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Yeah, if you watch that shit, you’re dead inside too.

We’re ba-aaack…

Here’s the first salvo. Enjoy all the death metal…and stay tuned for much more to come!

COLOSSO – Apocalypse (Transcending Obscurity Records) (January 24)

Portuguese modern underground blackened death metal, with none other than Mel Torme on vox!

Damn, who knew the old Velvet Frog had it in him? I thought he’s been dead for decades…quite a change from “glow worm” and “the christmas song”…

oh, wait. Sorry, it’s Max Tome, not Mel Torme. Oh, well.

Well…let’s see. Not as much cavernous reverb or detuned atonality as usual for these sort of acts…but still with the uber-deep vomit vox (supposedly from four different guys, Max is only one of ’em…good luck sussing out the difference), buzzing bee guitars and annoying nonstop blastbeat drumming.

I guess “for that type”, it’s not as terrible as usual…but what the fuck is that saying?

VERTHEBRAL – Abysmal Decay (Transcending Obscurity Records) (December 27)

Paraguayan act that pulls a hell of a lot from classic death metal while retaining that oddly offputting overreliance on “tech” and busily atonal bits more endemic to modern variants thereof.

Thankfully, there’s more than enough of a Benediction meets Gorefest by way of Sinister vibe to tracks like “testimony of hate”, “ancient legion” or “sweet home illusion” to push these guys more towards the likeably vintage end of that equation than not.

While the midpoint of the album strays a bit too far into chaotic blastbeatiness and overreliance on trainwreck-baiting speed, even borderline tracks like “the art of perversion” still come off more Sinisteresque than not…and to compare a 2019 release to something like Cross the Styx remains a decided compliment.

BEDNJA – Doline Su Ostale Iza Nas (Transcending Obscurity Records) (November 29)

Truly bizarre Eastern European mix of black metal with punk rock-style drumming and that bunch of guys screaming like idiots thing that seems to pass for “hardcore” nowadays. Like bad aggro vocals weren’t already passe when “New York hardcore” was a thing, back in the late 80’s and early 90’s…

Still more black metal than anything else – the vox, while annoying, don’t seem all that out of place in today’s post-black vacuum, and the drumming adheres to the unholy blastbeat more often than the more pointed, chaotic punk style that is the only thing to really recommend about this release, when and if it actually makes an appearance.

A big yawn. Next?

OFFICIUM TRISTE – The Death of Gaia (Transcending Obscurity Records) (December 13)

A particularly mellow if not airy and florid gothic doom (with light death metal elements, mainly due to the presence of growly vocals.)

If you’re really jonesing for the next Paradise Lost or My Silent Wake album, or would rather either of ’em sounded a whole lot more laid back and mellow? Here’s your fix.

While it’s listenable enough, all others need not apply.

OAK – Lone (Transcending Obscurity Records) (December 20)

Gaerea, whose Unsettling Whispers we spoke to a year or two back steps outside their black metal(-ish) comfort zone to drop this weirdly ambient (“sculptures”, “mirror”) to atonal (“maze”) bit of what the fuck is this supposed to be with belch-growled vox and overly detuned guitars that pluck away aimless BGM before going midtempo ear-grating noise in the last track, arguably track and a half.

No idea what they’re on, no idea what they’re on about, but keep it away from me. 

MORTUARY – The Autophagous Reign (XENOKORP) (November 8)

Hmm. This sort of poorly produced, rather angrily shout-growled vox with overly busy typewriter and blastbeat drumming and somehow memorable riffing seems quite familiar, somehow…

could it be…Vader?

Well, no, but promo materials do rather accurately cite them as a likely influence/reference point…

Now, those expecting another Ultimate Incantation, hold up. Yes, each track has at least one golden riff amidst all the high speed chaos, and yes, the vox do bear that simplistic yet effective Vaderesque (or on the more mocking side of the fence, Alex Krull-like) feel. But this is a bit too chaotic…there’s a lot of Grotesque in this as well.

Either way, it spells some killer riffs and acceptably blunt and violent vox that feel like a punch in the face…and at least the footwork is well mixed in this otherwise overly flat and dry production.

Well, at least it’s not overly mids-heavy…

I was good with this. Better production, a tad less insanity, hell, I’d really like this.

Very likely a sleeper. Check back in a few months, we may be citing ’em as a comparatively good example of modern death metal.

Daemoniac – Dwellers of Apocalypse (Xtreem Music) (December 19)

Italian act attempting to work the old Swedeath HM-2 thing…but while you can hear a bit of the Ola Lindgren vocal approach and some of the guitar tone, this one’s too noisy and absurdly divergent from template to really work for diehard fans of the old Tomas Skogsberg/Sunlight Studios sound.

And amazingly…they actually recorded at that very studio! Not that it sounds like it…

I guess you could very loosely toss ’em a “sort of comes off like Carnage at times”, but not really. Not enough.

Given just how many bands are working this retro revivalist sound, and how well most of them do…putting together something this sloppy and nearly unrecognizable is simply inexcusable.


Unbounded Terror – Faith in Chaos (Xtreem Music) (January 2)

Old Spanish death metal band gets back together…um, well, actually, only the guitarist decides to revive the old band with a bunch of new kids. Well, hey, I never heard the original band before, so this is tabula rasa anyway…

Very dry and hollow production, to the point where it almost sounds like he’s playing through a wah pedal filter for harmonics and using a tube amp. Riffs are very basic and simplistic, but do stick in your head therefore, sort of like early Acheron crossed with the aforementioned Mortuary. At times, perhaps the riffs even lean a tad anthemic, in a Deceased sense (“destroyed from within”).

Wasn’t overly excited by this, but it did have enough of an old school feel to work.

Give it a shot, this one may well hit your own personal sweet spot.

Skullcrush – Archaic Towers of Annihilation (Raw Skull Recordz) (December 20)

Sounding rather like Nicke Andersson’s uncredited vocal turn on Clandestine crossed ever so slightly with Martin Van Drunen’s Asphyx work (particularly on The Rack), this Phoenix trio manages to apprehend the vintage (mostly) Swedeath sound ten times better than Daemoniac ever could…and without flying all the way out to Sunlight to record the damn thing, or ever trumpeting themselves as working this particular corner of the retro death soundscape.

There are a few utterly worthless filler tracks here (think “ambient intros listed as actual songs”), but the rest is damn solid and stands up proudly next to your collection of classic Swedeath.

Best thing we covered herein, hands down.