now because this is one of the more unexpectedly explosive EPs I’ve heard all year. Should not be missed if you can help it.

MARCH


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Artist Goatkraft
Title [Type/Year] Angel Slaughter [EP/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The debut EP from these Norwegians is pure worships of Black Witchery and Revenge styled war metal. Goatkraft don’t really elevate or mess with that thrashing war metal sound at all, simply creating a blasting, screaming mess of riff and clanging bass atop rushed drum slaps. I was all ready to write a short review of this album back in March but I found the cymbal hits (and splash?) really terrible, almost synthetic sounding to the point where I lost interest in recommending it. That still stands, but it won’t be an issue of you like those bands I compared it to.


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Artist High Priests
Title [Type/Year] Spinning [Full-length/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Goddamn do I get sick to my stomach thinking about how I overlooked this record several times before I had already laid down my best of list for the year! High Priests‘ ‘Spinning’ is a fantastic mix of noise rock, sludge rock, and a hit of Fugazi-esque post-hardcore. I don’t always feel like I’m in my element reviewing noise rock records with a far smaller set of reference points, so despite my lack of ability to express why ‘Spinning’ is great, it is indeed a great album along with most all Triple Eye releases.


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Artist Prag 83
Title [Type/Year] Fragments of Silence [Full-length/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Distant and solemn dark folk moderne from German musician Herr K. comes in the form of this Kafka-imbued project Prag 83. Existentially lonesome dread, the prison of being and the insignificance of the ‘self’ sour and rot within the heart of ‘Fragments of Silence’. Kafka’s laryngeal tuberculosis made it impossible to eat in the last three months of his life, and in fact his condition meant that saw his death by starvation looming (writing ‘The Hunger Artist’ in the meantime) and while this has less to do with the perspective of Prag 83, I appreciate the meditations of Kafka on a personal level, as well as the meditative obsidian folk music on offer.


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Artist Ondt Blod
Title [Type/Year] Natur [Full-length/2018]
Rating [2.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Ondt Blod pulls my mind in several directions as it plays, and as I read about it. Before you invest a clink into their world understand that this is about a 70/30 split of melodic punk rock, ‘blackened’ hardcore, and with a few chuggy numbers here and there. It is the sort of melodic hardcore record you’d expect from Epitaph RecordsBurning Heart sub-label back when it was active. So, if you’re still on board for that catchy, touchy-feeling sound (with constant bursts of Kvelertak-esque shouts) consider that ‘Natur’ is a heavily political record focusing on the ongoing colonization of the indigenous Sámi people of the far north along Scandinavia unto Russia (where they are not even recognized as a people). Beyond the Norwegian lyrics I can only barely translate into sense, it is actually a good, and particularly catchy, example of this style of Scandinavian post-hardcore.


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Artist Misanthropic Existence
Title [Type/Year] Death Shall Be Served [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Misanthropic Existence are a three-piece blackened death metal band from Worcester, England and although this was technically self-released in 2017 I wanted to point towards the Aesthetic Death released  physical issue of the record. I think the most recent band I’ve come across that nailed this style was probably Goat Semen and ‘Death Shall Be Served’ is perhaps even more brutal and energetic. I find this record very inspiring regardless of how ‘ground breaking’ it isn’t, has a sort of early Deicide vibe along with the brutal mania of Polish death metal circa the late 90’s.


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Artist Abduction
Title [Type/Year]

À L’heure Du Crépuscule [Full-length/2018]

Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Progressive atmospheric black/death metal band Abduction appear as a sect of plague doctors, treating the unwell with experimental cures that are occasionally poisonous. This is really a premiere example on how to do properly atmospheric black metal that doesn’t depend on Weakling or Austere for guidance, and the progressive elements take ‘À L’heure Du Crépuscule’ to a real and palpable atmospheric place. To be clear this is the French Abduction, though the British one is exceptional as well.

APRIL


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Artist Peel
Title [Type/Year] Never Not Dead [EP/2018]
Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

It’s a shame that these Chicago, Illinois folks weren’t around for the heydey of Hellcat Records as their ‘wrong side of The Clash‘ melodic punk rock ‘n roll sound is about as satisfying as that late 90’s/early 00’s era of rockabilly, gothic punk, and (in Peel‘s case) throwback rock that doesn’t quite line-up with The Hives / Dropkick Murphys as much as it does… SNFU? Nothing on this EP really blows my mind, and while I definitely enjoyed it ‘Never Not Dead’ is largely here because I liked the album cover.


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Artist Kroda
Title [Type/Year] Selbstwelt [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Hailing from Lviv, Ukraine this pagan black/folk metal project might’ve released ‘Selbstwelt’ in April but the record would soon be remastered and re-released in October. I found no issues with the original, though the remaster is polished angd seems to have some re-recordings. As a vocalist Eisenslav has a formidable presence that perhaps drives this album far more than the guitar work, which was only mildly disappointing. Though I wanted more riffs, this is an excellent listen. I’ve linked their bandcamp so you can choose between which version you prefer.

MAY


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Artist Brood of Hatred
Title [Type/Year] Identity Disorder [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Tunisian progressive death metal band Brood of Hatred should be a bit of a revelation for folks interested in the potential of post-Gorguts death metal textures a la Flourishing or Baring Teeth, but only in a mechanical sense. Upon revisiting this record I felt it was as if Immolation had covered a Rapture (Finland) album, there is angular avant-garde brutality amidst the melodic death/doom atmosphere and lead work of post-Peaceville three musings. It is a release of turmoil that simultaneously realizes that the gloom will return along with the mania. That mix of gloom and mania is excellent. I would like a bit more variety in the structures of the songs, and the leads do become gratingly repetitive, but as a whole I’d recommend a listen.


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Artist Zarraza
Title [Type/Year] Necroshiva [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Kazakhstani metal band Zarraza have undergone a wile transformation into a mixture of technical death metal and groove metal that is incredibly polished and exacting. The grooves are huge, complex, and yet the music itself would probably be just palatable for either the average Aborted or Soulfly fan. I assumed I would end up just slapping this album out of my head after one song but I ended up listening a few times. The intensity of it all is compelling, especially if you are interested in Polish and Ukrainian death metal scenes. Cosmos Studio have done a fantastic job of mixing this album, considering it was mostly recorded in a home studio.


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Artist Aeviterne
Title [Type/Year] Sireless [EP/2018]
Rating [4.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If you’ve felt left out in the rain in the hopes of more Flourishing releases, go grab this Aeviterne EP now. ‘Sireless’ features most of Flourishing‘s final line-up and creates the same sort of expressive avant-garde death metal that drips with curious atmosphere and burly, driving riffs. They’re not showing a huge range of values on this first EP between the two songs but it was nonetheless exciting to hear these guys plugging along with new material.


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Artist Ygfan
Title [Type/Year]

Hamvakból… [Full-length/2018]

Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although they began as a post-black metal band Hugarian band Ygfan have evolved into a mixture of post-metal influenced blackened doom metal that avoids any atmospheric sludge metal cliches. There are no big plodding riffs and the guitar work sometimes fumbles a bit (see: “Hamvak alatt…”) but the album has a fairly unique sound. I don’t think I’ve head a post-black/doom record before that did such a good job avoiding the cliches of all genres involved, though this is mixed so stark and loud that it loses some subtlety.


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Artist The Black Sorcery
Title [Type/Year] …And the Beast Spake Death From Above [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Brutal death metal has always been most interesting at its fringes, those strange and crazed outsider releases from folks who may not be visionaries but they are fuckin’ freaks. The debut album from The Black Sorcery is essentially war metal from the brutal death metal perspective and though it is a barrel-puked morass of snuffed sound, it kinda rules. I didn’t find myself going back to this more than a few times, the drums are weak and the whole thing only carries itself on thanks to relentless vocal performances and big riffs.


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Artist Woechanter
Title [Type/Year] Woechanter [EP/2018]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Canadian musician Morgan Rider is perhaps best known for his presence in the Whidbey and Toronto area pagan black/folk metal scenes (SIG:AR:TYR, Vesperia, ex-Bolero) but his latest solo effort Woechanter is a progressive meshing of death/doom, black metal, and various other influences. Though it appears as more of a ‘bedroom’ project (or demo) in tone thanks to programmed drums, ‘Woechanter’ is impressive in concept and flow. The inclusion of vocalist Zuul gives the album a sort of prog-Ophis kind of sound that I enjoyed. I can see this project eventually moving towards an epic death/doom sort of sound with more of the harmonized vocals a la “Astral Fire”, which would fit in well on a label like Solitude Productions.

JUNE


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Artist Stew
Title [Type/Year] Hot [EP/2018]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Lindesberg, Sweden power trio appear as a heavy shot of smooth, barrel-aged blues rock circa 1968-1972 a la Budgie or Blue Cheer without a trace of Sabbath or even a small hint of Flower Travellin’ Band. I wanted a bit of heavy rock in there too, but I dunno… If the intended effect is reminding me of listening to Jimi Hendrix bootlegs as a teenager, sure I’m there.


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Artist Rongeur
Title [Type/Year] An Asphyxiating Embrace [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although Oslo, Norway’s Rongeur don’t appear worth much of a fuss at first ‘An Asphyxiating Embrace’ is worthy homage to classic sludge metal and psychedelic doom metal despite the modern ‘post-metal/sludge’ tag they get all over the internet. Sure, the music is heady and ultra-introverted but when they get a little nasty the record really lights itself on fire. It is a solid debut but any longtime sludge fan knows they’ll be twice as good on the follow up.


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Artist Isenordal
Title [Type/Year] Spectral Embrace [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Seattle, Washington collective Isenordal sauntered unto frame as adept, feeling paganistic blackened doom and neofolk alike. Their debut full-length ‘Shores of Mourning’ (2017) wasn’t necessarily a riff bomb but it was heavy, dark, and a worthy debut. Here on the follow-up ‘Spectral Embrace’ the sextet craft a pure neofolk experience that is perhaps even more pensive than Prag 83, approaching the levels of mystere felt on The Dark Red Seed‘s ‘Becomes Awake’. Haunting, spiritual, and nearly claustrophobic in its labored breathing.


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Artist Torii
Title [Type/Year] A Judgement Divine [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Atmospheric death/doom duo Torii hail from the northwestern part of Arkansas, though their style of post-metal influenced death metal is most stylistically related to the atmo-extreme doom out of eastern Europe in the mid-90’s. Stark, dry, and creeping behind modern death metal dissonance and classic death/doom rumination, ‘A Judgement Divine’ is both enthralling and a bit thin. I wouldn’t say it is Rigor Sardonicus minimal, but feels like a remastered death/doom demo from 1995. The faster sections would work for me if the drums weren’t programmed, at least it sounds that way, otherwise I really enjoy Torii at their slowest and most painful.


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Artist Timecode
Title [Type/Year] The Devious Syndrome [Full-length/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Chilean technical death metal band Timecode represent a form of modern death metal born from the early 90’s Chilean groove metal scene where bands like Criminal and Sadism built upon the post-‘Chaos A.D.’ popularity of the time. Of course Timecode developed alongside those bands in the early 90’s before settling on this name around 1999, so they’ve developed their immense sound over the course of two decades beyond those old school markers of the past. ‘The Devious Syndrome’ represents my limit for how much ‘groove metal’ I can take in one sitting, that is to say that those elements are fairly light and most of this record is generally complex and interesting death metal; It isn’t Gojira, but they could’ve toured with them back in like 2008. The only reason I didn’t include this record on my ‘Best of 2018’ list was because I discovered it a few days before writing it. Great mosh metal/death metal if you’re into that kind of thing.


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Artist Disgusted Geist
Title [Type/Year] Reign of Enthrallment [EP/2018]
Rating [4.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Old school death/doom metal folks Disgusted Geist appear with an independent release of their first professional EP after their 2017 demo. Their sound is somewhere between Desecresy, Mortiferium, and Atavisma that really cavernous but raw death metal sound that lumbers towards doom’s slowness and pukes its guts out into the pit. I am excited to see if they’ll do a full-length soon, they’d fit really well on Memento Mori or even Dark Descent. ‘Reign of Enthrallment’ is a complete trip, a faceplant and suffocating death in acid-stained mud. Definitely worth checking out!


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Artist Consecration
Title [Type/Year] Remembrance [Compilation/2018]
Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Another old school death/doom metal band to round out this first half of the year and although I did say I wouldn’t include compilation albums ‘Remembrance’ is a worthy look at this Norwich, England based band’s journey from 2010-2018. As with any cumulative compilation you’re getting a collection of stuff that did and/or didn’t work as well as some inferior performances. Luckily it begins with their best work ‘Ephemerality’ (2014), which should bring to mind Ceremonium and even a hint of early Deteriorot as it plays. The riffs aren’t mind-blowing, they occasionally go a bit chug-happy when they should just let the main progression ring, but the effect of the music is solid stuff for the sub-genre. If you’re up for about 2.5 hours of pure death/doom of varying sound quality this should be well worth the spin.


Did I forget your favorite release from the first six months of 2018? Well, send it to me and I’ll consider it for review. Otherwise Part II will cover July through December and feature nearly twice as many releases. Thanks for reading!

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