The Year in Review | 2019

Here in the mid-way point of the final month of the year 2019 I have undying respect for the composer. Those who, despite the self-defeating beasts of men that surround us, reach the point of completion and utter refinement in creating musical art — You inspire me endlessly. THANK YOU to every single person who I’ve worked with, talked to, and been inspired by in 2019. Thank you for reading, contributing, supporting, discussing, listening, and encouraging. This year I wrote over 550 reviews and features, a total of 800,000 words and counting; That is less posts and nearly 30% more words compared to last year. Over the course of this year the readership has built up to an average of ~1,500-2,000+ unique visitors per day and this has doubled site traffic compared to the start of 2019. A lot of words, a lot of views, I am grateful. — It made sense to do a full year in review separate from the Top 50 this year for the sake of two shorter posts and allowing some reflection in the process. I wanted to provide a cumulative review of every month in Metal of the Month features, weekly recaps, and see the bigger picture before the Top 50 AOTY stuff gets going.



2019 began with optimism and a great boost to readership thanks to the usual sub-genre specific end of the year lists. I had spent the end of December figuring out how to make t-shirt designs work, getting Patreon in full swing, and had quite a few bands contacting me for reviews and sending in physical CDs and LPs. Several new ideas began to work into my weekly schedule including the Thrash ‘Til Death feature that ran for a full 50 weeks without any interruption. I remember having a tough time with this list because I’d spent much of the month focusing on catching up on 2018 releases, writing several lists, and didn’t find a ton I was particularly passionate on the release schedule. Looking back on the start of the year, it felt like the site had earned a lot of good will going into 2019. Getting to ask Desolation Realm, a Norwegian death metal band taking cues from early brutal death and atmospheric old school death metal, a few questions was the highlight of my month.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for January] 

  1. Nuclear Tomb – Succumbing (Self-Released)
  2. Veiled – In Blinding Presence (Into Endless Chaos)
  3. Mortal Scepter – Where Light Suffocates (Xtreem Music)
  4. Barshasketh – Barshasketh (W.T.C. Productions)
  5. ILS – Pain Don’t Hurt (Self-Released/Pogo)
  6. Deathchant – Deathchant (Self-Released)
  7. Musmahhu – Reign of the Odious (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  8. Defacement – Deviant (Self-Released)
  9. Dødsfall – Døden Skal Ikke Vente (Osmose Productions)
  10. Sofy Major – Total Dump (Deadlight/Corpse Flower Records)
  11. Horrisonous – A Culinary Cacophony (Memento Mori)
  12. Mo’ynoq – Dreaming in a Dead Language (Self-Released)
  13. Tytus – Rain After Drought (Fighter Records)
  14. Ulvdalir – …Of Death Eternal (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  15. Vile Apparition – Depravity Ordained (Memento Mori)




By the end of February the first wave of recession from social media began as I’d found Twitter a complete mess of idiocy and follower niches. Beyond a small rant about that, February was one of the absolute best months of the year for my own taste giving some of my highest recommendations of the year for Funereal Presence‘s return, Werian‘s mind-bending debut, Critical Defiance‘s ripping thrasher and well that Top 5 for February all makes it onto my end of the year list. I was so clearly energized by this release schedule in hindsight that I began to feel like I needed to tone down the amount I was pulling from my personal studies at the time, writing about politics and morbid sorcery etc.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for February] 

  1. Funereal Presence – Achatius (The AJNA Offensive, Sepulchral Voice)
  2. Werian – Animist (Eisenwald)
  3. Critical Defiance – Misconception (Unspeakable Axe Records)
  4. Ossuarium – Living Tomb (20 Buck Spin)
  5. Pulchra Morte – Morte Divina Autem et Aniles (Ceremonial Records)
  6. Seer – Vol. 6 (Artoffact Records)
  7. Demon Head – Hellfire Ocean Void (Svart Records)
  8. Cénotaphe – Empyrée (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
  9. Feral Light – Fear Rides a Shadow (Pulverized Records)
  10. Death Worship – End Times (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
  11. Witchgöat – Egregors of the Black Faith (Morbid Skull Records)
  12. Opprobrium – Fallen Entities (High Roller Records)
  13. Lucifera – La Cacería de Brujas (Dunkelheit Produktionen)
  14. Maestus – Deliquesce (Aural Music)
  15. Traveler – Traveler (Gates of Hell Records)




Another fantastic month with a wild amount of variety, plenty of new bands entering the fray and some old favorites putting out their best albums yet. I do not think readers had yet grasped that my rating system had changed, hence the higher frequency of 5/5 reviews. The idea is that perfection doesn’t fit on any rubric and that use of the entire scale should allow for a smarter range of recommendations, not comparative scores. At this point 2019 was very much a continuation of the ‘firing on all cylinders’ feeling of 2018 with a myriad of all of the things I love: Death metal, thrash metal, doom metal, black metal, and combinations of.

At this point in the year the BACKLOG video game blog series took a hiatus and I began doing a weekly Music News and week in review column instead, entitled SYNCHRONY. In hindsight giving myself three intensive features per week was overkill and it slowed down my end of the year listening massively. Having to choose between listening to each new release at least once and covering old music, old games etc. never felt great so I quickly began planning 2020’s set of features differently.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for March]

  1. Vircolac – Masque (Dark Descent Records/Sepulchral Voice Records)
  2. Akrotheism – Law of Seven Deaths (Osmose Productions)
  3. Magic Circle – Departed Souls (20 Buck Spin)
  4. Imprecation – Damnatio ad Bestias (Dark Descent Records)
  5. Drastus – La Croix de Sange (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
  6. Undeath – Demo ’19 (Caligari Records)
  7. Obscure Infinity – Into the Vortex of Obscurity (F.D.A. Records)
  8. Sinmara – Hvísl Stjarnanna (Ván Records)
  9. Cardinal’s Folly / Lucifer’s Fall – Split LP (Cruz Del Sur Music)
  10. Deafkids – Metaprogramação (Neurot Recordings)
  11. Fine Chine Superbone – Plaguey (Geertruida Records)
  12. Necrogosto – Necrogosto (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
  13. Contrarian – Their Worm Never Dies (Willowtip Records)
  14. Nocturnal Witch – A Thousand Pyres (Undercover/Evil Spell Records)
  15. Urza – The Omnipresence of Loss (Solitude Productions)




It was April before I had completely cleared out all 2018 music from my books and ‘to do’ lists. This was the month that I began receiving more and more promos from German labels, which I was beyond excited about because some of these were labels I have been following and buying from for decades. Otherwise April was a great month for thrash metal, doom metal, and particularly sludge metal with big releases from Waste of Space Orchestra, Inter Arma, and Lord Dying. Any heavy music fan with an ear for the old and the new should have felt entirely spoiled by the plethora of pre-Summer releases in 2019 already. This was yet another month where I sincerely love every album in my Top 15 and even some of the runners-up. Coverage of Vader for Thrash ‘Til Death meant that the column became more popular and I noticed a lot more readership/clicks on the pieces from that point on.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for April]

  1. Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis (Svart Records)
  2. Troll – Legend Master (Shadow Kingdom Records)
  3. Inculter – Fatal Visions (Edged Circle Productions)
  4. Inter Arma – Sulphur English (Relapse Records)
  5. Vitriol – Chrysalis (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  6. Lord Dying – Mysterium Tremendum (eOne)
  7. Ceremony of Silence – Oútis (Willowtip Records)
  8. Protector – Summon the Hordes (High Roller Records)
  9. Deathwomb – Moonless Night Sacraments (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  10. Altar of Oblivion – The Seven Spirits (Shadow Kingdom Records)
  11. Devoid of Thought – Cosmic Apoptosis (Caligari Records)
  12. Warchest – Sentenced Since Conception (Toxic Records)
  13. Gold – Why Aren’t You Laughing? (Artoffact Records)
  14. Suffering Hour – Dwell (Blood Harvest Records)
  15. Doombringer – Walpurgis Fires (Nuclear War Now! Productions)




May was undoubtedly the strongest month of the year for releases across all genres and in terms of my own interests a lot of ‘legacy’ or established bands put out fantastic records. The group that’d subverted expectations most was probably Deathspell Omega, not only was the project’s sound entirely new and ‘clear’ in voice the masses were -desperate- to find controversy within their wordy lyrics. It didn’t make a bunch of end of the year lists as a result, this despite a very clear and very detailed explanation for the album’s themes being published on Bardo Methodology. The hunt for controversy within extreme metal feels a bit like ‘satanic panic’ in the 1980’s in that a mob intends to fabricate a great beast to destroy together, without necessarily focusing on the actual obvious evils in the world. Also, one of the major highlights that came from the Thrash ‘Til Death feature in May was getting to communicate with Hart Bachmier of Disciples of Power after covering the band.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for May]

  1. Lord Vicar – The Black Powder (The Church Within)
  2. Krypts – Cadaver Circulation (Dark Descent Records)
  3. Deathspell Omega – The Furnaces of Palingenesia (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
  4. Ares Kingdom – By the Light of Their Destruction (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
  5. Pulver – Kings Under the Sand (Gates of Hell Records)
  6. Spirit Adrift – Divided by Darkness (20 Buck Spin)
  7. Misþyrming – Alglyemi (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
  8. Florida Man – Tropical Depression (Spartan Records)
  9. Thronehammer – Usurper of the Oaken Throne (The Church Within)
  10. Funeral Storm – The Arcane Mysteries (Hell’s Headbangers Records)
  11. Zig-Zags – They’ll Never Take Us Alive (RidingEasy Records)
  12. USA Nails – Life Cinema (Hex Records)
  13. Entrapment – Imminent Violent Death (Dawnbreed Records)
  14. Helheim – Rignir (Dark Essence Records)
  15. Dreamtime – Tidal Mind (Cardinal Fuzz)




In hindsight May wore on me and had me rethinking the focus of the site, my interactions with certain communities, and ultimately had me wondering if I needed to engage with social media at all. Debuts from Epitaphe, Superstition, Infernal Conjuration, Purification, Sadistic Ritual, made it an exceptional month while the return of Nucleus and Python brought some insanity to the fray. This was also the month we bought/moved to house out in the suburbs and my world expanded beyond a 750 square foot apartment to a house three times that size, with a yard etc. I don’t mention this as some kind of idiotic brag but because I changed profoundly when this happened. I believe my approach to writing changed too. At this point it sunk in, I’d made too much of a ‘job’ out of certain features and dealing with Patreon began to irritate me.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for June]

  1. Epitaphe – I (Aesthetic Death)
  2. Superstition – The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation (20 Buck Spin)
  3. Infernal Conjuration – Infernale Metallum Mortis (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  4. Nucleus – Entity (Unspeakable Axe Records)
  5. Sadistic Ritual – Visionaire of Death (Boris Records, Unspeakable Axe Records)
  6. Python – Astrological Warfare (The AJNA Offensive/Annapurna)
  7. Purification – Destruction of the Wicked (Self-Released)
  8. Valaraukar – Demonian Abyssal Visions (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  9. Wormlust & Skáphe – Kosmískur Hryllingur (Mystískaos)
  10. Nebula – Holy Shit (Heavy Psych Sounds Records)
  11. Barbarian – To No God Shall I Kneel (Hell’s Headbangers Records)
  12. Power From Hell – Profound Evil Presence (High Roller Records)
  13. Kingdom – Rotting Carcass Arise Upon the Burial Mound (Godz ov War Productions)
  14. Hirveä – Tuska ja pakokauhu (Self-Released)
  15. Kaliedoscope – …After the Futures (Toxic State Records)




July was a fantastic month, an event that had been built towards since the early weeks of the year. The biggest point of interest that month was clearly Tomb Mold‘s third album ‘Planetary Clairvoyance’. An interview that spans about six months of conversation with guitarist Derrick Vella was finally in readable form. The interview would be very graciously linked on a Pitchfork review for the album a short while later, leading to an enormous boost in site traffic. I do not monetize Grizzly Butts so traffic doesn’t really matter but I was grateful to have been included in that frenzy. I’m thankful for Vella‘s frankness and incredibly supportive presence, he’d even give a very kind plug on an interview done with the Into the Combine podcast, which I’d recommend. This sort of kindness is very rare in my experience so I appreciate it. The album was great, too, and has been in my top five contenders for AOTY since first hearing it. Desecresy‘s album was hugely underrated and I felt like everyone missed out on Cherubs‘ record, their best to date. July also saw an interview with Purification intending to fit the tone of some of their press surrounding their debut album, which is fantastic.

July was also the month where I decided to end my Patreon campaign. I do not want to feed a corporate middle-man nor do I want to have to design all content around a community of consensus. It might sound shitty or surprising but I do not intend to build a financial empire out of “Grizzly Butts” and I only write for the love of music. If I wanted money I’d use my real name, shop pieces to paying venues, and try to keep up with popular bullshit. The major point is that anything I do will be independent, if you want to throw money at me great but, I don’t want to rely on a subscription service to get there. Fuck Patreon. With that point made… I burnt myself out in July thanks to a big move, fully time job, new house, and a very busy month of writing.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for July]

  1. Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance (20 Buck Spin)
  2. Desecresy – Towards Nebulae (Xtreem Music)
  3. Impure – Satan’s Eclipse (Chaos Records/Headsplit Records)
  4. Restless Spirit – Lord of the new Depression (Self-Released)
  5. Cherubs – Immaculada High (Relapse Records)
  6. Carnal Tomb – Abhorrent Veneration (Testimony Records)
  7. Holocausto – Diário de Guerra (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
  8. Shades of Deep Water – Death’s Threshold (Dunkeheit Produktionen)
  9. Halshug – Drøm (Southern Lord Recordings)
  10. Andavald – Undir Skyggðarhaldi (Mystískaos)
  11. Celestial Grave – Secular Flesh (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  12. Falls of Rauros – Patterns in Mythology (Gilead Media)
  13. Enforced – At the Walls (WAR Records)
  14. Nightfucker – Nightfucker (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)
  15. False – Portent (Gilead Media)




Late summer, every medium-to-larged sized band with an album was out touring their stuff so we got some sharp debuts and long-awaited records from old favorites in August. A lot of folks said this was a slow month but I love all of the Top 11 or so releases I’ve lined up here, particularly Wizard Rifle‘s self-titled and the debut from Cerebral Rot, both addictive and easy listens. I did a giveaway for the second anniversary of the site and after three people won each decided they didn’t need the items and just wanted to show support. Thanks but, uh, do I need to do another giveaway? If I had to redo my Top 15 for the month I’d put Devourment and Detherous on there because both bands were really nice about the reviews and their riffs were bigger in hindsight.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for August]

  1. Wizard Rifle – Wizard Rifle (Svart Records)
  2. Excuse – Prophets From the Occultic Cosmos (Shadow Kingdom Records)
  3. Cerebral Rot – Odious Descent Into Decay (20 Buck Spin)
  4. Isole – Dystopia (Hammerheart Records)
  5. Bastard Grave – Diorama of Human Suffering (Pulverized Records)
  6. Synteleia – Ending of the Unknown Path (Hell’s Headbangers Records)
  7. Witch Vomit – Buried Deep in a Bottomless Grave (20 Buck Spin)
  8. Here Lies Man – No Ground to Walk Upon (RidingEasy Records)
  9. Colored Moth – Dim (Wolves and Vibrancy Records)
  10. Abysmal Lord – Exaltation of the Infernal Cabal (Hell’s Headbangers Records)
  11. Hagzissa – They Ride Along (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  12. Besvärjelsen – Frost (Blues Funeral Recordings)
  13. Geistaz’ika – Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel (Signal Rex)
  14. Darkened – Into the Blackness (Chaos Records/Edged Circle Productions)
  15. Nothingness – The Hollow Gaze of Death (Self-Released)




September came and all of the hype was directed towards Crypt Sermon‘s second album and it was hype they’d totally earned. I love that band’s debut and as much as I did like their new sound there were five records that hit me a bit harder. Serpent Column was nice enough to do a third interview for the site, this time for his second full-length ‘Mirror in Darkness’, an album that ushered in more mathcore influences within their general storm of riffs. Really effective and ‘modern’ black metal that I continue to be bewildered by. Chile’s Ripper put out their best release yet, Algebra‘s record has been totally underrated as well, and the real sleeper hit of the month was Pale Grey Lore‘s record; I liked ’em enough that I bought a t-shirt! If we’re just looking at the major conversation on heavy music for the month, everyone was talking about Crypt Sermon, Mizmor, and Cult of Luna.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for September]

  1. Mefitis – Emberdawn (Chaos Records)
  2. Serpent Column – Mirror in Darkness (Mystískaos)
  3. Pale Grey Lore – Eschatology (Small Stone Recordings)
  4. Ripper – Sensory Stagnation (Unspeakable Axe Records)
  5. Mizmor – Cairn (Gilead Media)
  6. Crypt Sermon – The Ruins of Fading Light (Dark Descent Records)
  7. Algebra – Pulse? (Unspeakable Axe Records)
  8. Runespell – Voice of Opprobrium (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  9. Nightfell – A Sanity Deranged (20 Buck Spin)
  10. Netherbird – Into the Vast Uncharted (Eisenwald)
  11. Kansakunnan Ylpeys – Kansakunnan Ylpeys (Ruton Music)
  12. Cult of Luna – A Dawn to Fear (Metal Blade Records)
  13. Horror God – Cursed Seeds (Lavadome)
  14. Goatess – Blood and Wine (Svart Records)
  15. Eternity – To Become the Great Beast (Soulseller Records)




October was the breaking point, the ‘too many releases’ fatigue set in and I quickly got behind on an already ambitious schedule. A busy day job meant lot of sleep was lost to Grizzly Butts, and much of the writing from October I cannot even remember doing. I focused on death and doom metal releases primarily and left out a ton of great black metal that released in October. I’d had to resort to ‘Nothing But Black Metal November’ the following month to remedy this! This was a huge month for releases but most folks focused on certain mainstream releases, which I will not name here, instead.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for October]

  1. Runemagick – Into Desolate Realms (High Roller Records)
  2. Sarcasm – Esoteric Tales of the Unserene (Chaos Records)
  3. Mortiferum – Disgorged From Psychotic Depths (Profound Lore)
  4. Orthodoxy – Novus Lux Dominus (The Sinister Flame)
  5. Orodruin – The Ruins of Eternity (Cruz del Sur Music)
  6. Vastum – Orificial Purge (20 Buck Spin)
  7. The Lone Madman – Let the Night Come (Saturnal Records)
  8. Unaussprechlichen Kulten – Teufelsbücher (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  9. Mystagos – Azoth (BlackSeed Productions)
  10. Ectoplasma – White-Eyed Trance (Memento Mori)
  11. Kadavar – For the Dead Travel Fast (Nuclear Blast)
  12. Xul ov Kvlten – Entropic Increase From the Omega Aeon (ATMF)
  13. Opium Lord – Vore (The Sludgelord)
  14. Coilguns – Watchwinders (Hummus Records)
  15. Grendel’s Sÿster – Myrtle Wreath / Myrtenkranz (Self-Released)




Ah, the biggest shopping month of the year when every band smart enough to correctly gauge their own hype levels releases an important, high-stakes record into the abyss and plays the numbers. Every release I’ve included on this Top 15 deserves some placement in the Top 100 releases of the year. Several bands I’ve been following for the last decade released their most refined recordings to date, and who would have guessed that Reveal, Bölzer, Child Bite and Blood Incantation could all have greater peaks within them. It was Obsequiae and Witch Trail that kind of stole the show in terms of number of listens, though. Most overlooked release? Into Coffin! They’re so fuckin’ good, 74 minutes of psychedelic death n’ doom. Check out their split with Cenotafio as well.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for November]

  1. Reveal – Scissorgod (Sepulchral Voice Records)
  2. Bölzer – Lese Majesty (Lightning & Sons)
  3. Obsequiae – The Palms of Sorrowed Kings (20 Buck Spin)
  4. Witch Trail – The Sun Has Left the Hill (Consouling Sounds)
  5. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race (Dark Descent Records/Century Media)
  6. Child Bite – Blow Off the Omens (Housecore)
  7. Sentient Horror – Morbid Realms (Testimony/Redefining Darkness Records)
  8. Cryptic Brood – Outcome of Obnoxious Science (War Anthem Records)
  9. Aggressive Perfector – Havoc at the Midnight Hour (Dying Victims Productions)
  10. Disharmony – Messe de Minuit (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  11. Buildings – Negative Sounds (Gilead Media)
  12. Mesmur – Terrene (Solitude Productions)
  13. PH – Osiris Hayden (Svart Records)
  14. Into Coffin – Unconquered Abysses (Terror From Hell Records)
  15. Teeth – The Curse of Entropy (Translation Loss Records)




I’m goddamned exhausted. Mentally fried as fuck. At this point December has to end early for the sake of not spending the new year writing about the last one. Listening to hundreds of releases for the sake of October, November, and December while making cumulative end of the year lists and making weekly 10 item lists, finishing Thrash ‘Til Death, and doing a Metal of the Month for December early means I’ve just barely been able to finish a thought before it was time for another. It is all too ambitious so, the hope is that some of it was entertaining. I’m still stuck on how many great records came out in November because only a few things were truly great in December. I’ll consider that a reasonable mercy. Still, don’t miss out on Oath of Cruelty if you’re a fan of Angelcorpse and death/thrash metal, Cianide‘s EP is incredible, and I think Xantam will be a sleeper hit for the month of mostly overlooked records. In terms of music coverage for the rest of the year I have about 15 more albums to do full reviews for 2019, a doom metal list, and the final Top 50 Albums of 2019 list which will arrive by December 18th.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the full Metal of the Month for December]

  1. Oath of Cruelty – Summary Execution at Dawn (Dark Descent Records)
  2. Horrified – Sentinel (Testimony Records)
  3. Cianide – Unhumanized (Hell’s Headbangers Records)
  4. Blot & Bod – Ormekongens Argelist (Iron Bonehead Productions)
  5. Mosaic – Secret Ambrosian Fire (Eisenwald)
  6. Nova – Veniamo Dal Cielo (ATMF)
  7. Xantam – Altered State (Blood Harvest Records)
  8. Revel in Flesh – The Hour of the Avenger (War Anthem Records)
  9. Skullcrush – Archaic Towers of Annihilation (Raw Skullz/Redefining Darkness)
  10. Cult of Erinyes – Æstivation (Amor Fati Productions)
  11. Haxandraok – KI SI KIL UD DA KAR RA (Ván Records)
  12. Touch – The Darkness Reflects (9 Lies Records)
  13. Solace – The Brink (Blues Funeral Recordings)
  14. Depressed – Beyond the Putrid Fiction (Black Lion Records)
  15. Sacrifizer – La Mort Triomphante (Dying Victims Productions)




As I’d stated in my end of the year list: Video games, as a hobby, are both a pain in the ass and a sad mess to keep up with anymore but, I still find much joy in sitting down with a game for a couple of hours each day to relax and experience a consequence free interactive world. This year I’d fallen off of my BACKLOG blog column because I was honestly completely bored with my choices and I’d given myself so many reviews, features, and such to write about music that video games took a major backseat beyond April or so. Still, I can whip my way through a modern video game just as well as I could as an idiot kid so I completed quite a few single player games this year. I’ve discovered that people actually read the video game stuff that I write, which is new for this year and I’ll consider bringing back the BACKLOG in 2020.

[CLICK/TAP HERE to Read the 10 Best Video Games of 2019]

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